Saturday, June 11, 2011

Standing on the "Overall Podium"

I've said it plenty of times before, and I'll say it again: I love racing triathlons! And it's so much more than "all about the results" to me despite the title of this post. It's the whole experience, it's the other people, it's feeling the race adrenaline, going fast, dealing with adversity, smiling through it all while hurting a lot too, etc, etc, etc. It's all those things and more that will make a great race -- if you just focus on results, where's the fun in that?!

So can you tell I raced today? Totally still on that high :) I did the Bonelli Olympic Triathlon that I mentioned in yesterday's post. I didn't realize until just now that this was only the second true Olympic-distance tri I've ever done (OC Tri in 2009 being the only other). All in all it was a great day. I ended up 2nd female OVERALL and 1st AG. It was pretty cool getting an overall placing for the first time. That even convinced me to stick around for awards :)
At first we heard that I was third overall (thus the 3 fingers), then got word it was 2nd. Btw, check out my brand-new Ignis kit, sweet huh!!!
My good friend Jason got 3rd overall, he's going for speed this year (instead of Ironman), and it shows!!

The whole race experience this time around got off to a good start. A mellow Friday night with a solid dinner (sweet potatoes, chicken, veggie-loaded salad, beer). I prepped my overnight oats with chia seeds so I'd have brekkie waiting in the morning. The race location was well over an hour from my place, so we hit the road early. Good thing we did because even at pre-6 a.m. there was major crap going down on the freeways -- several accidents, one of which had the whole freeway closed, and the offramp for the race site was closed too. Several detours thus ensued. Thank goodness I had a sherpa driving me otherwise I would have been uber panicky on my own. I don't do well with figuring out new directions in a foreign area so early in the morning when I have racing on the brain haha.

So to the race... the Bonelli races are low key, very grassroots and full of friendly happy people. Love love love. Surprisingly, there was a pretty good turnout for this event, more peeps than I'd seen at the past races. Plus, I had several friends, one client (Ray, with the hair) and Mike (my training buddy/boss/friend) all doing the race too, so I felt right at home :)
Here are Mike and I (in the middle) pointing out the buoys on the swim course; we tend to take the leadership roles haha:
So crowded in the middle of nowhere on a Saturday morning at 6 a.m. Only triathletes :)

I remember the race courses from the shorter events being really fun and fairly challenging at points, sort of like a mini Vineman. I had never done the Oly distance, but I expected it to be a solid course too. It was. As Mike said after the race today, "That race has teeth."

Doing a few pre-race routines (complete with texts as evidenced below), then it was time to get going! Note the bathroom pic -- no line for the girls, but major line for the dudes. wtf? Also, sorry that there are only pics of me, I was not in charge of the camera ;)

1.5 k is not too far from a 70.3 swim, so I wanted to test a new anti-cramping strategy: compression socks DURING the swim. I wore them under my new Zoot Prophet. My goal for the swim was about 27 minutes or faster. I know, that is slow for that distance, but remember, I'm a slow swimmer and I know that's what I'm capable of doing without wasting too much energy. I got in for a warmup, and the water was warm and gross. Lots of disgusting sediment and pretty much no visibility. Not that big of deal. When we started, I got going at my comfortable pace as to not overdo it right away. The Prophet felt amazing. I had a few run-ins with others, etc., but didn't get too knocked around. Actually, I was all alone for the most part so no drafting potential :( The big issue this time was sighting. Not getting off track, I actually sighted the course just fine, but when I lifted my head to sight it was causing weird sensations down my back into my legs... as if that was going to set off cramping. And sure enough, after enough sighting and time in the water, calf cramps began with roughly 300-400 to go. The last chunk I was swimming with feet dorsiflexed to offset the cramps. No fun. So, compression socks were arguably ineffective at preventing cramping, although, they might have helped from making the cramping worse. I'd wear the socks again in the water. My watch said 28 something coming out of the water. Pissed. Blah. I'm not going to be negative nancy about it, nor will I dwell. Moving on.

After a rookie T1 (need to practice that more I guess), I was hammerin on the bike with a smile from ear to ear. As always, the goal was to pass as many girls as possible and rock on. The bike course was fun and a lot hillier than I expected -- both in climbs and decents. Unfortunately I didn't have my magnet on my Zipp to get speed/distance, but I at least got power, and overall I averaged 175 watts. I'll take that. I'd say there was about three good hills on each lap (three laps) where I was climbing at 250-300+ watts and passing lots of girls and guys all along. HILL WORK IS PAYING OFF. Even on the downhills I was passing people, including bigger dudes who had weight/momentum on their side. Part of my ability to pass on downhills may be the "no fear" side of me... I can comfortably go in the 40-45+ mph range even on foreign terrain.

Like I said, the whole bike course was three loops, and besides the fun hills and descents, there were several flat and fast sections. Those are a blast too. The were only a couple crappy parts. One was where it got real tight and passing was hard, some people looked like they were even drafting. No thanks, I knew it'd be a long shot to pass the big line of guys, so I chose to back off and suck it up going a little slower for a bit even though I knew I could hammer just fine. I play by the rules and would never want to do anything sketchy. I'd never draft, duh, but I wouldn't even want it to look like I was drafting so better safe than sorry. I found it funny that that was the only spot where I saw a race official moto. Apparently they get cheaters there. The other crappy section is one stretch of road that's torn up as if jack hammers were having a party. What could be a 19-20+ mph section is a 12 mph section, or so it feels. All in all, those crappy parts are minor in comparison to what I thought was a super fun, challenging and diverse bike course. Loved it! I got off the bike around 1:12, not sure on the exact time yet. My PR for the Oly distance is 1:11 (at OC Tri). Both courses are about the same difficulty, this Bonelli course might be even harder. Who knows.

T2 went smooth, well under a minute. Got onto the run and Garmin was having issues "locating satellites" so it didn't start until about .5 miles in. No biggie. The run course is AWESOME! The first mile or so is totally offroad Xterra style in a jungly forest. Heck ya! Fairly hilly and rocky terrain, which I love. Then that unfortunately ends and it's all rolling hills on asphalt for pretty much the rest of the run. You go around the lake roads, and like I said, there are good hills of all sizes, but nothing too daunting. After you run El Moro, everything seems doable haha. Plus, I've been running well on hills lately, and I felt good on this course as a result. My miles were around a 7:00 pace +/- for the whole 10k. And I felt even better than on the half-mary a couple weeks ago. I swear, I run better off the bike sometimes. It's weird.

As far as my placing in the race, by the time I had gotten off the bike, I had passed tons of girls. No girl ever passed me. I'm not trying to brag by saying that because the truth is all those girls I passed are obviously better swimmers than me, so hats off to them! But it felt good to knock off girl after girl on the bike :) But back to the run. By mile 2ish I had no idea how many more fast ladies were ahead of me. Thankfully, we had a couple out and backs, so I could start counting. I saw one. OK, good. Then I saw two right in front of me. I could tell I was easily going to pass them, and I did. So by that point, I was certain at least one girl was ahead, then possibly more fast girls that were out of my league? Whatever, I was running my race and feeling great (great as in hurting in that sadistically fun way lol). I could have probably dipped into the high 6's for more of the run looking back, but that 7ish pace felt perfect for the task at hand. I have no idea what my official run time was, but I'm guessing around 44-45 min.

As I approached the finish line I heard the guy say "1st place female" which meant I was in position for 2nd or 3rd. I was sure it was 2nd. But then I crossed the line and he marked me down as 3rd. Later on that mistake was cleared, and it was in fact 2nd place overall, 1st AG :)

Now that all said, I didn't pull of the fastest time so don't get your panties in a bunch thinking that Tawnee has arrived. No, not yet folks lol. I did a 2:30, which is very decent but not jaw-dropping stellar. It's a hard course to some extent, similar to the OC Tri in some respects, and, shoot, for me it's an Oly PR, so I'll take it. The night prior to the race I was thinking I'd finish closer to 2:25 or faster, but I guess I overestimated my abilities. It's better than underestimating myself though, right?! Overall, I'm very happy with the result mostly because I gave it a solid effort but it didn't feel like I was completely dying and holding on for dear life.

This race was so fun (how many times have I said fun in this post lol) and it was yet another learning experience that gave me more insight into "Tawnee on Ironman training." Conclusion: Ironman training is doing a few things. 1) It's making me more confident in SBR at any distance (i.e. I said to myself, "oh only a 6.2 mile run after 40k on the bike? That's cakewalk distance-wise!") 2) It's making me a little slower than I'd like to be at this point (just can't shake off that lingering fatigue as quickly as I used to, plus not doing as much speed work overall these days). 3) It makes me hungry for more -- I want to keep challening myself to have some speed but still be able to do long stuff. I have many years ahead in this sport, and I want to continue testing my abilities in years to come at all race distances!!!

Last but not least, as I was racing today, I was thinking about all the people who help make it possible for me to do this sport that I love so much. There are so many people in my life who I want to thank, but instead of pretending I'm all pro status and naming them off, I'll try to do a special blog soon to give a little more insight into my life and the people who make me tick. Let's just say I'm a lucky girl :) For example, today I felt extra lucky having a pretty darn good sherpa taking care of me, but I'll hold off on that story for now...

One special mention I will make now is about my athlete Ray who's beyond a pleasure to work with. He killed it on this course today, PR'ing by about 40 min! He first contacted after this race last year, and so this month it's been a year as coach/athlete! Let's just say it looks like having a coach is paying off :)


  1. look at those guns! Nice job girl.

  2. yeah yeah T star! proud of you!

    now, get to the dirt about the boy, please.

  3. Yeeaaahhhhh!! You know what I am wondering about... hehe. CONGRATS to both you and Ray!!

  4. Congrats! But that race looks COLD!

    And yes, dirt about the boy. Or you can email me :-)

  5. You Rock! Incredible story. Thanks for sharing.

  6. great race, congrats on the overall and AG podium. Seems like things are coming together great and the road to IMC. See ya on the course at REV3 soon!

  7. Put. Your. Water. Bottle. Down.

  8. Another happy milestone! Proud of you girl!

  9. Great job on the race! Interesting idea with the compression socks under the wetsuit. I used to (and still occasionally do) have the calf cramping issues. BUT, I think I've found a way to get it to stop. I've started doing long kick sets with fins during my swim workouts. It forces your foot into the plantarflexion position without making you really flex your calf, which is the idea situation when you're actually swimming.

    I don't know if this will help you, but I used to cramp up almost every time I went over 2500yds. Since I've started adding in the long kick sets with fins, I've been able to get 4000+yd workouts in without cramping (and the 4000 doesn't include the 500-1000yds of fin kicking).

    Great job on the race! Sorry for being so verbose! Hope it can help though.

  10. Awesome race! I love reports where it is more about the fun out on the course than the speed/power.

    Big smiles.