Saturday, July 12, 2014

Butler YMCA Sprint Triathlon 2014

I'm chilling out after a fun morning at the Butler YMCA Sprint Triathlon. It was truly a perfect day for this event, and I have to say I really enjoyed myself. If you're in Western Pennsylvania (or eastern Ohio) and want a low-key, friendly event this is one to try. (Get it?)

This is my second year doing this race and a lot of things went easier. 
1. I didn't get lost on the way there!
2. I wasn't nervous at all getting in the water!
3. I conquered the hills without any problems. 

Quick course review: The race is based at Lakeview Beach. Transition is in a parking lot with gravelly edges, so I bring a yoga mat to make it easier on my bare feet before and after the swim. There are enough racks and enough space for competitors, I wouldn't say it's too crowded. The swim is in Lake Arthur and for two years it's been warm enough to swim without a wetsuit, but the wetsuit has been legal and I've worn it for extra buoyancy. The race organizers say the lake is rocky, but I never had any problems walking into or out of the water. Each leg starts five min apart, waist-deep in the water, when they sound the air horn but there's no officially marked starting line. After the swim, the bike takes you on park roads towards the "old marina." There is a long shallow hill right at the start, then some nice flats and downhills, lots of curves. You hit the big hills around mile 3. The hills aren't crazy steep, but they are long. I do see people walking their bikes, but many people manage these hills even on hybrid bikes. There are two big hills, then some smaller challengers closer to the end of the bike course, then you whip back downhill into transition. The run is on a mostly shaded bike trail but it is very twisty and windy. There's a little hill up and down at the beginning, so there is another one up and down at the end of the run! (Read more about the course in my 2013 report.)

My overall time wasn't any faster…in fact none of my legs were faster than last year's event, but I can't really complain because the difference in time was about 4%. Is that a huge decrease? No. Was I disappointed for awhile? Yes. But I've had a different focus this summer (look for a blog post on submitting a novel manuscript to agents for the first time and posts about our vacation to Spain!) so I can't really expect to be in the same shape as I was last year. 

I felt strong during the entire event. See that arm muscle? Strong! I never felt dead tired, or woozy, or worn out. I didn't use chews or food during this event, but I did drink water and water with Nuun. Maybe that means I wasn't pushing hard enough. But my heart rate was up there! Speaking of heart rate, I have questions for my coach about heart rate monitor training, because my Zone 2 training runs are still so, so slow. Like 11-12 min/mile slow. Aren't I in better shape than that? If you do heart rate monitor based training, I'd love to hear your input.
I also wonder how much my foot injury last summer is still impacting my performance. I did stop running from August to December, and when I came back I tried to adjust my cadence and foot strike. That made my right foot start buzzing…and my right foot was buzzing during the run again. 

BUT. My husband and the kids drove over an hour and got lost on the way to come and cheer for me. And my middle son even tried to give me flowers during the race! So how can I be sad about being a little slower than last year? We even got to enjoy the rest of the morning swimming in Lake Arthur and checking out fish and then had a fantastic lunch at Burgh'ers in Zelienople. If you've never had one of their burgers with a side of rosemary fries, I insist you get some quick!
I medaled last year and was pretty excited because other people 'in the know' said this was a very competitive event. This year I was 8th in my age group. No medal. One lady in my age group from last year took 4:00 off her time! I added about 3:00. But my transitions were faster! <—Silver lining.

2014 
Swim 9:23 112 place
T1 2:48 96 place
Bike 33:32 133 place
T2 1:27  103 place
Run 26:56 72 place
Overall 1:14:04 108 place

2013
Swim 8:12 117 place
T1 2:51 97 place
Bike 31:56 137 place
T2 1:51 118 place
Run 26:31 65 place
Overall 1:11:01 91 place

Takeaways: 1. I have cut back on my training in many ways, but all in all my performance was very close to last year. But am I doing heart rate monitor training "right?" Do I need to do it at all? 

2.Triathlons are fun. I love the variety. Triathlons are even more fun with friends and family. If you want to do one, coerce a friend to join you! I tackled this event basically solo this year, but I loved that my guys were there to cheer me on. 

3.And I enjoyed a delicious lunch totally guilt-free. Win, win, win! 

       
Starting the next generation of swimmers!