Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Wheel-ly Happened!

Vindication is mine!

This morning I headed in to Athlete's Lounge (AL) to have them check my rear wheel. As I noted in my last blog (Ironman Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Going Flat Out!), I suffered two flats in my rear tube during my half Ironman and these were the 4th and 5th flats I'd had in 2 weeks in this wheel. The last couple of flats I changed, I noticed that the rim tape inside the wheel had folded over and Maddie Oldfield, the Australian pro triathlete who stayed at my house during Rev3 Portland, had been really concerned that this was causing my flats; in fact, she sent me an email about this after reading about my Vineman race on Facebook. Since I hadn't been able to find anything in my tires, I was pretty sure I was having some sort of malfunction with the wheel itself.

Circled area is rim tape bunched up against valve stem
Boy, did I ever have a problem! I hadn't messed with the tire at all after the second flat because I wanted AL to be able to see exactly what was happening. The tech removed my tire and started removing my tube until he reached the valve stem where the rim tape was all wrinkled and bunched up so badly against the valve stem that he couldn't pull the tube out--the valve stem was completely pinched between the tape and the pass hole through the rim! My rim tape was all dry rotted and cracked! He took the wheel to the shop so he could check the tube to confirm this is where they tube failure was and to cut the tube out of the wheel to remove it.

He returned from the shop again saying, "You never would have found this other problem!" The pressure on the tube pulled the nut threaded on the stem to pull through the top hole in the carbon section into the rim. So it was all kinds of screwed up! I'm very glad I made the decision not to take the wheel off and try to change out the tube with the second flat as I probably would've had trouble getting it back together and certainly wouldn't have gotten the old tube out.

Fortunately, none of these things caused any damage to my carbon wheel, which is still less than a year old. Riding the flat did not damage the wheel either and the tire was actually in great shape other than a little split on the sidewall that they superglued together.

To fix the issue, they removed the old rim tape and installed new cloth rim tape, which the tech said he automatically does when he gets new wheels himself as factory tape tends to have these kind of issues. I got a new tube with 60mm long valves so I won't have to use the thread nut on the valve stem in order to get my tire pump to fit on the stem--no more valve nuts for me! I will bring my front wheel in next time to have the rim tape replaced on it, as I didn't bring that with me and it certainly will have the same issue.

The best part of the whole trip was having Gary, the shop owner, say that he would've done the same thing in that situation--ride the flat the last 12 miles. It meant a lot to have someone with Gary's triathlon experience confirm that I made the right decision! And totally worth the razzing I got from him about "someone needs some lessons in changing flats!" when I walked in the door! :o)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ironman Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Going Flat Out!

Click to enlarge
I did it! I completed my first half-Ironman! What a day!

Mother Superior and I drove down from Vancouver to Sonoma County, California for this event and took two days to do it so I wouldn't wipe myself out driving down. We stayed in a great condo in Rohnert Park, California, about 15 miles from the finish, arriving late morning on the Friday before the Sunday race.

We drove to Guerneville to check out the starting point, Johnson's Beach on the Russian River. I'd made Mapquest maps for us before we left home and OMG, did Mapquest give us the curvy/twisty scenic route! We had lunch by the water and talked to people who were doing some practice swims. I walked into the water and wow was it warm! I decided that I didn't need to do a practice swim as the water was only 4-7 feet deep, fairly still as it was dammed up, and very warm (74 degrees at 1 PM after sun shining on it all morning). I've never done practice swims at any other previous event and have done fine in colder, deeper, swifter water without swimming them prior--I really wasn't worried about this swim.

After lunch we drove the 56 mile bike course to Windsor High School, the location of T2 and the finish line. Vineman 70.3 is a point-to-point event, something I've not done before, so it took some time to wrap my head around this! The bike course is gorgeous, goes right through the heart of wine country. The roads are in pretty good condition and mostly rollers, with a 385 foot climb near the end. There were Cindy-signs all along--an old barn with THOMPSON painted in huge letters on it, a Ford Aeromotor windmill just like the one from the family farm, and an old antique PINK fire engine in a field!! The last six miles are flat and straight, and really boring in comparison as they go through light industrial and the airport area. During this last part of the drive I told Mom, "This part is going to be the longest part of the whole bike route, so flat and straight." Boy, was THAT foreshadowing...

Waiting with fellow PTC'ers, Wyatt and Christine
Saturday was packet pickup. We headed back to the high school with Wyatt, another Portland Tri (PTC) member who was staying with his family with us at the condo, to meet PTC friend, Chris, to do all the obligatory pre-race things. Thank goodness we got there early. We were with the first 12 in line for the mandatory pre-race briefing and by the time they opened the doors at 9:30, we couldn't see the end of the line!  After the video we raced to the exit for our hand stamps and to packet pickup. I was glad to have spent the money in January for an annual USAT membership card so I didn't have to stand in yet another line to purchase a single day membership before being allowed to get my packet.

After packet pickup, it was time to set up my T2 area...but first, wait in another line; they didn't have T2 open yet, but I was 5th in line. I tell you what, it is so weird to set up a transition area with ONLY your running stuff. I kept going over and over my list to make sure I had everything because it just didn't look right without the bike stuff! T1 would be set up at the beach in the morning before the start. I got some prime real estate though!

So that was all done. We wandered though the expo and I got to meet another triathlon legend, six-time Ironman Triathon World Champion Mark Allen! Mark was there promoting his online triathlon training programs, Mark Allen Online, and his new book, Fit Soul Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You. I hadn't read his book yet, so I picked up a copy, chatted with him for a moment and got a signature in the book for an addition to the Trimazing Cindy library of signed books of amazing athletes! We followed this all up with a lovely drive of the run course...then it was time to chill, resting up for the next day's race.

Saturday, July 15, 2012

We left the condo at 4AM and got parked a little before 5:00! Boy was I glad we did though, because they were letting athletes set up their T1 before the listed 5:30 time. Again, I got prime real estate, on the end of the row. A headlamp would've been nice! T1 filled up fast and by the time I was heading down to watch the few waves before mine go, there were literally people fighting for spots to set up--T1 was tight! Christine was the row in front of me. We headed back to her room after setting up and finished our nutrition.

The Swim - 0:41:03 - 1.2 mi  

I wore my Garmin on my wrist again, thus the choppy route line. Click to enlarge.

Water temp was 71 degrees on race morning, so I opted to go sleeveless--it was like swimming pool water. There were 150 women in my wave, so this was a big swim start for me. There's no place for warm up swimming in this event, other than the 8 minutes between the wave before and your wave start, so the first part of my swim was my warmup swim. The race started before I knew it!

I tried to line up in the back right, but women kept coming into the water and I ended up smack dab in the middle. It turned out to be ok though. The start was slow and I spent time manuevering around slower swimmers, avoiding getting kicked and hit. I noticed fairly early on that no one was swimming at the buoys, so I made my way there--a great decision. The Russian River is extremely shallow here and the buoys were in the deepest part, a whole 7 feet deep. Being in this channel, I was able to swim the entire course, and often saw swimmers stand up and have to walk shallow sections next to me (it's way faster to swim than walk in the water).

I felt terrific the whole time and am happy with my swim time, which was just slightly faster than the pace I did at the Foster Lake 1 Mile Cable Swim, even with the maneuvering around lots of swimmers.

T1 - 0:05:27

I swam all the way to the swim exit, swimming past all the other swimmers who were walking and wading the last 100 feet. I remembered to kick harder the last 300 feet and had no problem standing up and running up into T1 to my bike. No dizziness at all.

Being point-to-point, I had to put all of my swim stuff away in my transition bag that I'd carefully put into a marked plastic bag specifically given to us for Vineman Volunteers to pick up after we left T1 for transport up to the finish line where we'd collect after the race. Anything left out of that bag would be lost. This slowed my T1 time a bit as I had to roll up my wetsuit and get it into my bag with my goggles, towels, etc., and then tie up the plastic bag. I took some gel and washed it down with water, applied sun screen spray, grabbed OJ and we were off. It was crowded, so I ended up having to walk my bike halfway until it was clear enough to run it and I ran it past the bike mount area which was at the bottom of a steep driveway, up to the top, so I didn't have to worry about getting started on a hill or having bikers stop in front of me on that hill and crash.

The Bike - 03:53:47 - 56 mi  

I felt great! My speeds were faster than I expected at the start, 17-19 mph, which is a great clip for me (this year will be the year of bike work to improve). I was comfortable with the course, having driven it, and knew there was a sharp 90-degree corner with a big drop at mile 5. I did fine with that but soon after crossing under the highway and gearing down to climb up Westside Road, I dumped my chain! So halfway up the hill (only about 100 feet) I had to stop, restore my chain, ride back down to get my momentum back to climb up again. Rookie move!

The ride is beautiful and I was really enjoying this. Nothing felt bad. I was taking Margarita with Salt Shot Blocks every 15-20 minutes, as planned, and water. I took Gatorade through the aid stations and followed with water. Funny, I missed seeing the Thompson barn and the pink fire engine!

At mile 41 however, I heard my rear tire blow out. DANGIT! I pulled over into a winery driveway and pulled off my wheel--I could use a break anyway, right? I could not find anything in my tire, inside or out, or tube. I did notice that the rim tape inside the wheel was folded back again, exposing a manufacturing hole and wondered if that was the culprit--but how on earth does that keep folding up when there is an inflated tube against it?? Barring that, I figured I must have just hit something sharp in the road. I put in a new tube and then started up again.

Three miles later, in the middle of the 385 foot climb, I had another flat in that rear tube! I pulled off, didn't take the wheel off, and put air in it to see if it would hold a little air, but no. I stood there for a second and considered my options. Clearly, there is something wrong with the wheel--I've had 5 flats in 2 weeks in that wheel, new tubes, new tires. I could take another 10-15 minutes and put in a new tube and have it go flat again in 3 miles and be in the same position, this time out of tubes and air, and have to ride the flat in--or--I could walk the bike up to the top of this hill and ride the last 12 miles, which was all downhill and flat (so glad I drove the course and knew this), with the flat, not wasting the time to change the tube...

I rode the last 12 miles on a flat rear tire!!! Boy, what a racket that makes! It slowed me down a bit, especially after a near wipeout that almost took out police officers, spectators, other racers, and myself after trying to take a 90 degree turn at 23 mph on that flat. Bad idea--it took me nearly 1,000 feet to recover that swerve and wobble and I really don't know exactly how I did that now! At about mile 51, right in the middle of the part I'd told Mom would be the longest part of the bike, my left knee started to ache from jerking my leg recovering that swerve. I just kept pedaling through it, watching the miles count down on my Garmin, maintaining a 14-15 mph pace with the flat. My race plan had been to do an easy spin down the last mile of the bike, but I couldn't do this with the flat, and had to push really hard the last 12 miles.

T2 - 00:05:11

I've never been so glad to see T2 in my life! OJ got racked, pulled the spent tube out of the back of my tri kit where I shoved it down the back of my neck, grabbed another gel and some water, shoe change, sun screen, and off I went. I was thrilled though, because I knew I had won my race! I had battled the last 12 miles and gutted it out with that flat--it could've destroyed my race and it didn't--all I had to do was run 13.1 miles! I GOT THIS!!

The Run - 2:32:38 - 13.1 miles

The sun was out now, but it was only in the mid-70s, which was great, and there was a cold breeze, kinda great except when it was a head wind.

My race plan was to force myself to run slow 10:00 min pace for the first half, walking all uphills (this course is full of rollers, some of the hills are pretty sizable). I ran my plan, lesson learned from the Vancouver half-marathon! Water stations were every mile. I took a gel before every water station, followed it with Gatorade and two waters, walking through the aid station.

I felt really good! I felt a bit of hamstring tightening about mile 2.5 and just doubled up on the Gatorade the next water station and was fine. My left knee pain was gone when I started the run.

About mile 7, in the section of the run that goes off pavement into the loop through the La Crema Winery, my left knee pain returned. I decided that instead of just letting myself run whatever fast pace that felt good for the last half (my race plan), I would just stick with 10 minute mile pace and walk about 400m every 0.5-0.75 miles. I had a blast this part of the race, even though my knee was achy. I knew I had overworked my race plan for the last 12 miles of the bike, which was to do an easy spin. All of us were running the same plan, leap-frog running each other in intervals, cheering each other on! The miles ticked down.

I ran the last mile in, cheered by the crowd that lined the course, so awesome! Around the corner and there it was, the finish line!

7 hours, 18 minutes, 6 seconds! I did it! What an experience, what a challenge, what an AMAZING thing! I missed my goal time, but without the flats, I would have been right on target. I'm super proud of gutting it out on the bike and finishing--no way I was going to DNF! To me, that's a better win than time!

Other than the tweaked left knee, I felt great after the race. I wrapped, iced, and elevated the knee and by the following afternoon it was much better. I feel surprisingly better than I imagined I would have--I guess training works! :o)

A very special thank you to Mother Superior for driving down with me, helping me navigate all over Sonoma County, waiting all day in the sun, taking GREAT pictures, and being my number 1 fan! Love you Mom!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Revving it Up!

It's T minus 6 days to Vineman 70.3 and I've been revving it up!

Several months ago, The Revolution3 Triathlon contacted me to see if I would be interested in hosting a professional triathlete coming to the area to participate in the 2012 Rev3 Portland. I had offered to do this last year when they contacted the Portland Tri Club for assistance with this, but was unable to host because it was the same weekend as the Seattle to Portland bike ride. This year, however, I was free, AND, was already scheduled for vacation to prepare to head to California for Vineman, so when I got the email, I responded with an enthusiastic YES! Late June, I heard back from Rev3 that I would be hosting a tri pro from Australia, Madeleine "Maddie" Oldfield.

I picked Maddie up from the airport Friday afternoon when she flew in from Boulder, Colorado where she trains while in the US. Maddie, who is 24, is a petite, soft-spoken, and very polite young woman and I was immediately impressed by her. We got her bike at the baggage carousel and headed to Vancouver to get her settled and figure out the game plan of what she needed for the weekend. 

After getting her settled, we headed to Portland to Athletes Lounge for a reception. Athletes Lounge was hosting a meet and greet for Terenzo Bozzone, a five-time 70.3 World Champion from New Zealand, and Meredith Kessler, an American who recently took first place in Ironman New Zealand, St. George, and Coeur de'Alene. Terenzo and Meredith were in town to race Rev3 as well.

While we were there, and really my primary focus, I needed to get new tires for OJ, my road bike. I recently had a long ride, got a flat...changed the tube, forgot to check for embedded objects in my tire before installing and riding on a new tube, and immediately had a second flat a mile later. I realized I'd forgotten to do that about two pedal strokes in and thought, well, maybe it'll be ok...not! Well, I dug out a chunk of glass from the tire when changing the second flat and figured that was it, I even finished the ride without a problem, but the next morning--another flat. I took OJ to work, checked the tire, dunked the inflated tube in water, but could not find anything. I decided the fear of having a slow leak and something sharp in my tire wasn't worth the mental anguish for Vineman and wanted new tires. Maddie even helped me in the decision and I ended up with some great road racing slicks without tread and are super fast! They are what she uses. Maddie examined my old tire while we were driving back to Vancouver later and finally found another hidden chunk of glass...brown, presumably from a broken beer bottle...grr!

We left Athletes Lounge and headed for VooDoo Doughnut, Portland's iconic "keep Portland weird" doughnut shop in OldTown Portland. I'd asked Maddie what she ate before races and she said "donuts!" so, off we went! We wandered down to Waterfront Park snacking on doughnuts and gave her a quick walking tour of downtown and the Willamette River. It was getting late and we needed dinner after our dessert, so we headed to Camas to have dinner on the Columbia River at the floating Puffin Cafe. When we returned home, Maddie assembled her bike, and we called it a night.

Saturday morning we headed out and drove the bike and running courses for the Rev3 Half. The 56 mile bike route is incredible, a complete change from last year, with 2500 feet of climbing! The majority of this route is in Gresham Fire's response area so I was very familiar with the roads and route. We then went to Blue Lake Park so Maddie could pick up her race packet, go to a mandatory pre-race briefing, and have the bike mechanics from Athletes Lounge adjust her gearing. I ran into one of our Deputy Fire Marshals checking out the site for their fire permit, and got to visit with the Rev3 Race Director, who was a very charismatic individual! He told me about some special things that Rev3 does, including:
  • They take your picture at packet pickup and display it on the Jumbotron and announce your name and stats when you cross the finish line
  • Provide childcare at the event so single parents or both parents can race
  • Allow family members to join you crossing the finish line, and will even bring your kids out of the childcare area to you for this. "If you want to carry a baby across the finish line, Cindy, you can totally do that here at Rev3!" He was a hoot! (Note: This is not allowed at Ironman events, apparently.)
We headed home, stopping quickly at the grocery store. Maddie went for a quick run, I made dinner, then I went out to do a 2 hour brick workout. The weather here has finally turned into summer, giving me only a week to do heat workouts to acclimate to hot weather in preparation for California. I was really concerned about how I would do, but my brick went fantastic, starting in 84 degree sunshine for a 1.25 hour bike and ending at 75 degrees with a 45 minute run.

I guess technically I'm old enough to be her mother...
I got Maddie to the park by 0630 Saturday morning. We asked someone to take our picture together and the woman exclaimed, "Oh, how wonderful, a mother-daughter tri duo!" We laughed and corrected that we were a "host-pro duo"! Crazy funny!

I caught up with Portland Tri Club friends and we watched everyone get set up in transition. The pros have their own area in transition, opposite Age Groupers, and each pro's spot is designated with a banner with their picture and race number on it! It was really awesome!

Women pros started in the second wave. There were 18 pro women competing in this event. Here is video of their start:


Maddie looked great coming out of the water, but I was terrified for her because the "Scary Stairs" of Blue Lake that I crashed on practicing running to transitions last year at the Open Water Clinic awaited her! (see Is that Poop or Pudding). The transition route wasn't marked the day before when we scoped it all out. I never dreamed they would have to run up those stairs to transition and had even told her the story of my crash up the steps the day before, and as soon as I saw them I was so worried that my story was going to psych her out heading to transition! She did beautifully though...she's a pro!

Maddie flew out of T1 like a gazelle! I wish I looked that good running WITHOUT a bike!

I stood and watched several more pros running their bikes out to the bike mount area. One woman took a horrible spill right behind Maddie, catching her toe on the edge of the asphalt roadway from the grass, losing her bike and sliding on her shoulder. It was horrible to watch, but she got up, brushed herself off and kept going. A male pro lost one of his shoes that had been clipped onto his pedals about 25 feet from the bike mount area and had to run back for it. These things happen to all of us, not just Age Groupers, and you have to roll with the punches.

I went back and cheered athletes coming into and out of T1, including five Portland Triathlon Club members doing the Olympic and HalfRev events. They looked GREAT!

Then I reported to my volunteer post on the Marine Drive overpass at 223rd Avenue, the Aid Station for 1.4/3.6 mile of the run course. The Portland Tri Club staffed a water station last year as well, and it was such a great experience! We handed out water, Gatorade, ice (very popular), gel, salt tablets, bananas, grapes, and power bars (not a single one taken). We also sprayed Age Groupers with super soaker water guns (we didn't think the pros would appreciate this!). It got super hot during the run, in the upper 80s/90 and everyone, pros included, was getting toasty and needing water to drink and to splash.

Portland Triathlon Club members at Aid Station mile 1.4/3.6 of the run course

This was a great location to be situated at. Athletes in the HalfRev came north on 223rd, under the overpass we were on and headed west down Marine Drive, turned back at 122nd Ave., and down the exit ramp at 223rd to finish the bike course in the park. The OlyRev athletes did a loop on Marine Drive and also exited down the ramp to 223rd, so we got to see everyone finishing their rides. The view off the overpass was spectacular and the perfect place to cheer and cowbell everyone from.

We all watched for Maddie and then we saw her fly beneath us. I tried to run to get a picture of her coming up the on-ramp to Marine Dr., but she was too fast! It was the same when she exited. But I got a picture of her running through the aid station. So exciting!

Maddie finished as the 8th pro woman with a time of 04:48:37.393! She needed to finish in the top 10 in order to earn points toward the 2012 Rev3 Pro Championship Leaderboard--her placement gave her 410 points toward her standings. They haven't updated the Pro Leaderboard yet, but I'm anxious to see if she moves up in the standings with this.

So how do you celebrate an 8th Place Professional Triathlon finish? With ice cream, of course!

Two scoops from Ice Cream Renaissance!
And, with a 12.75 mile bike ride! The highlight of my whole weekend was having Maddie join me for my training ride Sunday evening so she could do a "spin down" after her race. I was on cloud nine the whole time--I'm sure she didn't realize how awesome that was for me!

After our ride and dinner, we sat down and recorded a little interview. She and I had chatted a ton over the past two days but I wanted to capture some of that conversation to share with you all, because it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the life and training of a professional triathlete. I had intended to write the Q&A out on the blog, but we recorded 30 minutes, so I think it's going to be easier and better to share the audio (plus, she has that great Australian accent that doesn't carry over through text!). So the interview starts rather abruptly as it wasn't intended to be a podcast...but, here's my FIRST Trimazing podcast!

I am still trying to figure out how to embed a player in this blog, so please bear with just having a link. I also need to learn how to edit audio files, come up with intro music and introductions! This happened before I was prepared for it, but there's no time like the present to get this going!

Hosting Madeleine was just a joy! I learned so much from her and really, really enjoyed getting to know her personally. She is a class act, humble, sincere, polite. Maddie left me with some really special parting gifts, that really meant a lot and were completely unexpected. 

Orange BlueSeventy Swim Goggles--my signature color! I'm hitting the pool with them tomorrow to see how they fit and if they do, I'm TOTALLY wearing them at Vineman for good luck!

And her Rev3 Medal!!!! Completely blew me away and is something I will treasure always. I asked her to sign the ribbon. It says "To Cindy, Thanks for all your support! <3 Maddie" 

Maddie, you are always welcome back (and not because you gave me the medal!!). I look forward to hosting you again next year if you do, indeed, do Rev3 Portland again and, yes, I will join you in that an Age Grouper! Congratulations on a great race and I look forward to following your progress in the professional circuit.

Now it's off to California for my first half Ironman event...Vineman 70.3! I'm ready!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Triathlete or Swimmer...WHAT?!?

From the cover of this month's Swimmer magazine from USMS

This past weekend I tried a new event...a US Masters Swimming (USMS) Open Water Swim competition. My great friend, Alan, asked me a few months ago if I wanted to go see him swim at the 2012 USMS Open Water National Championships at Foster Lake just outside of Sweet Home, Oregon, and of course I said yes! Alan is an elite masters swimmer, competing and placing at the national level in both pool and open water, including marathon open water swimming. (Click here for a recent article on Alan's accomplishments at the Bay Challenge, an annual 10K marathon swim across English Bay in Vancouver, BC.) I've known Alan for several years but had never seen him swim.

Looking at my training calendar, though, I realized that this weekend would be very important for my Vineman Half Ironman training schedule, and I really couldn't afford to take time off from training so close to my event. I started wondering if I could run or cycle while we were there, and then thought, "Duh, I should swim!" So, I signed up for the 1 mile swim event! So, I am now a card-carrying member of the US Master Swimming organization!

Course map at the lake's edge

I had NO idea what to expect. This swim was a "Cable Swim" and I really didn't even know what that meant. For this swim, they float a quarter-mile long cable across the lake with small buoys every 5 yards. The cable itself is anchored on both ends and marked with large cylindrical buoys. There are floating course marker buoys every 110 yards alongside the course to help you keep track of your distance.

There is a rope strung between two posts in the water that marks the starting line and a touch board between two posts in the water that is the finish line. You start in the water after swimming out from the shore, so no mass shore start.

The course starts on the right at the Starting Rope and goes toward the left along the Floating Cable (Click to enlarge)

The National Championship event is 2 miles, which is four complete laps of the course, and wetsuits are NOT allowed. The 1 mile event, two complete laps, was not a championship event and swimmers could compete as Category I (non-wetsuit) or Category II (wet-suit). Alan signed up for both events as non-wetsuit, and I signed up for the 1 Mile Category II event.

I'm not 117 years old!
We were seeded by 1,500 meter swim time, which we had to provide at registration. I was thrilled that I was even fast enough to make the cut-off time to compete, which was 50 minutes. At the time of registration, I hadn't done a 1,500 meter open water swim, the last open water swim being 750 meters at the Stumptown Sprint Triathlon last September. I'd been swimming 2500 meters in an hour in the pool several times a week, so I knew I could do the swim, but I didn't know how to translate my time to open water. So when I registered, I doubled last year's tri swim time and added a couple minutes as a safety margin, and came up with 42 minutes.The week before the event we got an email with our seeds, wave start times, and starting position...Alan was seeded 9th in the 2 mile swim and 2nd in the 1 mile event; I was 117th out of 120! Gulp! Talk about humble pie...they body mark you with your seed place (I'm used to having my age as my body marking, not my starting position!). I started to wonder what I'd gotten myself into, but by the time of the swim, I'd had several 1+ mile open water swims, including a great 0.9 mile swim at the Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon with a time of 35:57, so I knew I could do it, I just figured I was just going to be very, very slow in an event of swimmers.

It was great to watch the 2 mile Championship swim before my event. These are some incredible athletes! There is something fantastic about being a spectator, and I think it's important for competitors to spend some time spectating events.

Swimmers lined up in their waves according to seed position. There were 12 swimmers per wave. A coin toss determined the direction of the swim, which was clockwise. The fastest person in the wave was given the "pole position" at the cable side and the wave lined up away from them.

The waves then entered the water and swam out to the start rope, lining back up in line by seed number.

Wave 1 lined up, awaiting countdown and airhorn to start.

                         And They're Off!

Battling it out for position. A brutal mass of pounding arms and kicking feet, as brutal as a mass start of a triathlon.

Alan making it back to shore after a great swim. He swam 2 miles in 45:39.02 and came in 12th overall, 9th male, and 2nd in his age group--that's IN THE NATION!

The unfortunate thing for the event was that the water temp had cooled to 66 degrees the last several days and the ambient weather was really cool that morning. About seven swimmers were treated for hypothermia after the event, and several were transported to the hospital for treatment. I was concerned that they might cancel the 1 mile event, and actually expected it, but the sun came out and warmed everyone up. I'd donned my wetsuit early to keep warm and was starting to feel too warm by the time my race started.

There were two people seeded after me for the 1 mile swim...both in their late 60s! We had a lot of fun in our line up! We were there to complete!

I went sleeveless in my swim and I was very comfortable. The water was just 2 degrees colder than Blue Lake for my recent tri. We swam out and lined up. I was 6 away from the cable, which was to my left as this race was going to be in the opposite, counter-clockwise, position from the first event. The horn sounded and we were off, starting from zero momentum. I started swimming an angle toward the cable and quickly came out ahead of my whole wave...whoa! I worried that maybe I was swimming too fast at the start, checked my pace, and determined I was going ok. Cool!

Alan and I talked about race strategy before my event and my plan was to stay one-person-width off of the cable so faster swimmers could stay on the cable and not swim over top of me if they needed to pass. Everyone was talking about how brutal the swim had been, that they'd been hit and kicked and swam over, and while I am used to that in triathlon swimming, it is better to avoid as much of that if you can! So I hit the cable and then moved over to leave a gap. However, I soon came upon the previous wave's swimmers and had to pass on the left against the cable! Everyone was wearing caps with their seed numbers on them so I could see I was swimming in amongst the mid 90s! I moved through much of this wave.

The swim itself was pretty uneventful. After the second turn I settled in with a swimmer from two waves ahead of me and drafted off to the side of her. At one point there were three of us swimming side-by-side and the outside swimmer pushed me into the inside swimmer several times, causing me to strike the inside swimmer pretty hard accidentally with my stroke...she yelled and I apologized and tried to stay away from her as much as possible after that! Yikes!

The last 110 yards I swam hard, working to pass the swimmer two waves up that I'd swam with for most of the race. I knew I was already 40 seconds ahead of her since they started waves 20 seconds apart, but it was great motivation to finish hard. I even remembered to hit the touch board at the finish to stop my timer (something I've never had to do in a swim before--your time doesn't stop until you hit the touch board, even if you swim past it!!). They handed me a popscicle stick with the number 56 on it, indicating that I was the 56th swimmer to finish..56?!? Wow, I've had a great swim!

And a great swim, indeed! I finished with 34:39.62, 54th overall, 6th female, and 2nd in my age group in the Wetsuit Category!

I feel so ready for Vineman 70.3!

What's even better, I totally could've done two more laps...that's nearly the swim for a full Ironman!

Triathletes are Swimmers Too
My first issue of Swimmer, the magazine for US Master Swimming members, arrived two days before the cable swim, and I was intrigued to see Triathletes are Swimmers Too on the cover. One of the main articles of this issue was about how swimmers and triathletes see swimming differently, how they train differently, and some of the controversies that have arisen in some masters swimming teams. It made me a little nervous about showing up for this swim, quite frankly, but gave me some valuable insight about etiquette for a non-triathlon, swimming event. Alan was helpful in calming my nerves about this as well. The important thing was recognizing, which I already do, that my swimming is to completion, generally the first part of an overall competition, whereas most of the people I was swimming with this day are primarily swimmers and have been swimming most of their lives and are there to compete. I have, Adult-Onset Athleticism, a phrase I learned from my running friend, Cindi...this is all new for me, I go to complete, and it's important to not get in the way of those who are there to compete. I'm a guest! I will say, though, that my reception and introduction to US Masters Swimming was so much better than the magazine article gave me an impression that it would be. I felt welcome, I felt invited, no one made me feel unwanted. So, thank you, USMS!

I did love two things from the article, the table showing the differences between swimmers and triathletes:

and this video, Swimmer Guy and Tri Girl

So it's 12 days and counting to Vineman 70.3. Still have lots of exciting things happening, including hosting a professional triathlete from Australia in my home while she's in Portland to compete in the Rev3 Triathlon this weekend! Look for a post next week all about it and my Q&A with her.

Until next time,
Train Safe and
Remember the Joy!