Monday, July 6, 2009

Playtri Sprint by Krisha Brooks

Green Member: Krisha Brooks

Event: Playtri Sprint

Location: Las Colinas

Class (yours): F30-34

Results: Third Place in Age Group

Local Knowledge and Conditions: I’ve raced this location several times before for Playtri and the Irongirl. I like this race a lot because the swim is easy in the small lake and the bike and run courses are fairly flat. Typically, the hardest part of this course is usually the heat because there is no shade…so coming off 100 degree days in Rockwall, I was a little concerned about the race. Luckily, we had a nice little rainstorm come through and cooled off the day and provided a few rain showers. This caused a little bit of issue on the bike at turns, but overall, the roads were ok and you just had to stay away from the curb and the huge rain puddles.

Pre-Race Strategy & Warm Up: For this race, my mind was really calm for some reason. I typically wake up with a lot of butterflies but my mind was relaxed which was nice. I had a bagel with peanut butter and a glass of orange juice for breakfast. Once I got to the race site, I did my normal set up of transition, then went and walked the swim in, bike out/in, and run out/in areas to formulate a plan for mounting and dismounting the bike. Also, to know where I would be running with my bike…which ended up being over a curbed portion because of the way they had our transition off to the side…so that was helpful to know ahead of time.

Psychology: I hadn’t raced since May and was a little worried about how I would do. With the Barry’s Ironman trip in June, my training had been sporadic the last few weeks so I wasn’t quite sure how my fitness was doing. I just wanted to have a decent swim feeling good in the open water…really try and push myself on the bike to hold those higher power levels that I’ve learned to feel in training, and have a solid run off the bike without spending the whole run thinking about how tired I feel! J Overall, I was pretty happy with most areas. The swim felt great and I got into rhythm pretty early on and just held a steady, easy pace to the finish. I had several moments where I was swimming right alongside other girls, taking our breaths at the same time and practically staring one another in the eyes (or goggles). These moments made me push a little more to pull away and find my next challenger in the water. Seeing that I used to always panic in the water and resort to all sorts of swim strokes, the fact that I’m now starting to actually have a “race” mindset in the swim is a huge improvement for me! Also, I think the sprint swim was a little long…they had green buoys set up for the sprint and yellow/orange ones for the Olympic swim…they told us right before the race started that the sprint swimmers should follow the green buoys. Well, right before the gun went off, they made a change and told us to skip the first green buoy and swim straight toward the second green buoy. The course was evidently still set up for the swim races the day before and that was longer than 500m. Since they didn’t have an exact sprint course planned out, and my time seemed long along with everyone else in my age group, I’m pretty sure it was over 500m…which is ok with me…just better preparation for the Olympic I hope to do this Fall. J The bike part went well in parts and not so well in parts. The “not so well” part was the very beginning of the race. I came out of the water feeling good…had my shoes on my bike, so just had to grab my sunglasses and race belt and helmet…easy enough, right??? Not so much! I ended up grabbing my sunglasses and putting them on my face, only to get distracted with thoughts of “ooh, there’s water all over them, it’s hard to see…hmmm…hope I can ride with them ok”, guess I’ll just slide them on the top of my head until I need them (yes, that’s the not so good part!) to then putting on my race belt and struggling because I clipped it weird and then had to try and get it back open all the while I’m nervous and having a hard time using my fingers….then I just got really frustrated, finally got the race belt on and zoomed off to get on my bike. Once I Jumped the curb with my bike and headed up to getting out of transition, I started to jump on my bike and hear Barry say “Krisha! You forgot your helmet!” Oh gosh, those are NOT the words I want to hear…sure enough, my rain spotted sunglasses were sitting nicely on the top of my head still and I hadn’t picked up my helmet. I then I had to lay my bike on the ground, run back into transition, grab my helmet and then head back up to my bike. I then got out of transition and started to mount my bike…only to hear them say “the dismount line is up here!” I then proceeded to jump back off my bike, run to the line and hop back on…not really a flying mount, more like a hop, hop, jump with A LOT of frustration! Once I got going, I quickly strapped my shoes on and decided to ride hard and make up for that terrible mistake. I later found out from Barry that a lot of people were confused about the mount line and they eventually staffed someone at the other location to tell athletes where the mount line was. It was marked for mounting, but that was the dismount, a different location than the mount…don’t they know that our brains have trouble working in a race? So, because of that bike snaffoo, my average pace was lower than it should have been because it accounted for the run back…my bike computer showed 19.4 mph, so that’s more accurate than the 18.6 they had. Once I got back from the bike Barry yelled out where the dismount line was (hmmmm…wonder why he was worried I would miss that? LOL!)….I proceeded to do the flying dismount and was into transition…glad to get the bike behind me! I quickly threw on glasses and a hat and headed out for the run…it’s always the first half mile that feels so difficult…I end up thinking I can’t keep up this pace and must slow down. This time, I told myself to hold that pace as long as I could which ended up being the whole run. I’m slowly working on getting my runs faster….it’s taking some time though, but progress is still progress, right? The run had some big moments for me. At about 1.5-2.0 miles into the race, I came up on two girls that were in my age group…they were running about 20 feet apart. My first inclination was to hang back behind the second girl and then push to the finish closer to mile three and hope I could out sprint them. Then, I decided that might be too risky and running by them would move me up two spots….and I had heard when you run by someone, do it with confidence and speed so they won’t think to challenge you…so I did just that. I quit my “gasping like I’m dying” breathing and ran by girl #1 and girl #2 with soft breathing and a kick in my step. I quickly listened to see whether their pace picked up, thinking all the while “Please don’t challenge me, I don’t have anymore speed to give!” They didn’t challenge and I spent the rest of the run holding a little more “kick in my step” in hopes that I would hold those girls off until the finish. At just over 2 miles, I could see a girl way ahead of me that I could barely read her age and it looked like she was in my age group. I knew that this was another spot to move up, and began slowing increasing my pace…sadly enough, she increased her pace too and I gained on her very slowly…but it ended up not being enough. I finished thinking “that was a decent race, but I’m sure I didn’t metal.” Lo and behold, I got a third place medal! The second place was only 14 seconds in front of me and fourth place was only 3 seconds behind me! I couldn’t believe how close I was to not getting a medal or getting second place!

Lessons Learned (Or Re-Learned): A sad lesson I learned was that I realized that my little helmet fiasco took over 45 seconds and was the difference in me getting second and third since we were only 14 seconds apart! L I also learned that every person out there in my age group is a spot to move up and potentially putting me into medal contention when I pass them…that’s exactly what this race proved…running by those 2 girls took me from fifth place to third place! The last thing I relearned is how valuable those transitions are…the girl who won my age group really rocked it and my swim/bike transition was faster than her and my bike/run transition was only a few seconds slower and I smoked most everyone else. So, I may not have been as fast as her on the elements, but my transitions were right in line. Again, how do I thank Dawdy enough for that clinic and making differences that put me into the top three in races!

Future Goals (include skills executed well and skills needing improvement): I still don’t think I’ve learned to race the swim yet. I get too caught up on just finding a comfortable rhythm and holding that…instead of finding that rhythm early on and then kicking it in gear!

Fitness (endurance, nutrition, hydration): Last week was a good training week (finally!)….did my 6/7 days of working out and felt good going into the race…it reminded me how important all those training sessions are and when I skip, there is no way to truly make it up. My nutrition wasn’t challenged near as much as some of the hot runs and rides I’ve done lately in the 100 degree heat, so my normal gel before the race and gel on the bike along with lots of water in the morning and on the bike seemed to work leg cramps or stomach aches…that makes for a good race day. J

Something funny that happened: Hmmmm….let’s see…maybe running out of transition without my helmet??? Thanks to my hubby for noticing that! J

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