Category Archives: Race

Race Report: Woodlake Sprint Triathlon

Do I look scared?  I was a little scared.

It was May 29th, the morning of my first triathlon.  I had been up since 5 am, driven an hour and a half, and finally, it was go time.

My crew (mom and Patrick) and I arrived to the Woodlake County Club with plenty of time to spare (I forget what time it was exactly, but man, it was early).  I checked in, got body marked (that’s when it felt real) and got in line for the bathroom.  Four port-a-potties for 400 athletes is um…not ideal.  Anyways…

I set up my transition area near the end of a row very close to the swim exit.  It was kinda funny to look at my $400 mountain bike racked next to a top of the line Cervelo with Zipp wheels.  Patrick and I enjoyed checking out all the nice bikes around and before I knew it, it was time for the Star Spangled Banner.

After a moment of silence it was time for the 20-29 year old guys to get in the water.  I put on my swim cap and googles, debated my wetsuit one more time, gave hugs and kisses all around and approached the water to cheer for the first waves and try not to think about what I was getting myself into.

This is slightly mortifying for me because in middle school my friends used to joke me by saying, “picture Megan bald.”  Now I know why they though that was so funny.  Thanks guys!  No, really, you’re the best! (Losers.)

It’s not that bad, right?  Right?

Anyway, no time to worry about that, it was time to swim.  I knew this would be the worst part.  I knew I was woefully unprepared.  But I also knew that I could get through it since being in the water doesn’t freak me out like some people.  I knew I would eventually make it back to shore, and that I was much more likely to get sick of swimming than actually tired of swimming.  Chance of drowning, unlikely.  Chance of going so slow the tides changed before I made it back to shore?  Slightly more likely.

My age group takes off at the gun and I put my head down and start free style swimming.  There is a little jostling, but not too bad.  I did enough research to expect this and to not let it get to me.  What did get to me was that I kept hearing voices.  Intrigued, I put my head up and looked around, there were people all around me walking.  Put your feet down, they said.  We can touch until half way out.  So I did.  I was swimming and going as fast as they were walking, and none of us were in it for the win.  What’s it gonna hurt?

We walked until we couldn’t touch any more and started swimming again.  I still hadn’t caught my breathe from the 5 minutes of freestyle earlier, so I decided to go on my back.  I did the backstroke for a bit but ran so far off course that I couldn’t see another person.  I ended up doing a stroke that I can only describe by what I remember calling it when I was a child….Chicken, T, Down.  It’s how they teach kids to swim on their back, and it was the only way I was getting to T1.  How embarrassing.  Hey, look who finally hit solid ground!

I ran up to the transition area and found my bike quickly (because there were only about 20 to choose from).  I dried my feet, slipped on my sneakers, chatted up mom and Patrick (why not?) and was on my way.  Nothing too exciting to report.

Time to set off on the bike course.  Back in March, when I bought my bike, I asked the guy at the shop if my Myka would be ok to use for short course triathlons.  “Sure,” he told me, “but it will be slow and heavy.  Only ride it if you don’t mind getting passed.”  Let me tell you, that guy is good!  I kept a pretty good cadence going on my bike throughout the whole course, but if anyone got near me on a road bike (all the fast kids with the slick tri bikes were long gone by that point), there was no way I could match them.

I decided at the start of the bike route that I couldn’t be the fastest racer, but I could be the nicest.  I made sure to thank every volunteer that I passed on the course, made the lady at the turn around point laugh, and cheered for the first few riders that were headed back in to finish up with the run.

The bike route started out in the country club, and ventured onto three other roads in an out and back fashion.  All of the hills were on one long stretch of road around the 4 and 8 mile point.  I heard a lot of people talking about saving their legs for the hills while standing in line for the port-a-potty, but honestly I didn’t think it was that bad.  I guess all the “hill training” (a.k.a. mountain biking) I had been doing worked.  Yay, a positive for me!

Did I mention the strange noise my bike was making yet?  Don’t let me forget to tell you about that after the race.

Finally I made it back to transition, an hour and a half later (I might as well have been on a Sunday fun ride).  Most of the competitors were finished up, eating hot dogs and checking their times.  I still had a 5k to run!

I started out on the run course with legs like jelly.  I had practiced a few short brick work outs, but running off the bike is still the strangest sensation to me.  The course was not that well marked, so I actually had to stop for a second to ask someone if we were really supposed to run down that dirt path through the woods, we were, and a girl came up to me with the same question.  I forgot to mention it earlier, but she was the only girl I passed on the bike the whole day (I also passed a dad and his 9 year old son, and that totally counts).  We decided to do the trail run…er…5k together since she was feeling a little crampy also.  It was nice to have someone to talk to after being left to my own devices for so long.

We were meandering along down the path, running my usual slow pace, and she said, “you know, I used to run in high school and I would have laughed so hard at someone going this pace and considering it running.”  Ha.  Ha…hmm.  Yeah.  Luckily, she didn’t want to pick it up any, or I would have been dropped.  We both had trouble with cramping, me with my legs and her with her stomach, so we took a couple of one minute walk breaks, and finally, finally, finally were able to see the finish line.  We picked up the pace a hair and ran it in together.  That finish line felt amazing!

After I got my medal I found Patrick and mom, both of which reluctantly gave me big hugs (I did smell like a lovely mixture of sweat and lake water, so I don’t blame them too much) and a huge cup of gatorade.  I insisted that we stay for the awards ceremony and raffle which was – let’s be honest – way more important.  It was starting in about 5 minutes anyway.

I laid on my blanket and kept listening for them to call my ticket.  Most of the people had already left so I figured my chances were pretty good, but I still managed to not win anything.

No matter though, I was feeling pretty good about my day.  I chatted happily with mom and Patrick as I told them about different parts of the race.  I mentioned to Patrick that my bike was making a funny noise in the back.  After assuring him that it was indeed my bike and not me (that jerk!), he took a look and what do you know!  SOME Mr. Fixit guy had decided to finally show me how to change a tire the night before, with my rear wheel as the example and oh, what’s that?  He did the breaks wrong and that noise I was hearing my whole ride was the BREAKS RUBBING THE TIRE.  Thanks a lot sweetheart.  That had to add a good what..hour to my bike split? 🙂

To be honest, I don’t know what my split was.  I don’t know what any of them were.  I know I came in around 2:20 based on the time at the finish line, and I know that is really slow for a 600 yd, 17 mi,3.1 mi race.  The thing is though, those times don’t really matter to me.  What matters much more is that I had a blast doing it, learned a lot, and came away rearing to go again.  I’m not going to look up my actual split times because they will be really sad they don’t tell the story of my day.  I know that I need numbers to work against and compare to, so I will be better the next time.  I think I’ll use my next race as a baseline.  I want to remember this one as I experienced it, with wide eyes and tired legs and appreciation of what my body can do, not how fast it can do it. That is what I will take away from this race.  That is what I will make sure I never forget, no matter what the race.


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An Active Weekend

Well, it’s finally here.

This weekend will be quite active, or tomorrow morning will be at the very least. After months of anticipation, it’s time for the Woodlake Sprint Triathlon. I’ll get a race report up as soon as possible next week.

Other than that, we have a wedding Saturday night and plan on repainting the inside of the house Sunday and Monday. Look for sore arms and shoulders come Tuesday.

Have a great weekend!

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Race Report: Second Empire 5k Classic

On Sunday, May 2nd I competed in my first race since 4th grade Physical Education, the Second Empire 5k Classic in downtown Raleigh, NC.

It was a hot day for a race, with temperatures in the low 90s and high humidity at 2pm.   There were a lot of sweaty people roaming around Hillsborough Street.

Since the race wasn’t until early afternoon, Patrick and I got up and headed to church like normal.  We left after Sunday School and dropped into Starbucks for a little caffeine bolt.  I had been trying to convince Patrick to run with me, but he maintained that he is simply not interested in endurance events (he, the guy who going mountain biking for a whole afternoon).

We got home around 11:30 and I got really nervous out of nowhere.  I guess there are a few reasons for this.  1) I haven’t actually run 3 miles in years.  2) I don’t know any logistics for the day…parking, registration, etc,  making this sever Type A person extremely unsettled.  3) It’s hot (did I mention that already) and I know its going to be a tough day.

Finally I get dressed, eat a sandwhich and pronounce myself ready to go.  On the drive into downtown, Patrick teases me by saying that maybe he will run afterall.  I get excited, but question his lack of suitable footwear, and he pretends to be upset that he can’t run in flip flops. 

We get downtown, park easily, get my race bib and timing chip easily, and walk around easily.  I get geared up and am ready to go.  All that worry for nothing.  We do a little people watching, listen to the speakers talk about adoption (the race was raising money for an adoption related non-profit) and soon it was time to line up.

Everyone lines up facing the Capital and we wait.  Gun time isn’t for 10 mintues.  Since I don’t have a running buddy I keep people watching.  There is a guy near me running in Vibram Five Fingers and it was amusing to listen to people around us wonder what the heck he was doing in a foot glove.  He had earphones in, so people were wondering that very loudly, it was pretty funny.  Also, I kinda assumed that race shirts were like concert tees.  I mean, you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the Tom Petty 2010 concert tour shirt at the 2010 concert (I think tour etiquette is 5 years?), but maybe this isn’t the case with race shirts as lots of people were wearing them.  I’m still learning the ropes of racing, but I don’t see myself ever doing this.  I was feeling excellent up until the point where the announcer said that there was one minute to go.  Why couldn’t we just go now?  The last 60 seconds were ticking by slowly, but finally we were off!

I had positioned myself towards the back of the pack so there was a bit of shuffling around the walkers and people starting slower than I was (not sure how that is even possible?). 

Now, I’m a researcher at heart, so from all of the race reports I have read I knew that I would sub-consciously want to run faster than I needed to starting out, and my legs did indeed feel ready to go.  I kept telling myself to keep it fun and easy and finally I found my groove behind two girls running together.  They were definitely keeping it easy and around half a mile I realized that I was doing little more than a bouncy walk and passed by them.   We passed the old Capital building and headed back up Hillsborough Street to the main crowd and the first water stop.

This seems as good as a place as any to mention the intentions I set for the race.  First and most important, I wanted to keep it loose, easy and fun (as mentioned earlier).  Since this was my first race I knew that it was important to come away with a positive experience and be ready to go again.  Second, I wanted to walk as little as possible, preferably only through water stations.  That was all, not much of a game plan.

Coming up to the first water station, I tried to keep just faster than a walk, but couldn’t drink anything so I had to completely stop to take a sip, but after that was able to keep going.  I had just passed Patrick taking pictures, so I wanted to look tough :).

Running up Hillsborough Street was super hot.  They just put down new pavement on most of the street, so it was nice and black and reflecting the heat up.  All I could think was about the marathon portion of Kona, and how this is basically what they run 26.2 miles in.  Somehow, that didn’t make me feel any better.  I did felt better momentarily when I saw the first place runner because I thought that must mean the turn around spot was close.  Then I saw how fast we was running (he finished around 16 mintues) and realized that the turn around was probably far, far away.

So, I’m truding along and a nice race volunteer (thanks volunteers!) tells me that the next water stop is right around the corner.  I figure I could use a little break to catch my breath so I can actually drink some water this time, so I start walking, turn the corner and see the water stop…waaay off in the distance.  Oh well, the walking felt good, so I did it until I hit the aid station.  This second stop was in the roundabout at Pullen Street, and possessed a beautiful sight…a guy holding a water hose with a spray attachment!  It was heaven sent.  I downed a cup of water, got in front of the water hose, raised my arms and began to spin.  Keeping it fun!  Finally he told me to move on, which is good or I might have stayed there all day.  Feeling refreshed, I picked up running again, this time on the sidewalk where it was much cooler, if not that much shadier.

The run back in was slow and uneventful for the most part.  It felt a little cruel that we could see the finish line from so far away, like a mirage in the desert.  I had to stop a couple of  times and walk a few paces to wipe sweat out of my eyes or take an extra deep breath, but for the most part I was moseing along nice and slow.  I could feel my legs pick it up a bit when I got maybe and 1/8 of a mile from the line, I could see Patrick (who went for a beer in the middle of the race, what a guy) and I was ready to be finished!  Finally I crossed the finish line in 35:56, well behind hundreds of runners including about 15 kids, 2 moms pushing strollers and a few people old enough to be my grandparents.  It’s all good though, I finished and I was proud!

The volunteer had a hard time removing my timing chip, and standing there while she struggled with it was the only time the whole day that I felt like throwing up.  I needed to keep moving and get something to drink.  Once out of the finishing pen they gave us water bottles and cold wet washcloths which were absolutely divine.  A friend I saw on the course came over to chat about the heat after she finished with her boyfriend, then I went to grab some food.  They had a good spread of bagels, bananas, grapes, apples and Gatorade.  I filled up with a banana, apple and bottle of Gatorade and we found a shady spot to watch the kids 100 yard dash.

I feel like I can smell the sweat just by looking at this picture.

Those kids were so stinkin’ cute!  A lot of moms and dads ran with them which was even more adorable.  I’m glad that we stayed to watch.

Oh and the best part? On the way home Patrick says, “I wish I would have run it now, just to see what I can do.”

The seed has been planted my friends.

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An Active Weekend

TGIF!  Anybody else super ready for the weekend?

This weekend, I plan on being pretty lazy to be honest.  Oh, except for Sunday afternoon when I run my very first race!

I’m so excited for the Second Empire 5k!  Look for a race report early next week.

Happy weekend everyone!

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And for my next trick…

So it begins.  Just three (or is it two?) weeks after my first 5k, I will be attempting a sprint of a different kind.  This one will involve not only a 5k, but also a 600 yard swim and a 17 mile bike ride.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, I just signed up for my first triathlon!  My inaugural race is the Woodlake Sprint Triathlon down in Vass, NC.

I can’t wait to get all the official training started!  Run training will still be C25k and bike training will involve lots of time on the singletrack (it is a hilly course!).  Now it’s time to get in some laps…the girl at the pool near me said that Friday nights were the least busy, so guess when I’ll be starting my swim regimen!

On May 29th you will be able to call me a triathlete, but for now you can just call me crazy!

Photo Credit.

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Second Empire 5k Classic

You guys, I’m so excited!  A couple of nights ago I finally registered for my first 5k race.  There weren’t any that fell exactly at the end of my C25k program so I wasn’t sure if I would even bother signing up for one.  After reviewing the program, I figured that a 5k probably isn’t too crazy since it calls for 20+ minutes of running around that time.  In long distance races, you never actually hit the race day mileage during training.  The same principles can apply here, right?

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?

Actually, don’t answer that.

So the race I signed up for, as you can probably figure out from the title of this post, is the Second Empire 5k Classic in downtown Raleigh.  I’m hoping that Second Empire also caters some kind of after party, because their food is delicious.  No really, here is their menu.  Go drool.

This race is part of the Second Empire Grand Prix series, a set of 16 races held through out the year in the Triangle.  Racers can run competitively or recreationaly.  Of course, I chose to run competitively.  Not because I think I will win, but because it is the only way to get an official race time.  I certainly want my first Personal Record to be official!

Alright, I am super excited.  Now I just need to finish up the C25k weeks strong and not psych myself out completely.  If you are in Raleigh on May 2, 2010, come by and wave at the girl with the red hair, she’ll probably be near the back, but having the time of her life!


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