Sunday, July 5, 2009

Firecracker Tri

Hey look! A race report written on the same day of the race! This has to be a new record for me. :)

I did the Tucson Tri back in March, and finished in 1:20:24. I had wanted to break 1:20, even if it was 1:19:59 and missed it by 25 seconds. So Firecracker was my next chance. When I picked up my packet, I noticed on the race register list that I was in a huge age group, with something like a million people signed up in F30-34. Ok, more like 30 some, but for a sprint tri that's huge. That's half of what was in my age group for Ironman Arizona! So my goals were: 1) Break 1:20 (again, 1:19:59 is totally legit), and 2) Finish in the top 10. I recognized speedy people in my age group, so I figured top 10 in that crowd would be pretty good. The last time I had done Firecracker was in 2005 and I finished in 1:28, so I expected around an 8 minute improvement.

I arrived at the race around 5 AM and found Tucson Tri Girls Row, marked by Andrea's purple balloons. I think it shall be her job to bring the balloons. They work out so well! I racked my bike next to Joyce and Lynelle and had Lynelle do my bodymarking so that I didn't have to wait in the huge line. Then it was hurry up and wait. I watched the kid's race and the racers before me. Zac rode his bike down to the race and met me at the pool, so I gave him my camera and bag, finished up the sunscreen, and headed down to the pool for my start.

Firecracker has the crazy serpentine swim, where we duck under the lane lines in the 50 meter pool. This gets the racers out of the pool and onto the course quicker, so that we can be done before the heat sets in. I was set to go off at 7:17 AM, and it was already warm and muggy out. It was so refreshing to get in the pool! I waited 15 seconds after the guy in front of me, and took off when Jim said "Go!". My goal was to go out easy on the swim, but Zac said the first 100 was my fastest. I got passed in the beginning, most likely because a bunch of people were going out very fast. I had to pause at the wall behind a girl in front of me to wait while she did her flip turn. Zac said later someone flip turned over me while I was pushing off under the lane lines. Thankfully I have no recollection of that. One gal was resting at the wall and pushed off right in front of me, so I had to work on passing her and got by at the next wall. After that it was pretty clear. I could see Zac and Julie in the stands cheering, and waved to them a few times. Then I caught up to a girl doing the breaststroke, but luckily no one was coming in the opposite direction, so I could pass in the middle of the pool. I hit the wall for the last time and pushed it hard on my last 50 and reached the ladder in 14:56. A bit slow for me, but I planned to make it up on the bike and run.

I ran down the chute and outside and down the sidewalk. This is a much longer path to the transition area than the other races, so I can't really compare transition times. I got my bike gear on and headed out with a T1 of 1:41. I blame the long run down the chute for that. ;)

On the bike I immediately got down in the aerobars and started slamming the pedals. I was out there with the disc wheel and race wheel group. I told Zac I would need to get some fancy wheels to help save some time, since I was out there with that crowd. ;) Euclid was a rough mess as usual, so I had to come out of the aerobars because I needed my elbows for suspension. On Speedway I always feel the slight uphill climb, but use that as a chance to get some water. Then it's back to Campbell for more downhill fun. I kept my eyes peeled for cars turning and for bikes crossing, but the course seemed pretty clear. First lap I finished in 12 minutes and change. I picked it up on the second lap and saw 23 minutes and change for my total bike time. I really wanted to break 36 minutes! I pushed it hard on the last lap and figured I was killing my legs for the run. Then I reasoned it was going to be hot and the run was probably going to suck anyways, so I might as well do as good as I can on the bike. I turned into the parking lot after the last lap and hit my Lap button on my watch just before the transition area. 35:24 for the bike. I had met my goal!

I did my flying cyclocross dismount into T2, got my run gear on, and headed out onto the run course. Total T2 time was 42 seconds. Gah! That was a slow one for me. I should have been around 30 seconds.

I grabbed some water from the TTG aid station and ran out onto the course. Holy cow was it hot and humid! I could see Shari just ahead of me, so I started stalking her. We hit the mall and Zac screwed up my stalking by telling her not to look behind. I caught up at the turn and Shari and I chatted for a bit. The first mile I felt like I was moving so slow! It honestly felt like my legs were moving as slow as the do when I do an easy recovery run. But that was as fast as I could go. I hit the 1 mile mark and was surprised to see 8:47 for the first mile. Perception gets all screwy in races.

We had to do 2 laps on the mall, and I felt like I was going to melt out there. I was drenched, not from the swim but from all the sweat. Just as I was approaching Zac's area on the mall, I could see Bizzy up ahead. I told Zac "I gotta catch up to Bizzy!" and she was my rabbit. Anything to keep from slowing down and walking out there. I don't know why, but no matter how fast or slow the pace, the urge to just walk for a bit is always there. I followed Bizzy for a long time and finally got a chance to talk with her for a bit as we rounded the backside of Old Main. We just had a little bit left to go!

I was so glad to turn off of the mall and head back to the finish area. I always have a hard time figuring out when I should start sprinting it in. I didn't want to start too early and burnout at the end. Well, the problem was solved for me. As I approached the crowd I saw Zac and Julie and Julie yelled "15 seconds!" I hadn't looked at my watch the entire time, so that could only mean one thing. I had 15 seconds to cross the line before the dreaded 1:20 mark.

I gathered up the last of my energy and started sprinting. Arms and legs were flying everywhere and my head felt like it was going to burst from the heat. I crossed the finish line, hit the Stop button on my watch, tore my number tag off and handed it to the volunteer, and kept walking. I started coughing and dry heaving and immediately went to a patch of shade by a fence and sat down for a few seconds. I only sat for a little bit because I was burning up and needed water bad. I hit the water station, then walked over to my bike to get the water bottle that was on the bottle cage. I finally looked down at my watch. 1:20:05. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! Once again, I was hoping my watch was off from the official race clock, but I asked Zac and he had the same time on his watch.

I got a shower in the locker room and changed and then checked the posted results. Sure enough, 1:20:05. Just 6 seconds short of my goal. I counted the number of people ahead of me in my age group in the results, and I think I may have met my top 10 goal. I did beat my previous time from the Tucson Tri, with a longer run to T1 and MUCH warmer and more humid weather.

So now I have to sign up for Tinfoilman in October. It will be back to the lap swim, and a shorter run to the transition area. Dang it I'm going to break that 1:20 mark on that course this year if it kills me! Perhaps I will be sporting fancy race wheels to help gain back those 6 seconds. (Well, that's what I'm telling Zac. Go with me on this). ;)

Thanks to Zac and all the Tri Girls for being out there. I will see you all again in October! :)

Getting ready for the swim start. I'm in the purple cap, 3rd in line.

Done with the swim!

Heading out onto the bike.

Coming in from the 3rd lap and getting ready to turn off the course.

My flying cyclocross dismount. :)

Out onto a very hot run course.

Me chasing Shari down. :)

I told Zac "I gotta chatch Bizzy!" She was my rabbit. There she goes around the bend.

Julie yelled "15 seconds!" so I had to sprint it in.

Hanging out with the Tri Girls at the end.

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