Sunday, May 8, 2016

Oregon Dunes Triathlon 2016

Another race!  Lots of firsts and accomplishments.  Lots of things to work on.  What an adventure!!

I took Friday off of work so that I could get ready and we could head down to Florence in time to pick up our race packets without rushing.  We packed up the car and holely moley we had a lot of stuff for just two people.  There is always a lot to pack when it's just Joe doing a race.  With both of us doing it there truck was stuffed and it was just the two of us going.  We ran a few errands in town and then headed out towards Florence.

The drive takes a couple of hours but it was fun to just have the time to enjoy the scenery and chit chat in the car.  We live in a beautiful part of the world and it seems that no matter where we go on a road trip in Oregon, watching the landscape is breathtaking.

We got to Florence and the sun was shining.  We headed to Honeyman State Park to check into the campground and unload our stuff into the Yurt.   If you have never stayed in a Yurt, you should give it a try.  The ones in Oregon have a bunked and a trundle couch/bed.  They are quite roomy and have a heater and lights.  Still have to trek to the park bathrooms but it is definitely better than sleeping in a tent in May!

We headed over to Dunes City to pick up our race packets and listen to the race briefing.  I was excited to get my packet and my race shirt.  Turns out the women's race shirt this year is purple!!  My favorite color!  (If you didn't know that by now, lol)  So I was excited on two levels.  One: the shirt is my favorite color.  Two:  I got a women's XL and it fit me nicely.  I did not have to get a men's shirt in order to get one I could actually wear.  Pretty stoked about that.  The race briefing was good.  Mostly review of the information that is on the website but it was still good to hear it and some of the safety things that were in place.
Got me a purple shirt.  Now to go out and earn it and a medal to go with it!
Next we went out and drove the bike route for the Sprint Tri.  It was nice to see it and know what was coming.  Most of it seemed doable.  Hard but doable.  There was one short, steep section that I was a little worried about but everything else seemed like what I've done during training so that was good.

We went back to the Yurt and got our stickers on our bikes and helmets so that we were ready for the race the next day.  Then we headed into Florence to have dinner with our coach and his family, teammates Melissa and Marcus and our friend (and my co-worker) Chad.  It was fun to visit and relax for a couple of hours.  Helped keep me from getting nervous.  Actually I should say it kept me from getting nervous-er!

We headed back to the campground and the sun was going down.  It was beautiful over the Siletz Bay but I didn't have my phone out to snag a picture before we had crossed the bridge.  We decided to try and drive down the jetty and see if we could see the sun setting into the ocean.  We realized that we weren't going to make it to the end of the jetty in time so we pulled off into one of the parking lots and ran up a very steep dune to try and catch it.  Joe got to the top first and saw the last bit of the sun. I didn't quite make it in time but the view was still amazing.  A fun little side adventure before we got our rest before race day.
Oregon coast sunset.
My hair was blowing all over so Joe is holding it down while I take the picture.  lol  
Dune flowers.
Before bed I started thinking about the bike ride and the race in general and whether I could actually do it or not.  I got a little worked up, surprise surprise.  Felt like I should just give up and go watch Joe and do my usually job of cheer leading my guy.  My guy was not too happy about that thinking and basically told me to knock it off.  I had put in the time and the training and I could do this.  Sigh. I hate it when I get in my own head.  Something I definitely have to work on.

We got up bright and early the next morning.  Race day!!  Ready or not, here I come.  There's a lot to do to get ready.  And because we are both a bit paranoid, we had to recheck all our race bags for the different transitions.  Just to be absolutely sure we had everything we needed.

We headed to Lake Wohink where the open water swim would be and all of the transitions happened. Lots of cars already in the parking lot.  It was nice to not feel rushed.  Joe made sure the tires on the bikes were all pumped up and we walked the bikes and our bags over to the transition area.  Still is odd to be one of the ones getting numbers written on their body instead of just watching it happen to Joe.  My race number was 309 so they wrote that on my left hand, arm, and calf and my age on the right calf.  Once we were all marked up we found a place to get set up.  Joe in the rack for the Olympic Tri and me in the rack for the Sprint Tri.

Then we found our coach and most of his other athletes.  I've started thinking of them as my teammates since we have been done quite a bit of training together in one form or another this winter.      It was fun to say hi to everyone and wish everyone luck.  Lots of smiles and excitement.
Awesome group of hard working athletes and our coach.  It's going to be a great day!
Traditional pre-race photo with my best friend and #1 supporter.  Couldn't do this crazy stuff without this man by my side!
Am loving getting to know this amazing lady better!  Definitely part of the Badass with Sparkle crew!
Wasn't too long and it was time for the guys doing the Olympic tri to get on their wetsuits and do their swim warm up.  It was fun to watch them getting ready and warming up.  It also kept me busy so I couldn't start worrying about my own race.

Surprisingly, I was not as wound up as I had been for the Beaver Freezer.  I thought after the mini meltdown I had the night before that I would be a basket case.  Especially with Joe starting an hour before me.  I was a little antsy but not in panic mode so that was really nice.

Soon it was time for us to start getting our wetsuits on for the Sprint Tri.  While I was getting mine on I saw Joe come in from his swim and take off on his bike.  Not long after that I saw Chad as well.  It was fun to cheer them through the transition while I was getting ready for my own race.
Getting ready to start the Sprint with Marcus & Melissa!
We made our way down to the boat launch so we could get warmed up.  Getting warmed up in cold water just really doesn't make sense, does it?  The nice part was the water was 60 degrees!!!  I have done practise open water swims the last three weekends prior to the race.  Green Peter Reservoir one time and Detroit Lake twice.  The water temperature all three times was around 51 degrees.  Ridiculously, face hurting, cold!  Sixty degrees was cold, don't get me wrong but was much easier to get accustomed too.  I could concentrate on the actual swimming itself rather than having to focus so much of my energy in managing to put my face in the water and breath correctly.

Melissa and I got in and made sure our wetsuits were full of water so that it could warm up before we got started.  We swam around for about 10 minutes and then got in position for the start of our race.

The horn blew and we were off.  I started better than I had at the Beaver Freezer.  My breathing wasn't all over the place and I was having an easier time finding my rhythm.

Except for one problem.

Other people!

I had held back for a few seconds at the start just so I wouldn't find myself going to fast to start trying to keep up with those around me.

I ended up quickly catching up with a bunch of ladies that couldn't swim a straight line to save their life!  Made me appreciate all the practise I had done with sighting!  I still need to get better but these ladies were crisscrossing my path or bumping into me all the way to the first buoy.  I would think I was past them and they would change course and cut me off.

Me being me, I would stop and adjust myself so that I didn't run into them.  I think I'm going to have to work on my inner meanie and learn how to just run them over next time.  My girls have already given me their expert swim team advice on how to get someone out of the way without looking like you are pushing them on purpose.  Pays to have experienced swimmers in the family!

After I got around the first buoy I got past them and was able to really get into a good rhythm.  Still need to work on my endurance but overall I felt pretty happy with the swim.  I wasn't the last one out and I even passed people.  Always kind of a thrill for me since I'm usually at the back of the pack for most things.

I headed up the boat ramp and began peeling off my wetsuit.  I had all my stuff positioned in order so that I could quickly get my biking gear on.
Finishing the swim.  :-)
Here's how it goes:

Cap & goggles off as I'm heading into transition.
Top of wetsuit (arms and chest) peeled off as I'm walking in. Thanks to the nice person who pulled down the zipper for me.  :-)
Booties off.
Garmin off.
Wetsuit off.
Tank top on.
Hair tie off.
Hat on.
Helmet on.
Sunglasses on.
Jacket on.
Garmin back on.
Dry off feet.
Socks on.
Shoes on.
Roll up wetsuit and toss it to the back of my pile.
Unhook the bike from the rack.
One least mental check to see if I have everything.
Head out to the spot where I can mount the bike.

In total my transition time from the time I crossed the mat into the area until the time I left was 5:23.  Not too bad!  I had a transition time longer than that for the Beaver Freezer and I didn't have to peel out of a wetsuit for that one.  :-)

The sad part of the day was that as I was heading out of transition I saw my friend Melissa.  She is fighting an injury but was going to give the Sprint a tri.  She could tell about halfway through the swim that she wasn't going to be able to manage a hilly bike ride, she could barely handle the swim.  (She still kicked my ass on the swim, even with an injury!  Badass with Sparkle!)  I told her I was sorry as I went by but kept moving.
Leaving T1 to start my bike ride.  Here goes nothing!
I got to where I could mount the bike.  Here we go.  One third of the race done.  I headed out of the park and up the first of many hills.  I drank some water and got some fuel in me on the first small hill.  Then I got to work.

It was good we had driven the course the day before.  It made me feel more confident that I could not only conquer the downhills but that I could try to go faster on the downhills.  After the first big hill I turned onto Clear Lake Rd. and had a long downhill.  It wasn't too curvy and I was basically by myself.  There wasn't much car traffic and the shoulders of the road were nice and wide.  I went for it.  No braking.  No slowing down.

I felt like I was flying.  It was so awesome.  Oh yah, and totally terrifying!  lol  That whole falling down thing comes to mind.  Falling down going slow hurt.  I really don't want to experience it going fast.  How fast?  30.5 mph according to my Garmin!  Whoa!  I know that the experienced bikers went way faster than that.  But oh my!  That was the fastest I had ever gone and it was thrilling!!!

Of course, what goes down must go up again so it wasn't long before I was heading up another long hill.  Joe had pointed out a big purple rhododendron bush that was on the side of the road and told me to remember it because it meant I was at the top.  He figured I would remember it since it was purple.  :-)  Sure enough, as I was grinding up the hill I saw the purple flowers and knew I was almost there.  It also made me smile because I thought of Joe and how he had no doubt whatsoever that I could do this.

I continued up and down the hills.  I got to the little loop that would start me on my journey back.  This was the part I was most worried about.  There was a short but very steep hill on this part.  I did really well for 3/4 of the hill and then my breathing just got to be too much.  I had to stop.  I walked the last few yards up the hill.  The man who was next to me said, "Don't stop!  You are almost there!" I appreciated the support but the difficulty of breathing just made it not worth it.  Once I got to the top I took a moment.  I used my inhaler, drank some water and got some fuel in me.  I let the heart rate settle down and took some deep breaths and got back on my bike.

I got back on my bike.

Kind of proud of that.

Not only did I get back on my bike, I didn't let the fact that I walked a little bit frustrate me.

I had decided the day before that it was very possible that I might have to.  I haven't learned how to stand on my pedals and use that momentum to help me on hills like that.  I figured that if it happened, it happened.  I would just conquer all the rest of the hills.

Seemed like a lot more hills on the way back!  lol

I was going up a long uphill.  The same one that I had come shooting down earlier.  I was much slower going the other direction.  Funny how that works.  There was a gentleman on the side of the road fiddling with his bike.  I asked if he was okay.  At the race briefing they had asked us to let volunteers know if there was anyone that we passed that needed help.  He said he had just thrown a chain and could fix it.  Then he said, "But then I'll have to start from a dead stop on this hill!  CRAP ON A CRACKER!"  That made made me laugh so hard!  I think that is my new favorite phrase!  It wasn't very long before he passed me.  He did just fine starting from a dead stop on a hill.

Crap on a cracker.  Gotta love it.  :-)

When I saw the turn to get back onto Canary Rd. I looked at my watch.  No way!  I was going to finish the bike ride in less than an hour!  I didn't think I would manage that with all the hills.  I was pretty stoked when I turned into the park in order to get back to transition.

As I was coming into where I needed to dismount the bike I saw my coach and my teammate.  They were taking pictures and cheering me on.  It was so awesome to see them and their smiling faces!!!  I know I was grinning ear to ear.
Bike portion done!  No falling down! Bonus!
I managed a good transition to the run.  Little less to do with this one.

Put the bike on the rack.
Take off the bike helmet.
Take off the bike gloves.
Shed the jacket.
Grab my phone off the bike.  Normally I wouldn't have worried about this but I wanted to be able to take pictures at the finish line. :-)
Grabbed my water bottle and took off.

Transition from bike to run took 1:49.  At the Beaver Freezer it took me 3:08.  Big improvement!  :-)

Now I'm running.  The sun has come out and it is warming up.  I drink a bunch of my water and toss in a mouthful of my Jelly Belly beans.  (Special ones for fueling in races.  Can't go wrong if they are Jelly Belly, right?)  My legs were tight and getting tighter.  I kept up a pretty good trot for the first mile.  Then the trail started going uphill as I worked my way to the bridge that would take me over Hwy. 101.  I started walking.  At this point I was happy with my swim and my bike ride so all I really cared about was finishing.  Once I got over the highway the route leveled out and I could get running again.  I had several walk sessions but once I got to the last half mile I decided no more walk until I got to the bottom of the sand dune.

Originally I had planned on trudging up that dune.  I had walked up it before when going to cheer Joe to the finish in years past.  I knew what was coming.  But as I got closer the memory of our little adventure chasing the sunset popped into my head.  If I could run most of the way up that dune then I had to try and get up this one.  The one we had gone up to see the sunset had been steeper.  I always finish a race running, usually sprinting as much as I am able.  Why not give it a shot?

I got to the dune and could see Jon (my coach) and most of the rest of the team standing up the dune cheering for me.  Here we go.  I put my head down and just concentrated on powering up as best I could.  I knew that if I looked up the finish line would look so far away that I might give up.  So I didn't look up.  Joe had told me to try and go in other peoples footsteps because it was where the sand was a little more compacted, which helps a little.  I will take even a little bit of help.  :-)
It may not look like it but I was powering up the hill pretty well!
As I pass the team I can hear them cheering me on and it makes me smile but I don't look at them because I don't want to lose my momentum.  I trotted the whole way up that dune!
Passing my cheering fans.  Loved it!
It was AWESOME!!

I was not the fastest person out there by a long shot.  I had to walk up a hill on the bike ride.  I walked and was so slow on my 5k.  But dammit!  I ran up that stupid dune.  :-)  Win!

My 5k was slow.  I did it in 45:15.  Later I realized that this was almost the same time I got on my very first 5k race ever.  About 40 seconds faster.  My first 5k was on a summer evening in about 95 degree weather and about 70 more pounds than I am carrying right now.

The fact that I did the 5k in that same slow time shouldn't be something that makes me happy.  Yet it does.  Here's why.  That first 5k I gave everything I had in me.  I could not have walked one more step.  I was so hot and tired and it was a HUGE accomplishment for me.

At this triathlon I did basically the same time.

AFTER a 750 yard open water swim.

AFTER a 10.5 mile bike ride that was really hilly and super challenging for me.

For whatever reason I love that my time was basically the same as my first 5k.  This time I gave everything I had in me and it was bigger than anything I thought I could do back when I did that first 5k.

I wish I could go back and tell myself how that was just the beginning of a long, frustrating, amazing journey.

A journey filled with setbacks and tears.

A journey filled with laughter, hijinks's and shenanigans.

A journey that has brought some amazing people into my life.

A journey filled with shared moments with my husband instead of just being a spectator.

A journey that has taught me so much more than I could ever have dreamed about who I am and what I want for myself.

The old me would have immediately started fussing about the things that didn't go well during the race.  I have to tell you that is really hard to do when your coach is waiting for you at the finish line and is smiling from ear to ear with how you did.  I think Jon was grinning bigger than me!  Besides my husband and my youngest daughter I don't think anyone else really gets how much work I have been putting into following Jon's coaching.  Having my coach be that proud of me was just icing on the cake!

Joe finished the Olympic Tri just a minute or two after me.  It was fun to be there to cheer him over the finish line just like always.  He had been trying to catch me so he could either finish me or be there waiting for me at the finish.  I liked the way it worked out though.  :-)  Joe ended up getting 3rd in his age group for the Olympic.  So proud of him, always!  Love that he is so proud of me too, always.  I think we are a pretty great team.  It was fun sharing the experience with him because he knew how hard I worked to get to this point and how hard it was going to be to finish.
Another adventure in the books!  
Loved seeing my friend Chad finish!  He did the Olympic Tri and was fighting a bad cold.  Serious badass finishing while not feeling good!  Love his positive spirit no matter what.  Got a huge boost when we passed each other on the run and I got a big high five and a big Chad smile.  :-)  Always encouraging, both in events and at work.  I'm lucky to have him as a co-worker and to call him friend!.
Seven Oak teachers getting it done!  Nice work Chad!
And I'm not even to the big goal yet!

Here are the official race results:
I got 6th place out of 6 in my age group.  I was 101 out of 110 overall.  Not last.  :-)  But I think I wouldn't have cared, even if I came in last.  However, I am totally okay with not being last either. lol

Okay, I know this has gotten really long but just a few more things to share.  After we picked up all our gear and got back to the Yurt we showered and then took a nap.  Both were heavenly!!  Then we headed into Florence to grab some dinner.  The wind was blowing pretty good but the sun was shining.  We found a restaurant with outside seating that was out of the wind and had dinner.  It was a place called 1285 Restobar.  We had a great meal, I mean really good!  Our server, Mike, was awesome and fun which always adds to the experience.  And people watching was premium!  Who knew Florence would have such entertaining people running around.
Chicken Garlic Artichoke Pizza.  After crab cakes, salad and clam chowder!!  YUM!
There was a man riding a bike that was completely covered with bangles and stuffed animals.  He was wearing a bustier and colorful spandex.  The front of his bike had a bra attached to it and there was a zebra stuffed animals sitting on that.  He also had stuff on his head.  I can't even describe all that he had on.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of him.  He would ride by and then he would circle around again.  It was so funny!

We saw lots of random people talking and doing things that made us giggle.

My very favorite was the ladies.  At one point during the meal I went inside the restaurant to use the restroom.  On my way back out I notice a table of older ladies, probably eight of them, that were having a great time.  They had wine glasses and looked like they were having a fantastic time.  Not too much later we hear some people saying, "Happy Mother's Day!!!" Two ladies were walking past all the tables outside and wishing every woman they saw a Happy Mother's Day.  The best part was that they were obviously tipsy and leaning on each other because there was some weaving in their walk.  Oh my word!  They were so stinking cute!!  I hope I'm having that much fun when I'm their age!  Actually, I hope I'm having that much fun now!  Talk about hijinks's and shenanigans!  lol
View of the bay across the street from the restaurant. 
View from the North Jetty. 
We had some fun driving out to the North Jetty and checking out the view.  It was a lovely way to spend the evening after a great day.  :-)

One last observation.  I was, and still am, completely overwhelmed by the support from my friends.  Near and far!  I got texts, phone calls and much love on social media.  Both before the race and after! Thank you for all the encouragement and love! You have absolutely no idea how much that means to me and how much knowing you are supporting me helps me keep going.  

Special shout out to my special girls.  

Kristy!  Thanks for being rock solid with the "You got this!" and "I'll ride with you, whatever helps!" Just knowing you are willing is awesome!!
She knows me too well!  :-)

Teresa!  I love that you are my sister.  My brother was a smart guy to snatch you up.  Love sharing the ups and downs of these crazy adventures with you.  You totally get it!  Thanks for the meme! Love you!
Wendie!  So glad you are my friend!  Your text Saturday made me grin from ear to ear.  Fit as hell!  Oh my word!  I loved that!  So much better than skinny.  Fit girls kick ass.  Thank you for setting such a fantastic example!  Love you sis!
Love it!!
Faylene!  I can't even tell you how much I appreciate you!  You have been there supporting me since the first time I put on running shoes and tried to run the track.  Right behind Joe you have been the most super consistent believer that I can do these things.  Thank you for believing in me always and loving me even during the sad/mad and tears.  I love you so much and am so very glad you are my friend, through thick and thin!!  Can't wait to be there for your new adventure next week!!
Came in the wrong order but I don't care!  The message was awesome!!
Best in the West!  Thanks for putting on such a great event!  The organization, the volunteers and all the coordinating was awesome.  We had a blast!

I'm going to keep working.  Going to keep pushing.  Next race is Blue Lake in Portland on June 5th.  Wonder that adventures and experiences that race will bring?  

Thanks for reading. I know it was a long one.  It was an eventful weekend for sure!!

ps.  Thank you to Jon for letting me snag his race photos and use them in my blog!  :-)  

1 comment:

  1. I'm still smiling just reading this and being reminded on just how strong you finished! Powering up that dune! Awesome job!