Tuesday, June 5, 2012

QUA'wesome-Quassy HalfRev RR

Wow. What a weekend...lots of ups and downs (literally and figuratively) but it was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to return to this race next year.
There is really so much to say about the entire weekend but for now I'll just focus on the race itself and then in later posts, I'll recap the rest of the adventures.

Quassy is a brutal and unforgiving course. Burn yourself out on that bike course and you'll be dead on the run. So many people talk about the bike course and yes, it is hilly but in reality, it is that run course is the killer. It was the challenge of this course that drew me to it in the first place and I went into this race with absolutely NO expectations on time. My only expectation was some suffering...and here is how the day unfolded.

I spent a lot of time working on my swim over the winter and thanks to Coach Sonja's guidance, I have made some pretty strong improvements with my swim techniques so while I said that I have zero time expectations on the race itself, the swim was really the only place where I wanted to see some improvements.
Guide around town
photo property of Rev3Triathlon 

ready to rock the blueseventy suit
My red capped wave consisted of my age group and the other half of the men's age group 35-39 with a beach start. I had been looking for Audra (another athlete that Sonja coaches) without luck but just moments before our wave was to go off, I was lifted off the ground! I knew right away it had to be her.

Getting on the beach for our wave and chatting w/Audra-GO TIME!

We said quick hello's, wished each other a great race and she made her way to the front of the pack. There was no way I was going to position myself to get trampled by these men so I played it safe with a position of the middle/back of the pack. Coach gave me a pretty specific plan of action for the swim and I was ready to execute. 
3-2-1-GO  I went out with good effort, there was lots of mashing of bodies, some kicking, swimming over each other-you know, the normal start but nothing epic. I was looking for some fast feet to follow and I found them quickly. I'd hold on as long as I could and then the feet would disappear.

The swim start to the guide buoys to the first turn buoy allowed for lots of room because of the angles available. Some stayed away from the guide buoys and just went right for the turn buoy (a straight shot) while others swam to the guide buoys then followed those to the first turn buoy. As you can see from this picture, you start to the left of the yellow guide buoys, the red turn buoy is at the end of the yellows, where you then make a right turn (into the sun).

I had some clean water for a bit then I'd find more feet and go. I got to the first turn buoy, passed some people, swim swim swim...it was so hard to see because the sun was right in my eyes but I'd swim swim sight, swim swim sight. I passed a yellow capped dude from a previous wave and just as I got past him, my feet were grabbed and I was pulled under--just I was taking a breath! This caused some water going down, my choking, puking a tad and cursing loudly!! But I kept my composure and just kept going. Got to the next turn buoy rather quickly and then it was go time to the shore. I don't recall much about that last portion of the swim except I passed a lot of people and I was ready to get on my bike!!

photo courtesy of my awesome Rev3 Team Mate, Elaine

T1 2:52 I remember having issues getting my Garmin on and I seemed to fumble getting my nutrition packed into my kit (and shoved down my top). Literally, one second faster than my T1 at Timberman

What can I say about the bike except..WOW. What a blast! This course is lots of hills and lots of fun. Again, I had a plan to tackle this course and it went brilliantly. I kept in my zones (even when I wanted to bomb right up those hills) and paid attention to how many matches I was burning out there. I knew that there was a hell of a run coming up and played it smart. I had also seen some really bad crashes the day before (more on that another day) and on some of the downhills, I did find myself holding back a bit. I am ok with that. I like my skin on my body, I like my bike in one piece. I hit just over 40mph on several of those down hills and had a great ride. I felt fantastic the entire time and really, could have gone one more loop!

I had so much fun. 
I just love biking so, so much and there is not much else I would rather do than be out on my sexy, fast, awesome Quintana Roo cd0.1!! Plus, this course is just amazing and beautiful, those who live in this area of CT and get to ride/run this land daily are really lucky folks.

T2 1:52 In and out, time to run. (1:39 faster than Timberman)
Good thing I don't take T2 lessons from my pal Matty-O.

Ahh, the run. While I did not have any time goals going into this race, I knew that it was suffer time on the run and I knew this would take me 2-2:15 to complete so I was pretty much on target there though if things had gone as planned, it could have been a lot faster.
My plan was to take it easy the first half, be conservative on the climbs (so.many.hills) and then bomb it home for the last half. The first several miles were uneventful and easy going. I kept my HR in check, kept my pace in check (8:30's and 9:00's) and I was feeling good! I love to run off the bike and things were falling into place.
Lots of positive self talk and I continually reviewed my plan for those unrelenting hills ahead.

that smile would be a grimace at mile 7...another great photo from Elaine

Somewhere between miles 4 and 5 this sharp, cramping pain started in my right side. Now, I have had these happen to me in training before and I can usually take a little walk break or change up my breathing/foot strike pattern and run 'em out. It would wax and wane but it was always there. I did not want to stop, I did not want to walk but then I figured, if I can get this under control, I get get going. I took a little walk break and nothing so back to slogging along, climb, ouch, walk a bit...on and on. From being hunched over to my right trying to alleviate some of the side pain, I would later start to have my right glute and calf act up as well. My lower back was starting to hurt too...then I let the pain win. I stopped, doubled over and just took a deep breath. Started walking again and this gal, Jeannie (who I ended up chatting with post race) said she was having some side cramping too and suggested that I walk with my hands over my head. I did this for a bit and it did seem to alleviate the discomfort enough to battle on.

It hurt, it was hot but it was perpetual forward motion. I'd run, jog, get up those hills slowly doing the best that my body would allow each and every moment. I was pissed off, I was hurting but I wanted to be running. The land leveled out for a bit and I just went, went, went...trying to ignore it and push thru. Finally, I knew I had just one more hill to battle. I tried bombing up and my right calf totally balled up into a knot. I stopped, rubbed it out, stretched for a second and it was go.
I knew I only had about a 1/2 mile to the finish and if I could just get over this one hill, I was home. At this point, my frustration took over. I no longer cared how bad it hurt. I did not care if my legs fell off or my calf exploded. I just ran to the finish.
Almost there! 
The rains the previous day made for a mud pit of a finish line and I just blew thru it, slipping a tad and then done. I wobbled a bit when I stopped but then I smiled.
I hurt but I already knew I would be returning in 2013 for another crack at this race.

I knew this race was not easy.
This was no place for my ego or for going for a PR.
I executed the swim and bike just the way I planned.
Some things went not-as-planned on the run but I did what I could in the moment.

Sitting here now, I think about mental strength and battling through pain. There will always be pain to work through to keep going. This is a skill I can work on, I can bring more pain to my days to learn to deal with it.

I am so happy overall with how the race went. I knew it would not be easy and I had a great time out there.  I have some things to improve, some things to learn and an amazing Coach who will help me get there!
A giant thank you to Rev3, you put on great race and I am so proud to be a part of the Rev 3 Family. Many, many thanks to my awesome sponsors! I am honored to have the worlds best products to train and race with!!

Post-race at the Powerbar tent!! So proud to represent Powerbar at Quassy this weekend.



Way to rock it Jen! Congrats on an awesome race!

Jason said...

Congrats my friend. This race is just a brick in the wall of awesome that is you. There will be more and you can look back at this and build on it.

Growling works....works really well.

KMichaud said...

Congrats Jen! Sounds like you had a great race! Your swim wave sounds a bit scary at times. I'm so glad I didn't have that issue at Mooseman, but there were probably only 30 women in my wave so I lucked out in that sense! I'm glad to see you guys at dry roads and sun on Sunday!

Melissa Cunningham said...

awesome. simply awesome!!! and to think,when i first started following your blog,you were getting ready for your first sprint tri...
and look at you now!!!
so proud of you and for all you stand for!!!!
rest up,as im sure your looking on to the next!

Unknown said...

Awesome! The beauty of having a not perfect race is that you get to learn from it and then put those lessons into place the next time! I'm so glad I got to meet you and thanks for your cheers!!

misszippy said...

Nice Jen! I was feeling for you on the run--that did not sound fun. But you're tough and pushed through. That's how to do it!

Maybe this one will make Half Full seem easy! : )

Unknown said...

Great job Jen... you did amazing!

TriMOEngr said...

Just awesome! Loved reading every bit of this - even the parts that sucked for you because of the way you powered through and got it done! Way to go!


Loved that "Chrissie" smile early on.... you need to learn to hold it through the race!!

Maggie said...

AWESOME RACE! Congrats Jen!

RunToTheFinish said...

seriously your joy is infectious. I know you were saying the run was difficult and you stopped at points, but overall I can just feel that you love this sport and that is sooo great!

Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb said...

Great recap! So proud of you!! xo

Unknown said...

MissZippy--I guess the half full run is flat so yeah, I'll have a blast!! lol

Thanks Bob--Chrissie smile huh?? thats quite the compliment.
I was smiling most of the day.

Carrie said...

You are so awesome! And I nominated you for a blog award today!

RockStarTri said...

Great job on an insane track. The pictures were great and ironically I knew people in the background in some of them (I'm on Team Runner's Edge and train with folks from sunrise tri).

I might have to do that race next year - last year I vowed never again but am wavering.

ajh said...

Congrats! You look great. Loved reading the report.

Unknown said...

you're the best Jen! Awesome recap and congrats on a job well done. I loved reading this!

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

So happy for you! You did awesome! My half goal would be around 2:15, and that's not after a grueling swim (with near drowning) and a torturous bike ride!! You are INCREDIBLE! (And I do the arms over my head trick for stitches, too! I think I heard it from kelly Ripa!)

GetBackJoJo said...

Congrats Jen! That is an ESPECIALLY AMAZING bike split for that course!!! SO MUCH harder than Timberman and you still PR'd it!! Congrats!!

Danielle (LifeLoveandLongRuns.blogspot.com) said...

Congrats! I was in your wave and had almost the exact same swim time and had a similar experience with someone trying to propel themselves forward while pulling me back and under! Scary but I guess it happens. I live in the area and am lucky enough to be able to ride here now and again and it's so beautiful yet punishing at the same time. I agree the run is worse but I will definitely be back next year! Congrats again!

Andrea said...

You are a rock star!!! I just finished my 1st sprint tri and after rading this I think maybe, just maybe I will look into another one.

Katie said...

babe, such huge congrats to you! you killed this race course, a tough one indeed! I hope you are enjoying recovery!

Jill said...

What a great race recap! Thank you for all the details. I have my first Olympic in July, in Portland with Rev3, can't wait. That bike seems awesome, you must be thrilled!

Suz and Allan said...

Great job Jen! You sound and look like you were really strong the entire race even when the pain kicked in. Can't wait to hear all about this race next year!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on a great race