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Ohio Women's Triathlon for the Cure - Alum Creek - TriathlonMini Sprint

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Columbus, Ohio
United States
Total Time = 1h 02m 4s
Overall Rank = 111/168
Age Group = Athena
Age Group Rank = 6/17
Pre-race routine:

Sorry for the exhaustive detail, but I want to remember every second of this experience!

I had a lot of trouble in the week leading up to this race, my first triathlon ever. I had started to worry that I wasn’t cut out for it. Well, come Friday, everything had somehow worked itself out and I was on my way to Columbus. Calm, happy, and prepared, I was actually excited for the race to start, not dreading it, and not suffering from nervous stomach (yet, I thought). My sweet boyfriend had made me a mix CD with songs to get me pumped up and we listened to it all the way up. "All I Do Is Win" by Lil Wayne was a little far from the truth, but it did the trick. :) And Florence & the Machine’s “Dog Days” ended up playing in my head through the entire race -- good choice, honey.

We got to Columbus, checked into the hotel, and went to the venue for the course preview. The lake was astoundingly beautiful, and all the race tents and transition areas just looked so freaking cool! Like a little girl, I was giddy over the stuff in my goodie bag. It was fun to see things all set up, and calming to get all the little details about body marking and whatnot. The HFP staff really made it a great event for first-timers like me.

After the preview, we drove the bike course, which started to freak me out. I was pretty worried about the rolling hills and the long, steady climb at the end of the course. I've neglected to train on hills and even the smallest ones I come across kill my legs and my HR.

We got some Chipotle and took it back to the hotel, and just relaxed and enjoyed some TV because we don’t have one at home. I took a shower, shaved my legs (because that tenth of a second worth of drag matters... lol), and flopped around in bed for about 6-7 hours. Not sure if I actually slept at all, but at least I was in a bed, right?

Two alarms went off at 4AM. I got ready, drank an Odwalla chocolate protein drink, and ate a Go Greens bar while flipping through more TV. Then I wanted something warm, so heated up some white rice. How’s that for a bizarre breakfast? Surprisingly, my stomach wasn’t fighting me as it usually does in the morning.

We got to the venue at about 5:45 AM. It was utterly beautiful -- the sun was barely beginning to rise over the lake. The air was cooler than I had felt it in weeks, and everything was so quiet and peaceful and dark. When I think of this day in the future, I will always remember looking out at that gorgeous sky and realizing that I was in for an unbelievable time.

Everything was easy and smooth from here because I had registered the day before and gotten to the venue so early. I set up my transition area, got marked, got some water to drink, took pictures, visited the bathroom three times (there were actual bathrooms!), and continued to marvel that my stomach wasn’t chaining me to a toilet. Surely closer to the event my nerves would kick in and I’d be in gut-wrenching panic pain... right?
Event warmup:

Didn't get to actually warm up much, but I did get in the lake and swim about 50 yards to get a feel for the water. It was clear, refreshing, and the perfect temperature -- so much nicer than East Fork, where I practice OWS.

The race time crept up on me quickly, which is good because I never had time to sit around and get nervous. I was fully prepared for my stomach to turn on me, and was quite shocked that it hadn’t by this point. Was I too tired, or what?
  • 06m 32s
  • 250 meters
  • 02m 37s / 100 meters

Well, here we go. Swimming is probably my best event, but this being my first tri, I didn’t want to push it at all. I just wanted to get through and have an enjoyable swim out in that pretty lake.

The swim was set up so that two people entered the water every five seconds or so, based on predicted swim time. How nice not to have to experience the washing machine at my first tri! I seeded myself in the 6:00 - 6:30 group and chatted with the women around me as we waited in line, which moved much faster than I thought it would. Still wasn’t nervous, though. My boyfriend came up and gave me a kiss, and I told him how excited I was. We were both shocked that I wasn’t freaking out.

As I stood at the timing mat waiting to get the go-ahead, I was still waiting for my stomach to go haywire on me. But aside from the tiniest little flutter, it was fine. And my heart wasn't pounding, either. When I finally realized once and for all that nerves weren’t going to get the best of me, it felt like the hardest part of the race was already over.

At the last minute, I realized I had forgotten to spit in my goggles... whoops. Took care of that. Then it was me up on the mat and it was time to go!

You wouldn’t know it from my pitiful pace, but I ended up passing many women. I wasn’t pushing myself to go fast but I was doing a really good job of sighting and holding my line. My boyfriend said that the other ladies zigzagged quite a bit.

I did end up kicking too much, like I always do at the beginning of swims, and my breathing got a little gaspy. I normally go with straight bilateral breathing, but switched over to a 3-2-3-2 pattern to try to get my breath under control. At one point I realized I wasn’t exhaling fully, so I worked on that, and my breathing felt much better after. I kept getting nervous and taking unnecessary breaststroke breaks, which slowed me down a lot.

The swim felt like it was over before it even started. My boyfriend was right there by the beach as I exited, taking pictures and cheering me on. I hoped I had made him proud.

What would you do differently?:

Exhale fully. Trust my line and my swimming ability and don't take so many breaststroke breaks. And push it like I know I can (this is supposed to be my strong suit).
Transition 1
  • 04m 22s

I was shocked that all the bikes were still around me in the transition area. Had I actually finished ahead of other people?!

Well, whatever advantage I had was soon erased by my piss-poor T1 performance. I took FOREVER, and I know exactly why. First, I have to wear compression sleeves on my calves because of shin splints. The ones I have are neoprene and it was hard getting them up my damp legs.

Second, for whatever reason, the laces were pulled out of the top eyelets of one of my shoes. This NEVER happens to me. I had been so careful about my transition area -- like a little nerd I had made lists and diagrams, memorized the order I was going to do everything, and quadruple checked my bag -- but didn’t even think to make sure that something as simple as my shoes being laced up all the way was in place. They haven’t come unlaced in one year of using them. Today? Really?! I couldn’t make my hands work properly to get them laced. Probably lost an entire minute doing that. Get it together woman... geez!

Needless to say, quite a few of those bikes around me had left by the time I was finished. Sigh.
What would you do differently?:

Get Yankz, or at least check your shoes next time. Stop needing to wear calf sleeves or practice putting them on damp legs. Move faster!

  • 30m 22s
  • 7.5 miles
  • 14.82 mile/hr

Dum dum dum. It was time for the bike. Maybe my fumbling in T1 was just subconscious dread of the event that awaited me. I was almost sad to leave the transition area... surely there was something I could sit around doing rather than getting on those dreaded gently rolling hills, right? I wasted yet more time stopping behind some other women and then fumbling my foot into my toe clip. I could have just started riding on flat pedals and flipped my feet into the them.

But once I got going, the bike felt really good. I could still feel the wheel hitting a little bit, but a hit is different than a long rub. The LBS had trued out the majority of the warp and I had adjusted the brake enough to work but not rub. My legs thanked both us profusely. I passed two bikes right off the bat, but got passed as I rounded the corner to exit the park. I noticed the woman breathing very hard and thought she was either going to smoke me or I would pass her again later. Another woman passed me who was in aero bars and looked very strong -- didn’t think I would be seeing her again.

The roads were smooth, quiet, and peaceful, just like the lake. I got a chance to overtake my passer after we made our first left on the course, and I didn’t see her again. I got caught behind another rider at the next turn and also ended up passing her right after. I guess I need to be more aggressive and get those passes completed before turns so I don’t lose time behind someone.

At this point we were riding through a neighborhood. Much to my surprise, that strong aero biker soon appeared a little ahead of me and I was able to stay with her. I worked the hills very well here -- changed a ton of gears, got into the drops on the downhill to be more aero, and didn’t really stop pedaling at all at any point. I used flatter areas to get some powerful momentum going, imagining I was back on the Little Miami Bike Trail just doing my thing.

The course went through a couple of roundabouts and I passed a couple of more women. I was also passed by some women who looked very strong. But they stayed in my sights.

Finally, I had reached the final climb -- a long, slow hill. Hoo boy, did the line of riders slow down there, myself included. I stayed with them and fought and fought. I was in the back of my little pack of riders, including that same woman from earlier, but was so happy that I was able to stick with them. As the hill got less steep, I told myself to HTFU and move faster, not to take a break from that hill. Unbelievable. I actually had something left. Soon I saw the flashing lights of the cop car that signaled the turn back into the park and knew that the part I’d been fearing most was almost over, and that I had done REALLY WELL (for me). I was cheesing it big time at all the passing cars and cops. Just flying high.

What would you do differently?:

When I got my splits, I was pretty shocked at how slow my pace was considering that I wasn't getting smoked by packs of bikes. I need to train on hills and work on being more aggressive when I pass. But judging from my heart rate when I got off the bike, I pushed myself just right. Just gotta improve that engine.

Transition 2
  • 02m 18s

Pretty simple T2 because I biked in my running shoes, but I did have to pin my race number on and take a puff of the inhaler for good measure. I actually wanted to take some time here to make sure my heart rate was nice and steady for the run, so I wasn’t in a big hurry.

What would you do differently?:

Though I purposefully stretched this one out, in future races I’ll have a race belt so I don’t have to fiddle with pins.

  • 18m 29s
  • 2 miles
  • 09m 14s  min/mile

I’m just a godawful runner in general, so I had set the bar pretty low for a successful run. For me, that would entail a) not puking and b) not dying. I did want to avoid walking, no matter how slow I had to run. I had trained enough for this goal and knew I could do it if my mind didn’t get the best of me. I anticipated 13 minute miles, as I’ve never run faster than 10 in training and usually average around 11.

I walked most of the way out of T1 and then started running across the timing mats. Slow and steady, I told myself. Looking ahead, I saw that the course was perfectly flat and ran along the gorgeous beach -- are you kidding me?! This was supposed to be my least favorite part! My boyfriend found me and took a picture here, and it must have been right at the moment when I realized how nice the run course was because I have a HUGE, goofy smile plastered across my face. I think I’m even giving him the thumbs-up. What a dork.

I did my turtle thing... Got passed by some hares but didn’t let it deter me. (I’d pass some of them later on as they were walking.) My lungs didn’t seize up. My legs didn’t hurt all that bad. Did I mention that the course was flat and my heart was filled with jubilation? I could have spread my arms and flown with joy at that point.

Then I saw some women up ahead running on grass. Ewww, grass? I hate soft surfaces -- they aggravate my shin splints and ankle pain, and I worry about hitting a pit and rolling my ankle. My heart sank a little. But I pressed on.

When I hit the grass, it was as bad as I thought it would be. I slowed down, tried to work on my form and take very short strides, and briefly flirted with the idea of walking. But I persevered and finally hit some paved ground again. Boyfriend approached and told me that the halfway point was just ahead where I could get some water. Hooray! I told him that I felt great and couldn’t believe how good things were going. I knew he would be so happy and proud of me.

I was getting pretty winded as I approached the turnaround point. That stupid voice from the grassy knoll piped up again and told me it would be easier to walk here. I ignored it. But after the turnaround, I did take a cup of water and pull off to the side to take a drink because I didn’t want to choke. Oh, it felt so good to stop for that second to swallow. I could just walk ten seconds and drink that whole cup of water and it wouldn’t even matter. The little voice in my head coaxed me, pleaded. Walk! Just walk! It’s only ten seconds! You’ve done good enough!

Then a woman hauled by and said, “Come on, we’ve got this. Keep moving. Come on.” I don’t know if she was talking to herself, or me, or both of us, but it did the trick. I threw that cup down, told the voice to STFU, and realized that I would NOT be walking any portion of this run, come hell or high water.

Back on the grass... ugh. It was hard enough the first time. But this time, I found some people to chat with and take my mind off of it. It worked! Soon, I was back on the beach path, begging my legs and lungs to stay with me, because I had the mental part licked!

I passed the lone portapotty... the big signs with numbers... cheered on the women who were just starting their run... cheered on the badass women who were passing me and finishing like warriors... and then I saw the big finish arch and knew I was going to make it. I spotted a place from which it seemed like it would be safe to “sprint” in (my sprint is like a turtle in a hurry), reached it, did it, came through the arch, heard my name and city called (me? finishing??? no way...), took the most beautiful and enticing bottle of water I’d ever seen in my whole life from a smiling gentleman, tried to hug my boyfriend, got nudged back over to where a girl was waiting to put a finisher’s medal around my neck, which she promptly did, and then my heart exploded with happiness because I WAS A TRIATHLETE!
What would you do differently?:

I RAN SUB-10 MINUTE MILES! I do NOT run sub-10 minute miles. EVER. I literally squealed with joy when I saw my splits. Never in a million years did I think I would be most proud of my run of all the events, or that I'd place better in my age group in the run than the swim. Maybe the course was short? Maybe I had left way too much in the tank? I still can’t figure this one out. But I can’t imagine doing any better here.

Post race
Warm down:

My dear man rode my bike and gear bag back to the car, and brought me my flip flops, as the grass had made my shoes get all wet and squishy. I didn't want to eat right away. I was on a cloud like I've never been on in my life.

Giant Eagle had a little booth in the food tent where they were giving away yet more free stuff! I got a nice rubber spatula, a potholder, a Band-Aid case, and a $10 Giant Eagle gift card that I used to put gas in my car for the ride home. Holy crap! Jackpot! Nobody told me I was gonna get free gas out of this deal!

They announced that our times were up. I ended up placing 6th in the Athena division, which blew me away! From looking at previous Tri for the Cure results, I knew that most of the women who had placed ahead of me had done several other of these events already this summer. Go me! I would have been 17 out of 22 in my age group, but hey -- I am what I am, and I raced against my bodily peers, and I'd have to shave off bone or limb to be under 150 pounds!

My boyfriend and I milled around a little, listening to the nice music and cheering on the last finishers. Then we went back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and had a delicious breakfast at Bob Evans. All week I had been telling myself things like "This time next week it will be over and you'll be a triathlete..." "This time tomorrow..." "Two hours from now..." And there I was, a triathlete.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I held back a lot at the beginning, probably because my training goal is a full-length sprint tri in September and I was pacing myself for that rather than this shorter distance. But it didn't matter. I could not have been happier with this race. I have a good idea now what I need to do for the one or two races I have left in this season. The real test is going to be next year, when I train all winter long and come out of the gates blazing and ready to see what I'm really made of!

Event comments:

I was worried the Tri for the Cure would get treated like chopped liver since they needed to get us in and out to make room for the "real" Giant Eagle Multisport Festival triathletes, who needed to start bike check-in at noon. The guide didn't have a map for us, barely addressed our race at all, and the registration people acted like they didn't know what to do with us.

But thankfully, this only manifested itself in one way: they didn't have an awards ceremony -- they just had us crowd around a timing trailer to get our own times, and the winners got their awards from a table. I really wanted to see and cheer the women who had won, and could barely get up to the trailer to see my own time, let alone look at how other racers had done. What a bummer. Surely they could have managed an extra half hour for this and still waited for all the women to finish.

Still, it was a great event. There was an announcer/DJ who made the whole thing run smoothly, keeping us abreast of everything and giving the event a cohesive feel. Everything seemed professional and well-organized. You got the distinct sense that you were a real athlete and that everyone was taking you seriously, despite this being a beginner-centered, short distance event. You felt like you were part of something really awesome. Great job, HFP!!

The volunteers were sweet and meant well, but most of them were children who didn't know the answers to my questions. It was only slightly frustrating though, because luckily the event was so well run that my questions didn't matter all that much.

I wasn't pleased with the main food tent offerings -- a bunch of pastries and artificially sweetened yogurt? No thanks. But later on, near the timing trailer, I found a table of fruit and the best PBJ sandwiches I've ever had. That was more like it. I guess they saved the good post-race food for the people who did the longer events on Sunday.

Last updated: 2011-07-13 12:00 AM
00:06:32 | 250 meters | 02m 37s / 100meters
Age Group: 4/17
Overall: 58/168
Performance: Average
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 04:22
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed: Bad
00:30:22 | 07.5 miles | 14.82 mile/hr
Age Group: 5/17
Overall: 84/168
Performance: Average
Wind: Some
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering:
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:18
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
00:18:29 | 02 miles | 09m 14s  min/mile
Age Group: 3/17
Overall: 99/168
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
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

2011-08-01 10:47 AM

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Subject: Ohio Women's Triathlon for the Cure - Alum Creek

2011-08-01 1:30 PM
in reply to: #3623656

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Subject: RE: Ohio Women's Triathlon for the Cure - Alum Creek

Awesome job!  I would guess I was one of the people you passed on the bike :-) - my swim time was 6:53, T1 2:15, and my bike was 34:08.

I'm actually curious about the swim course.  The swim is my strongest event and I normally swim 250 in about 5 minutes, sometimes slightly under or sometimes slightly over - and that is usually middle of the pack.  I started in the 5:30-6:00 group because I didn't want to get run over, but my husband said I passed about 6 people.  My swim time of 6:53 was 16/31 in my age group, which is about a normal placing for me but not a normal swim time.  In looking at the results the fastest overall swimmer was 4:52 and the number 2 overall swimmer was 5:05...normally the top finishers would be way under a 2:00/100 pace.  And the timing mats were right at the entrance/exit of the water so it shouldn't account for a huge run or anything (I've done one that had a long uphill run before you hit the timing mat so it got factored into your swim time).

Like you I was also surprised when I saw my bike split...I got passed by about 8 people on the bike which is normal for me but didn't feel like I was getting smoked by anyone or like I was getting passed by a huge number of people...I was actually proud of myself for the bike leg until I saw my time!  Glad to know it wasn't just me that thought that :-).

Glad you had fun at your first tri!

Edited by NDIrishO3 2011-08-01 1:37 PM
2011-08-01 6:59 PM
in reply to: #3623656

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Subject: RE: Ohio Women's Triathlon for the Cure - Alum Creek

Oh man, someone read my novel! After reading what you said about the bike, I took a look at the course on Gmaps, plotted it out including the parking lot, and it ended up being 7.5 miles. Plugged that sucker in and whaddya know, I was almost biking 15 mph (which is a lot more like it)!

I also noticed that the swim times seemed long. I had looked over the results from these previous events to try and guess where I would place, and I had a pretty good idea of what other racers had achieved on the swim.

Finally, I made the mistake of plotting the run course... and it definitely wasn't 2 miles. But I'm going to forget that fact and pretend like I really ran as fast as it says up there.

Knowing all this, I wish they would have been a little more precise about the distances. I can understand on the bike, but the run and swim are set-up courses. For those, there's no excuse.

So awesome to hear from a fellow participant in this race. I look forward to reading your RR!

2011-08-02 4:22 PM
in reply to: #3623656

New user
Westerville, Ohio
Subject: RE: Ohio Women's Triathlon for the Cure - Alum Creek

Try some Body Glide or Pam, yes the cooking spray, on your calves and ankles before the swim. Your calf sleeves should slide right on.

Thank you for your comments.

Great suggestion on the awards ceremony.

The food you found by the timing trailer was the post race food. The other stuff was what Giant Eagle provided in their tent.

2011-08-02 8:12 PM
in reply to: #3623656

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Delaware, OH
Subject: RE: Ohio Women's Triathlon for the Cure - Alum Creek

So glad you enjoyed the race!  I did the Tri for the Cure 2 years ago when it was run by Fat Rabbit racing.  All-girl TRIs are fun because everyone is enjoying themselves. 

Sometimes its hard to do an awards ceremony because there is such a huge range of finishing times- you don't want to wait around for the BOP...but I can understand.

PS- we got the same food as you did- pb&j, pretzels, cookies, ect.  We are all pretty much treated the same!  BUT you scored some sweet stuff in the Giant Eagle tent!  I wish I had!  Lucky you!


Congrats again!

2011-08-02 9:33 PM
in reply to: #3624565

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Subject: RE: Ohio Women's Triathlon for the Cure - Alum Creek
Oooh you're right about the run...sad!  To be honest I barely even glanced at my run time when I first looked at the results - I am such a terrible runner that I always just gloss over the run results because I know they're bad.  But when I was writing my race report I actually noticed my time and it puts me at a 13 min/mile pace.  There's no way that's right - my fastest standalone 5k ever is a 12:51 pace, and on a good day in a tri I might go 14 min/mile.  So add that background onto the fact that I was having a hard time breathing with the humidity and walked about half of the course, there's no way it was 2 miles.  Oh well!

2011-08-02 9:48 PM
in reply to: #3623656

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Subject: RE: Ohio Women's Triathlon for the Cure - Alum Creek

Thank you so much for the suggestion for the calf sleeves. I really hope I can run without them at some point, but until then, I gotta figure out a faster way to coexist with them.

And I see what the thing is with the awards ceremony... I guess the tradeoff for that is that the race stayed put together until the very last woman crossed the finish line. I wouldn't have wanted her to feel crappy because an awards ceremony was going on before she finished, so it's better that things were the way they were.

Those PB&J sandwiches were so good that I've been making my own all week. For some reason they aren't as good as they were on the post-race table, though.

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