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Napa Valley Sprint Triathlon - TriathlonSprint

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Napa, California
United States
Enviro-Sports Productions
Total Time = 2h 08m 16s
Overall Rank = 291/497
Age Group = Athena
Age Group Rank = 3/8
Pre-race routine:

I got the flu (or something close to it) four days before the race -- didn't work out at all on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, and ate only crackers and juice between Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon. I did a very short run Saturday to see how I felt, and it wasn't great, but I decided if I could force down some dinner that night I'd give the race a shot. I managed some pasta and a few bites of chicken, so I went for it. I figured worst case scenario, I get partway through the race and have to DNF -- and better DNF than DNS.

I'd been sleeping so much the past few days that I had trouble falling asleep Saturday night, but I must've slept at some point because that alarm was painful at 4 a.m. Sunday. Got ready and was off by 4:30 a.m. to pick up Shizu. And a word about Shizu: best friend ever. She pretty much insisted on getting up stupid-early with me for this race, despite my repeated insistence that it wasn't necessary and that I might not even finish. But I was so glad to have her there!

On the way up I tried to eat a Clif bar but only managed half of it, plus half a bottle of pomegranate juice. I wasn't feeling sick anymore, but after so long without real food my body just wasn't ready to eat. I badly wanted coffee but didn't want to risk it on an empty stomach. I broke the No. 1 tri rule -- don't do anything new on race day! -- and bought some Gatorade to drink during the race. I never drink Gatorade but I knew I'd badly need some form of nutrition and the very idea of a gel was making me nauseated.

We got to Lake Berryessa plenty early, and I racked my bike and picked up my race packet. I had about an hour to kill then, so we wandered around, checked out the water, tried to get a look at the bike and run routes (not really possible), hit the bathrooms a couple times, all the usual stuff. My original plan for this race had been to come up the day before and check out the course with LJR, then spend the night with a friend in Napa, but obviously being sick didn't fit with that plan.
Event warmup:

Getting into the wetsuit, of course. The transition area was wide open so Shizu actually hung out with me and helped me get into the wetsuit. I think it was great she got to be so close to the action this time, since her first race is about a month away. From there we walked down to the water and I got in and went through my usual pre-race water-freakout routine. *g* I swam maybe 100 yards or so. I opted to join the last (slowest) wave, partly because I'm just that slow, and partly because I was determined to not push it in this race and the last thing I needed was to get competitive in the water. Right before our wave was called I started chatting with a woman next to me who was doing her first tri. As we waded into the water I asked if she'd done an OWS before and she said no. I worried for her, because I could tell she was really nervous, so I told her she should get in the water right away, put her head under, and prepare to freak out a little from the cold. Which is exactly what she did. She came up and her eyes bugged out a little and I told her it was OK, that she might feel like she couldn't breathe but she was fine, and that it happened to me every time I got in open water (so true). She looked pretty panicked, but she stuck with it and seemed to be doing better by the time they got us started. I watched her start the race and she seemed OK, but I found out later that she didn't finish the swim (though they let her finish the rest of the race). That's too bad, but I overheard her talking to some friends after the race and she sounded OK and was talking about what she'd do differently next time, so yay! I'm glad she wasn't turned off of tris.
  • 20m 5s
  • 880 yards
  • 02m 17s / 100 yards

This was a great swim for me! If the distance is correct (and yeah, who knows), it was my best swim ever, and even if it wasn't, I felt great. I started off really easy. My goggles were super leaky in the first 100-200 yards. I tried to just ignore it at first, but it got bad enough that I could barely see so at the first buoy I stopped and tightened the straps (thank God, for once I'd opted to leave my goggle straps over the swim cap). They worked fine after that. The rest of the swim just flew by, which was amazing, since swims usually seem to take forever. I realized partway through that the big difference this time was swimming in a lake vs. the bay. It's weird, when I swim in the bay I don't think of the salt water or the choppy surface or the frigid water bothering me (once I get used to it, I mean), but swimming in the cool, calm, clean-tasting lake was so relaxing.

Sighting was great and I got into a very easy rhythm of swim six strokes, sight, swim six, sight, etc. There were a lot of breast strokers and quite a few times I had to work hard to maneuver around them, but other than that the crowds didn't bother me at all.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, except learn to swim faster, and maybe one of these days figure out how to draft.
Transition 1
  • 04m 59s

Haha. I made all the typical mistakes. I took off my cap and goggles as I was running to transition. Shizu was right beside me and we were chatting and laughing, so I was pretty distracted, but whatever, it was fun. About halfway to transition I told her I should probably take off the top of my wetsuit and laughed, and she reminded me not to be shy. At my first race in March, I'd just stripped off the top of my suit when I saw the photographer and got all embarrassed and tried to cover myself up. I know, ridiculous. Anyway, it was a long-ish run to my bike so I had the top off by the time I got there, but then struggled A LOT getting the rest of the suit off. The right side was fine but I couldn't get off the left leg and I was hopping around like an idiot. I finally realized it was caught on my timing chip, but it took me another 10-20 seconds to figure out how to untangle the mess. Shizu was standing outside transition laughing at me the whole time (and apologizing, since she'd been the one to strap on the timing chip). Finally got it all off, put on a shirt, pulled on socks and shoes, swallowed some Gatorade, and was off.
What would you do differently?:

Remember to take off the top of the wetsuit before the cap and goggles. Learn the secret to pulling off a wetsuit with a timing chip.
  • 59m 55s
  • 15 miles
  • 15.02 mile/hr

Not a bad bike for me. I knew I wouldn't be able to push hard at all, not if I wanted to finish this race, and I'd been a little worried about all the hills, but it was never that bad. I practice a fair amount on hills anyway and I'm used to just settling in and being slow if I have to, which is exactly what I did in this race. There were definitely some challenging hills, but they were never too long or too steep -- I think I went on the small ring two or three times? I was going super slow but passed plenty of people on the uphills.

The uphills were totally worth it to get those descents! I love flying downhill, and I've never gotten to do that in a race setting. I know I hit at least 30 mph a couple times. I noticed several people just coasting on the downhills, which I thought was kind of strange. I get using the downhills to recover, but you don't have to pedal much at all to pick up more speed on a downhill, so I always figure I might as well keep moving the legs.

I concentrated a lot on keeping a nice, even cadence during this ride, and keeping my gear-changing smooth. I think I did pretty well. Training on hills helped a lot here, because I've learned that I don't have to beat up my legs and kill myself getting up a hill, and that it's OK to take it easy and just downshift until I'm comfortable.

About halfway through the bike I felt my nutrition problems (ie, not eating for three days) coming up and got my first real pangs of weakness. I was able to keep going fine, but I knew the run wasn't going to be fun.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. If I hadn't been sick, I would've pushed harder.
Transition 2
  • 02m 49s

I should be faster here, but whatever, I wasn't breaking any records today. Shizu was right there again and cheering for me the entire time. It was awesome! As I was putting on my running shoes she yelled out "tie those laces, Allday!" and the guy across from me, who'd already finished his race, turned to me and said, "Wow, you've got your own personal heckler." I just laughed and said I loved it, which I did.
What would you do differently?:

Be faster?
  • 40m 26s
  • 4 miles
  • 10m 07s  min/mile

I knew the run was going to be my weak point in this race, and I was right. The course is a long, slow uphill for most of the first half, and then a long, fast downhill for the second half. Ordinarily this would be my favorite kind of run, since I love hills. But by the time I got to the run I was feeling almost totally spent, and I just hoped to run the whole thing. I planned to walk through every aid station and grab water and/or Gatorade, which is something I never do in a short race. I'm not sure if I'd do that again -- it was definitely smart to get the fluids, but I do much better if I just keep running, I think; it's too hard to stop and start again, even if I'm walking. The heat didn't help matters. It was only in the mid-70s, I think, but we were right out in the sun and I definitely felt overheated and dehydrated.

Honestly, the whole run was just one long slog, but I did manage to run it all.
What would you do differently?:

Not get sick before the race.
Post race
Warm down:

I grabbed a giant bottle of water at the finish and then found a shady place to sit with Shizu and watch the end of the race. After 10 or 15 minutes I decided I'd regret it if I didn't get up and walk around a little, so we went over to pick up my T-shirt and then wandered around the finish area. For once I was able to stay for the entire end of the race -- usually I have a group of friends with me and I feel guilty asking them to stay for the whole thing. It was so fun to stand at the finish and cheer for all the BOPpers! There was one woman who was finishing the bike while I was on the run and got a flat about a mile from the end. I ran by her walking her bike back, and saw her come into transition and then take off on the run. I was so impressed with her continuing her race, and she was super fast on the run! But she looked *pissed* at the end and was kind of scowling at those of us cheering for her. Heh. I can't say I totally blame her.

Shizu and I ended up hanging around for the awards ceremony, which again was a first for me. I still couldn't really eat anything, so I drank lots of Gatorade and water and just lounged on the grass and cheered for the awesome racers. Man, there are some fast people out there. It was fun to hear my name called as third in Athena, and I was sitting next to the first place Athena so we got to congratulate each other.

I ran to the bathroom one more time before heading out and as I walked back to get my bike from the rack, there was Shizu helping the volunteers pick up trash. I swear, that woman is incredible.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Getting sick!

Event comments:

I love this race! It's a gorgeous area and the bike route is by far the prettiest I've seen in a race. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to someone who is brand new to tris or racing, since it's a longer-than-typical sprint and the hilly course makes it somewhat challenging. But it's a super friendly event and very well organized, and I really appreciated the non-competitive atmosphere.

On a personal note, this race made me realize just how not-typicaly the Stanford tri was for me, and thank God for that. The Stanford race -- my first full tri -- was pretty much a disaster, and I've wondered ever since then if I maybe wasn't really meant for tris, or if I'd just had a lousy day. The Napa race, while obviously not a great one for me, made me realize that I really can do OK at this, and that something obviously threw me off my game at Stanford. I'm guessing that the water conditions -- lots of racers were talking afterwards about how choppy the bay had been and how much water they'd swallowed -- really hurt me, more than I'd thought. I remember wheezing and feeling just exhausted after the swim, and I'd worried it was just because I'm a crappy swimmer. Well, I am a crappy swimmer, but the Napa race proved to me that being a crappy swimmer isn't going to ruin the other two events for me, which is a huge relief.

Last updated: 2008-02-23 12:00 AM
00:20:05 | 880 yards | 02m 17s / 100yards
Age Group: 5/8
Overall: 0/497
Performance: Good
Course: One big loop.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 67F / 19C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:59
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
00:59:55 | 15 miles | 15.02 mile/hr
Age Group: 4/8
Overall: 0/497
Performance: Average
Wind: Little
Course: Out and back on rolling hills.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:49
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal
00:40:26 | 04 miles | 10m 07s  min/mile
Age Group: 2/8
Overall: 0/497
Performance: Below average
Course: Out and back along the same road as the bike route.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2008-05-05 9:47 PM

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Berkeley, Calif.
Subject: Napa Valley Sprint Triathlon

2008-05-05 11:04 PM
in reply to: #1383782

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Napa Valley Sprint Triathlon

No "should haves"--you put together an awesome race despite being ill!!! Congratulations on a fantastic swim, and I believe ahem I heard some love for the bike ... yes indeed ... and your run was perfect given the circumstances. A beautiful, smooth, well-executed tri ... but most impressively ... that though you weren't feeling well and wasn't sure about the race, you took time to help a newbie with the swim.

2008-05-06 12:08 AM
in reply to: #1383782

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Subject: RE: Napa Valley Sprint Triathlon
Great report, Erin! You definitely fought hard for this one and worked through some major obstacles.... impressive!!

Mark this one down again next year, and let's get a group together for camping on the weekend. That would be a blast, no doubt. Shizu, "the heckler", is most welcome to join us! ;-)

Edited by LJR 2008-05-06 12:09 AM
2008-05-06 5:00 PM
in reply to: #1383782

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Sous Mon Diadème
Subject: RE: Napa Valley Sprint Triathlon
Congratulations, Erin!  I'm amazed that you got out there and did your thing with as sick as you were earlier in the week.  Great job.
2008-05-06 6:08 PM
in reply to: #1383782

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Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: Napa Valley Sprint Triathlon
Way to finish strong given your week.  I really hope that I find someone like you to stand by in the water for my first tri.  You probably no idea how much that must have helped her (even if she didn't finish the swim).   Excellent job.
2008-05-06 7:33 PM
in reply to: #1383782

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Napa Valley Sprint Triathlon
I am impressed.  More than impressed that you chose to race after being so sick all week and then executed a terrific race.  KUDOS for a great race and thinking it throughto be able to finish what you started.  Also, thanks for encouraging that extremely nervous swimmer before the race.  As a nervous OWS person I can relate to her anxiety level and your encouragement probably is what helped her look forward to "next time" even after getting pulled out. 

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