Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rev3 Quassy Olympic Distance Triathlon

I am about a week late getting this blog entry done.  The end of a school year can be hectic with exams, grading and meetings.  We have 3 days left until summer break.  Not bragging here, just grateful for the chance to unwind from what has been a very rough spring.  April is a month I don't ever want to repeat again.  I've dealt with the lowest of lows with the death of Tim, one of the students in my advisee group, to starting the Boston Marathon only to be stopped 3/4 of a mile from the finish line.  I had planned on writing a blog post about the Marathon, but in the end, deciding on passing on that.  I wrote a lot about the race on my facebook page and felt in the end, writing a dedicated blog post to the race was not what I wanted to do.  

For those of you that have followed my triathlon journey will remember that I raced the Rev 3 Quassy Olympic triathlon last year where I experienced my first ever, DNF.  I asked to be removed from the water during the swim because I was having a real hard time breathing.  I soon found out I was having an allergic reaction to the high amount of pollen that was on the water than morning.  Needless to say, I NEEDED to get back to this race and make amends.  I would soon find out, that my friend David Laskey was not exaggerating when he told me this bike and run course would be TOUGH.

Leading up this race on June 1st the weather was HOT.  I had been concerned about not getting any open water swim done prior to the race, if only to be prepared for the cooler water temps at the beginning of the year.  I drove up on Friday with plans to get into the water prior to checking my bike into transition.  I would kill two birds, dealing both with the water temps and of course, the pollen issue from last year.    On my way to check-in and get my timing chip, I saw a friendly face in Kelly Williamson chatting with another athlete.  Kelly is a pro I connected with online about 18 months ago.  She has been a terrific source of advice and support.  She blogs about her races in a honest manner, pulling no punches when it comes to being constructively critical on her own performance.  We had a quick chat and Kelly introduced me to her fellow pro triathlete, Heather Wurtele.  Heather immediately said, "I know about you from facebook.".  Heather is a fellow Canadian and we hit it off right away.  She was waiting to do an interview with the Rev 3 folks, so I didn't want to take too much of her time.  Her and her husband Trevor are both pro triathletes and travel around a lot of North America in a motor home to races.

The water was absolutely fine on both accounts.  I had been diligently taking my allergy meds and had my inhaler with me as well.  I took a swim in my ORCA speed suit and the low 70's water temp was totally fine.  

Right at BIKE IN and BIKE OUT.
I was also able to connect with Courtney Ronner, from NYC.  She is good friends with a lot of my TriLife friends and we had met last year when I did the NYC triathlon.  We had been staying connected through facebook and twitter.  I checking in my bike and to my delight I realized I earned a spot at the end of a row in transition.  A coveted spot for any triathlete as it affords you a little more space in transition.  I was able to also connect with Eric Opdyke, the race director.  He also ran in Boston and passed me during the race, asking if I would be at Quassy and I said, I would.  It meant a lot to me to prove to him I could do this race, as it was he who drove me to the med tent last year after I had been pulled from the pond.  I felt totally dejected at that point.  I was also able to meet up with Eric Wynn, an amazing photographer.  He would be racing the Olympic and shooting a lot of the 1/2 Rev the next day along with David Laskey who would be shooting both days.  I also met up with Rachel and Ben Berry who now live in upstate NY.  Rachel would be racing in the Olympic race as well.  Ben was preparing with a large cycling event back in NY state on Sunday.
Bike checked in at end of a row!!!!!

After getting all checked in I decided to head to see Leticia and her family in Monroe, CT.  They graciously hosted me again this year.  I was eager to get their earlier this year and spend some time with her, Pedro and their two beautiful boys.   We spent a relaxing evening together, Pedro helped my get my tri-tats on and I went to bed around 10pm or so.  I would set the alarm for about 4AM in order to eat, pack the car and get the race site around 5:15AM or so.  Breakfast consisted of a banana, sportsdrink, apple sauce and a bagel with Nutella.

Race morning, ready to go!  It was already HOT.
The drive to the race (25 min) was uneventful and with the sun coming up already, I would not need my headlamp in order to get my gear.  Checking ahead of time, they had some handi-capped parking available right beside transition.  Arrival and prep went pretty easy and I was able to walk around a bit well prior to the race.  Saw lots of familiar faces and realized quickly it was going to be a HOT one with little wind.

I dressed for the swim using my sleeveless ORCA vest along with the wetsuit pants I have.  The two piece system seems to work well for me.  Hoping it will be warm enough when I race the Cohasset triathlon at the end of June.  I was set to go off with the 3rd wave at 7:10AM.  I was able to get a little practice swim in prior to the anthem.  And felt ready to go.

Prior to the start I set up in the back of the pack, hoping the water wasn't going to be churning up too much. Off we went at the horn and my day was starting.  The course is a simply rectangular path making two right hand turns at the buoys for a total distance of 1500m.

I was passed by at least two large packs of swimmers during the swim but managed to stay on course pretty well.  The back leg was hard to sight as we swam right into the rising sun.  I did my best to follow the swimmers passing me as I made pretty good time, completing the swim in 45:12.  I was hoping or 42 or 43 minutes, but being the first tri of the season, I was pretty happy.  The next most amazing part for me was my T1 time, as I was able to get out onto the bike in a little over a minute, at 1:06.

After ANOTHER big hill.  (Photo: David Laskey)
Now came to true test.  This would end up being the toughest Olympic bike course I have ever completed.  There were some challenging hills, some amazing downhills (40mph+), and virtually no flat segments.  There was two particularly steep ascents.  On one I lost my chain, but managed to stay upright and then get my chain back on real quick.  The climb around mile 11 of the bike was particularly difficult.  As I got to it, I noticed people getting off and walking.  I have been able to stay on my bike and every race and did not want to start walking today.  I was in my lowest gear making progress, when a real sense of struggle came over me and I thought, "what's the big deal, get off your bike and walk.".  Then a louder voice said "NO!!!".   Then this is what I PICTURED IN MY MIND, so vividly at the top of the hill.  K.A. was at the top of the hill, laughing at me and saying I could not do it.  He was calling me some awful things. I choose not to use his name, but he is the blogger who wrote some awful things about me completing the NYC triathlon back in 2011.

I could see him laughing and I refused to let him beat me.  I kept going and did not get off of my bike.  When  I crested the top of the hill, I simply looked to my right where I PICTURED HIM standing, and I said, "Fuck you!"  Sorry to anyone who that might offend, but I don't want you to lose the effect of what I had been feeling at this point.

The rest of the bike course remained a challenge, but I managed to complete it in a total time of 2:14:06.  That is well more than 35 minutes slower than my best 25 mile bike ride.  The heat and hills were really taking a toll on me.  I managed to keep drinking and had two gels on the bike, so my nutrition was going well.  My time in T2 was remarkably slower than T1, at 2:57.

A SLOW run.  (Photo: Wynn Photography)
This would end up being a very slow run as well.  At 1:47.13, it was almost 30 minutes slower than my best 6.2 mile run.  The heat was oppressive as I ran from side to side of the road trying to stay out of the direct sun.  My back as also starting to give some problems, more specifically, my legs were tingling a lot.  I had to stop a few times in order to stretch out my lower back.  The first two miles were particularly slow as well as the last mile, which was a long uphill leading to the final two-tenths of a mile back to the park.  The water stations were fully stocked, with lots of friendly people having fruit, water, Gatorade and lots of ice.  Dumping cups of it down the back of my tri-top helped with the lower back discomfort.  Finish time of 4:48:50 giving me 1st place in the para-triathlete division.  Being the only para-triathlete, all I needed to do was finish and I would win.  Well, I've always said, I am faster than everyone who stayed home today.

Coolest finisher medals ever!
Knowing there are at least 2 other LP triathletes has really helped me focus to start this season.  Raul Mico is in Valencia, Spain and Ryan Gambrell lives in the San Diego area.  They are both a lot younger than me, so for now, I have 4 seasons of experience in my corner.   I'm just so happy to know there are other LPs out there who are passionate about this sport as well.  Post-race I was wandering around the Rev3 tent (spending the $25 gift card I received along with the medals and other swag) and ran into one of my great online friends, Jen Small, a REV3 Team triathlete.  She was preparing to race in the 1/2 race on Sunday.  It was great to see her and wish her luck ahead of her big day.

Where's the food!!!!
Rev3 produced a terrific re-cap vido from the weekend.  I managed to make the video around the 2:35 mark in the vido. 

Age Group Video Recap

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the race! I saw your picture on the Rev3 facebook page and I was excited to find your blog.