Race Report: Inaugural St. Louis Triathlon

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First things first

If you need to find a fast, flat course for your Sprint or Olympic distance:  THIS IS THE COURSE!

If you do races that have excellent support, have huge easy-to-see buoys and post-race fun, and excellent SWAG: THIS IS YOUR RACE!

If you want to know that the Race Director truly cares about each individual racer: YOU MUST DO THIS RACE!

Okay. Down to business.

PRERACE

We arrived in St. Louis just in time to check into the host hotel and pick up my race packet before heading over to the lake for the prerace meeting and racking of bikes. The space that the hotel gave the Tri did not suit the event, unfortunately, so the Race Director had to make do. Never mind the wait, we had fun getting to know each other and talk about which race distances people were doing!

We received the following SWAG the day before the race:

Swag

I also got cool socks because I registered early!  Actually, the glasses came later–and I got a really awesome pink swim cap. After picking up the packet, we headed to the lake–not even three miles away and SUPER easy to get to (the road we took would be part of the cycling course). We listened to the race info, then I racked my bike. The RD and his colleagues custom-made all of these racks!

My FB friend Colin's bike at the transition. Those are all handmade racks--they were AWESOME.

My FB friend Colin’s bike at the transition. Those are all handmade racks–they were AWESOME.

I met up with Michele, from Kansas City area (a member of my Reds Tri Team), and we decided to drive the bike course.

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Flat and easy–except for one “hill”–more like an overpass–by the little airport. We saw biplanes taking off and landing. During the race, I saw a  P-51 MUSTANG take off!  It was awesome!  All those fast people totally missed it, but I took my time going up the hill so I could enjoy watching the plane (yeah, that’s it).

After the tour, we got the last of our stuff into the hotel then headed out for Italian with Michele and two other Reds Tri Team members. I had an appetite, and I wasn’t nervous yet. Clearly I’m delusional, I thought.

That evening, I went to bed at 8:45pm to make sure I’d have a great night’s sleep. Unfortunately, either my hubby’s phone or the room alarm clock woke me every 15 minutes til 9:30pm, then it took me forever to fall asleep again (I was mad). Then around 11pm, a family with loud children argued in front of our door for about five minutes, waking me up again. Then the concert let out and the drunk boys next to our room came back around 12:30 and did not shut up until well after 1:30am. I was exhausted when the alarm rang 3.5 hours later. Nevertheless, I ate a Honey Stinger waffle, visited the porcelain god a few times, then headed out for the race.

I unpacked my OGIO Endurance 9.0 bag in the spacious 2’x2′ transition area set aside by the custom racks and started talking to people, handing out TriSports.com 20% off coupon codes (ask if you want one!), Vanderkitten.com coupon codes (VK-KICKS-ASS is the code), and taking photos of new and old friends.

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Setting up transition–loved the flags, which matched our swim caps and determined our wave!

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I ran the race for my friend Colleen (spelled it wrong–blaming lack of sleep) who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia earlier this year.

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Me and Michele (whom I had never met in person!)

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Michele and two new friends (dinner date, I already forgot their names: Janei and ?). I was the only one who did not wear a wetsuit. The water was FINE.

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Dina and I (she is a killer athlete–won the division), and also a Reds Tri Team member

The RD delayed the race by about 15 minutes in order to let more cars in–a bit of a traffic jam for late-comers!

THE RACE

At 7:30, the Para group headed out, 15 minutes later, the Olympic waves began–I was in wave 2. The Clydesdales and 0-29 men after us, then the rest of the dudes. I was worried about being drowned by the men, punched, hit, kicked, submerged, etc., but they actually respected other swimmers better than I expected!

Kimee, me, Karen, and Michele FYI: Karen wrecked with a half mile to go on the bike, but got back on and finished the race--with a BROKEN CLAVICLE!

Kimee, me, Karen, and Michele
FYI: Karen wrecked with a half mile to go on the bike, but got back on and finished the race–with a BROKEN CLAVICLE!

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That’s me adjusting goggles

THE SWIM

Remember, I had trained in 65F, then 63F, then 61F pool temps, I was ready. I got in the water and honestly, it felt like almost 70F. It was FINE!  Later my hubby told me that several swimmers sought assistance and were pulled and brought back to shore–all of them without wetsuits.

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Me in the middle with perfect entry (blue Garmin left hand)

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Me starting to get left behind, left elbow up in proper position, middle, blue garmin

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Me about to get mowed down, pink cap in a sea of men

Until the end anyway.

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But he did move–after his chest/face missed my flying feet a few times. I was trying to keep from being hurt again. That is my foot in his face. He beat on my left leg with two hard strokes and my knee gave a little–not just a bruise. As I stood up, it hurt. I looked at my garmin, expecting to see under 39 minutes (it was only 1500 meters, less than a mile–which I’ve averaged under 39 minutes for more than a year).  2:29 per 100 yards?  Really?  I cannot remember the last time I swam that slowly. It’s been YEARS.  Four years, to be exact. I just looked it up.

Forty-three minutes?  Egads. Disappointing. But on a positive note?  My garmin said I swam a mile–not just 1500 meters–so there’s that.

THE BIKE

What a great and fast (for everyone else) closed course! 

But good heavens. Cycling is supposed to be my thing–what happened? I shoved a Honey Stinger wafer in my mouth, gulped down some diluted powerade (cannot take too much sugar), and hit the road. My left knee hurt most of the ride, which caused me to be imbalanced in my cadence. Then. Stiffness and camping. Neither went away for eighteen miles. Egads, that was the toughest cycling leg I have ever done–not because of the distance, but because of the cramping. I am so getting Lava Pants! Pretty sure it was due to the cold water. Hoping anyway. Then again, I haven’t done that distance for a month–thanks to being sick since late April.

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Five miles in!

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Finally, my legs quit cramping–this is about a mile from the finish. It has thinned out a bit!

Time for a quick kiss from my hubby before taking off to the run (he said, “I am so proud of you! I could never do this!”), I grabbed my kiss and headed over to drop off my bike and change shoes.

I looked down at my garmin.  Disappointment.  I saw that my time was not the goal I set, it was about a mile per hour slower than I hoped. Oh well, still great considering how much my legs hurt!

Not done yet!

Not done yet!

Still, I smile. I love riding my bike, even if the entire field passed me (except a couple). And in retrospect, it’s been 2012 since I had as fast a pace, and only once did I ride faster (O’Rourke Sprint Triathlon in 2012, thanks Coach Dave).

THE RUN

And now came my worst sport of the three. Yet after I got off the bike, I still had energy and my legs–now properly warmed up–were apparently ready to go. So I went. My watch does 6:1 intervals (Jeff Galloway method), and I stuck to that interval the whole race. I may have walked up the one or two short hills, but so did almost everyone else that I saw. I got to the halfway point and, surprisingly when I looked across the lake to see how far I had come, I did not get disappointed, overwhelmed, nor want to give up. I grabbed some Heet while the volunteers took my water bottle and filled it up for me (the vols were AWESOME all along the route except the final turn–no one in sight, so I had to ask a local jogger if this was the right turn . . . I may have been deliriously tired by this point).

The final run to the finish line. Where was it, I thought as I ran toward where the finish should have been!  No arch!  It must have malfunctioned or something, because the other arches were still up. Luckily someone directed me to the last and final timing mat and as I clicked my garmin to end the race, I saw something amazing.

One mere second over my goal time!  One second!  I even had a secondary goal because I did not imagine, in my wildest dreams, that I could hit the primary goal!  But I did!

Very Happy Finishers

Very Happy Finishers: Michele and me!

THE END

In the end, I learned a lot of things about myself, my training, my own confidence (bull-headedness?), and the RD.

  • I can do an Olympic Triathlon, even with two weeks of illness 2-3 weeks before the race
  • I really don’t care where I place, the important thing is that I have fun and that I improve each time I do an event
  • I really hate race photographs of myself. Photos don’t lie. I really packed on some pounds this spring. Ugh.
  • I am doing this race next year: it is an awesome race, location, has wonderful swag, and the RD is AWESOME
  • I need to bump up my outdoor miles in all three sports and work on speed sets
  • I have the confidence to do an Olympic
  • I was not last–but the other thing I loved about this race? They had someone (volunteer or race organizer) with the final finisher on his run. I loved that!
  • Richard Adams is the best race director–he answers emails, FB queries and message, within minutes–at the very least within an hour. He truly makes you feel like you are his ONLY racer.
  • I need to incorporate strength training . . . . stat!

Thanks for a great race, Richard and the Inaugural St. Louis Triathlon team!

WHAT’S NEXT

On a whim, yesterday I signed up for a Sprint next weekend. A week from today!  Thanks to TriSports.com for the entry!!!  I love being part of that team!  I need to make up some more discount cards to pass out to folks though.

Omaha Women’s Triathlon, here I come!

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Brrrr and Bikes

Yesterday was a great day.

I got up early and made my friend, Lia, swim with me (she was a competitive sprint swimmer through High School). Seriously–she is F-A-S-T!  She had my godson almost three years ago and has vowed to get back in shape. I have been telling her how fun triathlons are for about six years . . . and she finally signed up for one with a friend.

Hers is in three weeks–so I took her swimming. We swam outside. It has been in the upper 30s at night, so apparently the water temps had dropped even more. We headed outside in the balmy 48F weather and slowly, screamingly, lowered ourselves into the pool. The front desk could not believe we actually planned to do it. Water temperature was 61F.  Yes.

61F.

Did I mention that the air temp was 48F?

Whatever. After we “acclimated”, we did our 600 yards without resting and stood in the pool and talked a bit. I said congrats!  She said something about 600 meters. Turns out that the outdoor pool is a meter pool, not yard pool.  No WONDER why it takes me almost an extra stroke sometimes to get across the pool–and no wonder why my times are always off!  Sheesh!  Since 2008, I assumed it was yards!

After swimming, this happened:

Lia buying her Trek FX 7.3 (I am an enabler)

Lia buying her Trek FX 7.3
(I am an enabler)

This is Lia at my favorite LBS: The Bike Rack in my hometown of Lincoln.

With her upcoming Triathlon, she determined that her Schwinn, purchased at a local department store, just was not good enough. But since she’s only recently got hired FT tenure-track, she only had about $800 to spend. We looked at a lot of options (the store carries Cannondale and Trek, and a few others), including the Lexa. She liked the Lexa, but since she didn’t plan on becoming a serious triathlete–and since she wants to commute–we had her look at a Trek FX, as well. She LOVED it immediately because of the amazing handlebars, body position, and weight of the bike. She chose the 7.3 (she decided against carbon forks, in part because of the color): a black bike with purple highlights!  I made her get a new Bontrager helmet (hers was over eight years old), Bontrager gloves, and Bontrager pump. We’ll work on getting her a saddlebag later, filled with tube/levers/tool later!  She’ll be going to the Women’s Maintenance Night next Thursday at the Bike Rack.

As a professor of Piano Performance, her hands and arms are her livelihood. This bike is perfect for her. And today we did her first training ride on the bike. After an hour, she felt awesome!  No hand, wrist, arm, back, or neck discomfort at all!

In all, it was a fabulous day.

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Only three more days til my first Olympic Triathlon. Luckily, my two grandsons have come to visit. They’re keeping me so busy that I haven’t had time to truly freak out about the race. Yet. They leave tomorrow.

 

Inspiring Women in Qatar: Wajeeha Al-Husseini

Inspiring Women in Qatar: Wajeeha Al-Husseini

What an amazing story!

Triathlon Obsession

When I heard my Betty Design’s teammate Wajeeha’s story about her putting on Qatar’s First Ladies Only Cycling Day, I was blown away. As a Western woman, we take for granted the acceptability of our culture when it comes to women’s sport, including what we wear. I’m so honored that Wajeeha agreed to be a guest and tell us in our own words how she and her friend Eulogy executed this amazing event. I’m convinced that her efforts will have reverberations way beyond those 350 participants. Please take the time to share her amazing story!

Wajeeha2.png Wajeeha (far L), Eulogy (far R)

 Wajeeha Al-Husseini in her own words:

 It all started last summer when I was working with the Qatar Cyclists Center, which was established earlier last year under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. I was working with them to develop their strategy and event…

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