Racing with F2C Nutrition and DG Multisports

Racing with F2C Nutrition and DG Multisports
Photo by Craig Thorsen

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Victoria 70.3 Grand Finale

From atop Mount Finlayson
After three consecutive years of ferrying up to Sidney and driving south into Saanich and Victoria for this Ironman 70.3, Bryan and I have decided this race will mark the last Victoria experience we have for awhile. Yes, the scenery, sites, greenery, and significant agricultural lure continue to interest me, but the population growth, horrendous traffic, and deteriorating roads do not. We marveled at the changes that took place in just three years.

For the race this year, race directors moved the start and finish back to the north end of Elk Lake. This allowed for an improved swim, both because of cleaner waters and a more accurate swim course distance. They also maintained the single loop of cycling, which traversed all types of roads and took us through nearly every type of environment this small peninsula of British Columbia has to offer. I appreciated the scenery of this course with the stretches of thick, lush forests that enveloped the road. Finally, the run continued to follow the 10k path comprised of gravel, dirt, and a short stretch of asphalt. This year, we ran in a counter clockwise direction, which is what we did the first year, in 2015.

This race has developed in the past three years, also. We noticed many of the mistakes made in the first and second years have disappeared, and race directors have improved the pre race experience just as much as that of the overall race experience itself. However, parking continues to hamper much of the pre race process, despite their efforts to use shuttles as a mode of convenience. Upon arriving at Hamsterly Beach race morning, a long line extending from the transition entrance had us shaking our heads, too. Body marking should never establish itself just outside the entrance of transition.

Regardless, we made fast time setting up and walked down to the swim start. The corrals that forced athletes to cozy up far too close last year in our efforts to self seed into a rolling start position had widened this year. The extra accommodation allowed us all to position ourselves appropriately to enter the water when we wanted to. Seeding myself in the under 30 minutes section allowed me to actually, for the first time ever, swim a true 1.2 mile course in 28:13. For this reason, I know I'm now a firm advocate for the rolling start format rather than the wave start. Nine times out of ten, my wave start has screwed me. Trying to swim my way through schools of people who swim far slower than me has never seemed fair. With the rolling start, I actually had the opportunity to swim with people like me, and this time, I actually swam with the same people the entire swim, shifting positions no more than three to four times.

Out of the water, I struggled on the bike. Frustration overwhelmed me because of the way I felt coming out of the water. Regardless of the slightly uphill nature of the first 5 miles, my poor power output throughout the duration of the bike ride made me repeat the mantra, "Don't be complacent," when each cyclist passed me. My head kept telling me to push harder, but my legs seemed to have not gotten the memo. I dropped two places on the bike, and the 8 minutes I needed to make up to remain competitive in my age group haunted me during the run.

Despite the slightly hillier bike course this year that proved more challenging than in years past, I seemed fresh for the run. I remember thinking in the middle of the bike ride how badly I wanted to flop off my bike once in transition and embrace the race activity from the sidelines by forgoing the run altogether. I felt that bad. I learned a valuable lesson, though: just giving it a try.

Perhaps I ran angry. I likely ran determined. Within the first kilometer, I encountered Kendra Goffredo, a professional woman I'd had the pleasure to meet last year in Coeur d'Alene. We'd ran together for a bit there before she drew away from me on our way to the finish line. Here, it appeared I had the opportunity to return the favor, seeing as though I felt terrific. She thanked me for my presence on this lonely stretch of the course, and we continued to run together until the fifth kilometer or so, when I started to pull away in my efforts to find the two other women I knew of in my age group who had passed me on the bike.

The first lap: fantastic!
By the end of the first lap, I had not found them. I started into the second lap wondering how long this feeling of invincibility would last. By this time, other slower runners had entered the course for their first lap. It took some effort to fly over roots and rocks and through slower people. I felt compelled to stop and make sure one girl I'd just passed felt okay after she tripped and fell over a rock. I exchanged patient words with a loose dog its owner obviously thought would not be a problem despite the race taking place on the same trail.

The home stretch: brutal.
I ran up the hill at miles 5 and 11 for the last time. Here, I realized I'd actually made substantial ground on the two women in my age group as they ran down the hill when I ran up it. I had 2 kilometers to overtake them, and I decided that yes, I really wanted that satisfaction.

With one kilometer to the finish, I passed them both. Most notably, however, I ran my fastest run split to date, in a time just shy of 1:32. My mixed feelings after this race stem from the fact my two break through performances in the swim and on the run were not enough to overcome my poor performance on the bike. In addition, I realized the downside to a rolling start when, despite crossing the finish line  as the third woman in my age group, I ended up in 4th place. I don't think the satisfaction of passing both those ladies on the run will be tainted by the seconds that inevitably deprived me of third place, though. I remind myself to embrace the small victories that ultimately mean I'm making progress toward my bigger goals. The big picture alludes me sometimes, but generally, I find myself filled with excitement for the potential I have not yet

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Troika Olympic Triathlon

I had plans to write this post no later than one week post race with the idea that I could say it took that long to let my fingers thaw and regain the dexterity to type again. As I sit in a hotel room in Mount Vernon and prepare to depart for Sidney, BC on a ferry in the morning nearly two weeks after Troika, I realize that now, my fingers have not only thawed but actually sport a bit of bronze from the sunshine that radiated down upon us all last week. Leave it to a busy race schedule to hold me accountable to writing my race reports.

Leave it to Mother Nature to remind me of the unpredictability of Spokane spring weather. I remember thinking last weekend while riding across sun-soaked pavement how hot I felt, sweat trickling down my face. On the wet and cold Saturday morning Troika Triathlon (sprint, Olympic, long and duathlon courses) happened to fall upon, my sweat mixed freely with beads of water, both falling out of the ski and splashing upon me from passing cars. To marvel at the irony only makes me shake my head. Well done, Mother Nature. Touché.

What more need I say? We all hope for stellar conditions on a day we pay significant amount of money for the opportunity to knowingly push ourselves past a level of serious discomfort. We all know the feeling of race officials kicking us out of transition with nothing but our wetsuits on to keep us warm while rain pelts us from above, generally at least 30-45 minutes prior to the time we actually dive into the water. Perhaps what surprised us on Saturday morning more than the misery of swimming in the cold Medical Lake water was how much more pleasant the swim turned out to feel compared to the "swim" we all experienced on the bike ride.

In fact, trying to use my frozen hands to pull out the silicone ear plugs I'd jammed into my ears and remove my wetsuit that seemed to have latched onto my ankles proved impossible. Looking at the results, it appears my slow transition times cost me valuable time overall. Though my less than stellar performance on the bike could possibly have done me in, too.

Photo by Rene Guerrero Photography
The wet roads and sheets of rainfall likely did more for my character than my confidence. As I dismounted my bike after a less than enjoyable paddle over the soggy roads of Medical Lake, I felt nothing but gratitude for a bike course that, this year, more closely adhered to the standard distance for an Olympic distance triathlon. Memories of confusion regarding the extra two miles that weasled their way into the course last year made me think how fortunate we should all feel that the storm had held up those extra two miles in their attempt to entertain us again this year.

My sentiments regarding the weather quickly turned to concern when, upon dismounting my bike, I felt relatively disoriented. I reminded myself that despite the puddles I'd landed in, this was neither the time nor the place to experience the sensation that having sea legs imparts. So I pulled off my swim fins came to my senses and waded haphazardly through the chute into transition.

It turns out unbuckling my helmet proved harder than taking off my wetsuit. When I couldn't make progress with my headdress, I shifted my attention to my shoes. By the time I'd donned my Hokas and bib number belt, my fingers had regained enough function to unbuckle my helmet, but the time spent floundering cost me more precious time I didn't have to lose.

Photo by Rene Guerrero Photography
On the running trail, the rain seemed to have abated. The legs I struggled to feel during the bike ride had shown up for the run. Spectators told me I'd come into transition as third overall woman, which meant I had work to do. I found this particular work comfortably uncomfortable. Running at a sub-7 minute/mile pace felt familiar despite not having spent much time this early season running it because of injury. It also made for a fast first lap around the lake, which, though rewarding, hardly compared to the happiness I felt upon finding my good friend, Craig Thorsen, prior to finishing the first lap. After some gentle encouragement, Craig ushered me onward for a second go around the lake with a quick whip, "Get to work."

I thought to myself how difficult that might actually be given I had not yet tracked down either of the two women ahead of me by the end of the first lap. Yet I should have trusted myself when, after making my way through the park, I spotted the talented Kari Cardon about 100 yards in front of me. At the time, I pondered whether or not I should expose myself so soon. We had two more miles until the finish line, and her form from behind convinced me she ran strong. I don't know what compelled me to go for it, but I decided to maintain my pace, and it proved fast enough to catch up with her.

With just over a mile to go, I passed another woman thinking I'd run my fatiguing self into first place. However, I later found out my competition had actually finished well ahead of me, and the other woman I'd passed had merely finished her first of three laps of the long course race.

Not often do I find myself at the finish line shivering. On this day, I did. Bryan finished a few minutes after me, and we quickly gathered our soaking belongings from transition before seeking refuge in the truck. Though not the most pleasant of race experiences, I remind myself how fortunate I am to participate in these athletic endeavors regardless of the weather and conditions. Now, I look forward to tackling Ironman Victoria 70.3 this weekend, and so far, the forecast looks a little more accommodating for a race.

Photo by Craig Thorsen.