a Bri Gaal's Blog: Philly Tri Race Report

Monday, June 29, 2009

Philly Tri Race Report

Warning: This is long.

Our friend’s place in Manayunk was about a 15min mostly downhill bike ride to transition. My wave was starting pretty late (Wave 8, 7:35) and Marty’s went at 7:20. I knew from reading the race information that transition closed at 6:45 and you had to take a bus to the swim start. All these things make me want to get there early so I have plenty of time, but I have a husband who is always on a different time schedule. His thinking was, we are so close and we’ll be getting our bike warmup in so let’s just leave at like 6:15? I talked him down to “how about a bit before 6?” but we didn’t end up out of there until a bit after 6. This stuff stresses me out, but he is always calm and ‘it will all work out.’ When we were riding down to transition there were already buses full of athletes heading over to swim start. My heart rate spiked. Then we get to transition and my rack is completely packed. I had to go pretty far in from the aisle to find a spot.

Then there was a long line to get on the buses. We did make it over to the swim start with plenty of time, of course. It helps when you can’t do any other warmup to have extra time to just sit around. Right away I found Beth and Oscar and we hung out until our wave lined up. Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention that Marty realized he forgot his wetsuit in NC as we were walking out the door and then when we got to the race site he realized he forgot his run number. That boy stresses me out!

The river had a ripping current race morning. I hadn’t been aware that it would be so strong, and I don’t think it’s been like that in previous years. It was hard to stay in line with buoy at the start because it kept pushing us all forward. No one knew how much time was left until the start and then finally there was a very soft 10 second countdown and everyone started swimming. I tried to start off hard and saw a couple of girls out in front of me. I drafted off of them as long as I could but then we quickly caught the wave ahead of us and I lost them. The wave ahead of us were orange caps which blended in nicely with the orange buoys we were supposed to be following. My goggles were very dirty and I had trouble seeing and when we got to the part where we go under the bridge, I couldn’t remember which side I was supposed to go through – people were everywhere! Now I don’t even remember going under the bridge because I was so distracted with not being able to see and trying to get around all these orange caps. At the final turn all of the sudden it seemed like there were 1000 people around me. Where did they all come from?! I made my way to the swim exit and tried to navigate around people walking to transition. My swim time was 19:01 – that current was way strong. Realistically, I should’ve been 2-2:30 slower than this.

I found my rack because I had seen that two racks away were two balloons someone had tied near their bike. I try to use some sort of landmark and knew that one wouldn’t move (one time my landmark was a tent that was moved during the swim). I was in and out of T1 pretty fast.

I did not like this bike course. There were WAY too many people on the course at one time – and it had a ton of turns and hills with turns and sand/glass/potholes and you got to do it twice. Yay! There were just too many people who were too new to biking and were all over the place. I didn’t feel very safe and was not aggressive at all because I was too worried about the people around me. I would not do this race again solely for this reason, unless they figured out a different bike course or had an elite amateur wave. My wave started late and there were people everywhere. Thankfully, they had the entire course closed off, but at one point going up a hill there were people from one side of the street all the way to the other – must’ve been 8 across. I’ve drawn a picture of the bike course for you so you don’t have to go look it at on the website. Bike time was 1:07:53.

My biking has been feeling stronger recently, but I don’t think I really showed it on the course. I had no idea where I was compared to my age group or overall (we didn’t have anyone there that we knew who could give us splits or even cheers!). Around mile 18 or so, Beth passed me and there were two girls pretty much right with her that also passed me. I was happy that I had stayed ahead of Beth for as long as I did! I tried to keep them all in sight but Beth and her teammate kind of rode off. The other girl was closer and I was able to run by her right off the bike since I left my shoes on my pedals. I had to give one guy a “Let’s go, dude!” while trying to make my way to my rack and he kindly moved over a bit – thanks! My T2 was not so good. I put on my socks and then realized there was a piece of mulch stuck in my sock and figured I’d better take care of this now. I finally got out of there and passed Beth’s teammate pretty quick. I felt good and told myself to stay relaxed. The other girl who came off the bike near me passed me and I tried to match her pace but it was just a little too quick for where I wanted to start out. Either she was going to run very fast or she’d come back to me, but I was not willing to run her race just yet. The first 2 miles are nice and shaded and I was glad my legs had some turnover. I went through the first mile in 6:25 and the second in 6:30 and felt I could probably hold that pace throughout. At the turnaround I pointed out the girl to Beth so she knew she was in our age group. After running through the grass near transition I looked up and realized I was gaining on Beth – no way! I figured she’d be long gone by now. I really had no idea I could be this close to her. I forgot to check my split for 3rd mile and not long after that I was right on her shoulder. To pass or not…it was pretty early to just sit there and I was feeling okay. I figured I should just go with it and hope for the best. I was just going to hold my same pace and see what happened. I got my first cheer from fellow racer Cara Brue who started in an earlier wave and from Marty who was also coming back the other way. I took the gel I was holding in my hand around mile 4, mainly because somehow it had started leaking all over my hand and I thought instead of letting it go to waste I could put it to use. I came close to the turnaround and saw the fast runner girl was still looking fast and strong. I didn’t think there was much of a chance of catching back up to her but hey, you never know, right? Soon after the turnaround my legs started to feel heavy. Where was the 5 mile marker? And here is where all the positive self talk began. “You can DO this! You have worked so hard, don’t let up!” I was really working it now because I knew Beth was going to be right behind me gunning it, too. The run was crowded and I had to run outside the cones sometimes to get around people. I was getting annoyed that I had to do this, but really it was just because I was getting so tired. I totally missed the 5 mile mark, but knew I had to be getting close to the finish. “Come on! Get there! You can run hard for another 6 minutes!” Then I saw it – it was still a ways away but it was getting closer. Oh I was digging and it hurt so bad. I think I heard Marty yelling at me to kick it in – believe me I was trying! “There it is! Get there! Get to the line! Its right there get there! Get there!” and then

Beth ran by.

And I crossed the line.

I couldn’t believe it. I dropped to my knees and hung my head. Really? Is that how it ended? 2 seconds?

Beth was on the ground, too, and I got up, helped her up and told her what a great race. It was very well played – she passed me at the perfect time, right before the line when there was not any time for me to respond. I knew I had a great race for being so close to her, but I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. Very disappointed. (run was 40:36, by the way)

In the end I was still 3rd overall amateur – wow the 30-34 age group is tough! It was nice to come to a big race and do well after training so hard for St. Anthony’s and then having to DNF when I got so sick. I asked Marty if it looked like I was kicking at the end and he said, “Bri, it looked like you were killing yourself.”

And I don’t believe that those 2 seconds were static. Meaning, I’m not going to give a long list of excuses like, oh if my bike had been closer to the aisle or if I hadn’t take so long in T2…I’ve come to realize that WE ALL have those things (couldn’t get my wetsuit off, went too wide in the swim, etc etc.). And the puts and takes here and there wouldn’t have made much of a difference; we still would’ve been on the course at roughly the same time and maybe we both would’ve just gone 2 seconds faster.

However, I do think if the current hadn’t been so strong this year in the river and it was more of a legitimate 1500 meters, the results may have been different. But that’s how it was on that day.

Beth actually apologized to me for passing me so close to the end. What?! That’s racing! No apology needed. She did what she needed to get herself in the best place possible. I wouldn’t be mad at her for one second. I’m mad at myself for all sorts of reasons of what I could’ve done differently, but definitely not mad at her.

Here is a blurry picture of Beth and I right after we laid around the finish line for a bit. We also got to hang out before the awards got going and that was a lot of fun.

Here I am congratulating the winner.

And the top 3 amateurs. I have no idea why the lady on the far right is in our picture.

So I’m living proof that you can train 10-12 hours a week and still be very competitive. I’m definitely more quality over quantity! I know (from reading blogs) that there are a lot of girls who train a lot more than me. Sometimes this gets me worked up and I think I need to train more, but this works well for me and it helps keep me balanced and able to do other things in my life that I also enjoy.

After the awards Marty and I unfortunately had to ride our bikes back to Doug’s place. Remember when I said it was mostly downhill to transition? So you can figure out what it was like getting back there. Oh so painful! And with a giant bag on my back and aero helmet on no less! There was one huge overpass hill that we had to get up but we had just come to a complete stop and I COULD NOT get started. I had to walk up the hill with my bike, aero helmet on and all. I did not dare look at anyone driving by me. What a sight! As if I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself enough already, ha!

On a side note, I’m not sure what went on during that race, but I came out with a huge painful bruise on one of my knuckles and another bruise (complete with a bump) on my forearm. Beth bruised her foot bad coming out of the water. This is a dangerous race!

We got some lunch and then started our long journey back to North Carolina. Marty was a saint and did most of the driving home. Just like the drive up, we hit lots of traffic, but maybe a little less. We stopped in DC for dinner with the nicest lady in the world and her husband and finally made it home just after midnight. Wow, that was a long day. No rest for the weary, though, right back at work Monday morning!


At June 29, 2009 4:39 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Bri!! Congrats again on a great race. It's funny what you say about being close to me in the race because I was thinking the same of you - "if only I can keep up with Bri I'll know I've had an amazing race!" :) And yes, I planned out that kick because I KNEW you would get me if I didn't do it right. ;)

Anyway, I think I might be done with that race too. Every year I get injured there somehow! And the bike course - I agree - wow was it bad this year. I'm really, really glad you guys came up to race though because it was great seeing you again and great racing with you! Glad you finally made it home okay!

PS You KNOW you want to go to AG Nationals. Alabama...come on!!!! :)

At June 29, 2009 4:47 PM , Blogger Amie Krasnozon said...

Congrats Bri, great race

At June 29, 2009 5:18 PM , Blogger Molly said...

Wow - congrats! Great race! That bike course does NOT sound fun.

At June 29, 2009 6:16 PM , Blogger Angela said...

sounds like an amazing race for you. congratulations! I enjoy watching you race. Hope to see you and Marty at Triangle.

At June 29, 2009 8:57 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Oh, by the way, I laughed so hard when I saw your drawing of the bike course!!! Pretty darn accurate!! :)

At June 30, 2009 12:56 PM , Blogger Jennifer Harrison said...

Bri! GREAT job! I can not believe it came down to a sprint finish! AHH! And 2 seconds. Makes me think of all those ITU racers that DO THAT every weekend, can you imagine? HEAD TO HEAD every weekend and winning or losing $200k by 1 100th of a second? That is insane! Great attitude and great race!!! Congrats!

At June 30, 2009 2:15 PM , Blogger Charisa said...

Congrats on an awesome race. You are right 30-34 is a stacked AG!! Also - awesome that you are sticking with what works for you with training. Don't jump on everyone else's crazy training plan - keep balance and do what's right for you because it seems to be working :)

At June 30, 2009 9:18 PM , Blogger Maijaleena said...

Congrats on an incredible race! You did so well in every part of the race. I'm glad there is someone out there showing that it is possible to achieve great results on low volume.

The current is not normally like that! It was pushing us on Saturday too, but we had to swim against it for awhile. I like a lot of things about the Philly race, but the bike course scares me. Even starting in the first wave on Saturday with less people racing, the second loop was still congested and had its scary moments.

At July 8, 2009 9:32 PM , Blogger Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

GREAT JOB!!! I'm just getting caught up on blogs, but I had to comment on this one. NICE WORK out there - great race report! And 2 seconds - WOW! That's the tricky bit - especially with great runners like you and Beth. Way to hang in there with the positive attitude - you are proof that it works! And I know what you mean about congested courses and slow people in transition. One of the things I loved about living in NC and the NCTS is the elite amateur wave - so so so nice!

Hope that you've recovered well and are enjoying training!


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