Race Report: Giant Eagle Triathlon (Olympic Distance)

Where do I even begin? I guess at the beginning.

Friday night I got home after work, and when I pulled into the driveway, this was in my garage:

I knew my pro must have arrived :-) Thanks to having the world's bestest husband, Mike picked up Zana (our pro homestay) at the airport Friday afternoon. They had succesfully unpacked her bike and reassembled it. It was not, unfortunately, an anniversary present for me. Oh well. Zana and I made our introductions, and I knew we would get along swimmingly. Friday evening was relaxing. We ran into C-bus to check on a friend's cat I was watching, then Mike, Zana and I went out to dinner in Granville. We had a lovely dinner and even sampled several beers at our local brew pub - my type of triathlete.

We were all pretty tired from long weeks, so we went to sleep relatively early and woke up rather late :-) We each got about 11 hours sleep, so we were raring to take on the day once we got moving. Shortly after noon, we headed out to Alum Creek to get our race packets, check in our bikes, and Zana wanted to do a quick bike/run/swim combo. Awesome.

Once at the race site, we checked in super quickly, and we got our bikes ready for a ride. Unfortunately one of Zana's tires sprung a leak, and one of my tubes busted :-\ Therefore, we ended up spending a fair amount of time at the roll bike tent - which is fine with me - they are my team sponsor! Once our bikes were good to go, we headed out on a short ride. We just tooled around a bit, then we came back to the beach. By the time we got back, it was already 3, and I had promised roll I would work at the bike tent from 3-5. I bid Zana farewell for the afternoon so she could get a swim in, as well as do the Pro meet and greet and her required meeting for the race.

I had a great time working at the tent - I got to chat with all sorts of racers - newbies, pros, veterans - the energy was amazing. It got me SUPER pumped up for the next day.

Around 5ish, we finally had to bail out from the festival, so I bid adeiu to my roll friends and we had to make a stop over at Tri Tech to get something for Zana. I'd never been to Tri Tech before, and honestly I'm not sure if I would go back. We were in there for only a few minutes, but talk about an intimidating store :-\ The folks were nice, but not overly friendly. There was a woman working there that was great, but the two dudes didn't leave the best impression. Because I'm a member of COTT, I inquired if there was a team discount. The guy's response was a resounding no. When Zana asked if the did pro discounts, the guy responded "your discount is when you win prize money. We don't sponsor any professional triathletes." Wow - asshole much? I dunno - just had a weird feeling in there. Anyway, I just thought it was worth mentioning.

That night my husband made us an amazing risotto - roasted corn, mushrooms and swiss chard. SO good and carby. We all called it an early night - that alarm clock would come early.


3:30am - RING!!!!!!! TIME TO GET UP!!!!!! Wow. That got here way too fast. A quick shower, a bagel, some coffee, and we were out the door. We dropped off our T2 bags, picked up a BDD and headed over to the race site.

First stop - porta potty. Luckily the coffee kicked in, and we were good to go. Once that was done, BDD helped me pump up my tires, and I got all my T1 stuff ready to go. As we prepared, the announcer came on to say that not only were wetsuits not allowed for prizes, but they were also banned because the water temp was a steamy 85 degrees. WOW. See, I have never swum in Alum Creek without a wetsuit. Awesome. Oh well - do what you have to do, right???? The cool thing about T1 was that right next to me was a friend of mine from spin class. I had no idea she was racing, and we were right next to each other in transition. She and I ended up chatting in the water up to start time. The butterflies were in full effect, so it was great to have someone to chat with!!!

We got started right on time, but the organizers changed the set up from one big lap for the Olympic length racers to two loops of the sprint length course. I was kind of dreading this, as I didn't know if I was prepared to face two loops. Anyway, we watched the pros all go out and complete their laps to make sure they had clear water the whole time. I chatted with my buddy through the starts, then all of a sudden I hear "Olympic women 35 and under, you're up!" EEEEE! That's me. I ran up there, and within 30 seconds we were off. I let everyone else take off, then I settled in behind them.

SWIM - 1500m

You know what? It wasn't half bad. I actually kind of liked the fact that the water was warm. It kept my muscles loose, and I was comfortable. I swam more than I walked or pushed off the bottom, so that's great for me. There's actually not a ton to report here. I kept cool, calm and collected, and just swam swam swam.

Time: 31:09, 5 out of 6 in age group

BIKE - 40K

This bike course was great. I really enjoyed this. My goal was just to push it as hard as I could. If I saw my speed drop below 18, I gunned it up again. I could give a turn by turn, but honestly the quick summary is I enjoyed nearly every part of the ride. The big success of the ride is that I used my water bottle not just once but THREE times. I actually grabbed and used my bottle while riding. Folks, that's a big deal for me.

The worst part of the ride was near the end - we were less than a mile from T2 and I saw a woman in front of me oversteer and completely lose control of her bike. She went sideways, the bike went flying, and she skid at least 6 feet across a sidewalk. It was one of the most horrible things I have ever seen. Luckily there were volunteers close by who reacted immediately. But it was so horrible to see - I almost had a spontaneous burst of tears. Within 30 seconds, a car that had seen it happen started to turn off in what I guess was an effort to help - problem was she turned her car RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I saw her window was partly down and yelled at the top of my lungs "PLEASE DON'T TURN!!!!!" Luckily she saw/heard me and stopped. My heart was going a million miles an hour. Luckily I pulled into T2 within a couple minutes of that and saw not only my hubby but my friends Erich and Susan too. It warmed my heart so much to see them.

I handed off my bike to the volunteers, ran in and grabbed my T2 bag then parked it on a chair to put on my running shoes. Due to the setup, my husband was able to run over to chat with me - he was so proud, and it just elevated my spirits so much to see him. He got me in the head space I needed to be in, and I took off. Time to run!

Time: 1:25:35, 5 out of 6 in age group (17.4 mph/avg - almost hit my 18mph goal!)

RUN - 10K

One word sums this up - HOTTTT. For the Oly, we did two loops of a 5K course. A lot of the course was unshaded, and geeeez it was baking us. It was actually a lovely 5K course - I enjoyed the route, but I felt like I could turn into a puddle at any moment. I managed to run the entire first loop (taking into account that I did walk through each water station - as I do in any race), but when I hit the festival area again - i did ask Mike, Susan or Erich to shoot me. I was super hott and going around another time did not sound like a good idea AT ALL. But I kept it up. The first water station was manned by COTT, and I knew a couple people handing out water - it was great to see their smiling faces and get their encouragement.

The second lap was not as "stellar" as the first one. I was keeping a sub 10 minute mile pace on loop one, but I just couldn't hold it for loop 2. I walked here and there, shuffled, and ran sometimes too. I just kept telling myself - "keep moving and you will be there sooner" FINALLY I as back in downtown - I could hear the spectators getting louder, and I saw the turn off for the finish. I gave it all I had at the end and was thrilled to be done. I did it. I ran my first Oly!!!!!!!

Time: 1:05:49, 6 out of 6 in age group

6 out of 6 in age group

At the finish!!!!

Honestly, I am positively thrilled about how I did. I really wanted to get sub-3, and I was damn close for my first race. I pushed it as much as I could with my training and the heat. I gave it all I could, and I had a wonderful time. I'm glad it took me 3 hours and change because I honestly loved every second of it. It was totally wonderful.

HUGE kudos to HFP Racing. They did an amazing job with a logistically difficult race - I have no idea how they pulled it off. I was really nervous about how this would all work, but they did it and did it very well. A point to point is a super cool way to race, and I would totally do this one again. HFP - THANK YOU!!! you did a great job. I honestly had an amazing race experience.

Huge thanks also goes to roll, my team sponsor. Not only have you kept my bike in top top shape, you've provided me new friends and taken me to a new level in my racing. I look forward to a long relationship with you guys - Stuart, you rock!!!!

To everyone who gave me encouraging messages on the blog, or facebook, in person, over email, or just sent me a good thought - thank you so much. It got me through the rough parts this race.

Lastly, if you ever get asked to do a homestay for a pro - do it. I feel I've made a new friend, and I wish Zana the best of luck in her pro career - I can't wait to see what she'll do. She's a great lady with amazing skill - you are welcome to stay with us anytime, dear!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zana and I before her departure - it was super hot, so ignore our sweatiness :-)


T said...

How cool! Awesome job!!! I'm amazingly impressed.

I can't believe the guy at the store was such a dick. How disappointing.

Ms. Duffy said...

Nice job! There was a lot here for me to digest -
1) if that bike was in my garage I would take it. Sorry, pro guest.
2) Tri Tech guy? SO NOT COOL. I not only wouldn't return, I would tell all my friends about it. And maybe even tell the manager / owner why.
3) risotto... so easily overlooked, but so ridiculous delicious sounding...
4) great race! I'm impressed and can't believe how fast the rest of your age group must have been. It probably doesn't help that 1:05:49 is my stand alone 10k PR while 1:05:49 is your end-of-an olympic tri on a really hot day 10k time, ha ha! I'm hoping not to go over 3:45 for mine, so 3-ish sounds great to me!

Heather-O said...

CONGRATS!!! Awesome job on your first Oly! Doesn't it feel great?!?!?!

I completely forgot you were hosting a pro and I almost peed my pants thinking your husband surprised you with that bike!!! How awesome would that have been!

Next goal, HIM!!!!!

Matthew Smith said...

Congrats on a terrific race! You rocked it! I'm so glad that car didn't turn. I think your time was great considering the temp of the water and the hotness of the run. Way to go! Enjoy the rest and recovery.

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you!!

Matty O said...

Great job!!!

It feels great to get that off your back and under your belt doesn't it?!?!

Looks like your training paid off too, very good splits and aside from the heat, you would have nailed that run!!!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

So happy for you, you had a great race. I kinda liked this race, I hope we get the same discount again. ;-D

I dont goto tritech, only for emergency purchases

Zana was fun to meet and talk too

Did Mike do the 5k? If not, we still use our Hell Run plan

Colleen said...

Great job! You'll feel so much more comfortable now that you finished your first OLY and finished it strong! :) I heard that the race was really well put on! I hope it comes back!

Give TriTech another try... LeAnne is a really great person and I'm sad to hear that you had a bad experience. That's not like them!!! Maybe you should contact her and just give her a heads up on the way you were treated...

Very cool about the home stay!