Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bringin' home the bling

Okay. That was hot. Not in a Paris Hilton sorta way, but as in "am I standing next to a furnace?"

But it was a good day at the Cornman Triathlon.

To start off I have to mention that I registered in the Athena category for this race. I have to admit that I am philosophically divided about this category. Why should I be racing in a different category just because I weigh more than 145 pounds? 145 pounds is still considered within the normal BMI range for someone my height.

I decided to do it for this race since last year there were about ten women in the category, so I figured there was still quite a bit of competition (there were about 400 people at the race overall). Also, the times were such that if I pushed I could place. In my regular age group (note: I don't know if I have liking a big "30" written on my calf before my time - silly USATF rules!) there was no way I'd even come close to placing. That was a competitive age group - based on last year's times, I could possibly come in close to last even. So I registered as an Athena.

Kori and I went to pick up our packets and I found out my wave was starting last, at 9:18 in the morning. At first I was pretty bummed, since I was thinking there was a very good chance that I could be the last person out of the water, since swimming is my weak point. Then Kori and I made a list of all the good things about starting last:

1. No one will come from behind and swim over me.
2. All the bikes will be out of transition, so it will be easier to find mine.
3. I'd get to pass lots of people on the bike.

So in typical style, we got there waaaay early and set up our bikes right near a tree. When I went to go get marked up, the guy asked me how old I was and I told him 30 but that I was racing as an Athena. He thought that was a team and put a big T on my calf. Then I explained that it was a category and he said "What does that mean?" So while standing in spandex I had to make an announcement to the people around "It means I weigh more than 145 pounds!" They didn't actually mark me with anything different from the regular age groupers, which was a bit of a bummer, since I didn't know who I needed to chase down. But before the race I was chatting with another woman who said she was racing in that category, so I tried to remember her outfit.

So this was my first open water swim with a big group. I thought I was going to throw up before I started. Fortunately a friend in a different division who was starting in the same wave was there and she kept me distracted. Then it was time to go and we ran in and... ran some more. The women in front of me started swimming but me and the woman next to me were jogging at the same speed as them and there was nowhere to dive into. Eventually a hole opened and I started swimming. All those people? A bit distracting. I didn't get into a groove until we turned around at the buoy. And I was surprised at all the people that I wanted to swim over, but couldn't get by. Me? Pass someone on a swim? I did the 500 m swim and the run across the beach in about 13 minutes.

Then I ran to my bike and hopped on. I swear it took me a whole minute to get clipped in. Then I was off. I started the bike conservatively, since I knew the hill of death was looming. At the base of the hill, I passed by Duane who was just starting his climb. I put it into granny gear and started spinning. And the hill sucked, but it was totally my bitch by the end. I even passed people while climbing, including three or four people who were walking up the hill with their bike. One girl zipped by me near the top, breaking my streak of never having been passed by a woman on the bike. So it was on. I crested and went down that hill, hitting 40 mph and then worked it that whole ride. That route took between 56 minutes and an hour the other two times we did it and I finished that 14 mile ride up in 49 minutes, taking out the girl who passed me along the way (we yo-yoed quite a bit). One other woman also passed me and I don't think I ever caught her again, so my streak is officially broken. But I probably passed 20 people on the bike, so being passed by only one is fine by me. But my legs were shot coming off the bike.

I caught up with Kori (who had started three minutes before me) in T2 and she left transition 30 feet ahead of me. The 5k was not fun. It was 85 degrees out and the sun was just brutal and we had to run over the hill of death in addition to plenty of other hills. Most people were walking up that hill. I decided that I couldn't walk, because I might not start running again. So I hoofed it up. On the way up, I passed the aformentioned Athena that I met before the race. I spent the entire race petrified that she would start booking it once she reached the top of the hill and pass me again. I had nothing left. Kori and I also yo-yoed quite a bit, but I spent the whole time looking over my shoulder for the other girl. At mile 2, she wasn't far behind me. But then there was another hill and I managed to increase my lead and keep it to the end. I'll say it again - thank goodness I was a runner first and mentally can handle hot hilly races like this. I finished the 5k in about 32 minutes, which would be a slow 5k for me if it stood alone, but I'll take it after all that.

My total time was 1:39 with transitions. I was hoping to beat 1:37, but I am okay with that. The best part is that they will print out a little slip for you with all your times right on the spot. Somehow I managed to lose this slip (I safety pinned it to my number!), hence why I don't have exact times. But they also give you your place in your division, so when I went to get my slip, I found out I came in second! Yay for me! They only gave out trophies for the first two people in the category and the other woman came in a minute behind me. I'd take a picture of my trophy, but my camera battery is dead.

I am surprisingly not as exhausted as I thought I would be. That doesn't mean I am not going to use this morning as an excuse to sit on the couch the rest of the day!


Audrey said...

yeah, i am all for them making more categories, etc., whatever floats their boat, but i totally hear you on the 145 is not that much. it's shocking to me really that that's a different category. but what do i know? i just do what i'm told in tri world.

and of my god, i have such stress about passing women, specifically in my age group. i just know that they're going to start exerting effort when they see me and my age. then i want to look over my shoulder to chart their progress but i figure that will show weakness and they will gain strength/speed from that. SO STRESSFUL!

congratulations on your victory!

Phoenix said...

Yay!!! That so rocks! And I told you would make that hill your bitch!! Go, you!!

145? At my upcoming Oly, its 150. I'd totally qualify to race Athena at 145. Wierd.

Laurie said...

Awesome job girly! Congrats on your bling!

I love that you made that hill your bitch. You are too funny.

You are officially a Corn(wo)man! Welcome to Iowa.

peter said...

I don't know what a bling is but you did great! I loved reading your report. Getting rid of "firsts" like "first woman ever to pass me" or "first ding in my new car" is always good, it relieves a lot of stress and preoccupation on unimportant stuff later on. Nice job bringing the hardware home.

Wendy said...

Great job Danielle! (And bling to boot.)

Duane said...

Hey Danielle! It was great to meet you and congrats on your placing! I wanted to get a photo if us but didn't. Can you send me a photo so I can add you to my Bloggers Met photos? Thanks and have a great week!

Sempre Libera said...

2nd place! Woo hoo! Great job out there, especially on those hills after a very strong bike performance.

jinx protocol said...

Congratulations. I would love to do what you're doing, but I just got back into the gym.

Good news, though. I did get four miles in 33:00 the other day, but I am just about done after that. I'm going to have to build the stamina back up.

Seriously, though, what you did was awesome. I say Athenas are kick-ass!

Coach Tammy said...

Congrats!! Enjoy a day of "recovery" :)