Saturday, May 01, 2010

Falcon Groundspeed Race Report

May 1, 2010 - Falcon Groundspeed Sprint Triathlon
The day started about the same as any other- got up around 5:30, which can be considered sleeping in a little. I actually slept well, only waking a up couple times so I was feeling rested. I looked out the window and saw clear skies- recent weather had been hit or miss (it snowed on us heading to packet pick-up yesterdaty afternoon) so I was hoping the clouds would stay away for a few more hours. Temps were probably in the upper 20s or low 30s.
Quick shower to wake up a bit and then pre-race breakfast. The trusty peanut-butter, banana and honey sandwich. I was thinking about oatmeal, but decided on the sandwich instead. I had most of my gear around last night so all I had to do was throw my bags and bike in my car and at about 6:40 I headed to the Air Force Academy. Fortunately, I live less than 4 miles from the entrance gate, and probably about 5or so miles to the race start. It's a small race so there was no traffic with which to contend. Saw all the frost on the ground....
Arrived at the parking lot and worked my way to transition. Found my number almost at the very end of the racks. So I was close to the bike-out. Which meant a longer way to run out of the swim to get to the bike. I grabbed all sorts of clothes and set up my transition area. This was not going to be the fastest transition day. Not at all.  Martha and Michele from Team In Training were there to support me, and I ran into a few others I know - Cory, who is designing my new NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness website (to be premiered next week), Brian McCarrie of, Laurie D, a former TNT member, and several other PPTC folks.

Here are some views from the transition area:

The race started at 8am so at about 7:40 I stripped off my long pants and hoodie, put on my flip-flops (over my socks...very fashionable) and grabbed my goggles and swim cap, small towel and another long sleeved shirt and went inside the gym. Now it was a waiting game. I found I could stash my towel, shirt, flip-flops in the locker room near the swim exit. I chatted with some people. For some it was their first tri, others more experienced but never have ridden the Air Force Academy.
My start time was estimated at 9:05. At about 15minutes prior to that, they wanted us to line up to pick up our timing chips. So at 8:40 I took a gel thinking I would be starting soon. Well, I didn't get in the water until almost 9:30. Oh well. Here's the race:
Swim: everyone got an individual start time, with their chips being activated by a palm pilot device. So when I was up, I got into the lane, and told the volunteer I was ready and she said go. 16 laps of the pool. Cadet volunteers were lap counters, and I'm thankful since I stopped counting after 4. It always takes me a while to warm-up and today was no different, but I didn't feel like I was struggling at the beginning, which sometimes I do. Now I could have slipped into the diving area for a short warm-up, but settled on some arm swings. Lap, lap, lap,lap....and finally I see the yellow board which meant I just had to swim to the other side and get out of the pool. Now that was the challenge! The start was on a "bridge" that split the big pool into two 25yd pools. But it was about 18" out of the water (at least) and in the deep end. So it was really hard to climb out of the water. I had to pull with my upper body and then try to get my leg over onto the bridge. Not graceful to say the least. But I was done with the swim! And Martha, Michele, and Sarah were in the stands to cheer for me. I trotted over to the locker room, and decided to go to the bathroom since being cold on a bike and having to pee didn't sound appealing. Trotted all the way to the other side of the locker room and then back. Quickly dried off as much as I could with a small towel, and put my long sleeved shirt on. Flip-flops went on as well and then I headed out of the locker room, up the stairs and then out the door into the cold. But, as I said earlier, the sun was shining! Cold, but sunny!
T1: The gals were waiting at my bike when I got there to cheer me on at T1. I told them not to take notes, as this would not be an ideal transition. I decided to pull the capris over my tri shorts as it didn't seem cold enough for my heavy-duty pants. Pulled on my Girls Heart Rockets Illuminite Jacket (awesome, versatile jacket!), a skull cap, my sunglasses, my helmet (which I had to mess with since it was too tight and when I loosened it, I pulled the mechanism apart. But - didn't stress, just got it done. Then socks and then my shoes (wanted as much insulation between me and the cold ground) and went to the bike out. 

Bike: it was a bit of a climb out of the Field House area to the main road, but once you were on Northgate, it was a screaming downhil. Then you hit Stadium Drive, which is a gradual downhill. At one point there is a speed sign (to keep motor vehicles within the speed limit) at it had me around 24mph. Not bad for little effort. All was well and good until you make the turn on to Pine more big chain ring. Now it's just time to hammer as much as possible up the hill and save a little something for the run. Climb, climb, climb. Pass a few people, get passed by a few people, but make it to the top! At the hospital there is a turn, a little relief with a downhill, and then a couple more hills to climb. Pass the visitor center then cruise down back to the Field House. Unfortunately a headwind appeared on that descent so it wasn't as much fun as it could have been. Then back to the field house. Feet pulled out of the shoes with plenty of time to spare and then T2.
T2: Some guy who had passed me had racked his bike in my spot and left a big bag there (so I borrowed someone elses spot. Don't like to do this but there was plenty of room along that rack since we were near the end. It was warm enough I pulled off my capris and took off the jacked. Put on my hat, grabbed a gel just in case, took the race belt and off I went. Oh, and I put on my running shoes, which I didn't have quick tie laces so I actually had to tie them. NOT recommended for speedy transitions!
Run: The run in a tri, especially a sprint, is the hardest part. And especially on a hilly course at 7200 feet! Ran out of the transition, down a short hill and then UP a very steep hill. It was so steep that I power walked it to save some energy. Then we cruised downhill and I passed a few people. A good downhill stretch for some speed. I kept this one woman in my sights, as we came out of T2 together. Not sure if I could catch her, but I wasn't going to let her get too far ahead. Most of the course is on dirt trail. And we had to gain back all the elevation we lost, but for some reason it didn't look like we were going uphill in that last mile or so, but the legs and lungs could tell. The run finished on the track with about a lap and a half so I kicked it in gear as best I could. About run over a guy standing in the lane on my first lap. I made sure he knew I was there. To spectators: if a family member or friend is racing and you want a photo of them at the finish, please don't stand ON the race course! stay off to the side, please! Thanks!!! Then I crossed the finish line, got my medal and hung around for the awards ceremony.

While waiting for the awards race I got my massage (though it's the first massage I shivered through!), went back to put my bike in the car and get some warmer clothes on, and then back to the track for a post-race hot dog. The awards ceremony was quick and to the point. I appreciate the USAFA Tri Team and Race Director acknowledging the Pikes Peak Tri Club for helping them out (we loaned them some bike racks, as they had more participants than expected). I also want to thank them for letting us put a flyer regarding our upcoming membership social (May 20th, Southside Johnny's 6-8pm) in the race packets. And, I was glad to hang around since I took 3rd place in my age group!
Very quickly after the ceremony, Cory filmed me giving some race tips that will get published on my blog and on next week. I'm excited to be doing a weekly and tips article for the website. Stay tuned for an exciting re-launch of NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness!


Brian said...

Hey Nicole, great report. 3rd in your age group! Great work! Side note: Banana Death is too funny.Talk to you soon.

Brian Mc.

Terry Odell said...

Congrats on the good finish despite the challenges. Now come help unpack!

Spamword: "bookscro" ... don't like the sound of that one.

Christi said...

Way to represent the P2 Tri club, third in your age group is awesome!!!

Nicole said...

Thanks everyone! it's a tough but beautiful sprint course for sure!