Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lorain Triathlon

So at the last minute, I signed up for the sprint triathlon in Lorain, OH on July 11th. I really needed to gauge my swimming in a race situation since I did not have that opportunity at the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon.

I got out to the park that morning around 7am and the weather was spectacular! The water for Lake Erie was like glass. There was even a nice cool breeze. It was as close to perfection I can imagine. I pray for similar conditions for the REV3 triathlon in September.

The lake water temp was up to about 75 so I decided against a wet suit. The swim course was so short, the gain in buoyancy would be lost removing the suit. My group was the last wave so I had to wait around a little while – but not too long because it is not a huge race. My race started at 8:30am. I had learned dolphin dives in a swim clinic I’m currently taking from Leah Nyikes at She is excellent. Anyway, they really do work. I always hang back a bit after the race starts before I go out. Those 2-3 extra seconds aren’t going to make or break anything for me. I ran out into the water using the goofy run Leah taught us then began to dolphin dive. Before you know it, I was nearly to the Lorain break walls.

After that I relaxed and began swimming. At first it was: Stroke. Breathe. Stroke. Breathe. Then when I really got into the rhythm, I was breathing bilaterally. Yeah. This was great because I could easily sight, because the break walls were on my left side. Last year when I did the same race, I could not breathe to the left and almost ran into the break walls several times. Very dangerous. Last year I also had to do the breast stroke and back stroke to get thru. This year - no worries. Freestyle all the way. Not only did I pass a couple of people in my group, I passed a couple of the swimmers in the wave ahead of me. Talk about a confidence booster! I went around the corner of the break wall and swam as far up to the shore as possible – until I was grabbing sand. It was much faster that way. Much. I looked at my watch and it said 9 min. That is 3 minutes faster than last year (12 min). However, percentage wise that is a 25% improvement. Woo Hoo!!!!

I still had to run up a big hill to get to the transition, and that time is added to your swim time, but oh well. They do it for everyone. Transition was good. Dry off, sock, shoe, sock, shoe, helmet, sunglasses, bike, go.

The bike was good too. Last year I averaged about 15.5 mph. This year I averaged 16.9 mph. A big improvement. I was very pleased.

T2 was a lot slower than last year. I didn’t realize until later that it was because last year I biked in my running shoes because I didn’t have clip on pedals yet. It added almost 2 minutes to my transition. :-(

The run portion was not as pleasing. I was too slow. I’m slow normally but that day I was even slower. I believe part of the reason is because I didn’t grab a bite during the bike ride. I ate nothing. Bad idea. It was also very hot at this point. I finished the run slower than last year. However, overall, it was an improvement over last year and I’m happy with that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Break Wall Swim and Breakfast

Every Tuesday morning, the Cleveland Metroparks offers a class at Fairport Harbor called the Break Wall Swim and Breakfast. It is awesome because it gives swimmers an opportunity to do something they normally cannot do. That is swim to the break wall at Fairport Harbor and back. It is about ½ mile in each direction. Normally this area is inundated with boats and wave runners. I have done it twice so far this year. The third time I didn’t go because it was pouring down rain.

Anyway, last year it took me all season to build up to swimming ½ mile (one way). I’d kayak out with another kayaker, hop out and swim back. Most of the time I’d swim as far as I could then one of the lifeguards on a wave runner would bring me back in the rest of the way. This was no big deal because I never had to swim more than 750m in a triathlon last year. I was good with my endurance at the time. But as I said, the last swim of the year I made it the full ½ mile. It took me nearly ½ hour.

This past winter I worked on my speed and endurance in the pool. The first time out on July 6th this year I did the same thing. I kayaked out and swam back. However, I made it the full distance without exhausting myself. I’m still slow but I managed to pick up my pace and did it in about 25 min. My second time out I managed to take off another minute. The next time out I plan on working on swimming the full distance. The only problem is the swimmers swim out to the wall, break as they wait on the slow swimmers then swim back to shore. I’m so slow I worry about holding up the process. I will do my best though.

After everyone is done swimming, one of the awesome ladies who swims makes everyone breakfast – and I’m not talking just cereal and milk. I mean a full blown breakfast. There is always some sort of eggs, some sort of carb (pancakes, French toast), bacon or sausage, coffee, OJ, tea, fruit, breakfast breads, etc. It is amazing and a lot of fun. I t only costs $5 for the entire 8 week series. An unbelievable bargain!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Medina Twin Sizzler

On July 4th I did the Medina Twin Sizzler. It is a unique race in the area because it is actually 3 separate races that you can mix and match. it is a 5K, a 10 K and 27 mile bike ride. It is a lot of fun and I have my 5K PR on this course. I had never done the bike ride and wanted to get some training in before the picnicking began. So I entered both the 5K and the 27 mi bike ride. Do not be fooled. It is not a biathlon. It is two separate races.

So first I ran the 5K, then about ½ an hour after I finished, I did the bike ride. Now, like I said I PR’d on this run course in 2008, so it is a fast course. However, as my results show, I am apparently faster than I remember. My results show a 25:04. I can assure you I am not that fast. Obviously there was an error of some sort. I remember after the race they kept announcing something like “We cannot do anything about the final results. We are reporting to you the information we were given.” There must have been a lot of mix ups. My finish time was about 11 minutes slower. (I know – lightening).

The bike ride was much better. I managed to average 16.5 mph on the bike and it was somewhat hilly. I really enjoyed it. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon

This year I signed up to do the Olympic distance triathlon for the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon. I felt it would be a good indicator of where I was at in my training for the REV3 half iron triathlon. I especially was looking forward to the swim because it was a point to point swim in the Schuylkill River – and we were swimming with the current. I have been feeling stronger lately with my swimming so I knew this would be a good gauge.

I woke up that day around 4am and went into the bathroom so as not to disturb my son and nephew. I got ready in there and ate my bagel and banana breakfast. Around 5 am I woke my nephew Mike up and he drove me to the transition drop off area. Amazing thing about being this far east is how early the sun rises. It was full light outside by the time we got there. I grabbed by back pack and headed down the hill. He drove back to the hotel for a couple more hours of snooze time.

When I got to the transition area I began to set up. I could hear over the PA the race director giving directions. I didn’t pay attention at first but then I heard it. The swim portion was cancelled. At first I thought it may have been because of the water itself. The river temp was 86 and wet suit illegal at that temp. It had rained a bit and I though it may have stirred up contaminants so they cancelled the swim.

But that was not the case. As I listened I could not believe the tragedy that unfolded as I listened. A triathlete from the sprint tri the day before went missing during the swim portion of the race. The police and search and rescue teams could not locate his body and they were still in the process of looking. Oh My God. How tragic. How unfortunate. It was horrible and so sad. It immediately put me into a funk. The mood of the transition area and the race in general was so somber. It was very surreal. I have not been able to shake it.

They changed the race to a duathlon – 5K run, 40 K bike and 10K run. I was not happy about it but definitely understood and agreed with the decision. To make matters worse, it was 87 at 7am that morning. By around 10am, the temp had gotten to 97 with a heat index way over 100. People were passing out left and right. Ultimately they shortened the race, shut down the timers and those still out on the course could still cross the finish line. So basically I did not do the full distance but I did most. I had no choice, but I am marked as a finisher. I really feel like a fraud but this could not be helped and I had no control of the weather. I believe the race officials were being very cautious because of so many people passing out from heat exhaustion and heat stroke and due to the tragedy of the day before.

I was very dehydrated at the end of the race and could honestly not think straight or put a thought together. I’m sure I lost about 10 lbs of water weight despite the volume I was trying to drink and dump on my head. One of the best things I have to say about the race is the awesome volunteers had plenty of cold water and Gatorade the entire race.

The police eventually found the body of the missing triathlete. I have no words for the sadness of the situation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trip to Philadelphia

I left for Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon on Thursday afternoon on June 24th with my 12 year old Sam. Unfortunately, my husband Lou and younger son Tom could not make it this year. Lou had to work – he only gets paid when he works and with a 10 week gig, you take what you can get when you can get it. Sadly, they were missed.

Sam and I did make a stop in Altoona, PA so I could do a survey at a facility there. Once I was done with that, Sam and I made a quick stop at the Boyer Chocolate Factory Outlet Store. For those of you not from the PA area, let me tell you what they make. They are known for Mallo Cups. A Mallo Cup is like a Reeses cup but instead of peanut butter in the middle, there is marshmallow in the middle. Yum. We picked up some goodies for ourselves and I got some for the people in my home office in Philadelphia and we took off.

I made it to my office just before 4pm on Friday to drip off the chocolate, meet with my manager and pick up my tri packet before he left for the weekend. After that, we went to check in to the hotel and then out for a ride to preview the bike course. Now I did the sprint distance last year and the swim and run are similar, but the bike course is very different. To say it is hilly is an understatement. I would classify it as mountainous. It is two loops with 4 very technically challenging hills. Two loops means 8 hills. Yikes. Oh well, in for a penny…

After we did that, we went to a very nice party sponsored by my company. The party was at a private boathouse on famous Boathouse Row in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. It is gorgeous. There were many of my fellow employees and many of the pros that were racing that weekend at the party. It was very nice.

Saturday was very low key. Sam I took in a couple of local museums (Mutter Museum and The Touch Museum) we also saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. I went to dinner with Sam and my nephew Mike. He lives in Philly and works as an engineer at Lockheed Martin. He was staying with us to help me in the morning.

As part of my packet, I received temporary tattoos that were my race number. They were made by Tritats at and were very cool. I put those on before I went to bed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Willoughby Lions Duathlon

Sorry I have been such a bum lately about postings. I have been in a bit of a funk this last month and haven’t been able to shake it. Bear with me it will probably take a couple of posts to catch up then explain why. There is a lot I need to post so I will take it one post at a time.

On June 13th, I did a duathlon that consisted of a 5K run, 20 mile bike and a 5K run. I was using it as a ‘C’ race to see where I would be for the Olympic distance triathlon I had coming up in Philadelphia on June 25th. It was essentially the same distance without the swim and a break for the run.

This is a small local race and very low key. I like it a lot because it is good for beginners. However, most of the people participate in the biathlon that is a 5K and 13 miles on a bike. I did that one last year.

I got my TEAMPHLY tri suit and wore it to this race. It feels nice to be a part of such a great thing.

It was very muggy that day and by the end of the race, fog had rolled in off Lake Erie.

I did come in second place in my age group for the duathlon. But to be fair, there were only two people racing in my age group. There were only about 30 people who competed in the race and only 6 were women. Essentially, all I had to do was cross the finish line and I would win, place or show in my age group.

Now, in general, I have never professed to be good or fast at swimming, biking or running. I only profess to enjoy doing it. If being fast was a prerequisite, I would have quit a long time ago. I did come in last place in this race but I finished. I am glad for that. I do not worry that I’m last. I believe I’m making last ‘cool’ – as a new running mate of mine – Lisa – said recently.

The only problem I had was when the municipal guys came by in their truck picking up the race cones when I was still running the last 5K. I was thinking – Nice. How will I know where to turn? There is this weird part of the course where you go thru someone’s backyard. If they removed the cones I could be going thru the wrong back yard. Luckily, another course volunteer came out to direct me in.

I was happy with my slow result. I figured I would add about 35-40 minutes to my finishing time if I added a swim for an olympic distance tri.