Monday, July 14, 2008


Another race down. Yesterday was the Iowa Games sprint triathlon. A nice little short race. I haven't done a sprint yet this year, so it was kind of nice to get back to the short short distance. I did Iowa Games last year as my first OW race, so I was looking forward to racing the same course and seeing my progress since last year.

Getting ready for this race, I had a nice little email chat with Jen about my race plan. Her words, "I want you to suffer." And she wasn't joking. The truth is, my intention for this race was to go out and race as hard as I possibly could, to see how far I could really push myself. So my goals going in were to race hard, beat my time from last year, and if I was lucky break 1:15.

The swim went OK. I didn't have my normal panic attack, which is a good thing. But I did go out hard, and as a result had to flip over and backstroke a little bit to catch my breath. After having to stop a couple of times because people were crossing the buoy line and running headfirst into me, I pushed to the swim exit and came out in 9:15. That's a little over 4 minutes faster than my swim there last year. I know I have improved my swimming, so seeing that improvement really boosted my confidence. Slowly but surely I just might be turning into a little bit of a swimmer.

After what felt like a really slow T1 (0:55), I was finally out on the bike. Because of my swim time, I knew I was probably behind quite a few women. And seeing as my swim wave was the first female wave and included all women from 20-39, I figured there were A LOT ahead of me. So, I get onto my bike and just start hammering. It was an out and back course with some rolling hills. Nothing major. We had a slight headwind going out, so my speed wasn't quite where I wanted it, but I was pushing hard. I was passing people like crazy. I passed a lot of men (the men 20-39 went off 4 mins ahead of my wave), and was passing quite a few women too. There was one woman ahead of me (a fellow TRI member)and I kept her in my sights. We were going approximately the same speed, and I could see her looking back every so often to check in on where I was. Finally, about 2 miles before the turn around, I caught her and never looked back. Made the turn, picked up the tailwind, put my head down and hammered. Passed a few more women on the way home, but not many. The people were thinning out at this point. I came into T2 very happy with my bike. It felt good. I knew I made up a lot of ground and was in good shape to push on the run.

Came out of T2 and right away there was a water station. As I went through the station, one of the guys working it says to me, "You're the 4th woman." I was like What? Huh? Did he just say I am the 4th woman? No freaking way, had to be a mistake. But...what if it wasn't? So, I started my run knowing I was in the top 5, and I could see one woman a little ways up ahead. I thought to myself, if I could just catch her, and not let any women pass me, I just might be in the top 3. Then it happened. Less than 1/4 mile into the run I got this extremely painful cramp in the center of my midsection, near the bottom of my rib cage. It almost doubled me over. It hung on for a few minutes, then subsided for a bit. I was able to pick my pace back up some when it subsided. But then it hit again. And it felt worse. I had to stop running for a few seconds to stretch my arms above my head and try to loosen things up. That didn't really help. I started thinking that I might have to completely stop for a bit. But I could NOT quit being in 4th place. I still could see the woman ahead of me, I knew I could catch her. So I just kept pushing. And wincing. And pressing my fingers into the cramp to make it stop. Again it subsided and again it returned. Then I saw Nicole (yet another TRI racer) coming up behind me at a turn around. She was looking strong. DAMN IT! She was going to pass me. When she did, I tried so hard to stick with her. But then the cramp hit again and I just couldn't. That was really frustrating. I was pissed. Luckily right after Nicole passed me, I was able to pass the woman I had been chasing since the beginning of the run. So, I was still in 4th. And I had noticed that she was in my age group, so this gave me a little extra push as well. I knew the first two women were in the age group above me, and Nicole was in the age group below me, so at this point I knew I was not only 4th overall, but I was first in my age group. I was NOT going to let that slip away just because of this damn cramp. So I kept pushing. I used the hill to put more distance between me and the woman I had passed. Nicole was putting distance on me, and there was no way I could run harder to catch her. I was doing all I could. Finally I came around the last corner and I heard Greyt and her cowbell. I was close. I picked it up as much as I could (which wasn't much) and finished hard. I had no idea what my time was, but I did know I how I placed. And that was pretty cool.

So, all in all...I reached my goals. 1) I finished 5 minutes faster than my time last year. 2) I finished under 1:15, by all of 2 seconds! and 3) I raced hard, and SUFFERED! I would have liked to have suffered because I ran 7:30/mile rather than because I had that stupid cramp, but I still feel like I gave this race everything I had. And ended up with some hardware, and as Jen says, my name in lights. :)