Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Black Diamond Sprint

I was a little nervous going into this race three weeks off of Ironman Canada. My left hip flexor has been bothering me and I haven't been feeling terribly motivated (despite Clearwater looming overhead). that said, I do this race every year and decided f it, I'm going to just go and have fun. I even ordered myself a new "fun" outfit to wear in the race to ensure that I didn't take myself too seriously.

I had also noticed that several very fast ladies, including Karin Gardner, Patty Swedberg, Ann Ciaverella, and Anne Jensen, who have beaten me in the past were signed up. This made me a little nervous because hey, I kind of would like to win this race some day, but also took the pressure off a little bit since I knew I was probably not in a place to beat these ladies right now.

Race morning, we got there around 7:00 AM. The race didn't start until 9:00, but I had two buddies with me who had never raced before as well as my mom doing the duathlon and my little sister, Lucy, doing her first olympic triathlon. My mom and Lucy were fine on their own but I wanted to make sure that I could answer any questions for my first-timer buddies.

Everyone was set up with plenty of time to spare and we headed down to the lake for the start.


The swim was a diamond-shaped loop in Deep Lake. Usually, this is one of the coldest swims of the year. In 2005 the water was in the low 50's. This year, however, given the warm weather we have been having, the lake was really comfortable.

I went out hard in the swim to get away from any over-enthusiastic people who would just fade in the first 200m. I sat on Anne Jensen's feet for as long as I could until she pulled away from me around the first buoy when we started catching some of the slowest male swimmers who had started 5 minutes ahead of us. From here, it was a game of keep pace/dodge slower dudes.

I've been working on swimming hard for these shorter races since I tend to just have one gear when it comes to swimming. By the last 200 meters, I was swimming shoulder to shoulder with another lady until some dude backstroked perpendicular to my path (dude! come on!). I swam over his legs which I think kind of bothered him, oh well.

I came out of the water right behind Ann C. and ran up the steep little hill into transition.

Swim: 12:44 1:27/100 yards


T1 went surprisingly smoothly for me (I usually have notoriously bad transitions at this race). I got kind of stuck behind a big slow-ish dude on the run out although I doubt that cost me more than 5 seconds.

T1: 2:02


The bike was great. It's a straight rolling out and back. I think it's 11.4 miles but I'm not entirely sure.

I started out hard with the goal of going balls out for the entire ride (since I knew my run was going to be a little slow). Immediately I was passing dudes and by about mile 3 I was able to pick off Ann C. although she was riding really well so I knew I wouldn't put more than maybe :30 into her on the bike. At around mile 4 I passed a dude who said "go get them girl!" so I knew there were at least 2 more women ahead of me.

By mile 5 I had passed two women and at the turn around I realized I was the first woman. I hammered it back into transition and even managed to get my feet out of my shoes before the dismount.

*I also wanted to add in a little note here. Dudes, it's okay to be passed by a girl on a bike. If a girl passes you, let her complete the pass. If need be, you can pass her back later but them's the rules. I really don't appreciate when I get yelled and cussed at by some dude who starts pacing me when I'm half-way through a pass and I ask him to please back off.

Bike: 30:07 22.71 mph


T2 was again fast and uneventful. Since my shoes were still attached to my bike I was able to just rack it, throw on my running shoes and run out while putting on my visor and race belt.

Right as I was running out I saw Ann C. racking her bike and another lady not far behind, so I knew I wouldn't hold onto the lead for long. I also knew that there were some other speedy ladies not far behind her who could likely out-run me.

T2: 1:12


The run is 2 laps on a rolling trail around Deep Lake. That said, this is NOT a fast run. The path is well-maintained but there are a lot of roots and fast and steep ups and downs.

Since the run is only 2.8 miles and since I didn't feel like I had anything to lose, I decided to again, just go balls out for as long as I could.

As predicted, Ann C. passed me like I was standing still about 1 mile into the run. I figured the speedy Ms. Anne J. would not be far behind. From here on out, it was just a game of don't let too many women pass me.

After the first lap I was just like "this sucks!" and I didn't want to run hard anymore. But I'm stubborn and probably more competitive than I'd like to admit so I kept running hard even though my left hip flexor as well as my adductor were really tight and screaming at me.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I came around the final bend and saw the finish line. I took a quick look behind me to make sure I wasn't about to be run down in the last 100 meters and then ran it in.

Yes, this is in fact a picture of me running, look closely, it's kind of like a game of where's waldo.

Run: 20:45 7:25/mile

Total Time: 1:06:50
11/211 Finishers
2/104 Women
1/18 25-29 Women

All in all I was really happy with this race. I didn't expect to be able to hold off 3 of those 4 fast ladies and I certainly didn't expect to be able to run as well as I did.

Even though I didn't win, there were a lot of big positives about this race:

- I went there to just have fun and I did
- I actually threw down the third-fastest female run split (not counting the woman who supposedly went 19:00 but, who looking at her other splits, probably only did one lap)
- I had the fastest female bike and the 8th fastest overall bike
- I had good transitions
- I didn't take myself too seriously as evidenced by the constant smile on my face and my outfit as seen below.

Because I am NOT A WIENER!

Monday, September 1, 2008


In the last week, since finishing my first ironman, I've reflected a little on the last 4 years since I started racing triathlons. It's strange to think about who I was just 4 short years ago. I'm pretty sure that most of my current friends and colleagues wouldn't recognize me so I thought I would share a little bit how triathlon has changed my life.

up until early 2004 I was on a bad track. I had dropped out of college in my last semester at Boston College and had been in a downward spiral ever since. I was a bit of a ... party person/bar person. Not only was I a problem drinker and occasional drug user, I was also a smoker. So gross and so weird to think about. I had also gone from about 135 lbs to closer to 185 in just 2 short years.

I found these pictures of myself on my friend matt's flickr page. It's weird for me to be sharing this but I thought posting these could be a somewhat cathartic exercise.

In the first picture, my right eye is almost shut, an indication of exactly how drunk I was.

In early 2004 my parents, for chanukah, bought me a membership to a gym where I had the good fortune to meet the lovely Teresa Nelson who got me to join a beginner's triathlon training group. I had never run before but had a background in swimming and cycling.

In June, 2004, one month after quitting smoking, I did my first triathlon. The Vancouver Women's Triathlon in Vancouver, WA.

By this first triathlon, I had dropped nearly 30 lbs and somehow managed to win my age group. I was totally hooked.

It may sound silly, but after realizing that I could finish a triathlon with some modicum of skill, I felt like I could do anything. I managed to finally finish my BA and got myself into law school. I extricated myself from the destructive social circles that I was running with and either made new friends or reconciled healthy old friendships.

I think the reason that this sport means so much to me is that it changed my life. Triathlon has played a huge role in making me who I am today. I don't think I would be in law school right now let alone have even graduated college had I not become a triathlete. I would have never quit smoking and I wouldn't have gotten my drinking under control.

I love winning and placing in races, but even more I love every minute of every race I do. Even the ones that are the most physically and mentally challenging.

From year to year and race to race, whether I win or lose, knowing that I can finish these races with a smile on my face is why I will stay in this sport for as long as I am able.