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Ride Like the Wind: Rev3 Florida Race Report

What. A. Race. It’s nearly three days afterwards and I’m STILL having trouble walking normally. I don’t think i’ve ever been this sore/stiff in my life!! A large part of that may have been the impromptu 11-hour road trip to Louisiana, but it may have also been the fact that I had a killer bike split, followed by my first solid half-ironman run that included NO WALKING WHATSOEVER, not even in aid stations (my usual run-time killer)!

It was supposed to be a quick trip, with a flight into Florida bright and early Saturday morning and a midnight return back to DC. Instead, thanks to Hurricane Sandy messing up the entire East Coast, I ended up driving back to my parents’ house in New Orleans (where I’m attending a wedding this upcoming weekend) and am currently alternating my lululemon pants and bike shorts as my only “pants” for the week (wedding shopping required but TBD).

But before heading up the Eastern Seaboard, Sandy brought some fun to Southern Florida, including lots of crazy winds and big surf. When I arrived in Venice, this was the scene:

After checking out the sand and surf, I listened to the tail end of the pro panel and caught up with a bunch of other Rev3 peeps, including ChloeElaine, Jaime, JordanJoel and John for dinner, where we all speculated on whether or not the swim would go on.

The next morning, the swim was cancelled—but for very good reason. with rip tides and crazy waves, Rev3 definitely made the right call… which means I still haven’t gotten my ocean/gulf swim experience… guess I’ll just have to sign up for Rev3 Florida 2013…

With so many races in October, and with the simplified bike-run format, I was very relaxed going into it: simple transition prep, bottles prepared, all ready to go. we watched the pros start off with a 1.5-mi run for their run/bike/run duathlon before lining up single file by bib numbers for the time trial start, where we would be sent off one person every three seconds. Turns out as lucky #100 I was the first non-relay age grouper! Not only did this mean clear roads and no fighting for space on the road, it also meant this was probably the closest I’d ever come to experiencing the “competing alone, against yourself on the bike” feeling that so many pros mention in their posts.

And so I rode scared. With no one else to gauge effort against, I just put my head down and PUSHED. Ten minutes in I thought to myself, ‘this is not sustainable’. Thirty minutes in I thought to myself, ‘this is really REALLY not sustainable’. But then a girl passed me and I didn’t want to a) be passed and b) worry about drafting so I fired up the cylinders and repassed to retake the lead. Again, I kept thinking to myself that I’m either setting myself up for an epic blow-up or a fantastic bike split. My watts were through the roof and (with the help of a killer tailwind) I was coasting along at 24-26mph on that first stretch. I love riding fast and this was fantastic.

This was also one of the busier parts of town and I have to pause here to mention that the Venice volunteers were AMAZING! Despite some old-fogey jokes cracked at their expense at the athlete briefing, the volunteers were out in full force on Sunday – it felt like every single stoplight, intersection and driveway had a volunteer or a cop car helping protect and cheer the riders. Almost all were cheering while on volunteer duty, which was a huge boost along the bike route. What’s even more amazing is that most of these volunteers didn’t know what a triathlon even was! I met an older gentleman volunteer who used to do triathlons “back in the old days” (his words not mine) and he was joking about how clueless the volunteers were before attending the volunteer check-ins/meetings. This is GREAT news for the sport and I hope the volunteer enthusiasm means that there will be an even-more-awesome Rev3 Florida in 2013!

And then we turned into the wind. At this point I was getting as low as I could into my already extremely aero-bike fit (thank you Josh Frick and CycleLife) and trying to find the smoothest sections of the road to ride along. a few of the men started to pass me but otherwise it was empty road for miles. It turned into a game of “how many laps of Hains Point do i have left?” for non DC-folks, Hains point is a flat, flat, flat and WINDAY 3-mile loop in the district frequented by cyclists.

The last twenty miles took a toll on me mentally: every time I saw an intersection, I pleaded to the course gods that it was a turn taking us back to T2 and out of the headwind: no such luck. It wasn’t until the last three or so miles that we got a brief break zooming back into transition.

I do want to pause here and say that unfortunately I had a bad experience with a pro triathlete that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. But first: I HATE drafters and I hate drafting. In fact, I’m reckless when it comes to passing because I would rather blow steam getting past someone than worry about keeping three bike lengths between us. I hate the mental aspect of triathlon and would rather be in the zone and focusing on my bike than what someone else is doing around me.

That being said, with about fifteen miles to go, I passed one of the pro females who had started 15-minutes in front of us. I did it quickly and built up a large gap because when we came around a final U-turn with ten miles to go, she was nowhere to be seen. Out on the run, when she repassed me, she started to say “good job“, so I gave her a thumbs up as she passed. I then realized the “good job” was only sarcasm as she proceeded to make a really nasty comment about all the “drafting I was doing”. Shocked, I responded with “are you KIDDING me?!” and then “[stew] you too!

As promised in my somewhat obnoxious/dramatic tweet, here are my splits/watts from Sunday that seem to indicate very little drafting was going on. Let me also remind you that was the very first age grouper to start, meaning that it’s doubtful I even had that many opportunities to draft out there. Anyways, whatever. Maybe she should have focused more energy on her own race because she ended up dropping out halfway through the run.

The out-of-control blow up I had been waiting for in the back half of the race surprisingly never came. As long as I kept tossing powerbar gels down the hatch and a few salt pills here or there, I never felt terrible. I did wonder how on earth I was going to be able to run though…

bike - 2:28:41

I rolled into T2, grabbed my run gear and set off running. Oh boy, this did NOT feel good. The little voices kept telling me to walk but I was determined not too. Game on. Even though I started my watch, my splits were never right: I accidentally started in bike mode and switched over about a mile in but never quite synced up with the mile signs on the course. The only numbers on the watch were low-to-mid 8:00s so I wasn’t feeling too happy about my run performance for most of the run.

On the first loop, there were pros to watch and two manatees swimming side by side in the canal alongside the route. On the second loop, the winds picked up and I tried to keep myself moving by throwing as much Coke and Gatorade down the hatch as possible. With three miles to go, I took a step and it felt like someone jabbed steak knives through the soles of my feet. I had felt hot spots developing on the bottom of each foot but for some reason my blisters decided to peak simultaneously and in full excruciating force (and they now cover approximately 3/4 of each foot, meaning the only footwear i have been able to comfortably wear are swiftwick socks and my dad’s house slippers… sexy.).

The only thing that kept me going is that with the 2x out-and-back course, I could tell that no one else was making much headway on the deficit I had built on the bike (other than thealways-speedy Tara who flew into second for a 1-2 Rev3 podium – holla!!). Knowing this, I went into survival mode and gutted it out to the finish.

run = 1:42:04

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/52411444]

Also: Joel has a great race report from Florida that describes the bike and run a lot better :)

I was so happy to be done and once i stopped puking back up the massive quantities of Coke and Gatorade i had swallowed, I hobbled over to the ocean, dumped everything in a pile on the beach and started wading into the water. Once I got over the OW OW OW as the salt water stung my blisters, I dove headfirst into the chilly water and it felt amazing… until both legs cramped up fully,  another wave pushed me back down and I struggled to doggy paddle back to the shore. Great, i thought to myself, she wins a race and then dies trying to go for a dip in the water afterwards

In all, a great race and a fantastic way to end my season. In some ways it was a reassurance of my performance at Eagleman, redemption for a miserable day in Vegas and a great motivator for 2013. While I was bummed with the cancelled swim, I already know that my swim needs work so why not end 2012 on a high note? So happy to have competed and shared the experience with the entire Rev3 family.

i mean, where else do they cheer on and celebrate the final finisher with as much gusto as if the finisher had just won the entire thing, regardless of cut-off times and time limits? This truly says it all:

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hills and rain and bears, oh my!

saturday, by the numbers:

  • miles: 50
  • elevation gain: 5,638
  • minutes where it was NOT raining: 0
  • minutes where i was uncontrollably shivering on the bike: 180
  • hot chocolate purchased at the halfway mark: $1.50
  • rain jacket purchased at the halfway mark: $28.50
  • average age of person who would wear said jacket: 7
  • number of times i lost feeling in my hands: 3
  • # times i preferred killer climbs over (cold) descents: all the times
  • powerbar gels normally consumed over 3.5hr ride: 7
  • powerbar gels consumed due to climbing/scary, wet descents on sat: 4
  • close calls with crashing on wet pavement: 5
  • stupid crashes rolling into the parking lot curb: 1
  • minutes run off the bike: 15
  • minutes running where i was happy/warm: 15
  • bear cubs encountered: 1
  • momma bears encountered: 0 (KNOCK ON WOOD)

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cherry blossoms in full force

not gonna lie, i had some trouble walking normally today. that half-marathon took a little more out of me than i had originally thought. so today, to flush out the legs, i took a little tour of the cherry blossoms, currently nearing peak bloom.

the only problem was that everyone else also had the same idea as me. man, was it crowded down around the monuments. to kick off the 70-min tour de dc, i biked from my apartment down 16th (what's up, Mr. President?!), down past the Washington Monument, rounded the tidal basin and then did a few laps of hains point to get away from the cars.

however, the usually car-less hains point was being used as a parking/staging area for the cherry blossoms. in fact, i passed a few cars who were driving while taking photos despite the throngs of people running, biking and roller-blading around the park.

i love the jefferson memorial. i also love how nicely all of the monuments reflect in the tidal basin when the sun is out and shining. gorgeous:

and to give you the full picture of what it's like biking around a cherry blossomed hains point, i tucked my camera in my tank top and made you a little recording. enjoy:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62RA9k813Qc]

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i've been punished...

for having too much fun during a training/life overload last weekend. i started noticing it saturday but dismissed the signs and kept pushing—through workouts and a night out—and ended up with a bout of bronchitis and a few days stuck in bed. in fact, yesterday i "napped" from 4pm-11pm, woke up for a few minutes, only to fall back asleep until 11am today. is 17 hours of sleep normal? wait—don't answer that. fortunately, this recharge must have been what i needed since i'm starting to see the finish.*

but was last weekend worth it? oh yeah.

friday night i stayed in and knocked out a good swim set after work. the main set included two 1000s with varying efforts throughout. kind of like a fartlek in the pool. both were right around 15-minutes, which means my swim has been steadily improving. always a good sign!

and then saturday morning was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. i joined mike from the rev3 adventure crew and a prospective rev3 adventure team member to bike some trails in virginia. it had been a while since i had been off-roading but it was a blast. i might have almost careened off the trail a time or two (okay, maybe more like 7 or 8!) but i was wahooo-ing the entire time. thank heavens i didn't wreck the sweet (borrowed) gary fisher mountain bike i was riding... especially since it belonged to a certain Charlie of Rev3 fame... shhh! don't tell him! :)

i was a total newbie compared to some of the other bikers out there but managed to hold my own everywhere except for the curvy descents. it was definitely such a different feel from road biking, from the weight of the bike (made my felt feel like a feather) to the slower speeds and more aggressive posture. at times i could feel my bike wheels skidding out on the gravel and had to slow down to a crawl since i didn't want to take any chances with my overly-concussed-head. even with the close calls, white knuckles and eyes tearing up from the cold air, i was grinning like a maniac on some of the curves and rollers and the ride had me itching to do some more trail racing. and, of course, now i'm thinking about adding a rev3 adventure race or xterra triathlon to my already-jam-packed 2012 schedule.

after a morning of riding, i spent the next few hours tracking down a craigslist seller to pick up a new commuter bike for heading to and from work. i picked it up, got home and then hopped back on the trainer for a long ride followed by a short run. the weather has been indecisive so for the short run i was actually able to cruise out in shorts and a tee. in the middle of january!

i went out for a friend's birthday on saturday, had one too many margarita's and then stayed out too late. i felt myself paying for it the next day as i started to lose my voice, gain a cough and feel all-around miserable. still, i pushed through with a long run on sunday, swim on monday and then another run tuesday morning. and then wham - wednesday i could barely function. i'm still struggling with the fine line of feeling lousy and feeling bad enough to pull the plug on training. and, again, when to actually start back again. it's definitely a fine line. hopefully my sleep coma was enough to recharge and i'll be able to test the waters tomorrow and over the long weekend.

for now, i'll just stay inspired with this insane downhill mountain bike video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EqYgAX6D43Q]

*please note: any typos, grammatical errors and/or crazy phrases brought to you by tylenol's extreme cold and flu formula. achoo!

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Karma

I woke up today morning feeling pretty awful: sore throat, stuffy nose, and running a high fever – the works – and decided to stay home to recuperate. With plenty of PTO days left in the bank, I figured I deserved the much needed R&R. After downing plenty of OJ, water and enough allergy & cold meds to sedate a 300-lb man, I felt pretty solid. Actually, I felt great! Great enough that it seemed like a wise decision to take advantage of the day off work and sneak in a little endurance ride. Never mind that it was raining. And 40-something degrees. And that I was sick. BLAME IT ON THE COLD MEDS.

Twenty minutes later, I enthusiastically clipped in with the hopes of riding out to Mt. Vernon and back for a good 40-miler. The allergy meds must have gotten to me. Clearly, today was not my day. Long-story short, I ended up with 3 failures to unclip, 2 dropped chains, and 1 pair of nearly-frostbitten big toes.

I only made it out to Reagan airport, before deciding to turn around and wheel back up through Georgetown, tail between my legs. Blood was running down my left knee from one of my to-the-ground crashes and I was 100% soaked. Never before have I been as happy to see my apartment building, rack my bike and get in a long hot shower to recover.

I don’t think I’ll be riding in the rain while sick for a long long time.

As an aside, I think I need new shoes, or I just need to better attach my cleats to the bottom of them. I think a big contributing factor to my number of clip-out snafus today is the fact that my cleats loosen up over the course of my ride. I had to get off my bike and tighten some of the screws using my house key several times across the course of my ride.

I think number one priority this weekend is to stop by my bike shop and see what they can do for my pesky cleats….

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