Monday, September 06, 2010

Race Report: Scoggins Valley Olympic Triathlon

I bet you've never read a race report that starts like this: I was awakened at 3:00 am by a screaming chicken...

But oh, I'm getting ahead of myself. First off, this race was a last-minute entry to my race calendar. The Olympic race that I had planned on doing (my all-time favorite Black Hills Triathlon) was cancelled due to some bonehead type-A triathlete cussing out some poor old couple in the park that it's held in. So I had to scramble to find another Oly that fit into my shrinking September timeframe. I already have a half-Iron in the last week of the month, so I couldn't put anything too close to that. The Scoggins Valley is a course I've done before (in the sprint and Enduro distances only though, never an Oly distance) so I thought it would be a good one. It's a very hilly and challenging course, but one that suits me. And I've done a LOT of hills this year in training.

Goals for this race: Mostly train through, no taper, use race to dial in transitions, nutrition, pacing, etc. for half-Iron. BUT, I was hoping to do fairly well (I know, conflicting goals there), thinking that a top-5 women's finish was within the realms of possibility. However, in the week before the race, I did a 60 mile bike and a 3-hour trail run, so I knew I would not be on fresh legs.

Okay, back to the screaming chicken. I was camping the week before the race, and we had so much fun up at the lake that we didn't roll back into town until about 8:30 Friday night. Uh Oh. I haven't packed for my Saturday triathlon yet, and it's 120 miles away so I have to leave at 4:30 am. I hurriedly throw my tri gear together and sling it in the car. Since I was home late, I assumed that hubby put the chickens up (it was dark when I got home). Since I was coming home, I guess he thought that I would do it when I got there. That explains why at 3:00 am the chickens were screaming - a raccoon was in the henhouse! Wow, there's nothing like a big shot of adrenaline to boost you out of a deep sleep. After scaring off the raccoon (and sadly dispatching the one chicken he managed to get ahold of), there was no point in going back to bed. So it was eat some breakfast, make tea, and off to the race. In the craziness, I left my Accelerade bottles in the fridge. Luckily I always pack along a ziploc baggie of extra powder, so I just mixed some up at the race course.

SWIM: 21:31
Beautiful day. Promises to be sunny, yet not too hot. The lake is warm, mid-70s. I decide on full-sleeve suit anyways, for speed. One of my goals this year is to lose my trepidation about getting out right in front of the swim pack so I positioned myself front and center, not my usual to-the-side approach. Two women that were fast broke away from the pack and I went with them. Damn, these gals are smokin! I decided to go for it and try for a good swim split, was feeling very froggy. VERY happy with my swim time: 21:31. I think that's a PKPR (post kids PR). The other two women came in just ahead of me and believe it or not the three of us turned in the three fastest swim splits of the day (faster than ALL of the men in the race!)

T1 2:29
Went as planned. Well executed.. Tied for fastest women's T1 split. I'm getting my game down. However, several men went under 2:00. Clearly I could improve!

BIKE  1:19:33
This course is hilly. Nothing but hills. Up. Down. Up. Down. Most of them are rolling so you don't notice a lot of extra effort, but there are a couple of sustained climbs. Two-loop course lets you see it all a second time. My second loop was slightly faster than my first as I became more confident of the course. My goal was not to use my brakes at all. When I did this course in a sprint race, I braked down too many of the hills, making me use more energy going up the next one. Mission accomplished, I hit a tuck on the hills and roared along. I kept it very aerobic and felt strong. My split put me about at a 19 mph average. A bit slower than I want to go at the Half-Iron, but a much hillier course. Also, legs did not feel fresh, which I expected with no taper. I used the course to practice my race nutrition. One gel every half an hour plus Accelerade. Stomach felt great.

During the bike loops, the duathlon and sprint races disgorged all of their athletes onto the course, so there was no real way to tell where I was at in the race. The only data point I had was that no women had passed me, so I knew at a minimum I was in 3rd overall.

T2  1:22

A little slower than I wanted. I had trouble with my right shoelace which popped out of where I had it tucked. Could've saved 15 - 20 seconds here.

RUN  57:25

What can I say, the run is never my strong point. This was however a VERY hilly run. Most of the women's run times were over 50 minutes. So my time is not as slow as it looks :-)  Mostly I just kept it aerobic, wanting to feel like I was training for more of a half-Iron pace. I thought I was well within my goal of still finishing top 5 in the women's race, so I stayed mellow.

That is, until I got to the aid station just before the run turn-around and the volunteers yelled "First Place Woman!!!!" at me. SAY WHAT?? I think I might've run just a teeny bit faster if I'd known that. Cripes! Now all of a sudden I was interested in pace. One gal caught me just after that, a seventeen year old who went on to win the race. She was also the fastest swimmer, a great all-around athlete! After the turnaround, I took a hard look at who was behind me. Looked like five women within 2 - 4 minutes, all within striking range. I picked up the pace for a negative run split and tried to hold them off. One caught me in the last two miles, and I kept the rest at bay for an overall 3rd place women's finish.


I'm very happy with my race as I accomplished both of my goals. I feel like I set myself up to have a good half-Iron by practicing my nutrition and pacing. And I turned in a top-3 finish on a hard course.I was 3:40 behind 1st place and 1:50 behind 2nd place.  I think I could decide to go back to this course in another year and really nail it. My training on the hills payed off as I felt strong and confident, especially on the bike. I've run a lot of hill repeats this year too. That doesn't really look very evident in my run split, but given the fact that my legs were not all tapered and fresh, I'm pretty happy with even my run performance.


Kristin (Triathlon Dreams) said...

Congrats on your finish!! You are a FAST swimmer!! :)

Marv said...

Great job ! Looks like you had your head together. There is nothing like experience. That is an amazing swim split. You have to have confidence going into your half. And to think you did this on unrested legs, and the aftereffects of a "screaming chicken morning." Chickens, raccoons, different race morning wake up... :)

janasmama said...

Sorry to hear about the chickens. :(

Sounds like an exciting race...looking forward to hearing about your half.