Sunday, August 28, 2016

Catfish Aquathlon race report

Posted by Rachel

PART I: Catfish

Last year we signed up for an open water swim race called "Catfish". It was a 2.4 mile swim that was appropriately timed for Ironman training, and we tacked on a 90+ mile, >8000 ft climbing, hot-as-balls bike ride afterward, barely making it back before dark.

This year, I opted for the 1.2 mile swim + 3.5 mile run version. Sounded a hell of a lot better than last year! A week before the event, the venue was changed from Livermore (not close to my house) to Berkeley (way closer to my house, but colder/saltier/more questionable water). Due to partially to the temperature but mostly to the questionableness, I switch my race category from non-wetsuit to wetsuit, though it didn't matter because the aquathlons were combined.

This was a pretty small race (maybe a couple hundred participants over all of the race categories?), so check-in was really chill. I never even waited in line for a bathroom! I had a secret goal I set earlier in the week of running sub-7:00 miles for the run, so I did a bit of run warm up. Then I got in the water about 10 minutes before our wave started. One fun thing was that there were a handful of people there I knew. Shout out to Minori from LMJS who won the overall female 500 yard swim-3.5 mile run division, and my Club Hot Tub masters swim team members who both won their divisions as well (1.2 mile no wetsuit over 50 age group, and aquathlon 1.2 mile swim-3.5 mile run over 50 age group).

Do I look ready? Questionable. Ready to go back to sleep, maybe.

Swim (supposedly 1.2 miles, my watch clocked ~ 1.05 though it's not always accurate in the water).
First, a warning to anyone considering swimming at the Berkeley Marina. The bottom is GROSS. It is spongy and hella slimy, and then when you look at your feet they are covered with some sort of gray matter. So I warmed up a little and we are off! As I said, it was a small race so there weren't too many issues right at the start. Two guys pushed ahead of me right before the start (which Travers noticed from the shore) so I drafted off them for about 200 to 300 yards, but then I thought I should probably to try beat them so I pulled away.

The swim was really uneventful and I felt great! Here's a photo of me during the swim, although it's really unexciting because there's not much going on!

Look, there's me!

My overall time was 25:02, which according to m Garmin was a pace of 1:22/100 yard, including the time it took me to get out and up the swim ramp. That sounds very reasonable, so I'm tending to believe my Garmin distance is close. Also, I finished first in my wave (all 1.2 mile swimmers combined, men & women)!

Very nice volunteers had to pull everyone out of the Berkeley Marina. Thanks, volunteers!

Happy after swimming :)

Why am I so slow at transition?? First, I couldn't unzip my wetsuit! Another girl in transition helped me, which might be illegal but otherwise I would have been literally stuck in it. Then I couldn't get my shirt on because I was wet, then Travers started giving me crap for putting socks in real-time. Next year I really need to work on my strategy for tri transition in general. 2:18 to strip off a wetsuit and put on shirt/shorts/shoes.

I had a secret goal of running sub-7:00 minute miles, so I just started cranking the run. There was a nice spectator around 0.25 mile who shouted at me "nice pace!". I looked down at my Garmin, encouraged, until I realized that yes... I was running a nice but highly unsustainable pace. Oops. I clocked the first mile in 6:45 but was struggling. I think I had swallowed too much salt water and was feeling nauseous. There was a water station at the turnaround where I chugged some fresh water (which maybe helped?) but led to a drop in pace of 6:58 for mile 2. I was still feeling nauseous but luckily 3.5 miles isn't that far. So I kept calculating how many minutes were left and then eventually I finally made it to the finish!

This is actually a screen shot from a video Travers took, but I surprisingly looked SO much better than I felt. Maybe I was overjoyed to be almost done running!

Total distance: 3.5 miles, 6:52 pace, 1st overall finisher in the 1.2 mile swim-3.5 mile run category!

Awards ceremony, after we all cheers'ed our pint glasses!

Then I went home and took a nap. That's the end of my Catfish race report!

PART II: "Exercising with singles" (pictures are omitted for your reading pleasure)

I have the heading for this part in quotes because I must've googled that exact phrase 10 times and found nothing useful. 3 weeks ago, shingles appeared on my C2/C3 dematome (on my neck). At first I thought it was a bug bite so on day 2 of bug bite/shingles I ran about 10 miles, which didn't prove to be a problem so I thought nothing could be THAT wrong. I also thought that the worst headache I ever had for 2 days straight was just a coincidence. On day 3, when I woke up at 5 am to go swimming and everything was even worse, not better, I gave in and went to the doctor. I didn't dare ask "can I workout?" because I feared the answer would be "um... no, psycho" so I came home and googled it instead. There's relatively little information out there so I thought I'd just share my experience with the internet:
-Get on the anti-viral (you have to go to the doctor within the 1st 3 days) - there's not scientific evidence that I found regarding recovery time with vs. without the drug but a lot of speculation that it helps, and I was about 80% better after one week and 95% after 2 weeks which seems reasonable!
-Listen to your body (I know.. duh, right?). One piece of advice that I got was don't work out at all because your body is trying to fight a virus and it can make you much worse. However, I did run 3 times in the first week (albeit at reduced volume and intensity) and that was fine. The dumb thing I did was try to go swimming with shingles in the neck. I was past the point of contagious (about 6 days after it first appeared) but the nerve pain in the neck was not having it. I got out early with massive headaches and was cursing myself for being an idiot. 4 days later though I was good to go for swimming, so just be patient!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Oakland Triathlon Race Report

Posted by Rachel

Sometimes when my alarm goes off at 4:00 am on the morning of a race, my first thought is "whyyyy do I do this to myself voluntarily?" On this particular race day, however, when my alarm went off my first thought was "I get to do a tri today!" That's a pretty good start.

The Oakland tri is only about a mile and a half from our place, so Travers and I loaded all of our stuff into backpacks, put our wetsuits on, and rode down to the transition. You can imagine who might be out in Oakland at 5 am on a Sunday morning (Saturday night?), and I wonder what people think when they see us riding down the road wearing wetsuits on a bicycle. We got to transition with plenty of time to set up and get to the start. We even found a bathroom in the JLS parking structure that nobody else seemed to know about with real sinks, which was a huge win! What a great start to the day.

The swim was a straight shot from the ferry terminal east to the boathouse. During warmup I didn't feel that great, but after about 5 minutes of swimming I got into a groove. The swim was current-aided, which I don't really like because I don't bust my ass in the pool to get carried to the finish during the race :p But I can't complain too much, since it makes the swim safer than going against the current. Since there weren't any photos of the Olympic distance swim finish, here's a photo of a random person I don't know jumping in. It's a very Oaklandish picture, which makes it awesome!

Even though after I got warmed up the swim felt great, I have to say it was very confusing. While I didn't have to sight very much because it was a straight line, once we got near the final buoy I had to stop several times and look around to locate the finish. We were in the second wave and I had passed some people from the first wave, and the people who were in front of me seemed to be dispersed everywhere. Luckily stopping to sight helped and I found the swim exit.

Swim result: The website seems to have subtracted 2 minutes from everyone's time, so I don't really know what my time was. 17:56 according to the official results and ~19:56 according to my watch. 2nd AG/2nd overall female, got completely smoked by a pro (the eventual AG and overall F winner).  

There was a 0.8+ mile run from the swim exit to T1 including 3 flights of stairs up and down, so the race took our shoes to the swim exit for us. I'm usually a really slow transitioner, but I think adding a long-ish run helped my time look not-so-bad compared to everyone else. 10:18.

This was probably the best bike ride I have ever had! First of all, in every Olympic tri I've ever done my leg muscles felt like they were going to detach from my hips by the end of the bike ride. It took me until June of this year to realize that it's because I don't train in aero ever but then I try to hammer the race in it (duh, Rachel). So over the past 5 weeks I trained as much as I could in aero, and it really paid off! The ride felt great, I negative split the two loops, and was having FUN riding a bike!

I'm not really smiling in the photo, probably because it was taken during a turn. I'm not great at turning my bike, and there were a lot of turns in this course. Still tons of room for improvement, but my fastest ride ever.

Travers passed me really early on in the race, around mile 8. Last time we raced Oakland I held him off until mile 19, but not this time! I knew he was having an awesome race and he did... 21 mph! I should be pushing myself harder on the bike so I can get closer to that speed!

Bike result: Course was short (~23.6 miles), time was 1:15:11 for a speed of 18.8 mph. 4th AG.

A regular transition. While I was putting on my running shoes I saw a fellow LMJS team member and we chatted briefly. I probably shouldn't be chatting since as I mentioned, I'm a very slow transitioner. 2:15.

This run was on "home turf" and I just knew it was going to be way better than the Pleasanton run. I tried to hold back the first couple of miles because I was worried I was going to crash, but I was clocking ~ 7:15 miles and feeling good! I think my face says it all here:

I try not to worry too much about racing other people, but I did notice that around mile 2 I was passing back the girl in my AG that I saw pass me on the bike. After a loop around the lake, which is the place I know better than any other for running, we headed back into Jack London Square. The 3 flights of stairs up and down added about a minute to my 10k time (and everyone else's), but after that the finish was in sight!

Run result: 45:34, 2nd AG. 7:20 pace, but if you subtract the overpass it's ~ 7:10/mile.

Due to the cooler weather and nicer course, I was much happier heading into the finish line at Oakland than I was at CIT!

Overall result: There's still that 2 minute discrepancy from the swim... my final time was either a 2:31 (race results) or 2:33 (my Garmin). I got 2nd in my age group so we stayed for the awards. 

The winner only beat me by 22 minutes! 

So what's next? I signed up for the Catfish swim/run (my favorite 2-sport combination) at the end of August. After that I'm not quite sure what to do. Last winter I didn't bike at all to focus on running, but I feel like I'm starting to get into biking and will kind of miss it. I also haven't figured out how hard I want to train for Healdsburg, if I want to run Boston, etc. I probably ran too much last winter since I ended up with a torn groin, but I guess we'll see how it goes when I start planning my fall/winter/spring racing.