Monday, July 30, 2012

Delta Lake Observations

I completed my one and only Olympic-distance triathlon yesterday, July 29 (it's fast becoming my favorite distance). What a beautiful day: The lake was calm, the sky blue, the temperature moderate. I really enjoy this race, and was pleased to finish in just under 3 hours, 5 minutes, despite feeling nauseated for a good deal of the run. I'm thinking that's because the much-ballyhooed peanut butter GU I sucked down in the first mile of the run was not the best choice.

Anyway, here are my observations, positive and negative, about this race, put on by Mike Brych and his ATCEndurance company.

The good:

Excellent volunteer support, and excellently supportive volunteers. Hearing people you don't know telling you how strong and great you look (when you feel completely the opposite, and on the third and final loop of the run) is incredibly encouraging. I especially enjoyed the woman at the bike turnaround who ran with each of us to hand off water; that was quite skillful!

A lovely venue. I especially enjoy the swim here, as Delta Lake is clean and calm. Mike told us to look out for weeds at the far buoy, and was he ever right! Ah, the perils of open water swimming.

Incredibly quick results posting. Score-This knows what they're doing. By the time we got home from the venue, the results were already on line, complete and accurate. Wish I could say the same for some other timing companies in the area.

As a digression--there are many aspects of triathlon that keep me competing (I'm now in my fourth year), but this is the greatest of them: support from fellow athletes, especially woman-to-woman. Hearing "great job," "good work," "keep it up" from complete strangers is so empowering, and it encourages me to say the same in return. My favorite moment yesterday came from a woman younger than I, passing me with about 200 meters left on the run, who turned to say, "Looking strong, Mama." I loved it!

The not-so-good:

Follow those big green buoys out there in the water.
Post-race food organizers: Please don't let everyone take the yummy yogurt at the end of the sprint race. I was left with plain and mango--ewwww. Also, a banana would have been so nice to eat.

As for hydration, there was plenty of cold water along the run course, but I think some electrolyte solution should have been out there as well. I'm wondering if that would have helped the way I was feeling. Of course, I should learn to carry my own hydration on the run (like I do on the bike).

Transition needs to be tighter, by that I mean that people need to move their crap out of the way. Set up your area, and then move along. Nothing worse than coming back from cycling to have someone's running shoes or wetsuit in the way as you change shoes (and mental gears).

I was so very annoyed at two continuing situations on the bike course: people who didn't announce "on your left" (it got so ridiculous at one point that I nearly clipped a guy who was passing me, though I didn't know it, as I steered out to avoid a sewer grate; imagine the mess had we bumped), and those who passed on the right. Are you kidding me?! If you're not going to follow the rules, get the hell out of the sport. I know I tend to be militaristic about this, but rules are set up for the safety of all. Passing on the right is just plain stupid. Do it right, or don't bother doing it all. End of sermon.

Next race: Lyme Sprint Triathlon, Aug. 5, in Chaumont, a lovely bay off Lake Ontario.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Run Along the River

Recovering from foot surgery continues to be the most difficult thing I have ever done; with every encouraging sign comes a number of disappointments. What's more, I can't predict from race to race what the foot will throw at me, so to speak. It's quite the guessing game. I could give up, but that'll never happen.

On July 21 I ran a 10K in Cape Vincent, which took us runners out of the tiny village west to Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, on a road that parallels the source of the St. Lawrence River. Boats large and small accompanied us, and the ever-rotating windmills of Wolfe Island hinted at the Canadian delights found just beyond in Kingston (one of my favorite places). The wind was both cooling and distracting, especially as it served to roil the waves into an odor similar to the west side of Onondaga Lake. There was no escaping the stench.

Unfortunately, it did not help me run any faster.

This is right before I tossed the Gatorade bottle.
While I hit the turnaround at about 27 minutes, my speed left me near mile 4 and I struggled to force myself to keep running; had I walked I'd still be mad about it. I am in no way proud of my finishing time, but I am trying to take solace in the fact that I did finish. (Notwithstanding that I threw a bottle of Gatorade in anger after the announcer told me my time, surprising both myself and my husband (we were surprised about the anger, not the time).)
So that's the not-so-good news part.

Now for the better news:
1. My foot did not hurt. The spot on top where the doctor inserted hardware to keep the bones together did not pain me for the first time since I started running again. Neither did the arch of the left foot, nor the arthritic big toe. I am very pleased about this development. It was that very foot pain that distracted me to a terrible finish in the Cazenovia 10-miler on July 4. I hope, hope, hope this is it for that issue. It's been so inconsistent and unpredictable.

2. I ran 6.2 miles in difficult conditions--hot and humid. I stayed hydrated, slowed down if I felt I had to (even though I knew it could lead to a disappointing finish time). Still, I managed to average an under-10-minutes/mile pace. My big triathlon is less than a month away in Michigan. Ever been to the Midwest in August? You think it's been hot and humid in Central New York this summer? Try every summer in Western Michigan. Those are the two reasons I signed up for yesterday's race in the first place--to try to cover the distance in less than an hour (the half-Ironman is twice that distance, and I'm aiming to finish it in 2 hours) and to continue to acclimate to unrelenting heat. I succeeded on both counts.

I have a few observations about this race. The T-shirt is way cool--fluorescent green with a blue rendition of the lighthouse and the name printed above the heart. Minimal and tasteful. I really enjoyed the scenery, even if my olfactory nerve was pushed to its limit. Plenty of water stations throughout, and really friendly folks (loved the hose at mile 6).

Now, for the negative--no chip timing. The timing wasn't the real issue for me; it was that it took the race director far too long to figure out the results for the relative handful of runners who participated. We didn't stick around, and for a very good reason (another negative)--there was no food. I was told that orange slices were at the finish line, but greedy 5K runners must have taken them all. There is absolutely no excuse for a race to run out of food. None! Hold some of the slices back for the 10K runners. I was not at all happy about this. Yet they had a keg of beer. Nothing against my beer-drinking buddies but it's not how I choose to refuel after a race. Call me a grump, but running out of food was not cool.

Will I do this race again? Highly unlikely. It was a bit of a drive for the distance, and the race amenities were sorely lacking. But, as with every race I run, I learned a little more about myself, my willpower and my poor, unlucky feet.

Next up: Delta Lake Olympic Triathlon, Sunday, July 29. I doubt I can best last year's time of 2:59.37, but you never know. It's all up to the foot.