Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rev3 Knoxville Olympic Triathlon 2011

Last year I raced seven races total. Sunday was my seventh race of the season and my third triathlon. I feel like I've gotten a good jump on the year and have settled into my goals and expectations. I was ready. I was SO ready!

I slept great Saturday night and woke up Sunday hungry--hungry to eat up the course. I had established two goals for myself: PR and place in the top ten of my age group. I was ready to eat those for breakfast. I got to the course early, set up my stuff, and waited around patiently. I would be in the very last wave.

As we headed down to the swim start, I did get a little nervous about the swim, but overall I was excited and ready to tackle the day. I was here last year, had previewed the course again this year, have had GREAT training in the last couple of weeks, I knew exactly what to expect. Finally, my wave was called and we headed down the dock and into the water.

Look how calm I look before this race!

I'm the tiny one about to jump in.

I never know where to line up for a swim start. I know I am a strong enough swimmer that I should position myself nearer the front, but I really don't like the crowds. I am not good at drafting and I don't like to be around other people when I swim. Unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot of time to find the right position as the horn sounded and we were off. And I, of course, was right in the middle of a gazillion bodies. I kinda panicked. I treaded water for a good amount of time and actually said to myself, out loud, "this isn't worth it. I'm gonna swim over to those rocks and quit." But, I didn't. I pulled myself together, found space, put my face in the water, and just swam. And then I started to catch people. A lot of people. People in my wave, people in the wave before me. Before I knew it, the swim was done. I rolled myself onto the dock, started running up the dock, and then error #5 of the weekend happened: I couldn't get my wetsuit off.

See, I'm stuck!!!

I had, stupidly, put my watch on the outside of my wetsuit and the wrist cuff had gotten stuck. Really stuck. So stuck that I screamed at Dave when I saw him near transition, "I'M STUCK!" He and another volunteer pulled and pulled, which really hurt, until my hand popped out. I lost good time and my Garmin had gotten all screwed up in the process. Finally into transition, I had to restart my watch and would just wonder and do a little math for the remainder of the race to figure out how I was doing overall.

Swim - 30:20, 2:06/100m pace, 10/25 AG (All the swims were slow this year. I hear the course was a little long.)

T1 - 3:08 (This may have included the time I needed help getting my wetsuit off. I have no idea where the timing mats were.)

I have to admit, I love hills. I love to ride them. I love to run them. I enjoy the challenge. I love passing people. This bike course was made for me. I have worked for the last year on hills and I knew I was ready for a big bike day. I had something to prove. I started out conservatively, but made a conscious decision on the out and back portion of the course, "Meredith, you have got to go." I popped my bike into a big gear, which I never do, and pedaled as hard as I could. I raced up the hills. I pedaled every downhill. I stopped looking at my speed because I didn't want to freak out about it. Just go hard until the bike is over. I started to do a little math in my head. My goal was to go under 1:30 as last year I went 1:33. Soon I was realizing I was going to be in the 1:20s and before I knew it, I was back to transition in 1:22. Holy crap! I just became a legitimate triathlete.

Have you ever seen me smile getting off the bike?

Bike - 1:22:04, 18.13mph, 10th/25 AG (I was 12th AG coming off the bike.)

T2 - 1:15

Finally, I was out on the run, but things didn't seem to be clicking like they normally do. I saw Dave and said, "I may have spent too much on the bike." He told me I was within striking distance of several girls in my age group. I knew what I had to do: RUN! I didn't have the speed of last year, but I was still dropping 8:00s on the course. I was catching all kinds of people and soon found myself having passed 3 or 4 girls in my age group before the turn around. Right before the turn around, however, one very fast chick in my age group passed me. There was no way I could go with her. Turns out, she averaged 6:50s on the run. Yazow!

In the last two miles, I found myself in the land of men. I saw no women in front of me and knew I wasn't going to place any higher in my age group. I had no idea where I had placed, but I was pretty sure it was in the top 10 of the age group. My last mile was the hardest and slowest of the day. Had I known there was one more girl in my age group only 30 seconds in front of me, I probably could have found the strength, but as you can see, I was very much alone:

Looking very fit.

Run - 50:20, 8:06 pace, 7th/25 AG

I finished the race not knowing how I had done. Dave came running up to me and asked me what I thought? How big was my PR? Well, it was a 6+ minute PR. I had PRed on the bike by 11 minutes. I had made my goal and had finished in the top ten of my age group, taking home 8th place.

Total - 2:47:08, 8th/25 AG

This was a big breakthrough race for me. Finally, I feel like a real triathlete. I put together the total package: swim, run, AND bike. This was a real confidence boost for me. I can do this sport. I'm ready for the next challenge that lies ahead...


LittleRachet said...

Wow, I love that it all came together for you!! What a feeling!! Congrats on such a great day - hitting your goals and feeling like you earned it. Wish I had been there - will see you in Cedar Point!!

tribirdie said...

Great race report!! Congratulations on are great race, you executed well! Way to keep pushing out there! Run off the bike is always so tough, because we always put more into the bike than we expect we will. Congrats again!!!

Colleen said...

You raced a great race Meredith! :) So excited for you!

Andrea said...

Nice job - Rock Star! And yes, you are looking very fit!! :)

M said...

WOO HOO!!! Congrats on an amazing race!!

Karen said...

WOOOO HOOOOO! Aren't you glad you didn't swim over to the rocks and quit? NICE JOB :)

Hollywood said...

Calling the swim a 'little' long is an understatement... my garmin said I swam 1.4 miles. I may not swim straight, but I don't swim that much of a zig zag! Congrats on hitting your goals

LAPT said...

Hurray! Great job, chica! And way to push through the mental block on the swim!

Melissa C said...

Great job Meredith! I am glad to see you did so well at this race!

I LOVE that picture of you running with the flowers in the foreground. You look great, and the composition of the photo is wonderful!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on the race and being able to make your goals of a PR and top 10. Impressive 11 min PR on the bike, since we dont have anything close to what you rode at the race out here.

Alili said...

NICE! Congratulations on putting together a great race.

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Excellent race! That pic of you getting off the bike with the big smile is awesome!

Dave said...

Thanks for the nice words about the photo, Melissa C! When I spotted the flowers, I thought that would be a good shot with her pink and green outfit. :)

Amy said...

Yay!!!! Congrats!!!

Beccah said...

Hey Meredith! I found you from Kristin Deaton's website. I was rooting for you to be top 10. I am a Team Trakker's wanna be. I got first place Athena and I was totally stoked. I enjoyed your excitement and fed off of everyones energy.
I am starting a new site. check it out and give me feed back.
My twitter is: everydaytrigirl.
Beccah Canada