August 16, 2011

Folsom Sprint Triathlon (Race Report)

I went into the Folsom Sprint Triathlon looking to push myself but also have some fun at the same time. After Vineman the sprint distance seemed refreshing to me, sort of how a 5k seems after training for and running a marathon. I didn't really train for the race, but I knew I had enough fitness left over to carry me through, and I was curious to see what I'd be capable of at a shorter distance. It was also a unique experience because I got to see my coworker, Heather, complete her first ever triathlon. This was extra exciting, because just a few days after I registered for Ironman Cd'A she did, too, jumping into the triathlon world head first! My times were within a close range of the goals I'd set, so I was pleased, and overall the race was a great time.

We arrived at Nimbus Flats just past 6am and already the park was buzzzing with eager triathletes. There was also a long course race that started earlier and was underway not long after we arrived, adding to the excitement of all us sprinters. We checked in, got our packets, our child-sized t-shirts (boo), and then headed into transition. The majority of bike racks were reserved for tri clubs, and the rest were already pretty full. Heather and I managed to squeeze in together on a rack with a few other younger women and started setting up our stuff. Our packets were wet for some reason, as were the contents, which made attaching our bike numbers nearly impossible because the damp paper kept tearing. Once we got everything set up in transition we got body marked then headed to the potty. Before we knew it it was time to wiggle into our wetsuits and head down to the water.

The 800m (1/2 mi) swim was a rectangular course in Lake Natoma. It was a wave start in-water, which allowed us to acclimate a bit before it was time to go. The water was much colder than I anticipated, and my wetsuit for the day didn't fit me as well as my usual one. I knew once we got started we would warm-up and it would be on to the bike before we knew it, so I was eager to get started. Soon enough we were treading water amongst the other women in purple caps and then we were off! The swim has been my favorite leg in my races this season, but for some reason this once wasn't as smooth or enjoyable. I think part of it was a drop in fitness as I hadn't swam in a couple weeks, and part of it was the cold that I just wasn't used to. I never got into a good rhythm, but managed to keep moving forward steadily. After the second turn I noticed Heather was to my left, and so for the rest of the swim I just focused on staying with her. I swam until I could see the rocks on the bottom of the lake and then I was done!
 Lake Natoma
 start of the swim course
 purple caps
swim time (800m): 17:20

I made my way up the chute toward transition, stripping my wetsuit as I went. Transition was just a short way from the lake so I was at my bike in no time. Went through my usual routine, sucked down a Gu, then was off with the bike!

T1 time: 2:38

I followed the signs toward the bike out exit and hopped on just after the line. They had a photographer set up right at the mount line which I thought was a little strange since most folks look a little awkward as they're getting on their bikes. Luckily I didn't look like a complete fool! I got going on the bike path, and barely minutes in I came to a split in the path with a volunteer assigned to direct athletes. One way was for the long course while the other was for the sprint, but as I approached I got no direction, and the bikes in front of me didn't seem to know what to do either. I had to slow way down, losing my momentum, to shout at the guy for directions. His reply as I rode past was that it "wasn't his fault, it was all just messed up". I was a little peeved at the poor direction, but I tried to let it go and focus on what was in front of me.
bike mount
After a couple miles we emerged from the bike path onto the streets of Folsom. All I can say is holy hills! Until the turnaround it was one after the next. Most weren't super steep, but after barely riding for the last month, and being weak on hills to begin with, it was slow going on the first half of the course. Soon I reached the turnaround, excited to finally get to go down those hills! Around mile 8 I saw Heather heading toward the turnaround looking good which was a relief. She's been dealing with a persistent illness for a while and I was just a wee bit worried about her. I continued on, finally feeling warmed up and pushing the pace on the flats and cruising down all the hills. My speed went from anywhere between 14-16 mph on the way out to 18-20 mph on the way back, ensuring a nice negative split : ) I even clocked my fastest mile ever on the bike at 21 mph! The ride back was much more enjoyable and the time I made up brought me in right in the middle of my goal time range, ready to run and finish strong.

bike time (14 mi): 48:32

I racked my bike, gulped down another Gu, a salt cap, and water, switched to my run gear, then I was off!

T2 time: 2:32

The run was essentially an out-and-back on a stretch of the bike trail. I know that running after riding distorts my perception of pace and I'm usually running faster than it feels like, so I decided to go more off of effort than my watch. I felt pretty good in the first mile, my legs warmed up from the bike. There was some decent competition out there with all the tri clubs and more young women than I expected, so I kept an eye out for numbered calves in my age group and made an effort to pass them if I could. About a mile in we passed an aid station, where I proceeded to snort the entire cup up my nose, and then promptly blow it back out! It was a bit disorienting but funny all the same. Finally we came to the turnaround, and I was excited to be so close to finishing! I was still feeling fairly good and was maintaining a consistent pace, focusing on a fast cadence and good form. Just after passing the water stop again I saw Heather, looking a little tired but otherwise great. In the last half mile I felt the twinges of a side stitch, reminiscent of my long run just a couple days before, and was glad I had such a short way to go. With about a quarter mile to go we veered off the bike path onto a dirt trail, then finally reemerged with the finish line just ahead!

run time (3.1 mi): 26:34

I was glad to be done and pretty happy with how I did, but the first thing I did after I crossed the line was hurry back to transition to get my camera to get a finishing shot of Heather. About 10 minutes later I saw her come in and got a nice shot of her coming down the finish chute. She had a great first triathlon experience, and I was glad I could be a part of it. Fun fact: Heather actually cheered me on at my first triathlon in Tahoe, just a month after we started working together, since her roommate happened to be doing the same race : ) It was fun to look back at that first sprint triathlon almost a year ago and see how much everything has changed! Anyway, after we grabbed some water we headed over to the results tent to see how we did. I don't use my Garmin for the swim, so I didn't know my swim time or my overall time. I finished well under 2 hours, and placed 6th in my age group (I later found out that F 20-24 was pretty competitive - the top 3 women in my a.g. also were the top three women overall).
 Heather finishing strong!

total time: 1:37:36

Even though it was only a sprint we actually received pretty nice medals (makes up for the baby shirts) so to commemorate the event we decided to get them engraved on-site with our names and times. While we waited we sat through the raffle, in which I joked that I'd win the lame prize of a Starbuck's coffee thermos, only to actually win it moments later. Ha! Then we watched the awards ceremony up through our age groups before heading back to transition to pack up our stuff. After loading everything in the car we headed back to pick up our medals and take some final finisher pics. By that time it had warmed up quite a bit, and that cool water was looking pretty inviting! I was definitely glad I was done for the day. I had previously considered fitting in a few more miles before heading to work that afternoon, but quickly nixed that plan as it was way too hot out and I decided I'd done enough for the day. Every time I actually race a triathlon, no matter the distance, I remember why I keep coming back. The excitement and fun is what makes them so addicting, and the Folsom Sprint was the perfect way to finish off the season while leave me ready to pick things up again in December for the big IM.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fun race and a good way to end your tri season. I'm sure it will be December before you know it and you'll be ramping up your training again!