Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hagg Lake Olympic Tri Race Report

Quick summary: I can't believe I actually did this race, let alone finished, let alone had an good time (finish time and enjoyment time).

(Some pictures at the end but they're all in reverse order and I don't have time for blogger's hijinx today.)

Race Morning:

Luckily my alarm did its thing and I was up at 5:15 a.m. I ate two pieces of toast with butter, had coffee and tried to house water. Josh got a pass from me on this race so I wrangled my friend Anne into coming for support and photography. I left for her house at about 6 a.m. and there I stopped inside to use the bathroom really quickly. The ride out was long and I started to worry about having to take a dump, you know, the usual pre-race worries. I must have talked with Anne about this for 20 minutes and described my woes to her in detail. She laughed at everything I said which is why I like to hang out with her! It took a while to get to the race site but luckily we didn't get lost. I found a spot right before the main parking lot that had a bathroom and by then I knew it was time. I was sooo relieved to get that out of the way! Got down to the parking lot, lucked out on a good spot, ran into another mutual friend doing the race, pumped my tires and headed to the start! I think I arrived around 7:30?

Race Site Prep:

I got marked up and carried my gear to my rack. I was number 27 and I Jen and Zach were 24 & 25 so I knew we'd be close. I found their stuff - VERY neatly laid out but they were no where to be found. I set up right next to Jen because I wanted her good vibes and organizational skills to rub off on me. She walked up and didn't realize it was me setting up and said hi to me like I was a stranger. (She later told me that she was simultaneously thinking "who is this bitch?" and "I wonder where Emily is" at once. I love it.)

I nervously put my laces back into my running shoes and got everything else set up. I had intended to use the new Yankz that I bought but realized this morning that my engineering skill level would hold me back from figuring those bitches out. I decided to put the original bad boys back in. Stick with what you know! I unveiled my shiny new wetsuit, put cap/goggles on, had everything set out for me when I returned.....ready to head down to the water!

Race Strategy:

I will interject here with my race strategy. I had none. If you read this site you know I was really freaking out about the race and almost backed out of it. I also considered doing the sprint instead of the olympic. So the last week was really bad for me mentally, worrying about dropping out, worrying about actually doing it. I knew I wasn't prepared and there was nothing I could do about it this late in the game. I was not excited about letting myself down. But by race morning I had sort of reached a Zen state and was really okay with it all. My plan honestly was to take everything slow and just try my hardest to finish. Low expecatations baby!

Race Start:

I walked down to the start and found Jen right away. We chatted and posed for pictures (by Anne) while the men started. Some ladies overheard me saying that I was extremely ill-prepared and nervous and they were like "you had us fooled!" I think they may have mentioned that they were intimidated by us which was very flattering (must be our muscular shoulders and look of gritty determination??). I asked Jen how I should pace myself during the swim. Probably not the right time to think of this 2 minutes before the start but whatever. Her advice was very technical: go slow the first lap and go faster if you can the second lap. This seemed like the best thing I could have heard!

We both sort of slid into the water to get a little warm up in. Yes, we literally slid as the floor of the lake was slimy slimy muck. Yuck. We wished each other a final good luck before they counted down the seconds....


The swim was great! I did not freak out at all and think I managed the crowds well. I finished the swim in 30:27 and honestly think I could have gone a lot faster. My effort level during the swim was really low and I was barely kicking at all - I wanted to save my legs for the rest of the race. I felt very fluid in the water and comfortable and methodical. I thought about the fact that I was there at all and *really doing this* like *right now*! I smiled quite a bit at the thought and it really put me at ease for the day. I love my new wetsuit too. I kicked it in just a little in the final stretch but coming out of the water I felt super duper.


3:48....argh! Ok, so a little faster than Blue Lake (4:05) but WTF? I want to go at least a minute faster on this. Ah well.


The bike is two loops around the lake and is pretty gorgeous. Oh yes, and hilly. But I think I've decided that I like a hilly route better - makes it more interesting for me and I seem to pass people on the uphills. Again, I had no strategy on the bike, but my competitive nature took over a little. It is fun to pass people! It is not fun to have people pass you. I noticed that my front tire was starting to get flat and I was praying that it could just make it through. The first lap had a lot of people on the course, but the second lap was dead. For most of it I didn't see anyone behind me or in front of me. I almost thought I'd taken a wrong turn. There is a little out and back turnaround section and I saw Jen both times - literally a minute or less behind me. I was hoping she would catch up with me so we could push each other, but I knew it would definitely happen on the run. (Foreshadowing.)

I had two water bottles, one with Gatorade. I only drank about half of the Gatorade while on the bike, which is more than I usually take in. I also sucked down 4 Shot Blocks like a ravenous woman. I'm glad I brought them with me.

The second part of the loop was so lonely that I started heckling the race volunteers so I could have some interaction. Then when I started seeing runners I heckled them too. I even had a brief exchange with a tall drink of water on his run that was funny. (Yes, I am engaged but it is okay to flirt sometimes.)

I don't know if I could have gone faster on the bike? I am bad at gauging this. I can tell you toward the end my quads were starting to scream. I started thinking about the run...oh god, the run. I knew based on Blue Lake that the run was going to be the most painful part, the place where I could fall apart. I decided that once I got off the bike I would erase all memory of the bike and pretend that I was on fresh legs. Seemed like a good plan.

I rolled off the bike in 1:31:28.


2:08 - whatevs.


My legs felt like lead the first mile but then actually warm up and started feeling okay. I'd been really worried about having my feet go numb this time. That happened in Blue Lake and was terrifying. It ruined my gait and I just could NOT run. It was really awkward and painful. So this time I made sure to have my laces loose and hoped for the best. It worked better this time around but I still did have some numbness. Gotta figure out a way to get rid of that!

I hate the run of the triathlon because it is the hardest leg, yet should be an area in which I excel. I was having such a fun time in this race that I didn't want a slow run to piss me off. I just decided to not worry about the run time, just worry about having a good time, enjoy it all (and try not to walk). There are some pretty big hills on this run and towards the top of them my legs were burning and screaming in pain. I was really hoping not to have an all out cramp fest until at least the race was over with. I kind of started shuffling and not really running. However, at the 5k mark I saw that I was under 24:00 which was absolutely amazing to me. Honestly I'd hoped to run 10:00/miles so this was a surprise. That 5k was faster than the damn Blue Lake 5k - wtf!?

Somewhere in here I passed Joel, who I met through my coach Shawn. Joel has a blog that he updates with his training and I was SO happy to see him. I started thinking about this post, where he mentions meeting like-minded people (me, Jen, Zach) and for some reason I started to cry! Not full on tears but choked-up happy crying. It was awesome - I knew I'd reached the state I wanted to be in! I hoped that it would come again at the finish because I love that shit.

I also passed Zach and my friend Ian and gave them both high fives. It was awesome.

I knew Jen was close behind and I wanted her ass to catch up to me. I knew she would and a little after the halfway mark we were side by side. We talked a bit and I mentioned "a plan" then a few minutes later Jen was like "um, what is the plan?" I was clearly not thinking straight but told her we needed to start picking people off (despite the fact that there were not many people within sight in front of us). It was around this time that I realized how much pain I had in my legs. (Do you ever do that thing where you can ignore something until someone you know comes around? That's totally how I am with running and why I don't typically like running with people. If they're there I have the potential to bitch and moan about something and then that makes me focus on it.) It could have been the realization OR the fact that Jen was hauling ass and my trying to keep up was too much. I saw the big hill in front of me and I excused her from the dinner table. That little girl took off like a stallion and did start picking people off! It was so fun to watch it all go down and I can only hope to take some credit for it. (I can't, but I can still pretend.)

Despite the pain the run was great and I knew I was almost there. I rolled down the final hill with a huge smile and feeling of accomplishment. Not everyone can do these races and I know how lucky I am. After all my turmoil over this race it was done and I actually did well. That felt good.

(Run time was 49:45)

Post Race:

Ate some crappy post race food with fellow participants and friends. The sun came out and everything was light and warm and happy. The ride back home took way longer than expected but I had good company so all was good. I was kind of loopy/delirious so that was fun too. Spent the entire rest of the day EATING and DRINKING and rolling around in my own personal victory!!!

Lessons Learned:

I'm in better shape than I think I'm in.
Next time prepare better.
Don't stress out so much.
Make sure your tires are inflated fully.
Try out new gear/equipment in advance.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. (Just kidding - I just heard that weird chick from the Real Housewives of New Jersey say it and it cracked me up.)

Next Steps:

I started thinking about my next steps last night. I love fresh starts, new beginning and formulating a PLAN. Right now I'm in full gear and can't wait to get ready to GO GO GO! Coach Shawn demanded that I not run for 2 weeks and then start marathon training. I don't know if I can stick to that but I can try. I do know that I want to spend these 2 weeks doing a lot of yoga and weightlifting and potentally biking. I'm going up to Tahoe next week (Wed - Sun), so I'm sure I will get some running in there. I am pumped.

Overall, life is great and I'm happy to be alive.

Finish time: 2:57:29


jen said...

Aww, great report!! I can really tell how much happier you are with this race than Blue Lake. You did great and I'm glad you appreciated the experience. Thanks for the multiple shout outs, I definitely do owe you a lot for pushing me in the run. It was so fun being able to do this race together, I'm glad you showed up. :)

You really did amazing out there and I think you have some real tri talent. I am excited to follow your marathon training now though and hopefully do some long runs together this summer/fall.

Congrats again!!

the gazelle said...

wow! super fantastic race & report. I knew you were in better shape than you thought you were!

I am hoping we can get together for drinks sometime b/w now & 8/1 so I can pick your tri-brain. :)

KK said...

Great job, Emily! Way to believe in yourself despite your doubts about your abilities-the sign of a great athlete. Great report and good luck on your next endeavor. Glad you ended your tri season on a positive note!

kristen said...

Atta girl. I knew you would pull an amazing race out of your ass. I'm so glad you had such a positive experience. You completely underestimated yourself.

I love Jen's reaction to see in at transition when she thought you were a stranger. And that those girls were so intimidated by you guys.

I love my friends that can handle my endless talk about the stress of taking a shit before a race.

Jen Rife said...

Aren't you glad you did the race now? You are a rock star! Congrats!

Alisa said...

Great job lady! I think doing races that you feel underprepared for sometimes help make you more confident (of course, when they come out like yours did).

Would love to hear more Tri advice from you. You and Jen are my little Tri Guru's =).

I think you'll kick the marathon in the ass =).

Have fun in Tahoe, it's one of my all time favorite spots in Cali.

onelittletrigirl said...

Great report! And congrats. :)

ShirleyPerly said...

I'm so glad you decided to do this race. I don't recall ever reading much about the other Blue Lake one but who cares, right? This one has superseded any bad memories and left you with some new good ones.

Congrats on your finish and fun!!

Marathon Maritza said...

YAY!!!! You know what it was? It was you sportin' lucky #27! ;)

You did an AWESOME job! You are definitely in excellent shape and you rocked it! Love that pic of you and Jen hugging all giddy-like in the guys are so cute!

Looking forward to your marathon training reports now!

P.S. Microsoft movie maker = ♥ + countless hours of goofing around

Susan said...

Congrats on a great race!! I'm glad it went much better than you can use this experience to plan for the next event!