Thursday, May 02, 2013

Race Report: Heart of the Valley Triathlon

There's nothing I like better on my birthday weekend than to do two things: One: grab an open-water swim, the first of the season. And two: get the first race of the season going. Luckily I got to do both this year. I chose to race at the Heart of the Valley Triathlon, a sprint set in the hills out of Corvallis. The last time I did this race was 1988, I guess it's been awhile!

A bunch of my fellow AquaDucks headed up to Beaver (OSU) country to do the race, we had a really fun group going, even though it meant getting up at the crack of dawn, something I'm not particularly good at.

As with all of the early-season sprints in the PacNW, this one has a pool swim. Luckily for me, it's a 750m instead of 500m like some of the early season races. More swimming is always better for this Duck. My swim time put me in the fastest lane, along with two guys who figured they were going to go sub-10's. I had a bit of a verbal altercation in the transition area with a young man who thought it would be fine to stick a crate to sit on right in the middle of my transition area. I asked him to please keep it off of my stuff and out of my area, he seemed to figure that I wouldn't be out of the pool anywhere near his awesome self so it wouldn't matter if he was all over my stuff. Grrrrrr.

I've started doing long and longer warmups before sprint races, and this time we were there with plenty of time to spare so I took the bike out and also got some running strides in. We got plenty of time in between heats to warm up in my lane of the pool, which was a bonus. Then we were off, the first race of the season. I was sandwiched between two pretty fast swimmers, both young men. The one behind me thought it would be fine to swim right over the top of me instead of passing at the wall, and he banged up my bad arm in the process. Not cool. Then did a fast flip turn and crashed right into me. I wonder if he was the same guy with the crate in the transition area. In any case, the timing mats outside the pool clocked me at 10:02. Although the swim didn't feel great, that's nice and fast for a 750m for me.

When I got to the transition area, crate boy was in my space. Grrrrrr again. He got up and unracked his bike, leaving the crate sitting in my way. I kicked it out of the way, probably a little angrier than I should've been, maybe from getting swum over. Other than that, the race went off without a hitch. The bike course was hillier than I remembered, not rolling hills but little sharp up-and-downies that kind of kicked my butt. Haven't done enough hills yet this year, for sure! Two women passed me on the bike, and one of them was really smoking fast. Since I was pretty sure I clocked the fastest women's swim time, that left me in 3rd place, at least in my wave.

When I got to the run, I really felt great though, and I got a good turnover going and just felt strong. This was welcome news for me after the winter of not running much at all due to my knee injury, I was happy to be running on pavement and still feeling fine. I turned in a fairly respectable (for me) 25:30, two minutes faster than the 5k I ran in a sprint triathlon at this time last year. With as little running as I have done, that made me happy! I kept looking behind me, expecting some runners to come up and pass, but other than a couple of guys, no women passed me on the run. That's always a good thing for me.

As it came out, I ended up 4th in the women's overall, and as I head into my 48th year, I've got to be pretty darned happy about that. They had a terrific swag bag for the overall winners and also for the overall Masters winners, so I got to take home all kinds of lovely Kind bars (my favorite!) and Muscle Milk. There was a little scare after I crossed the finish line as Crate Boy's mom actually filed a complaint against me! His mom, really? Dude, when you're in college, maybe you ought not to let your mom fight your battles for you. In 27 years of triathlon, I have never gotten a penalty or a complaint, so that was pretty frustrating, but I explained to the race officials what had happened with the crate, and all was fine. Best of all, this Duck beat the entire women's Beaver triathlon team, all of whom have to be 25 - 30 years younger than me. YES. Okay, so that's a petty little collegiate competition, but I can't help myself but be happy about it.

I got to watch a lot of my Aquaduck friends finish the race, everybody looking strong! And my friend Kristen brought a birthday cake along (dense, dark gluten-free chocolate - triple Yummmmmm) and they all sang Happy Birthday to me. I can't think of a better way to celebrate - one year older, surrounded by friends, still feeling strong.

Final Numbers:

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