Monday, June 23, 2014

Rev3 Williamsburg 70.3 Race Recap

Sometimes I feel like I make a decision about a race and count down to it for so long that it feels like it is never going to get here. This happened with Rev3 Williamsburg without a doubt. I ended up at the expo on Saturday thinking to myself and saying out loud, "I can't believe I'm actually here!" But I want to back it up a little bit first.

I was in Atlanta the week prior to the race at a great conference for work. I loved every second of the conference, but as an entire week of intensive can be, I was extremely tired by the end of the day on Thursday. It was hard to fathom at that point doing another day of learning and then a long drive to race a 70.3. Though I had planned for it to be an A race, there were small thoughts of "just have fun" floating in my head. And on top of that, my bike spent the week at a bike shop in Atlanta that had come by recommendation but that I wasn't as familiar with as the one that I go to in Tampa. All of that together made for an interesting week before an A race.

As I was thinking ahead to a 9.5 hour drive from Atlanta to Williamsburg split up over Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, I started thinking of other options. I talked to Brittany, another Rev3 teammate, to find out her driving situation, and it worked out that we could drive together! I drove the 2.5 hours to her house in Augusta on Friday night, and we left from Augusta on Saturday morning for the 7.5 hours to Williamsburg.
We went straight to the expo when we got to Williamsburg, which I was so excited about. I didn't get to go to summit, so this was the first time I got to meet some of the other members of the Rev3 Age Group Team! They were all so nice and welcoming, and it eased some of my nerves about meeting new people. I wish I had gotten more pictures with them and at the expo
After we picked up our packets and timing chips, we headed over to bike check in at the swim start. Williamsburg was a two transition race, which was a first for me. We got a chance to see T2, where we'd rack our bikes after the bike portion of the race, but we wouldn't be setting anything up there the night before. T1 was about 9 miles away at the James River, and that was where we had to check our bikes for the night. Brittany and I did a little bike warm up to make sure our bikes were riding smoothly, and then we did a little one mile shakeout run. Everything felt great! I got wind of the fact that the water was 80 degrees, so we wouldn't be swimming in our wetsuits. Since I first learned of the advantage of swimming in a wetsuit I've gotten very excited about any race that potentially means I get to wear it. Oh well, it wasn't that big of a deal!

We headed to dinner with a group from the team and then I rode to my hotel with Maggs and Laura, who I'd be staying with for the night. We set our stuff out and got ready for bed. With an early call in the morning we were in bed and quiet by 8 PM. We turned the lights off by 9 and I slept amazingly!

I was nervous race morning because I wanted to do well. I had mentioned to a few people that my goal was around 5:30 for the race. The Olympic started before the Half, so Ed came and go me and Laura from the hotel, because Maggs was doing the Olympic. Ed and Laura had coined the term "funning" for this race, so they helped me keep my mind off of how nervous I was. 

We drove to T2 to set up our bike to run stuff then caught the shuttle to T1 to set up our swim to bike stuff. I got to meet Pam getting onto the shuttle, who was also hoping for a PR and is training for her first 140.6 this year as well.

The time to head down to the start came quicker than I expected. I wasn't really ready, but that wasn't my choice to make. I made it to the bathroom quickly then walked over the the swim start to wait with the other under 40 girls for the last wave to get in the water. I heard the swim was partly with the current, so I was thinking it wouldn't be as hard as I had heard it was in 2013. We were called to head out into the water, and I was happy that it was an in water start, even if we could stand up in the water.

The Swim!
When the horn blew I started swimming at a fast pace to try to gain a lead, but just like happened at Rev3 Florida, people took off! I've never found faster swimmers than in Rev3 races. There were quite a few ladies from my age group who took off ahead of me, and in fact about halfway through the swim I decided I must have been going unusually slow for me. I had my first obnoxious swimmer interaction on this course when a girl swam up next to me vying for position and swam as close to the buoy as she could, thus forcing me to stop and get behind her lest I swim into the buoy. I was so frustrated with her that I just swam on her feet for the next quarter of a mile; I knew she had done the buoy maneuver on purpose.
As we rounded the last buoy heading back to the shore I got really confused. Some people were taking it really wide and others were keeping it narrow. It was amazing how spread out the swimmers were in that last stretch. I was so concerned that I was making the turn too tightly that I popped up and asked a kayaker if I was going the wrong way. She assured me that no I was on the right course. The water got really shallow pretty far out from the shore, so a lot of people had stood up to walk. Once my hands brushed the bottom twice I stood up too with the intention of walking, but I was still probably 1/4 mile from the swim exit, so I threw my goggles back on and swam more just keeping my hands from touching the bottom. I was passing people that were walking so I knew I was making the right choice. 
Once I got closer to the shore I got up and ran to the timing line, hit the split mode for the autosport function on my Garmin and saw that I had broken 30 minutes. That was by far the biggest surprise of the day. I did not think I was having a good swim!

Swim: 29:49 (1:33/100 meters) 4/18 Age Group

T1 included a .3 mile run to my bike, and though I was running, my heart rate always gets so high in that run and in transition that I didn't push as hard as I could have. It was a long way and I wanted to start feeling good on the bike. I took my time in transition getting my hair put up in the helmet and getting my bike shoes on. In addition, I also had to put all of my stuff into the swim to bike bag so that it could be transported to T2 for me to pick up at the end of the race. There was no getting back to T1 when we were done. That added a little time as well. Once I got settled I ran my bike up to the mount line and waited until I had a little bit of space to start. That first push off always makes me a little nervous when there are lots of other people around.

 T1: 4:54

The bike course started off flat, and there was just one slight turn in the first few miles, so it gave me a chance to shake out my legs and my nerves and get into an aero position. The roads in the first few miles were nice, and people weren't too close together. I spend a lot of the first miles of the bike getting passed by the multi thousand dollar bikes with disc wheels that belong to the swimmers that I passed in the waves ahead of me. The early bike miles always remind me that having a swimming background is about as useful as having a background in bowling. I sometimes think about waving to the people in my age group as they pass me, knowing that I won't be catching them on the run either.
The first half of the bike was really enjoyable. The weather was still cool, the roads were well maintained, the trees were beautiful, and the roads were pretty flat. There were some small rollers here or there and one bridge, but overall my legs were feeling good. At the 25 mile point there was a train crossing, and I must have jinxed myself when I joked that I hoped it would stop me so I could get a break. Sure enough, when I pulled up to it the bars were down and the little two car train flew by. I was unclipped and had put my foot down right as the arms were coming up. I'd say it cost me 30 seconds or so, but it wasn't a big deal. I did notice, though, that I wasn't listed as receiving credit for that time that I was stopped as some other people had received. Maybe it was fewer than 30 seconds and the timer didn't catch me.
The second half of the bike course was far more hilly than the first half. It was during this time that I had to really check in with my legs to see how they were feeling. I was using the multisport function of my watch for the first time and actually couldn't figure out how to see my speed, so I just judged by feel. I took water bottles from three aid stations and otherwise drank skratch from my downtube bottle. 
When we were on the long stretch at State Road 693 there were a lot of rollers with a few more steep hills, but the two biggest hills of the course came after mile 40. The one out and back stretch had a big downhill on the way out which then turned into a big uphill on the way back, and at mile 48 or so there was a huge downhill where we couldn't see the bottom because of the curve. As soon as I got to the bottom I looked ahead and saw a very steep but short hill, so I dropped into the small ring and pushed. All the people around me were struggling and a guy ahead of me had unclipped and stepped down. I'm not sure if it was just such a surprise to me or if it was really that steep, but it was the hill that I had the most trouble with on the whole course. It took me a minute at the top to recover and bring my heart rate back down.

From there to T2 it was pretty smooth sailing. There were still slight incline and declines, but I've learned that people outside of Florida wouldn't call them hills, even though we here in Florida would have.

Bike: 2:56:36 (6/18 Age Group)

I got to T2 and saw that there were a handful of bikes in the racks around me, so I knew I wasn't in the top 3 for my age group. I still wanted to have a good run and didn't feel like I had burned my legs out too badly on the bike. I was tired, but I thought I still had a really solid run left in me. In my head I had hopes for a sub 2:00 run. 

I started out on the run and turned onto the trail they had told us about beforehand. We were told it was hardpacked trail, but in my head I viewed it as being flat. It was four loops of the same course, so I knew what I was facing with each twist and turn would come back around three more times. As I got onto the gravel and dirt and climbed up hills and twisted and turned onto more hills, I started thinking that this was going to be harder than I had expected. It was really nice that the first 1.6 miles of each loops was shaded, but the elevation gain wasn't small. When we got out to the pavement there were more slight inclines and declines. Again, I don't know if people outside of Florida would call them hills, but they were hills by my definition. 

I liked that it was a loop because I knew what I was going to be facing each time, but by the third and fourth time that I did it I was tired of it and feared what I knew was coming around each turn. I'd say the pros and cons balanced themselves out. I definitely wasn't able to keep the paces that I had planned, though. I blamed it on the hills and the trail, but I'm thinking that it was also partly because of my higher average on the bike. On each loop the first mile would be the slowest, and then they would descend over the next two miles. 

By the end I did let myself walk through the aid stations on the fourth loop. Otherwise I didn't walk at all, which was a mental victory. I kept wanting to walk on the uphills when I saw many others doing it. But I also kept repeating the saying from Beth, Tori, and Steve, "Don't be the carnage!" So I just pushed up the hills and kept going, knowing that a downhill would be coming soon.
It was nice to see people out cheering, and my Rev3 Teammate Sarah was with her dad on the run course, and he got this picture, which I really like!

As far as nutrition was concerned I took a PowerGel starting the third loop and a PowerGel starting the fourth loop. I also carried a pack of chews with me from transition and ate those on the first loop. I took water and/or gatorade from every aid station. 

When I was coming in to the finish I was running near a Team RWB member who took a flag from someone cheering for her. He told her she makes a right turn then runs around a track and we were done, and I almost just stopped racing. I could not have run around a track. I didn't see how it would be possible with the distance we were at, but I hadn't seen the finish line before so wasn't sure if maybe he was right. When I got to the turn up ahead I saw the finish line just down the chute and was so so happy! No track to run around!

It was fun to run down the chute and have my name called as being part of the Rev3 team!

Run: 2:07:36 (5/18 Age Group)
Finish: 5:40:51 

I didn't get that 5:30 that I was hoping for, but the course was a bit different than I was expecting. It was still a 14 minute PR from Rev3 Florida, which was a flat course, so I'll take it as a big win!
I hung out with Rev3 teammates for a little bit before hopping right back into the car for the 7.5 hour ride back to Augusta. I then drove the last 7.5 hours from Augusta to Tampa on Monday morning. It was a heck of a weekend following a busy week.
My thoughts overall of the Williamsburg course were very positive. I would absolutely do this race again. The swim was fantastic, and I think part of the course went with a current, which gave me a nice time. I'm not sure on that, though, because part of it would have also been against the current. The bike course was outstanding. Though hillier than I expected, I liked it a lot. I was very happy with everything about it, and besides being a good course it was also good training for Chattanooga. And the run course was fine. It wasn't my favorite, but the part in the woods kept us shaded, and the hills were an equalizer for sure.

I had a wonderful time meeting my Rev3 Teammates, and I'm so glad I did this race! It was my first out of state triathlon, and it was the perfect one to start with!


mindy @ just a one girl revolution. said...

Huge congrats, girl - great race!!

Haley Duke said...

Wow!! That's still a great finish. Way to go Meghan!!! You did great.

Jenny Hodges said...

You continue to be amazing! So proud of you!! Way to go!

Rick Stiles said...

Congratulations, Meghan!! You have an indomitable spirit, no matter the challenge you just power through!

P.S. If you swim the same distance with and against the current your time will be slower than the same effort with no current. That's because you spend less time going with the current than the other way, so the slowing effect has more time to act than the speeding effect does.

Karen said...

5th in your age group is excellent! Great on the PR too! I can't stop thinking about how this whole new direction began during a devastating injury. :) Funny where life takes us, isn't it?

Abby Land said...

Wow, that is a great PR considering the course was not as flat. Awesome job!

B.o.B. said...

Finally got over here to read this! Smart of the swim finish. I never would have thought of that. Holy crap on those hills. You are so strong on them & it shows with your time! Solid job on the run, I'm sure those hills didn't help but I'd say you definitely had a fantastic day! Congrats again!

Lindsay Weighs In said...

Great race! And holy guacamole, you are a rockstar for doing all of that. I can't even!

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