Wednesday, September 13, 2006

So Much For a "Practice Race"

I don't know how people do that "Practice Race" thing anyways. All the books and articles say that as you move toward your "A" race, you should do several practice races. Supposedly, you just "train through" these races and don't go as hard. I just don't seem to be able to do that. This does not bode well for the Ironman, I'm afraid. I need to figure out how not to let all the energy and excitement and all those swimming arms and zooming bikes go straight to my adrenaline glands.

On the bright side, I did the Black Hills Triathlon in Washington last weekend. It's one of my all-time favorite races, one of the oldest in the Northwest (this was the 27th year), and it's just a beautiful race. It's especially good for strong cyclists because it has a long bike relative to the swim and run (distances are 3/4 m. S, 30 m. bike, and 5 m. run.). It's also great for not-so-strong runners like me, because all of the run is on trails through the forest. The beautiful scenery is a terrific distraction, and all the ups and downs and rocks and roots means that those jackrabbit-fast runners can't get quite such a leg up on me.

Overall, I had a really strong race, placing first in my age division, and 3rd woman overall, with the 2nd fastest woman's bike time (remember I said I couldn't keep myself from over-amping and going fast!). I think I beat my old bike time by 4 or 5 minutes (I've been doing this race every couple of years for 16 years now). It rained the night before, and it was windy on the course, very similar to the omnipresent headwind that we often get in my area (all the valleys and hills make the winds swirl, so just when you think you'll be getting a tailwind, you don't!)

I had the worst swim I'd ever had in a triathlon though. One of the bouys was right in the sun, and by unfortunate coincidence, there was a swim area in the lake on the left, also with bouys. So I ended up headed toward the wrong bouy and found myself in the swim area. I heard several folks talking about this after the race, so I guess I'm not the only misguided swimmer to end up over there. But it blew my swim time, which is usually my strongest, and by the time I was out of the water, there were several women from my wave/age group out ahead of me.

The bike course ended up being my saving grace though, because with all the miles in for Ironman, I had strong bike race. By the time I neared the end, the course marshalls told me there were only two women ahead of me (from my wave and the waves in front of me). I managed to pass one of them in the run (a first for me! people are usually passing me on the run), and one woman from behind me passed me, leaving me still in 3rd at the end.

All in all, the strongest finish I've ever had on this course, and a good race. Just not a "practice race".

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