Tuesday, June 11, 2013

All Smiles

The race season is in full swing for Team Schmit, and after a "warm-up race" at the Tower Triathlon a few weeks ago I headed out to Naperville this past weekend for the Esprit de She women's triathlon (or simply the Naperville Women's Triathlon, because it has been re-named probably five times in the years I've been participating, due to rotating sponsorship).

Although I typically love this race, I was a bit hesitant going into this one as I wasn't feeling well at all last week. I think my body was adjusting to a new level of hormones, after an adjustment from my doctor, and I felt like I had a bad case of mono all week. Fatigue, joint pain and just generally BLAH. My pre-race workout on Saturday left a lot to be desired.

What I LOVE about this race is that since it's women only, I typically have a lot of friends out there and it is a very positive and uplifting experience.This year I got to hang out a bunch with my new friend Colinda (new to the area from Michigan and introduced to me by my sister-in-law!), my long-time friend Laura (who I have been racing with for seven years now!), and first-race-back-after-becoming-a-mommy friend Megan. I also saw lots of other tri friends throughout the course of the day, which makes this race one of my absolute favorites. So back to race day....

We were up by about 4:30 on race morning and out of the house shortly after 5am for the trek to Naperville. Colinda and her husband Tim were nice enough to allow us to park at their house in downtown Naperville for the short walk to Centennial Beach. Unfortunately, once we got there I discovered I was missing the magic "transition bracelet" and was not allowed access. I spent at least 10 minutes waiting in line at a volunteer tent to get the bracelet and had to race back to transition with only about 10 minutes left before I needed to be in the water for warm-ups.  Thankfully, Colinda had saved me a spot in transition (we were in the same wave!) and all turned out well.

A short warm-up in the chilly water of Centennial Beach, more chatting with the girls, and before I knew it we were heading back to join our wave at the start. One of the benefits of getting old(er) is that the waves in this race go off oldest to youngest. We were in WAVE 13 and still didn't start until 7:48am! By the time they were calling for our wave, I was completely calm and was ready to GOOOO!

Swim - 14m 13s (750 meters) = 1:43/100 yards
The swim takes place at Centennial Beach, in a former quarry that can best be described as an enormous swimming pool.  One half of the "pool" is very deep and open water like, while the front half is very shallow which leads to a lot of women walking.  The lanes are narrow, which means A LOT of congestion at the start. I have tried starting everywhere....the middle outside, the back inside, close to the front...and the result is always the same = massive frustration. This year was the FIRST TIME EVER that I have started right up front (at Coach Liz's recommendation) and it was perfect! I started out feeling very confident, like I belonged up there, and I think that helped with my mindset for the entire race. And it definitely kept me out of the scrum. The faster girls swam around me and then I was somewhat by myself. After the first "lap" it was a fairly uneventful swim....just how I like it. Yes, I'm still slow, but this was one of my best swims at this race and 30 secs faster than my last time there.

Bike - 40m 42s (14.2 miles) = 20.93 miles/hr
    The bike course is two laps of flat, flat and more flat. Given there was little wind on Sunday morning, the course was FAST and FUN! This was a HUGE bike course PR for me....by like three minutes! My fantastic coach, who has also done this race many times, sent me the the CliffsNotes version of "how to kick ass on the Naperville Women's Triathlon bike course." The whole time I was riding, I was thinking about her coaching me through the course - "find your rhythm on this straightaway...push up the false flat....fly down the hill at that point" - it was brilliant! I was 6th in my age group on the bike! When I saw Jonathan near the end of the bike, I yelled "Smoked it!".....I was so, so happy with this effort.

    Run - 26m 07s (3.10 miles) = 8:25 m/m
    The run course is more flat, with a few little inclines. It has the potential to be hot, since there's not much shade, but since the weather was only in the low 70s at this point, that was not a problem. I'm pretty sure this was a little short of an actual 5k, but not as short as last time I did this race and managed to finish the run in just 24 minutes. I had a really great rhythm going and passed people the whole time, especially on the slight inclines. I do think I got lazy a couple of times and started to slow down...I probably could have cut 15-20secs off this run.
    I finished the race in 1:26:07, with a course PR and top 10 age group placing (out of 220 competitors in my AG).  By far my highest placing ever in a race (by percentage).  I can't believe how proud I am of how this race went. I have never felt so confident during a race and so aggressively chased after a solid performance in my age group. I owe a lot of this breakthrough to awesome coaching, but I also think being a 2x Ironman finisher has also helped me feel like I finally belong.

    Because I wouldn't be an endurance athlete without thinking about what could have gone better, there are two things I'm not so happy with.......(1) I got beat for 9th place in my AG by a mere TWO seconds. I had two seconds in me....lesson learned....NEVER let up even if you can't see your direct competitors around you. (2) My run still needs work. Lots of faster women than me on the run, but thankfully I put enough time in them on the bike.

    I can't close the blog without a shout out to my best cheerleader ever....Jonathan. He got up at 4am to drive me to the race, ran around the course cheering for me (and all of my friends) and then still got his long run in that afternoon! What a guy!

    All in all a great day and a great weekend. If you are considering your first triathlon (and are a female!), I would highly, highly recommend this race. I will be there right along with you, cheering you along and will be happy to help get you started in this awesome sport. So, who's with me?

    -- HER

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