Monday, April 27, 2009

Champions Triathlon Visits Austin

...well, it was the first one ever, but the title sounds good, yes? :)

Yesterday was the 'inaugural' Champions Triathlon here in Austin. It was out at Pace Bend Park, which is a park northwest (I think?) of Austin, about 45 min away. I will be entirely honest here, I did not really want to race. I am not sure if it was 'my legs feel crappy because of the half-marathon' or if it was 'I want to relax and 'nest' in our new house for a weekend', but whatever it was, it took me saying many times, 'suck it up and go race, there is a great prize purse on the line and put your ego aside'. And to be entirely honest, being the first race, I think I subliminally had pre-race jitters in that I was not sure I was 'ready' for a competitive race and I did not want 'to fail'. (Yet again, suck it up, sister.) I sure am glad I stuck it out, as it turned out to be a great day and an awesomely hard course (which I love!).

They had a 'pro start' at 11:00 am, which allowed Derick and I to sleep in a bit. We headed out to Pace Bend Park and arrived at about 9:00 on Sunday AM. The #1 cool thing about this was the park rangers. They were an absolute riot. The first one had on a bright yellow vest, to which he and Derick went back and forth referencing how nicely tailored it was to him. Few can match Derick's quick and dry wit; this guy was one step ahead of him. This had me laughing pretty good and, suddenly feeling more relaxed. The next ranger we came upon told us the direction to take ahead, telling us that we needed to say on the LEFT side of the road. To which Derick replied, "Just like Paris?" to which ranger replied, "Yes, and you may even see the Eifel Tower ahead too!" These guys were great!

Onward to the race. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, and I set up transition on the grassy knoll. I like grassy transition areas; make the race feel very laid back. I checked out this crazy 350-meter run from the swim to transition... wow! This made the race really a swim/run/bike/run, good for runners. I opted to put an extra pair of my Zoot Ultra TT shoes down there, just so I didn't nail any rocks and hurt a foot. Or knowing me, I'd trip over my large feet and faceplant.

We were off sharp at 11:03, right behind the professional men! This was a non-wetsuit swim, so I had on my Speedzoot which was great; chilly at first but then PERFECT! I hate getting hot in swims, and I also battle this 'clausterphobic-get-me-out-of-this-thing' feeling in wetsuits. Hailey Piersol (yes, sister to Aaron Piersol, Olympic swimmer) took off like lightening. I noticed Amy Marsh way to the left of me (and later told her, 'Amy where were you going?!) but luckily by the first turn buoy, I had caught Amy and she and I swam very well together until the finish. We came out together, threw on the shoes and were off on Run #1. A long, rocky dirt path. But the legs felt ...surprisingly good. Good deal. I got to transition, undressed (un-speedsuited) and was off on the bike course.

This was a 3-loop bike course on open roads (no traffic, or very little) and oh boy was it hilly! But, something about "3 loops" that makes it seem easier. I think in my head it is that you are never too far from home. :) Amy swiftly passed me right off the bat. I won't lie, that pissed me off. But, I just tried to hunker down and keep pushing. It actually took me until the end of the third lap to catch Hailey, but that was ok, I seemed to feel better on each lap. Finally off on to the run!

Yet again, I will reveal my insecurities. I was nervous for this because I have done a lot of run racing lately and the legs have felt rather trashed lately. But, I tried to ease into this. As I took off on the same dirt path that we ran on post-swim, and headed towards the woods, I told myself, "Aaah; this is just a run through the woods." (Self-talk does help!). I felt great out there! It was really cool because you could see fellow competitors running ahead and behind you on little out and backs. In all my years of racing, I have never done a run course like this for an on-road triathlon! Props to Leilani and all the crew @ Red Licorice Events for doing some different! I saw Derick, Brad, and Lisa (friends of ours) at about mile 3. I said to Derick, "That mile was a 6:10!" Then I saw him again, after having backed off, and said, "That was a 6:25! I am backing off..." He didn't like that. Ha! I am not sure if they were entirely accurate (I always assume yes!) but I just did not want to blow up. By mile 5, I began to feel like crap. Luckily I had a strong 2nd place position that was not in jeopardy by slowing down a bit, which I did, and finally could see the finish line. It was probably the best thing I saw all day long; and we grilled out and drank beers that night, too; yes, the finish line was more enticing. That says a lot.

All in all, a really great first time race put on by Champion System and Red Licorice Events. Thanks to all the hard work and the volunteers out there supporting us, as well as the fellow competitors who came out. Today was about swallowing your pride and your insecurities and just going out and putting yourself out there. My mom is so great; she said the other day, "Kelly, why are you so nervous about it? You are more fit than you realize. You will do great." I kind of needed to hear this. Sometimes, we think we have to be in tip-top shape to go and do a race (especially one that is more competitive). But really, any time we go out and challenge ourselves, it is a chance to get better, and a chance to learn something. I have learned over the (many) years of doing this stuff, it is usually when you least expect it that you perform the best. This was far from 'the best' to me, but it was a bit better than expected. So; my take home message is to not be afraid to get out there and simply give it what you've got, on the day, a good honest effort. After all; this is all we can do anyway, right? Enjoy the process and appreciate every moment. Thanks for reading!