Monday, September 28, 2009

Race Report: See Jane Tri 2009

Note to friends & friends...I blog semi-anonymously over here, so if you see names like "Mr. Handsome-and-Handy" and "Thing 1" and "Thing 2," that's my husband, son, and daughter (nicknamed with respective nods to "The Red Green Show" and the mischief-makers in "The Cat in the Hat"). Don't tease them (too much) when you see them in person...Thanks!

Finally...I bring you:
(insert trumpet fanfare)
My See Jane Tri 2009 Sprint Triathlon Race Report!

Wow...where to begin? If you couldn't tell from my twittering, facebooking in CAPS, and on-the-fly email post on the way home...




I had a blast!!! I'm still kind of pinching one of the few places that aren't sore, of course. I really did this thing!

But I'm jumping ahead of myself here....

I spent Friday pretty much as a keyed up bundle of nerves. I felt much better when we finally got on the road to Pleasanton in the early evening. Traffic was bad, but we were expecting that. Thank goodness for the portable DVD player! When we arrived, we headed straight for the In & Out Burger, dinner of...well, maybe not champions, but this triathlete found it mighty tasty. We checked into the hotel, and then popped down to the microscopic pool for a swim. It was just big enough for us to splash around in and cool off a bit. Then up to the room, and pretty much to bed. I didn't lay awake as long as I thought I would, but I did wake up several times in the night and peeked at the clock.

As it was, the alarm went off early enough. Ugh. Thank goodness the hotel TV had Disney Channel, I don't know how we would've gotten the kids up otherwise. I ate my oat bran+flax+ peanut butter+sugar-free syrup. (And thought of Miz and Lori! :-) I slathered myself with BodyGlide and put on my sports bra & bathing suit, then my pants and shirt. No coffee carafe? How'd I miss that one??? Mr. H&H went to get the kids their donuts and us some coffee. He got back and we were ready to go to the park.

It wasn't too crowded yet, but there were plenty of people pulling into the park. I was a little nervous on arriving; what to do first? I fell in with the line of people and bikes walking toward the event area. The event was extremely well-coordinated. I checked in and got my numbers, then went to the table to get my timing chip. (Then I got my t-shirt!)

All set up in the transition area. I'm amazed that my bike managed to dangle there and not fall down!

"Why do they have to start these things so darn early?"

I went to the transition area and staked out a spot at the end of the rack, near the swim exit, so it would be easy to find. I chatted with a woman who usually did relays with her husband and was doing the full one by herself this time for the first time. I laid out my stuff: towel next to bike, shoes and socks ready, sunglasses in shoes, shorts and shirt on bike seat, helmet and visor hanging from the handlebars. (I got myself a visor with terrycloth band so I wouldn't have sweat dripping in my face!) This worked well. I didn't bring the bucket for dipping my feet, because I was wearing aqua shoes, but that might have worked out better. Got the markings. (Ooo! It's for REAL! They write your race number on your arm and leg and your age on your calf). When I returned to the car, it was light already.

Dawn at Shadow Cliffs Regional Park

Mr. H&H and the kids were finishing up their donuts and watching cartoons on the DVD player. (It saved our bacon...many times!) They saved me a couple of donut holes to go with my coffee. They were fresh and warm! Hea-ven-ly!

We all got out and wandered down by the lake. Lots of geese. Lots of goose poop. Ew. Then it was warm-up time! The "SuperJanes" led us in exercises. "Whip It" was a good choice, but I felt much internal cringing when they played "Eye of the Tiger" and "Let's Get Physical." Oh well! Campy good fun.

Warming up with the "Super Janes"!

Serious business. (Oh heck no. They are NOT playing "Let's Get Physical"...? Ugh, yes, they ARE.)

I trotted back to the transition area to get my swim cap and goggles and aqua shoes on. I chatted with another gal (Hi, Lisa!), who (it turns out) is setting her sights on Ironman Coeur d’Alene next year! Wow! How utterly cool is that?!?
"Are you nervous?" she asked.
"No, I was more nervous about getting here," I said. "Now I'm just excited!"
She nodded. "That's a good place to be."

Then it was back over to the swim start area; it was time to watch the first wave go. I was in the third wave, so I wanted to be close by.

"I do this for the fashion!"

The first wave was for 18 and under, 50 and over, special needs and relays. Some of the swimmers ended up taking a really long time, so the lifeguards delayed the start of the 2nd wave. We strained to see the tiny dots that were the swim caps of the remaining swimmers, hoping they were making it okay. This race had several people on "buddy boards", where swimmers could take a little break during the swim, in addition to many lifeguards.

UPDATE: The race delay was much more serious than I realized. The event organizers sent an email to the participants, updating us that "the woman who was rescued from the on her way to a full recovery thanks to the amazing lifeguards and on-site paramedics." I searched the web for news, and found another racer's report, and she said that the woman had been pulled out of the water without a pulse...but the paramedics managed to restore a pulse before taking her to the hospital in an ambulance. I'm thwacking myself in the head now for being utterly clueless. How terrifying that must have been for her and her family, and the people trying to help her. Sending good thoughts and prayers for her speedy recovery.

The race delay meant that the second wave ended up going nearly an hour after their original start time. I decided to go to the bathroom one more time, and the kids wanted to go, and we were dashing over and Thing 2 tripped and scraped her knee. We hurried to the bathroom and got her washed up, but her hat ended up falling into the toilet! Ew! Mr. H&H had band aids in his wallet (ever prepared!) and patched her up. We got back right before the 2nd wave went in. I gave my family kisses and hugs, and I got into the starting area.

Poised to jump in the lake....

One of the women near me was laughing about having to pee again. (Note to self: do not swim too close behind anyone, and not just because they might kick you in the face.) I felt more excited than nervous: I was here! I was ready! And then the horn went off!

...Well, more like trot into the lake. You can't see it here, but body marking includes inscribing one's age on one's calf. (No, there is no modesty in triathlon. Having children was great preparation for this sport.)

And away we went! The mud wasn't too sticky, thank goodness, and I was glad to be wearing my aqua shoes. I stuck to the back of the pack; I joked above, but I really was nervous about getting kicked in the face. I shared a lane often at the pool, but this was my first time doing an open water swim in a crowd of people. I ended up using a variety of swim strokes--mostly breast stroke, but some side stroke--but forced myself to do a few freestyle here & there, because I didn't want to be too much of a wuss. (I'm pretty much the same speed whichever stroke I do, so it's not like it held me back much.) The few times that I did freestyle, though, I got whacked by people doing backstrokes; at one point, I collided with a gal who was floating on her back. We were a polite bunch, though, with "oh, sorry about that!" "no, I'm sorry!" Also, my goggles were a little leaky, and I had to pause a couple of times to empty them out.

The water was really murky and green, but it felt good! Not too cold. I reveled in it, knowing the rest of my day was going to be rather toasty. As we rounded the last buoy, I started to see the was a forest of lake plants! (I thought of you, Christie O.! No jellyfish, though, thank goodness!) I swam until I was nearly scraping the bottom (other people around me were walking out of the water, but I figured I'd go faster swimming), then popped up and into transition.

"Hey! I finished the swim, and I didn't get kicked in the face!"

I felt a little lost in transition. I ended up not drying off much, and throwing the towel down to wipe my feet on, then putting on shirt, shorts, and shoes. (I ended up wearing my cotton ones by mistake...the $8 I spent on proper socks went to waste. Oh well. The shorts, which didn't work too well in spin class, worked great here.) Helmet, sunglasses, visor. I sprayed with sunscreen (this + layer on in the a.m. worked great) and drank some coconut water I'd snagged at the food tent. (Thought of you, Lori! So much for the "no new stuff on race day" rule....) I paused, thought about the heat, and then drank the rest. I strapped on my fanny pack, grabbed my bike, and away I went!

Dashing onto the bike portion of the course, with my trusty hybrid bike. Nope, neither toe clips nor clipless pedals...yep, very much the newbie!

The bike course was mostly flat, but there was a very steep hill out of the park at the beginning. Thank you, See Jane Tri FAQ, for warning us about it! The hill was short, though, and I rode up it no problem. That made me feel good!

But see that blue thing in my hand? It was my watch. I'd fully intended to put it on, but didn't, and it cost me. As I rode, I opened the back pocket of my fanny pack to put it in, and stuff came flying out. Was it just the lip balm? No...the hotel room key card was gone, too! Dang! I stopped and ran back to pick up my stuff. I felt a twinge of frustration...I really hadn't thought out the transition stuff very well. But oh well. I took a few breaths, got back on my bike and rode.

So many people passed me, but it was a really pleasant ride. (At some points, the bike lane was narrow, and being slow and on the right meant being closer to the passing cars. Gulp!) We rode down into the part of town where the vineyards were, and one of the roads was completely closed, which was nice; this was where I ate my energy bar and drank some sports drink. Coming off of the closed road at the intersection, we had to stop at a stop light. The girl next to me shared some of her energy beans, which was sweet. Green light, and we were off. I pulled over and let the fast people pass me, because the bike lane was narrow. I hopped back in and kept going.

We wound past more vineyards, and then some rolling hills, one fairly steep but short and doable (thanks, spin class!). The downhill parts were nice; I couldn't gain any speed by pedaling, so I chose those times to coast and stretch my legs a bit. Some of the bikes were really fancy, with the aerobars and the drink bottles that wedge between them. I didn't like reaching for the bottle in the cage, so I probably didn't drink as much as I ought to have. I just remember riding along, and thinking how pleasant it was, and enjoyed it fully. THIS was why I'd worked so hard at the gym! So I could do crazy stunts like this! Then we rounded the turn and were heading back into the park. Woo hoo! 2 of 3 segments accomplished!

I racked my bike and--since I was wearing my running shoes already--I realized that there was nothing to do, so I headed out for the run. I took my drink bottle with me. I called Mr. H&H and let him know that I was starting the run. "Wow! Already?" was a nice thing to hear. The run was challenging. I felt a small pain in my hip socket that I get on long runs, and it was the beginning of this one. But nothing was going to stop me. By that time, it was pretty warm out, and the running course was mostly dusty trails, a lot of flat but some uphill and downhill parts. It looped around quite a lot; we passed the water station a couple of times. I enjoyed the shady parts, and there was a lot to look at: a pond with some people playing fetch with their dogs in the water, water lilies in the pond below the bridge, a dragonfly, the shirt of a runner in front of me that made me chuckle: "Team V.A.G. (Very Athletic Girls) 'We Deliver' " (she was part of a team of Labor & Delivery employees of a local hospital).

On this segment, I could chat with some of my fellow runners at times, which was nice; several of us congratulating each other on our first triathlon. At one point, I stepped wrong and almost twisted my ankle. Yikes! I sipped often from the bottle, glad I brought it, because it seemed to take forever to get to the water station on the outbound loop. When I did, I gulped half and dumped the rest on my head, and continued; I did this on the inbound loop as well. Other than the water station, I jogged comfortably the whole course, walking briefly at mile 3 to call Mr. H&H and to let him know I was approaching the finish line soon.

And there it was! The lake, the parking lot, and at the end, the finish line! Mr H&H and Things 1 & 2 were sitting in the shade near the restrooms, and I slowed so Mr H&H could take my picture.

Heading for the finish, but slowing down briefly for a hammy "victory!" pose.
Or is it "cheesy"?
Or ham & cheesy?
Mmm...ham & cheese sounds pretty good right about now...

And then there it was: a straight shot to the finish line! I had plenty of energy left, so I did a burst. People cheered! Cowbells rang! My eyes teared up a bit; this was the moment! I ran under the arch as the clock said 1:51 and some seconds. I'd done it in under 2 hours! I thought it would take me around 2 hours, maybe a little longer, but I didn't think I'd make it under 2! I felt so proud, humble, and grateful.

Volunteers collected my timing chip and put the medal around my neck and handed me a water bottle. I wandered into the finish area, a little dazed, a lot content. I decided a nosh was in order, so I wandered to the food tent, collected some food, and circled until I found my family. Hugs, snacking, and it was time for me to pack up. Mr. H&H took the kids back to the car, and I wandered back into the transition area and packed it up. I ran into Lisa again and we exchanged email and blog URLs.

I overheard some other first-timers exclaiming, "This is the BEST thing I've EVER done!" It's definitely on my top ten list, that's for sure!

Race is done, I'm still glowing...

Back in the car, Mr. H&H was a little cranky at the crowd of vehicles heading out, but oh well. We eventually got out, and we checked out of the hotel and drove home. Lots of traffic, but getting some pizza and calamari at Rainbow Pizza on the way home eased the pain a bit. ;-)

I checked blood glucose in the van on the drive to the hotel. 158, higher than normal but not so bad for all the race-day excitement and more-carb-than-normal foods. The temperature ended up being in the high 80s, so that was nowhere as bad as I'd feared. (It's a dry heat here in California-land, which isn't as intense as a humid heat, but it can also sneak up on you if you're not careful.) I way overpacked the nutrition, even with the free coconut water that was an unexpected bonus. I didn't touch my electrolyte gels or my glucose tablets, and I only used my one water bottle of low-sugar electrolyte mix. (But I think just having some fast-acting sugar+ electrolyte calories strapped to my body made me feel reassured.)

Later that day, the results were posted! It turns out I'd done even better officially than I thought, which was exciting! This race was a good baseline, because at no point did I feel like I was getting too tired or not able to finish. I didn't push myself as hard as I could have, but I sure did enjoy myself. There's always next time to get competitive with myself. ;-)

Overall time was 01:46:40
Overall ranking was 596/700
Age-group ranking (40-44) was 115/126

Swim: rank = 589, Time=12:02
T1: 4:31
Bike: rank=611, time=45:04, MPH=14.6 (?!?)
T2: 1:22
Run: rank=586, time=43:42, MPM=14:34 (no surprise there, I knew I was going slow)

Post-race Postscript

Firstly, I must give a heartfelt thanks to my family, for supporting me while I was in the grip of triathlon obsession. My husband got my bike ready for me, drove us there and back again, and watched the kids the whole time. He's the one that should get the medal, that's for sure. (He did get some peace and quiet for football-watching on Sunday, and he even got to see the Detroit Lions win one without too much angst, which I suppose was even better to him than getting a medal.) The kids were troopers. I think they were impressed that I'd done it, and I think they kinda-sorta did like being there, even if it meant a lot of waiting around. (It would've worked out better if the lakeshore wasn't covered in goose poop and if there'd been a playground.) Thing 2 was jealous before the start, because she wasn't the star of the show; but after a brief diva-tantrum, she got over it and I got a warm hug, kiss, and smile before the swim. It meant a lot to me to have my family there, even though it wasn't hugely fun for them to get up super early, or to have to wait around for me while I was off doing stuff. But I thought it would good for them to see what the atmosphere was like, to maybe catch a glimpse of what I found so compelling about participating in a sporting event. At home, the kids were playing that their race car and pet toys were having triathlons, so I guess the seed is planted. ;-) I told Mr. H&H that I didn't plan to drag them to any more events unless they really wanted to go...unless it was Kona. Then they HAVE to go. (We both had a good laugh at that one, of course.)

And thanks also to my blogging buddies for your constant encouragement! Especially to my fellow triathletes, Christie O. of Baby Tea Leaves and Lori of Finding Radiance, for leading the way!

And mad, mad props to the organizers and volunteers of the See Jane Tri event! There were volunteers at every key turn of the bike course, cheering us on and helping stop traffic where necessary, brave souls! And there's no way I could have followed all the mad little twists and turns and loops of the run course without the crew in yellow shirts pointing the way. Thanks for helping all of us tri newbies have a great experience!!!

And now it's back to ordinary time, back to mild-mannered me. I felt tired and headachy on Saturday afternoon (in spite of excellent pre-race hydration); moderately sore on Sunday; and even less sore today. I am waiting for the post-race letdown, but it hasn't happened yet...maybe because I'm already plotting and scheming in my head to do another one, and thinking of how I can improve? What's next? Another go at the See Jane Tri next year? Or the Mermaid in Santa Cruz? Or...?


Christie O. said...

Yayyyyy! I was waiting and waiting! What a wonderful recap, I feel like I was there! First, congratulations!! I got all teary eyed throughtout your post, there is something very special and magical about triathlon, I haven't quite pinpointed it but it's so invigorating and overwhelming (in a good way) that it maked you want to sop and smell the roses like I see you did along the course.(Team vag hehehe snicker-i llove it!) I love that u brought the whole family, I brought mine too because I want them to know about thus whole other world I never had any idea existed. Sorry for such a long comment but I'm so excited for you! Wouldnt it be fun to grab some blog buddies and travel to a tri next summer? Just a thought. Or maybe kona one day. Haha! Ps I want that bike with the handlebars and the drinkholder and the big long straw. If I ever get that, then I"ll know I'm serious! Hahahah

Seriously tho huge congrats and high fives, all that hard work paid off! I'm proud of you!!!!

Foodie McBody said...

OMG!!!!!! You are totally, absolutely AMAZING! I don't know how I missed the news that you were training for this, so I read this in complete shock! You are incredible!!! I am in absolute AWE because I can neither swim nor bike to save my life, and I think a triathlon is the LAST thing you would find me doing (maybe someday...) ANyway, I am awestruck and so thrilled and inspired! YOU ROCK!

Christie O. said...

Ps sorry bout the misspellings especially for "maked"-mustve channeled my 3 year old there. Comments via Blackberry never work out well for me.

Lori said...

Thanks so much for the recap! It sounds like a wonderful tri for you! And I loved the victory pose :D

You should be so proud of all the work that you did and the fact that you did a triathlon!! Not a lot of people can say that.

lisa said...

YAY!!!! :):) What a great race report!!! Congratulations again, and sorry to hear about the hat-in-toilet bit! :)

debby said...

I am so happy for you Pubsgal! What a wonderful day. And to think that it only got to 80 degrees instead of the 100 that was predicted! Fantastic!

Brooke said...

you. are. freakin. awesome.

congrats!!!!! :)

Anne said...

Congratulations!! I loved reading about your experience. Going from 0 to 1 triathlon is a HUGE deal. Great work! Come join us on our next Triabetes workout!

Anonymous said...

Terrific recap - I felt like I was there with you (cringing as things fly out of the fanny pack!). So glad it was a positive experience! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

PS Cracking up that your post references ham and cheese just like my last post. It's that cross country esp we have!

Pubsgal said...

Thanks, everyone! :-) I appreciate your support; half the fun was anticipating writing it up and sharing the story.

MizFit said...


LOVED the long post as I was able to feel as tho I was right there with you.

Im in complete and total awe'miration.


Fitness Surfer said...

I thought i was excited about surfing but a triathlon was always on my bucket list but now just sounds like fun. Running is the part the my knees hate...but 3miles i could totally do. I'm sure that's easier said than done after swimming 400 yards and biking 11 miles. Yikes. Hello super woman! You're amazing and inspiring. I'm getting the details for that race and might just try it out next year =)

bbubblyb said...

I have to tell you it was just wonderful visiting your blog for the first time and coming on the day of your race report. It just filled me up and made me sooo happy for you. Also, made me think I need to get my butt in gear and start making some BIG goals for myself. Way to go on your wonderful accomplishment I just felt so proud of you. Thanks so much too for visiting my blog and commenting "may you evermore be a citizen of Onederland" boy do I want that to always be the case. I look forward to reading more about you.

Susan Ito said...

Just read this again (4 yrs later!) and I am EXCITED to do this in October! Yeehaa!