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Troika Half Iron Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Spokane, Washington
United States
95F / 35C
Total Time = 6h 24m 20s
Overall Rank = 107/197
Age Group = W40-44
Age Group Rank = 10/16
Pre-race routine:

I didn't register until the Monday before the race. I had started a new job two weeks prior to that, and was having trouble getting my workouts in, so I wanted to see how I felt with some long workouts over the weekend before the race. I felt great until I pushed the 'Enter' button, then things started to hurt and I started to really wonder if I'd done the right thing.

Pre race was pretty casual this time. I've come a long way in terms of race prep. It used to take me all day to get everything packed up (and I DO mean EVERYTHING! You never know when you might need a whole baggie full of safety pins, right? Or baby powder - never mind that I've never used it - I had a container in my transition bag.)

Oops, back to the race. Picking up the packet was a fun little mini-party. I DO like the people who do tris! When I got home I threw together my stuff and was ready.

Up at 4:00, 2 bottles of Latte flavored Perpetuem for breakfast - mmmmm... My brother was volunteering today so we rode out together. I'm so glad he's in this whole tri thing with me - it's so much fun with him there! Since he was Transition Security, we got there WAAAAAAAAY early, but that was fine. I got a great transition spot and met my rack mates. People are funny about their space. The guy on the end had layed out a huge bathtowel with his stuff all spread out and when one other person tried to squeeze in this guy said, "Well, there's really no space." Oh c'mon!

This is a point-to-point ride, so I left my run bag where they told me (only time all day when I was first!) then stood around and chatted. Very casual.

I was more nervous about this race than I was about the Ironman just because I was unsure about my fitness. Even so, the morning was pretty calm. I practiced my race face, described by the SFT as something like a happy labrador going for a ride in the car.

At the last minute, I decided I should turn on my Garmin to let it synch so it would be faster when I got out of the water. It didn't find me so I just left it on expecting it would finish up while I was in the water. I hoped that the batteries would last. I couldn't remember what the life was supposed to be.

Wetsuit went on easy - LOTS of bodyglide - and I went down to the beach just as they were calling everyone out. I hopped in to get my hair wet, but didn't swim a stroke.

Event warmup:

No warmup unless you count running down to the beach since I was running a little later than I thought.
  • 41m 37s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 58s / 100 yards

The swim was pretty uneventful. I haven't been in the water hardly at all in three weeks, so I just took it easy and concentrated on being long and smooth. I didn't have to go through any seaweed, I didn't see any scary stuff (read "anything") under the water, there was no visible goose poop, and I had a pretty good swim.

It seemed to take a long time to get to the turn buoy, but the way back seemed faster. This is weird, usually it takes forever to get back to the beach.

No leaky goggles, no chafing from the wetsuit (thank you Bodyglide!) and the water, while warm, was just about perfect for a nice relaxing morning swim.

This was a PR by 3-4 minutes.
What would you do differently?:

Keep up the weekday swims in the weeks leading up to the race. I knew I could complete the distance with no trouble, but was just a little concerned about how much I'd feel it. Ended up being fine.
Transition 1
  • 03m 10s

Well, the 'casual' theme followed through to T1. I strolled up the beach and jogged just a little while trying to get my cap off. The thing was impossible - I think the lake water fused it to my head! When I FINALLY got the dumb cap off (at least it was pink!) my wetsuit came off pretty easy. It caught on my chip so I had to reach down to get that leg off, but the other one popped right out.

I had put my bodyglide in my shoe on top of my socks so I would be sure to see it. I didn't want any blisters today! I hung my number on my handlebars because it was in the way and smeared BG all over my toes. Having a bottle of water there to rinse off my feet is such a great thing -thank you BT!

I wasn't in too big of a hurry, but got the shoes on, loaded everything into a black plastic garbage bag to cook in the sun all day after being transported to the finish, then stood up to put my helmet, Garmin (it found me) and glasses on. Unracked my bike and started out when something fluttered against my knee. Oh yeah, number on the handlebars. Stopped, pulled it off, leaned my bike against me where it promptly fell over while I was clipping my number belt. Since no water was running out of my aerobottle I left it there while I got situated. Probably looked silly.

FINALLY got up to the mount line, clipped in easily and started off.
What would you do differently?:

Not much on this day. Put my number on before unracking my bike, but with a long hot day ahead of me I really wasn't in that much of a hurry.

My focus on this day was to enjoy myself.
  • 3h 11m 43s
  • 56 miles
  • 17.53 mile/hr

This was definitely my favorite part of the day, but not right at first. I couldn't quite settle in for the first bit (which is normal). My hips ached, my seat wasn't quite comfortable, and my stomach wasn't quite right. I definitely felt like I was working too hard for my speed. I got passed a lot. Luckily I got a bee down my shirt after 15 miles or so and while she was stinging me over and over I forgot all about those other things.

It was so weird. I thought I felt something fly down my shirt way early in the ride, but when I didn't feel any stings or crawlies I figured I was fine. Then MILES later I got stung on my side right up by my HR strap, and while I was going 'ow ow ow' and frantically peeling up my shirt, I got stung three or four more times on my stomach. Holy cow, that hurt! My friend was passing me at the time... "Bee?" "Yup." It really threw me and I was quite the baby about the whole thing, but my hips and stomach were fine after that.

I felt better and better through this whole ride, and felt my best the last 10 miles. I actually passed some people this year! Despite the hip issues and the bee stings, I loved this ride - it's beautiful and there are some fantastic hills (up AND down!). It wasn't too hot and I had plenty to eat and drink with InfinIT and water and a couple of cola shot bloks. Mmmm...

What would you do differently?:

Better training leading up to the race if all was perfect, but I was balancing recovery, a new job and training, so it was fine.
Transition 2
  • 02m 29s

When I rolled in to T2, there was my brother and a young helper waving me over. I rode up, they grabbed my bike, I threw my helmet and shoes in a bag and went over to grab my run bag. Well, OK, it wasn't quite that fast. It COULD have been, but I had to talk a bit. I think my first words were "What a fun ride!" So we got to have a little visit while I was de-biking.

This is a great and fast transition and my time doesn't reflect how fast it could be. You could do this one in under a minute easy. Someone catches your bike, another volunteer holds a bag open right beside it for your helmet and shoes and whatever else you want to leave, you walk (run?) about 20 feet where another volunteer is holding out your bag of run stuff right by some benches, then you go.

I had put my bodyglide in my run shoe too since I tend to forget it, so I slimed up my toes again, put on fresh socks, TIED my shoes (sorry to all my fast elastic-lace friends - I had the laces just perfect and didn't want to mess up the feel of my shoes right before the race) changed glasses, chatted with the volunteers and finally ran out.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing on this day.
  • 2h 25m 24s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 06s  min/mile

Well. It was hot. But even though I was watching the heat in the days before the race, it didn't worry me or affect me as much as it did others. The secret to this race is to do all your workouts in the month or so leading up to the race in the heat of the day. I was lucky enough to have been able to do that. My biggest worry was that for two weeks before the race I'd been sitting in an air conditioned building all day and hadn't been out in the heat too much. Turned out fine.

There was a POP just over the mat so I made a quick stop - ahhhhhh, that was worthwhile! Wish it had been in transition, though. Ah well. It's there on the run every year, and I'm usually glad to see it.

There isn't much to say about this run. It was hot. It is along our Centennial Trail, which is beautiful and runs along the river,and is also nice and flat. The hardest stretch for me is in the middle of the out and back, the trail is the shoulder of a fairly busy road. there's no shade and not much to look at. Seems like a long stretch to me.

The water stations appeared just about when I needed them, serving HEED, HammerGel, water and ICE! I kept looking for caffienated gel but no one had any.

My keeping-cool strategy was to put ice in my hat, an ice sponge under each strap of my top along my neck and let the water drip down to keep my clothes wet. I never dried out but I didn't think there was enough water to soak my socks. My socks were damp at the end but I'm not sure if it was the water or just normal wet socks. No blisters! I planned to alternate HEED/water with gel/water at the aid stations but replaced the gel with more HEED at a couple of them. Whatever it was worked for me - I got through the run feeling pretty good

The last couple of miles I was getting tired, and so that part of the run was a bit of a slog, but I think it was still better than some of my training runs in the two weeks before. :)

I want to say a quick word about my club. Our coaches built it up into a wonderful, vital club of like-minded people. We had a fantastic few years then unfortunately they had to move out of town. They are able to visit (they were here for all of my races this year flying the bright team colors!) For a while, the club kind of fell apart, but the people who were left really pulled together and kept it going. This year we have some new people too. Seeing 'my' team out on the course every time is absolutely fantastic. We cheer the loudest, have the most support for each other, and are the most visible - at least I think so. I'm proud to be a member and hope it continues to grow.

Ok, back to the run. I was glad to see the (uphill) finish. I pulled the sponges out of my straps to look my best :) before the last corner, ran up the hill and was done!

I was happy to have finished the race, and VERY happy to feel as good as I did. The labrador-out-the-window race face was still firmly in place.
What would you do differently?:

Ideally I would have had more long runs in the weeks leading up to the race, but again, balancing recovery, training and a new job just didn't allow it this year. My base carried me through, and I was happy with the result.
Post race
Warm down:

Stopped and talked with my teammates, congratulated a few finishers behind me, then walked up the stairs to get my RED sweatshirt and medal, then went over to get my post-race meal. Whoa. Our local Great Harvest Bread company caters this - there were turkey sandwiches on my favorite honey-wheat bread, bagels with cream cheese, watermelon and cantaloupe, cookies, pretzels... I was really hungry and I wanted to share with my support crew so I just piled it on. It was kind of funny because as they were creating my big pile of food, other racers were coming in and trying to find anything that looked good. The heat was kinder to me today than to many people. But OH that food was good!

Sat down in the grass with teammates and support crew (my brother) and feasted while we cheered more finishers across.

Mason had picked up all my stuff (yay!) and loaded it in the car, so all I had to do after my feast was to walk just far enough to loosen up then ride in a nice air-conditioned car home.

The rest of the warm-down wasn't nearly as much fun. After I got home and rinsed out my wetsuit (ugh - it cooked in a black plastic bag all day!) and got cleaned up and my stuff put away, I worked and worked in the house to get the rooms cleared out for the carpet installers. My wonderful husband had worked all day with my wonderful kids, but there was plenty left to pack and carry. I don't necessarily recommend this for the afternoon after a HIM, but we do what we gotta. Hooray for base!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Well, I was very happy with my time, it was a 16-minute PR over last year.

Weight is still a limitor for me, I'm still abotut 20 pounds over what I think my ideal race weight would be, but last year I was 30 pounds above it - progress has been made. :)

As far as things to change, I noticed my running was a lot faster after the 'build' period of IM training where I did the planned Z4 intervals, but I haven't been up to that since June and I'm slower now than I was . I would like to try the same 'build' plan on my bike to get faster - I did intervals early in the year on my trainer, but very few outside, and none at all since probably May. I think I'm going to try to increase my bike speed over the winter, and plan to do this race again next year after following a real training plan that incorporates speedwork.

Overall, though, I am very happy with this race.

Event comments:

This was the 29th annual Troika, and the first year under a new director.

Improvements over last year were POPs on the bike course (YAY!), race water bottles given before, not during, the race, no long mandatory race meeting the day before the race, and very visible technical support on the course. Continuing race positives were the course - I really like the course, the director and volunteers were easy to spot and very accessible, Hammer as a sponsor, Fitness Fanatics (local tri shop) as a sponsor, plenty of aid stations, the post race food, plenty of ice and water and other goodies at the stations - well, the mind boggles, but there were a lot of good things about this race.

Things that could have been better this year were better-trained run aid station volunteers (one group of young girls were huddled over away from the table while the sponge-hander-outer and sole adult sat in a lawn chair reading a paper when I came by), better trained bike catching volunteers (there were a lot of kids there who apparently needed quite a bit of coaching from the other volunteers)...hmm... that's all that comes to mind. Oh yeah, one more thing - I didn't like how the chip-timing company gave the results. There is no overall list, the age-group lists only go three deep, so you have to figure it out yourself. C'mon, it's just data, put it out there!

Now that I said that about the volunteers, I want to stress that ANYONE who comes out and volunteers at a race is a hero in my book - trained or not! They did their best based on what they knew. Those people stood around in the 95 degree weather, or walked back and forth picking up garbage, or did all of the other volunteer jobs without complaint and everyone had a smile and a positive comment as I went by. HOORAY for volunteers!!!

Overall, this was a very fun race, and I can't wait to come back and do it again next year!

Last updated: 2009-08-03 12:00 AM
00:41:37 | 2112 yards | 01m 58s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/16
Overall: 0/197
Performance: Good
Suit: Sleeveless BlueSeventy Reaction
Course: One long rectangle.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 80F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:10
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
03:11:43 | 56 miles | 17.53 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/16
Overall: 0/197
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: Start at Medical Lake, ride out to turnaround at Granite Road (toward Cheney), back around Clear Lake, then into Spokane.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:29
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:25:24 | 13.1 miles | 11m 06s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/16
Overall: 0/197
Performance: Good
Course: Out and back on the Centennial trail.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? No
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-08-05 8:23 AM

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Spokane, Washington
Subject: Troika Half Iron Triathlon

2009-08-05 10:01 AM
in reply to: #2329095

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Twin Cities
Subject: RE: Troika Half Iron Triathlon

It sounds as if you had a perfect day - I loved the relaxed approach that you took to the entire race.

I will say that you provided a unique race day solution - get stung by a bee in four different places as it will relieve hip and stomach discomfort - wow, you are HARD CORE!

Congratulations on a wonderful racer.

2009-08-05 11:53 AM
in reply to: #2329095

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Coeur D'alene, ID
Subject: RE: Troika Half Iron Triathlon

Awesome race Colleen!  Congrats on the PR too!  Glad to hear your club is sticking together.  It's always nice to have good people to hang out and train with.  Any other races planned for the summer?

2009-08-05 1:00 PM
in reply to: #2329095

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Subject: RE: Troika Half Iron Triathlon

Great race report, congratulations on the PR!

2009-08-06 6:51 AM
in reply to: #2329095

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Troika Half Iron Triathlon

I really enjoyed reading your RR. It sounds like you had fun out there

Congratulations on the PR and on an awesome job

2009-08-06 8:13 AM
in reply to: #2329095

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.

2009-08-18 1:24 PM
in reply to: #2329095

Subject: RE: Troika Half Iron Triathlon

Congrats Colleen on all of your races. This is Kendra from Spokane. I spoke with you a couple of times a few years ago. I was wondering who do you take your bike to to be worked on and who did your bike fit for aerobars? The bike store I have gone to for years and the mechanic who was awesome has left. I took my bike for a regular tune up and it was worse than before I took it in. I have since taken it bak but it comes back wioth addtional problems and I am not willing to go back.

I am doing Coeur d' Alene IM next year and really need to have a bike store I can rely on for good quality work.

Any input would be much appreciated. On a side note I have tried to e-mail Mason a couple of times to congratulate him on his Im finish. Does he have a new e-mail address. Both of you can e-mail me at

Also, how do you like Team Blaze?



Edited by Jeter2 2009-08-18 1:25 PM
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