Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SmileTrain Triathlon

On June 27, 2010, Anna completed her very first triathlon! We competed in the 2010 BASF SmileTrain Triathlon in the mountains of Wake Forest, NC!

At the end of May, Anna was thundered out of the swim portion of the Rambling Rose Triathlon in Raleigh. She did a duathlon that day, but didn't want her months of training for a triathlon to be lost. She found the SmileTrain tri and I launched the idea of doing it together! In less than 24 hours, we had signed up for the 250-meter pool swim, 12-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run! 

This past Saturday, I drove to Raleigh and spent the night. We woke up at 4:30a and left by 5:00a to make it to Heritage Park in Wake Forest by 5:30a. The center was already buzzing with participants and volunteers. We did the normal check in: set up bikes, got marked, got chipped, hit the porta-potties (no line), arrange transition area, warm up in the pool, hit the porta-potties (25 minute line), etc. 

At 6:45a we started the line-up at the pool. It was an outdoor community pool and the water was probably between 80-85 degrees. We lined up in a mini lane on the far side of the pool in order of a submitted swim times. Essentially, when you register for the race, you submit the time it takes you to complete 100 meters. The theory is that you seed yourself with people about your same speed so everyone has a little distance between the next swimmer. I was number 77 and started at 7:12:40. I felt great in the pool.  I was very relaxed at the start. One of my mantras for the day was float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.  

[SIDE STORY: On Saturday morning before I left for Raleigh, I practiced my transitions from swim to bike and bike to run. I set all my gear up beside my bike: shoes for the bike, shoes for the run, helmet, headband, shades, etc. I practiced what I would do coming out of the pool: ditched the cap and goggles, put on shoes, then band, then shades, then helmet and GO! I ran my bike down my driveway, jumped on and went for a spin around the block. On that first lap, something hit my left arm. It happened so quickly that I didn't get a good look at it, but, I think it looked a lot like this:

In the split second that it hit me and I swiped it off my bicep, it stung me. The stinger was simply lying on my skin. But, it was enough to swell and turn red. By race day, the sting splotch had grown to about six inches and was ITCHY!] 

In that first 50 meters I caught the guy who had started 10 seconds before me. I passed him in lane three and the last seven lengths felt great. I could even see Anna on the pool deck on my last 25 and kicked a little harder with her cheering. My unofficial time in the water was 4:10. My official swim to T1 was 4:24. I had a fairly fast transition and was out on the bike in 1:15.  

Okay, I know. Technically, Wake Forest isn't the mountains. But, even the pool swim felt a little uphill! The bike definitely did. The first stretch of the out-and-back course is through a neighborhood: complete with a roundabout and speed humps. The first six miles were up rolling hills. The second half was down rolling hills. I passed Anna going the other way. She yelled, the swim was AWESOME!  I finished the bike in 41:27 which was the high end of my goal time range - but still within it!

The run was the worst for me. We had driven it the day before and I knew there were hills looming. I do know this: there are no hills, bridges or even stairs in Wilmington that could have prepared me for this run. Here is the elevation scale:

Don't the cat ears in the middle look a little evil to you? It would have been more accurate if it were red and not blue. The red would have conveyed the heat that had risen to about 85 degrees by 8:00a. My goal was simply to run the whole way. I've been so excited about my run times lately, but I simply hoped to make it in under 30 minutes. I had no way to gauge my pace or my time because my Garmin watch froze at 5:28a. 

I battled a side stitch in the first mile and felt a little tingly and almost chilled at the halfway point. I kept repeating: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee and focused on looking at the pavement two feet ahead instead of looking up at the hills (hills that bore a great resemblance to four-story buildings). I sought out the last slips of shade on one side of the road and made a bee line (ha ha) to some kids who were out in their front yard, cheering for us and aiming their hose at all the runners. 

I passed Anna again as she headed the other way. We cheered for each other and high-fived. The last tenth was up another dang hill -- but I finished! I grabbed a water and headed to the transition, grabbed my camera and headed back to the finish line to see Anna! 

Yay! She was awesome! Her finish was:

My times were:


Sweet! My run was under 30 minutes! I am pleased that I was 40th overall for the women and 14th [of 50] in my age group. I think six women in my age group were in the top 20 overall. They were FAST!

It was a great race for a great cause. All the registration fees (approx. $21,000) were give to SmileTrain - a non-profit that raises money for surgeries to repair cleft lips and palates to children around the world. I was honored to be a part of it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010