Yam City Triathlon 2012

A quick update from the Yam City Triathlon. I decided after Rocketchix that I NEEDED to do one more tri this year, and a post on Claim Your Journey (Louisiana’s awesome running-focused blog) convinced me it needed to be Yam City in Opelousas. And so I signed up for the 150 m swim, 14 mile bike and 2 mile run.

Vital Stats:
Date: Sunday, August 26, 2012
Place: Opelousas, LA
Total time: 1:17:13.7

Josh, the best athletic supporter a girl could ask for, was game for waking up at 4:15 a.m. to make the 60 mile drive. A note on pre-planning. I packed my bag the night before, froze my water bottle and loaded up my bike in the car so I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning. Josh reminded me how the night before my first Rocketchix race in 2011 we were rushing to get my kickstand off. He was proud of how far I’ve come.

After an easy drive to Opelousas (a little north of Lafayette), we arrived onsite a few minutes before 6:00 for the 7:30 start. Although I STILL haven’t spent as much time this summer focusing on triathlon as I’d like to, I still felt comfortable going into the race and was confident I could perform well.

2012’s Yam City Tri shirt

I picked up my race packet, saw that the shirt was as awesome as anticipated (swimming, biking and running sweet potatoes!), and set up my transition.

Because I was so early, I had my pick of the bike rack and, of course, chose the first spot, closest to the aisle, and set up my transition. I also remembered to check out the run and bike entrances, and then returned to my set up to turn my bike around to face the right direction. 🙂

I wandered around for a bit and stretched while Josh napped in the car. At 7:00, we wandered over the pool. I still have yet to do an open water swim tri, although it is a 2013 goal. Our race numbers indicated our order in the pool, and at #49, I was the 4th or 5th woman into the pool. (Out of 207 competitors, just 71 were women – that’s about 34%.)

The swim was great. They were putting swimmers in the water at 10 second intervals and I swam the entire thing alone. I was never passed and did not pass anyone. I came out of the water (tiny pool, seven lanes and we swam them all) in about 2:52 according to my watch, right on my 3:00 estimated time. My official swim time is 3:25.4 because the timing mat was at the far end of the alleyway we ran through back to transition. I was 7th in the swim for the women.

Transition 1 did not go as well as I anticipated, mostly because I found two bookbags in my transition area. One was even on top of my gear! SO PISSED! Seriously, isn’t it rule one of triathlon that you don’t mess with someone’s transition area? I threw the bag that was on top my gear to the outside (taking care that I didn’t throw it too forcefully; I didn’t want to block the aisle), threw on my sunglasses, helmet, socks and shoes. I’m proud that this year I haven’t sat down in transition at all. I grabbed my bike and headed to the bike exit, jogging around a guy walking down the middle. I decided to use my anger to propel me to a good start. Total time 1:46.9

The bike was also great. The first and final couple of miles were on a bit of rough road, but it was mostly a smooth, newly re-blacktopped road. I came out of the water in good time, but almost immediately started getting passed left and right by guys on some sweet tri bikes (I drool!). I just focused on moving forward, drinking my water and enjoying the ride. Thankfully, the highest number I saw pass me was #100, and he was trucking it! I actually managed to pass two teenage boys, although one had just dropped his chain, so maybe that doesn’t count?

My watch, which I didn’t remember to restart until about 500 yards into the bike ride told me I was on a Rocketchix pace, where I surprised the heck out of myself by averaging 17 mph on the bike. At Yam City Tri, I actually averaged 17.2! That is really awesome for this slow trier on a 30+ year old Raleigh road bike with no clips or fancy shoes. Total time 48:57.7; rank 22 of the women.

Transition 2 was quick, but I did have to stop and move the second bookbag, since I couldn’t get my bike back into the rack because of it. I traded my helmet for my visor and grabbed my race belt and was on my way. I remembered to grab my Gu this time and think it made a big difference in my run. Total time: 0:51.6.

My favorite thing about the run was definitely having the Boy Scouts handing out water at the start completely soak me! It was awesome to feel so fabulously cool as I headed out. I heard Josh cracking up as it happened and that definitely gave me incentive to get it done!

Josh live tweets my races. This is what he said as I started the run.

The two mile run was an out and back with a bit of loop in the middle, so we probably only repeated about 1.5 miles of the course. It was mostly shady and I ended up walking a bit at first and then using a counting technique to keep me moving. I would count to 100 twice as I ran and then walk while I counted to 30. It worked really well. My total run time was 22:11.9, or 11:06 a mile. It would have been a few seconds faster, but the final 50 yards were actually over really rutted grass and I found myself watching my steps into the finish line.

Overall, my time was 1:17:13.7. I came in 21st overall for the women and THIRD in my age group! Woot! Of course, I told Josh that we didn’t have to stay for the awards ceremony because I figured what were the chances I would win anything? Apparently pretty good, so lesson learned. In fact, my swim time was first in my age group!

Riding home over the Atchafalaya Basin on I-10

After the race, Josh and I headed down the interstate to Prejean’s for some good cajun food. I loved the dark roux chicken and sausage gumbo I had (and I normally don’t like a dark roux) and we split some fried eggplant with shrimp on top. Not bad; the gumbo was better.

We drove home over the Atchafalaya Basin, always a gorgeous thing to see. There wasn’t too much time to enjoy the race because Hurricane Isaac was headed for Louisiana. Sunday evening, my boss called and activated me for disaster duty (the state agency I work for handles mass sheltering and disaster food stamps). It was two weeks of 12+ hour days and lots of crazy time. So pleased to be getting back to normal now, even enjoying a touch of fall-like weather. I’ll finally get to join the Varsity running group I’m planning to train with for my December 9th half marathon and I’m so excited to get in a good run in decent temperatures tonight!

Oh, and bonus content. My favorite tweet from Josh of the day. What’s not to love? 🙂

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Checking on my Rocketchix goals

One of the best things about Rocketchix 2012 was this sticker I received at the finish line along with my medal (and a drinking glass). I put the sticker on my car before I even left the parking lot. I’m as proud (or prouder) of it than my 13.1 magnet. Also, who doesn’t love what is basically a medal for everyday?

I made some goals for Rocketchix 2012, hoping to improve upon on my 2011 times. Let’s see how I did:

Event 2011 2012 Goal 2012 Actual
Swim 8:04 Under 8:00 7:44
T1 4:43 Under 2:30 2:27
Bike 47:34 Under 45:00 40:00*
T2 2:54 Under 2:00 1:07
Run 21:53 Under 20:00 21:53

*2011 bike course was 12 miles; 2012 bike course was just 11.3. However, I believe I would have achieved my goal.

Overall, a huge improvement! I cut 20 seconds off my swim time, took nearly half the time in T1, roasted the bike course, and spent nearly a third of the time in T2… And then came the run. I’m amazed that I managed to complete the run in EXACTLY the same time as last year, down to the second. I’m super pumped how much my transitions improved and really proud of my swim and bike times. I averaged 17 mph on the bike, according to my chip times. I didn’t even think my bike could go that fast!

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Rockin’ Rocketchix

All smiles post-race!

Rocketchix in 2012 was a fabulous race! Not only is it a well-run and organized event, but I crushed most of my goals for this tri!

My training has been haphazard to say the least, a few bricks here, very little swimming overall, not much running beyond the short bricks I’ve done.

I inadvertently took off a week two weeks before the race. All the usual excuses apply — too busy, bad weather, feeling blah… I managed to get it back together the weekend before the race. I headed out with the Bicycle Shop group to ride the bike course and run the run course. One more bike ride on Tuesday and I was officially done training for Rocketchix.

With my niece Lucie at the beach two days before Rocketchix.

And then I headed out of town on vacation! I snagged a last minute invitation to go to the Gulf coast with my brother, sister-in-law, their kids and her family.

I was only there for two and a half days, but I had so much fun swimming with the kids in the Gulf of Mexico and the condo complex’s pool, building sand castles and staying up late playing with the grown-ups.

Friday, I rushed back to Baton Rouge and made Rocketchix packet pickup with just 20 minutes to spare! I barely had a chance to check out the packet before I headed out again to meet friends to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

It was after 10:00 p.m. when I left my friends and rushed home to finish my race prep and get some sleep. The smartest thing I did was to pack my transition bag and lay out my tri kit before I left for the beach. Most of my work was done, but I had to double check everything, add my numbers to my bike, helmet and race bib, prep my water and load up my bike. It was nearly 11:00 when I finally fell asleep.

Despite my late night, I was up with my 5:00 a.m. alarm, took a quick shower, ate my yogurt and peanut butter, slathered on sunscreen and was off to LSU. I got to the race site at the perfect time. There was no wait to check my bike (brakes work, no kickstand – check) and I had plenty of room in transition.

My transition set up

I made significant changes to my transition set up from last year. I had much less stuff this year! Rundown: towel to set my stuff on, helmet with sunglasses open and inside, small towel to dry off feet, socks half rolled to facilitate putting them on, shoes with loose laces, hat and race bib. I don’t have cycle shoes, so I throw my running shoes on during T1 and have a very quick T2 because of it.

When I finished setting up transition and went to get my timing chip and body markings, the place was packed and at least 50 racers were in line to have their bikes checked. Lesson – always arrive EARLY to the race site.

I found my Rouge Orleans teammate Jenn and we chatted for a bit. Josh arrived moments before the race and I had just enough time to say hello and to hand off my bag with stuff I wanted for immediately after the race (phone and towel to mop up the sweat!). And then it was time to line up by the pool.

The swim was great! I felt energized, the water felt wonderful and I was passing people left and right! (Well, mostly left). Of course, I told myself in the water to enjoy all the passing I was doing, because it would be the last. Swim time – 7:42 (the timing mat is just before you get into the pool and several feet after you exit the pool, so my actual time in the water was a little less).

In T1. Picture courtesy of Josh.

I came out of the pool barely out of breath and jogging to transition. I had a great placement right in the middle of transition and second from the end of the rack. My goal was quick transitions and I succeeded! It took me very little time to throw down my swim cap and goggles, throw on my sunglasses and helmet, put on my shoes and grab my bike. T1 – 2:27. I was on the bike course before I knew it.

Normally, the Rocketchix bike course is a 12-mile out and back on River Road, but construction on River Road meant we had to use an alternative course. I wasn’t sure about the new course, which took us down River Road one way, had us U-turn, head back down River Road to U-turn again, turn on to Gourrier and U-turn again before turning back toward transition, but all the turns really broke up the course. I didn’t get bored or burned out and time passed quickly. The alternate course was also a little shorter at just 11.3 miles. Bike time – 40:00 flat/ 17 mph (my fastest bike ride ever!).

I hustled back in for T2, racked my bike, ditched my helmet and grabbed my hat and race belt. And then I proceeded to walk. Two reasons — I was tired at this point and I couldn’t fasten my race belt when running (oops!). T2 – 1:07.

In the finish line chute. Photo courtesy of Josh.

My run was poor, I’ll readily admit. I walked out of transition and through the water stop that is just five feet into the run course. I tried to maintain a steady pace, but walked more than I wanted to. The downside to this late July race is that it is already after 8:00 a.m. when you enter the run course (and so much later for some competitors), so it’s hot and humid. Not great conditions. I also bonked a bit just after the mile one marker and had to walk through a side cramp before I could get moving again. But soon the run was ending and I was getting my medal! Run time – 21:53/10:57 per mile. (Exactly my same time as last year, funnily enough).

Total time – 1:13:11

Overall, Rocketchix 2012 was a great race for me. I ended up with a 12 minute PR (not counting for the shortened bike course, but it would still be about a 10 minute PR). Despite my busy week and day before the race, I performed well and had a lot of fun. It’s a great race for beginners and the all-female environment is so relaxing and welcoming. I highly recommend Rocketchix for beginners and experienced women triathletes alike.

Hanging with Josh after the race. You know someone cares for you when they don’t mind standing next to you despite the sweat!

After transition opened, Josh and I grabbed my gear and headed back home for a nap. I woke up starving and we had a late lunch at 3:00 at Drunken Fish. My pork and eggroll bun was just what I needed (It’s not a race report without a “what I ate after the race” update). Saturday night, we met friends for a little party. I was exhausted, though, and in bed by 10:30.

Today, it’s all about watching the Olympics and doing yard work. (It’s a fabulous life I lead, I tell you.) 🙂

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Vacation Run

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I just completed my second vacation run this year. Today, I got in 2.93 hot miles on Perdido Beach uBlvd in Orange Beach, AL.

I’m now cooling off by the pool because the other dozen people in my condo are still asleep.

Rocketchix is Saturday and I’m headed back to Baton Rouge tomorrow after a very short 2.5 days at the beach. Oh well, vacation is good for the soul. Although not the liver.

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Race Pace Training

Bubbles

Bubbles! It’s so much fun to celebrate with friends!

Great weekend! Friday night was all about celebrating a friend’s new dream job. There was champagne and amazing food – short ribs, lamb carpaccio, popcorn with rosemary, a cheese plate, pomme frites, croque monsieur and an amazing chocolate torte at Blend, a great new wine bar in Baton Rouge.

Thank goodness I had three friends with whom to share all that bounty, or I probably would have still been in a food coma when I was supposed to be out riding my bike Saturday morning.

My Saturday training ride was again at Alligator Bayou, but was easily my BEST training ride ever! My goal was to stay at race pace for the entire 13.5 miles and then hit the ground for a quick brick. Check out that pace that Runkeeper tracked for me below!

Saturday, July 14 Alligator Bayou ride

Check out that speed! That’s super fast for this slow trier!

If I can hold that kind of speed during Rocketchix, I’ll definitely be under my 45 minute bike goal! My run brick afterward wasn’t quite as spectacular. Friday night’s champagne and my tough bike ride caught up with me. Slow and plodding, but I got it done.

The rest of Saturday was all about having fun. I met friends to see a local production of Legally Blonde: The Musical and spent the rest of the day singing the chorus to this song. Saturday night Josh and I checked out Art Melt, an annual statewide art competition hosted downtown.

Sunday, I attended the Tiger Aquatics Rocketchix swim clinic at the LSU Natatorium, e.g. the Rocketchix swim course. It was run by Tiger Aquatics Masters coach and Fitbirds Fitness founder Anne Shawhan. I absolutely loved it. It is so different to swim the 50 meter pool instead of the 25 meter pool, but it was a million times better than swimming at the Y. I really hope to join the Tiger Aquatics Masters team in the coming months.

Anne had great tips on kicking, a couple of drills and great race day hints. The best part was the 350 meter time trial. I got to practice pushing off the wall at an angle and got a great idea of where I need to seed myself. And again, I found that at race pace, I should be well under my goal time. I plan to seed myself around 7:15 (well under my eight minute goal).

So yay! Great training weekend and I’m super pumped to work hard this week before tapering a bit next week before the race.

  • Today — weights and run
  • Tuesday – swim
  • Wednesday – bike
  • Thursday – rest
  • Friday – weights and run
  • Saturday – bike/run (and possibly swim)
  • Sunday – swim
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Prepping for Rocketchix & making goals

Rocketchix LogoRocketchix is just 16 days away! I’m so excited about my third triathlon! This will be the second time I’ve done the Rocketchix sprint tri. It’s a 350 meter swim, 12 mile bike and 2 mile run; perfect distances for this slow trier.

I’ve been prepping as much as work and my social life will allow. I’ve started a weightlifting program (more on that in a later post), which cuts a little into cardio time, but I can tell it’s making me stronger, even just four weeks into the six to nine month program.

Here’s what I have been up to: Weightlifting twice a week + cardio (either treadmill or bike) after weights. A run or some other  cardio at least once a week, not including bike rides on Wednesday nights with my regular group. Last Saturday, I went to my first Rocketchix training ride out at Alligator Bayou. It’s a 13. 5 mile ride that I combined with a two mile run brick. I plan to continue that ride for the next two Saturdays before the race. I need to get in several more swims, since the weather and my own innate laziness has kept me out of the pool. I’m headed to the Rocketchix swim clinic Sunday (hopefully).

Tri-suited Up!

Tri-suited Up!

I also got fully tri-suited up yesterday, thanks to Varsity Sports here in Baton Rouge. They hosted a sale for Rocketchix participants last night and my awesome new Varsity-branded tri top was 20% off! Check me out! Combined with the Danskin tri bottoms I picked up on Amazon earlier this year and a new swim cap (I lost mine a few months ago), I’m ready to get my swim/bike/run on!

So, now that I’m appropriately attired, I’m making goals. Last year, Rocketchix was my very first triathlon and I didn’t go in with any goals except to finish and not be last! I definitely wasn’t last; I came in 208th out of 268th. Not bad for my first time, but I do hope I can improve upon my times, especially in transition!

Event Last year Goal
Swim 8:04 Under 8:00
T1 4:43 Under 2:30
Bike 47:34 Under 45:00
T2 2:54 Under 2:00
Run 21:53 Under 20:00

As you can see, I can make a huge impact in my transition times. Last year, I swam in a janky old speedo, then pulled bike shorts, a sports bra and a top over it (no way I can run with just a swimsuit supporting me). That, plus not knowing exactly where I was going to get out onto the bike and run courses, took a lot of time. I’m hoping my new tri kit will eliminate a lot of that extra time. Plus, I plan to check out the bike and run entrances BEFORE the race. Knowing where I’m going should be a big benefit.

As far as my swim/bike/run times, I’m realistic. I performed way above expectations last year. And while I’m stronger and fitter than last year, I’m not sure I can improve upon my times. I’d be happy to shave off a few seconds from each. We’ll see about that. If I hit my goals, my total time should be around 1:17. That’s eight minutes off of last year’s time!

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Seen on my ride tonight

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Amazing sunset. (Photo enhanced by Instagram.)

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DNS – Did Not Start

I was excited about this race. The bike took you over the Crescent City Connection and back. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Did Not Start… That was me this Sunday. I was supposed to be in Gretna at the Bridgeman 104 duathlon. Instead, I was curled up in bed, sleeping late and resting a sore knee.

Rewind – About a week after returning from Ohio, I came down with a monster cold. There were two full days spent on the couch, multiple naps and lots of snot (gross, I know) over the next two weeks. The upshot was two weeks of no running, no cycling, no swimming. Combine that with days of gross weather and more predicted for Sunday, I was already on the fence about the race.

My decision to not wake up at 4:00 a.m. to drive to Gretna was cemented after a two mile run on Saturday ended with knee pain that developed in the hours after I completed it. Walking down the stairs hurt, as did standing too long. So, in the interest of recovery and a slow rebuild, I decided not to race.

Sunday, my knee felt better and I plan to start rebuilding today or tomorrow. Maybe a slow, short run combined with a walk? Also to deal with from here on out – the hot, muggy Louisiana summer. Time to start waking up EARLY! In fact, I have a Saturday morning running date with a couple of friends already set up.

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Running Ohio and Cleveland Marathon 5K

Pausing for a self-portrait after I accidentally ran up the biggest hill on campus the first leg of my vacation run.

It’s been about three weeks since my last post, and, until Saturday, it had been the same amount of time since my last run. In fact, my last run was Thursday, May 17, during a short vacation in Kent, Ohio, to visit Josh’s family. I took advantage of the beautiful weather (56 degrees at 10:00 a.m. in mid-May) and a beautiful venue (Kent State University, within walking distance of where we were staying) to get in three miles.

The campus featured some incredible sculptures, beautiful flowers, black squirrels and HILLS! I ran campus blind (heading out and trusting my phone would get me back) and made the mistake of tackling the worst hill on campus within the first half mile of my run. All in all, it was a fun 3.5 miler, with lots of pretty things to look at, great weather and almost no people out. Kent State is a very pretty campus.

This wasn’t the steepest hill I climbed in Kent, but it was the prettiest.

Following my run (and yes, I had to use my phone to find my way back to the house, adding about half a mile to my planned distance), we cleaned up and toured downtown Kent. This town is seriously adorable, the weather was great and our tour guides (Josh’s brother and sister-in-law) are awesome people.

Friday, we got a late start and headed north of Kent to Cleveland to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Very cool place.

That evening, we drove around the city and enjoyed a “make your stir fry” dinner at a Mongolian BBQ restaurant. Basically, you go through a buffet of ingredients, mix your own sauce, add spices and then have the cooks whip it all together on a giant hibachi-like griddle. Fun! We drove back to Kent and stayed up way too late, considering we had to be up by 5:00 to head back to Cleveland.

Cleveland is definitely the farthest north I’ve ever traveled to participate in a race.

Barbara and a family friend, along with Pierre the service dog, walk the Cleveland Marathon 5K.

Josh’s mom, Barbara, organized about a dozen friends and family to walk the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 5K as part of a fundraiser for the Multiple Myeloma Foundation.

The race started outside the Cleveland Browns stadium, looped around part of downtown Cleveland and finished on the field (well, technically on the edges of the field). So along with being my first race outside of Louisiana and definitely my farthest race north, it also marks the first time I’ve stood on the field of an NFL stadium.

Oh, Josh and I finished the “race” in just over 58 minutes. It was fun, casual day with friends and family – something that was more important than times (and getting sweaty, frankly).

Josh and I on the field at the Cleveland Brown Stadiums.

Post-race, Josh, his brother and sis-in-law and I headed back to Kent, stopped for a post-race breakfast at Bob Evans (think Cracker Barrel with less cheesy decorations) and took a long nap! Saturday night the menu was hanging out, grilling and drinking wine. On Sunday, we flew back to Baton Rouge. Within the week, I caught a cold that kept me running for two weeks… Update on that to come.

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Seen on my run

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Seen on my run: pretty sculpture at Kent State University. Vacation runs are the best. Running in 56 degree weather with barely any humidity in May is even better.

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