Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rev3 Knoxville

Whew.  For someone with a pretty constant internal monologue, I have not done a great job of staying on top of blogging.  I've had a lot going on lately between academics, travel, and racing.  There are a lot of different things I've been thinking about, but it's difficult enough just to stay on top of race reports for now so I'll get to those eventually!  For now, here's a recap of how things went in Knoxville earlier this month.

This was was my first Rev3 race since being selected to be a part of their age group team, Team Rev3, as well as the first Rev3 race of the year, so to say I was excited was an understatement.  I'd met many of the team members at our summit in Colorado in January, but not everyone had been able to make it.  Plus, most of us are pretty spread out across the country (I am the only one in Wisconsin!).  The opportunities to hang out are few and far between, and I felt compelled to seize this one.  Knoxville will also be the site of Rev3's first Age Group Series championship next May, so I wanted to scope it out!

I left Wisconsin early Friday morning with my coach Bill and my friend Ben, with the aim of making it to Knoxville in time for the Team Rev3 dinner and the Rev3 Glow Run.  Between the rain, traffic, and some construction mess, we didn't quite make it.  Too bad- it looked epic!  There was even a movie and popcorn afterward.  Rev3 donated all proceeds from the event to a former UT swimmer, Nicole Gross, who was badly injured in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Finish line of the Glow Run.  You tri aficionados might recognize the curly-haired guy in the left corner :).  Photo by Eric Wynn for Rev3.
Saturday: Pre-race
By the next morning it was pretty clear that there would be no break from the rain over the weekend, but we carried on the best we could.  After a stop by the expo to check in and pick up my new Pearl Izumi team kit, we drove the bike course.  Note: there are several stretches you can't access until race day because the bikes head against the normal direction of car traffic.  The course was beautiful: green and rolling.  It looked like a ton of fun (...on a dry day- but we'll get to that).  The three of us heard that the water temp was 59*, so we opted out of the practice swim.  I will note here that we are all quite experienced swimmers and race in open water a lot.  I would strongly recommend to any newer swimmers, swimmers who are getting used to their wetsuits, or people who struggle in cold conditions to seize every opportunity to practice in open water race conditions before race day!
I got to carry around this bad boy over the weekend.
Next we set off for a quick pre-ride of the run course.  It was here that Ben's bad luck for the weekend started, with an unfortunate encounter with a set of railroad tracks. You can read about the ongoing saga over at his blog.  He was sore but ok, and the bike seemed fine except for the loss of a few gears. The run course was pretty flat for the most part, with a few gradual grades.  Much of it was on a nice shady greenway, sheltered from the bustle of the downtown area.  Bike check-in afterward went smoothly.  Everyone was quite relieved this year that transition was on the bottom floor of a parking structure- no soggy bikes and triathletes the next morning!

Race day
Personalized transition spots :)
The HalfRev racers started first and we were all doing the OlympicRev, so we didn't have to roll into transition too early.  A lot of people were freaking out a bit about the combo of high fifties air temperature, high fifties water temperature, and rain.  As someone who has always run warm and tends to really suffer in heat and humidity, I was quite possibly one of the only people there who was actually kind of thrilled out the temperatures.  I was not so thrilled about the rain, but race day is often about who can roll with the punches the best, so you just have to learn to make the best out of whatever happens.

Swim: 19:57
The swim was a point-to-point river swim with a short section up-river, two right turns, and a long stretch down-river with the current.  I was in one of the last waves to start.  There was only a minute or two between when the wave was allowed in the water and our start, so I didn't get much warm up other than a few strokes and my dry land stretching beforehand.  I started on the front to the outside while the other fast girls ended up starting on the inside, so I ended up pretty much on my own the entire swim.  My stroke felt ok, but I could have used someone to push me. I also probably ended up a little too far towards the middle of the river on the back stretch, but the current might have evened things out. Before I knew it I was climbing out at the dock of the Tennessee women's rowing team. The run to transition was nearly half a mile, so I took my wetsuit off immediately.

T1: 3:51
We got to run through the boathouse briefly to hit the timing mats, a cool experience for a former rower.  There was also an optional shoe pick up there, but I hadn't left anything so I just tore after the string of guys up the hill to transition.  The pavement was a little rougher than expected, so shoes actually might be a smart choice next time.  My body felt pretty warm, but apparently my hands and feet were not.  I fumbled a lot with my helmet and shoes, the first time I've ever had trouble with that helmet strap.  This seems like it was a pretty common problem among racers, though.

on my way out
Bike: 1:15:39
Oh, the bike.  The rain was relentless.  I'd brought sunglasses to protect my eyes from the raindrops and road spray, but they started fogging even before I made it out of the parking garage (forgot to use my Foggies pre-race...).  I cleared them a few times in the first mile before giving up and stashing them in my FuelBox for the remainder of the ride.  I must have left my brain back in Madison, because I spent two miles confusedly punching at my Joule computer trying to get it to pair to my wheel before I remembered that I was riding my disc for this race... which was not PowerTapped.  D' oh. This was probably for the best, because with the very wet roads I ended up needing all of my concentration to look for obstacles, instead of peeking at my power numbers.  We had noticed the day before that the holes and other road hazards were marked with spray paint, but with the accumulation of rain overnight many of these markings were hidden.  So I ended up changing my bike strategy and riding up the hills extra hard since I had to brake WAYYY more than usual on the turns, downhills, and other fast sections to keep an eye on the road.  I really enjoyed the course route and look forward to being able to ride it under different conditions in the future.  For this race, my primary concern was making it back to T2 upright!  I ended up having a lot more fluid on my bike than I needed in the colder conditions, something to plan for better next time.  I was pretty comfortable temperature-wise in just my tri kit and calf sleeves- only my toes were a bit chilly...

T2: 1:33
Pretty simple, in and out.  Cold feet and colder-than-I-realized hands made for some clumsiness, but overall I didn't lose too much time.  I heard some cheers for me but didn't get a chance to see who it was, so if that was you- thank you!!! It helped :)

Run: 43:59
Rev3 races give you a FREE finisher photo!
How cool is that?! 

Frozen feet make for an interesting running experience.  For the first half mile I felt like I was running on concrete blocks, then they felt like marshmallows.  Finally about 1.5 miles in they stopped tingling. Once that happened, the run was pretty fun.  Since most of it was out-and-back, I got to see many of my Rev3 team members as well as some Wisconsin and other friends.  There were also giant, foot-burying puddles to splash through... there was no avoiding them!  It was too difficult to figure out where I was in the women's AG race with the back of the women's pro field kind of blending into the front of the age-groupers, so I just tried to keep my cadence and intensity high.  The cool rain felt really great at this point and it was nice not to be overheating for a change!  The last mile was a long gradual climb and I'd missed the mile marker at mile 5, so the race started to seem really long at that point.  I also discovered that I needed more electrolytes/calories during the run after all, because I was losing steam quickly and there were no more aid stations.  One girl flew by me in the last half mile, which was frustrating, but overall it was a pretty decent run for me.

Total: 2:24:59, 1st 25-29, 6th amateur female

Despite the challenging conditions, I had a great time over the weekend and also have a good start towards qualifying for the Age Group Series championships next year.  The cold conditions suited me much better than they did a lot of people, though- each person responds to heat and cold very differently.  A lot of people made the decision not to start or not to finish this race, and I respect that.  It is SO important to pay attention to your own body and how you react to things, and make the decisions you need to in order to keep yourself safe.  If you were one of those who ended up with a DNS or DNF next to your name- don't let yourself feel bad about it.  Better to be around to fight another day!  The season is just getting started.

Half a second later, my butt was on the ground,
baseball slide-style.  Luckily no one got a picture
of that part.  To my knowledge...
In other news, Ben had more bad luck with a flat during the race, but gained a few minutes of fame in the tri community thanks in part to a tweet by the lovely and talented pro Mirinda Carfrae

<- Can a blog have a bloopers section?  If so, I leave you with a photo addition.

Next up in blogs: Triple-T and a quick trip to CO.

Also, I'm racing again this weekend at Lake Mills, a.k.a. "Wisconsin Worlds"... glutton for punishment over here.

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