Saturday, September 17, 2016

Best in the West Olympic Triathlon 2016 = FUN!

Race report of the final triathlon of the 2016 season.  A year ago I was beginning to think about maybe doing an Olympic triathlon the next summer.  I had started working on my swimming with Bri as the first step in working towards that goal.  Then I got back on my bike and worked through some fears that I had built up in my mind there.  Then I floundered a bit on how to figure out a plan that would work for me that included running, biking, and swimming and that pesky work type thing.

Joe kept telling me that I should work with a coach.  I kept saying no because I didn't want to spend the money on me.  It's a thing with me.  There are a lot of other things we could be spending the money on.  To me it made more sense to spend money on Joe for triathlons because he already did them and did them well.  But he kept bugging me and finally asked me to meet with Jon and see what I thought and we would go from there.  So I said okay.

That was a super smart decision on my part.  We met with Jon and had a great talk.  Joe and I discussed it and I agreed to having Joe coach me through my first Olympic triathlon and then after that we would see.

Fast forward to July and the Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove.  I had a blast and loved every minute of the race.  I also made sure Jon knew that I was keeping him and I hoped he was okay with that.   Because he was not able to be at that race he asked me if I would be willing to do the Olympic Tri at the Best in the West festival in September so that he could see me in an Olympic triathlon this year.  I was a bit nervous about it for a couple of reasons.  First, the race would happen about three weeks into my school year.  So I would be prepping my classroom, meeting kids and doing the work thing after my summer break all while trying to keep up with my workouts to prepare for the triathlon.  During the summer I could workout and then take a nap.  During work I do a workout before work and then one after.  Then I crash! lol  Second issue, (in my mind anyway) was that the course would be tougher than the one in July.  More hills on both the bike and the run.  That was a little daunting.  But I decided that I would go for it.  It would be fun and if I went into it with no expectations and just to have fun then it wouldn't matter if it was slower than the triathlon in July.  In my mind it would be much slower than the first Olympic tri because of all the hills.
My traditional pre-race picture.  :-)
One of the fun parts of working with my coach has been the other athletes I have gotten to meet that also work with Jon.  At this particular event there were four of us competing in different races AND Jon's son was doing the Try a Tri.  So much fun!

On Saturday Joe did the Sprint Triathlon and Mike and Ron did the Half Ironman distance Triathlon.  Joe and I took off early in the morning and headed to Foster Lake.  It was clear and cold!  Joe was planning on pushing it a bit on the Sprint just to see how he could do.  Mike was aiming for a successful half Ironman distance without injury and without mechanical issues (he had a flat tire on a race in June) and Ron was doing his first half Ironman distance.
Beautiful Foster Lake the evening before the race weekend.
I watched Joe do the Sprint and then once he was done we hung out and watched Mike and Ron finish their half Ironman.  We had a lot of fun hanging out with Jon and his son.  We cheered people on and helped out at the bike dismount area.  It is so much fun watching people do hard, awesome things.
My Ironman getting ready to have some fun doing a Sprint tri.  :-)
Joe, Mike, Ron and Jon.  Successful day for the guys!
Up until Saturday I hadn't really been nervous about my own race.  But as Saturday wore on I started getting nervous about my race on Sunday.  I don't know why.  Maybe it was seeing all the people doing their race and just wanting to get started on my own.  As the day progressed I got more and more antsy about my own race.

We got to see both Mike and Ron finish and it was fun to congratulate them.  We have put in a lot of miles together this year on the track and the trail.  I know how hard they have worked so it was awesome to see them both have a most excellent day.

Joe and I headed home.  It was nice to get out of the sun, get a nap and then have some dinner.  We headed to bed early since we had to be on the road early again the next morning for my race.

Sunday morning was not as cold as Saturday morning.  Some clouds had rolled in over night and had kept it from getting too cold.

We got to the park at Foster Lake and when we were starting to get my bike off the rack an old friend of ours came over.  His son was doing the Olympic and he was there to watch.  It was fun to see him and his son and then later the rest of the family.  Also, visiting with them was a nice distraction so I didn't have time to get more nervous.

Soon enough Joe and I headed to the transition area so I could get my body markings and set up my things at the bike rack.  Once I had things set up Joe and I went back to the truck and just hung out for a bit.  It wasn't long before I needed to head back to the transition area to get my wetsuit on.  I was really excited to be wearing the new wetsuit I had gotten in Couer d'Alene.  I had only used it once for a short swim while we were still in Idaho.  This would be my first long swim in it and my first race in it.

I got the wetsuit on without too much trouble and then headed down to the lake to warm up.  I made sure my goggles were all good and the suit felt alright.  It wasn't long before it was time to line up for my start.  They had the college teams go first.  Then the young men, then the older men, followed by the young women and last was the older women (35 and up) and the relay swimmers.  By this time I was more than ready to get going.  I was pretty anxious about the swim just because the last time I had done an open water swim it was at Foster Lake and it was awful.  The water was rough that day and I had a lot on my mind with some worries for a friend so it wasn't a good swim.  I was worried I would have a repeat of that day.

The gun went off and we started.  I tried to start the same way I have learned to do on run races.  Let everyone take off and just kind of find my rythym and get going.  I got boxed in at one point with a woman on either side of me and one directly in front but all of them were going slower than me.  So I put my head up and took a look around, saw a gap and made a break for it.  I managed to get around the woman in front of me and find an area that was open so I could get into a comfortable pace and do my thing.

I felt really great.  I felt like I was swimming smoothly and sighting well.  I was keeping a pretty straight line of sight on the buoys.  It felt really good.  It didn't seem to take long before I was making the first turn.

I had decided before the race that I was going to try and not look at my Garmin very much.  If I was going to be slower on this race than the one in July then I didn't want to stress myself out by getting worked up about the time.

As I was making my way back towards where we got out of the water I realized I had someone pacing me.  They were using me as their sighting.  I could see her checking to make sure I was to her left once in a while.  That was kind of cool.  She was a little bit faster than me but we stayed together for the whole return trip until we got to the yellow buoys to make the turn to come back to shore, then she took off.

When I came out of the water Joe, Jon, Janelle and the kids, and our friend Kim and Troy with their daughter and granddaughter were all cheering me out of the water.  I looked at my watch and I had done the swim in 38 minutes!!  About three minutes faster than July!  That was awesome!  :-)
Finishing  my swim. 
I headed up the grass towards the transition area.  It was quite a ways from the shore but I managed a good trot and got my wetsuit unzipped and peeled off to my waist as I was heading to the bike.  I did my fastest transition yet from swim to bike which I was excited about.  The only thing I forgot was my sunglasses.  They were in the side of my backpack.  Usually I put them in my helmet.  When I had taken my stuff to transition in the morning I had tucked the sunglasses in a side pocket because it was dark and then forgot to get them out when I set up my stuff.  I didn't think about it until I was already to the mounting area.  Oh well.  Not the end of the world but I bet I don't forget again.

I headed out on the bike.  Mike was volunteering at the start of the bike route so I got some cheering from my teammate as I headed out.  The bike route at this race is beautiful.  I live in a beautiful part of the world and this race was practically in my backyard.  Since I was sure I would be slower on this ride because of all the hills I just was putting my best effort into the ride and enjoying it all.  I got to see all the collegiate competitors as they were heading to the finish of their bike ride.  Dang they were fast!  Got to see Kyle and get some cheers from him as he went by.  (Pretty fun to be cheered on a kiddo that I have know since he was born...and we are both doing the same race! lol)
About five miles in on the bike ride.  
It wasn't long before I got to the big scary hill.  But no excuses!  I had done this hill before so I put my head down and grinded up the steep part.  The hill was long overall but once I got up the short super steep section I was fine for the rest of it.  I think I might have even picked up a little speed.  As I got back down into the valley the winds picked up so even though I was going at more downhill elevation I wasn't going as fast as I probably would have without the wind in my face.  When I got to the turn around I took a minute to switch my water bottles and get set for the next 12 miles heading back up to the lake.  Most of the way back was up hill but not terribly steep.  I just tried to keep a steady pace and enjoy the ride.  A couple of times I could tell my hamstrings were feeling tight.  It was a little weird because I've never had that before but I would just stand on my pedals for a little bit to stretch out and that made it feel much better.

When I got up to the damn there was a bunch of volunteers, playing music and cheering me on.  I loved the volunteers on the bike ride.  They were so awesome and fun.  They made me smile.

Suddenly I realized that I had less than four miles to go.  The ride had seemed to go pretty fast so I looked at my watch and realized that I might finish in under two hours!  What!!??!  It took me two hours and one minute to finish the bike ride at Cottage Grove.  How could I possible do this bike ride faster with way more elevation?  Not gonna lie, I was pretty stoked.  :-)
Can you tell I'm having fun?  This picture says it all.  :-)
I came into the bike dismount area and Joe, Jon, Janelle and Lauren were there cheering me on.  It was so much fun.  It's another long stretch to get from the dismount area to the transition area.  I should have been trying to trot but my legs just didn't want to cooperate.  I walked my bike and Jon walked next to me giving me last minute coaching for the run.  My bike to run transition was my fastest yet as well and I took off for my 10k.  And I remembered my sunglasses!

The 10k was hilly which added to the difficulty for me but the nice part was it was very shady.  The cloud cover that we had in the morning had burned off during the bike ride so the sun was out.  I was happy to not be running in the direct sunlight the whole time.

I hadn't been running long when I spotted Jon's son who was finishing up the run portion of his Try a Tri.  I was able to cheer for him and get a high five!  That was the one bummer of the day for me was not being able to watch Logan do his race.  I loved being able to see him on the run!

I tried to keep to the 10 minute run, 1 minute walk ratio that Jon had me doing during training.  If I came across a water station during one the of the run intervals I got a bonus walk. lol  But I also didn't give myself permission to walk up the hills.  If I was in a 10 minute run section then I tried to run it as best I could, even if it was uphill.  None of the hills were ridiculously steep but they still felt like a lot after a swim and a bike ride.

When I got out to the last turnaround after mile 4 I was walking and drinking water since there was an aide station.  One of the radio operators shouted to me because he wanted to confirm that I was a walker and would be walking the last two miles.  I was a little offended.  Didn't he realize I was having a kick ass day?  I may have been at the back of the pack but I was rocking my race!! lol  I told him that I was just taking a water break and would be running again soon.  :-)  The volunteers at all the aid stations were awesome, so cheerful and supportive.  Definitely give me a boost to have all that positive energy along the way.

I was feeling pretty solid all things considered.  I only had two miles left and I was getting a kick out of the fast that I was using the word "only" in front of two miles.  Six years ago I remember when I ran two miles without stopping for the first time when I was at my sister's house.  It was awesome!!  Now I was doing two miles after a .90 swim, a 24 mile bike ride and already running four miles. I've come a long way!!

The last hill was tough.  I made it up about 2/3's and had to walk the last little bit.   But then I tried to turn up the speed on the way down the hill because I knew I was getting close to the entrance to the park where the finish line was.  As I got closer I saw my teammate Marcus standing on the side of the road keeping an eye out for me.  Then I got to the park entrance and there was Jon, Mike, Janelle, Logan, Lauren and Melissa clapping and cheering for me!  Joe was waiting up ahead at the finish line.
Almost done!
Lauren is a little one, just in pre-school, and she was running along side me with her mom and I could hear her shouting, "Go Lisa! Go!" So stinking cute! :-)  I loved it!  :-)

Jon is running on the outside of the chute telling me to dig deep and sprint to the end.  In my head I'm thinking there is no way I can go any faster than I already was but I dug deep and tried to pick up the pace a little more.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 4 hours, 7 minutes, 33 seconds.

I finished FASTER than I had at Cottage Grove!


I went into this race thinking I would be around 30 minutes slower because of the hills.

I finished 8 minutes and 34 seconds faster!!
I did it!!!
Jon told me later that the bike had 200 feet more of elevation than July's race and the run had 300 feet more elevation than the race in July.

So I finished faster with more hills!

I was a VERY happy camper!!

Not the fastest person out there, definitely at the back of the pack.

But I rocked MY race.

I felt awesome about MY race.

I beat my own expectations and preconceived notions about what I thought I could do.

That feels pretty awesome!!

The very best part of all was that it was just FUN!

It was awesome to share my first ever Olympic Triathlon with my amazing, supportive husband in July.

It was awesome to share my next, kick ass Olympic Triathlon with my amazing, supportive coach (with the bonus of his awesome family being there and cheering me on as well!)

When I got done I walked over to Jon and gave him a big sweaty hug and cried all over him.  lol
Telling my coach about how it went for me.  ;)
Then later Joe and I walked a bit and he also got an even bigger sweaty hug and I cried all over him too.

At least I'm predictable.   It wasn't a big surprise to anyone that I was weepy.  Happy, proud of myself, grateful for the support tears.

One year ago I thought maybe I would like to try and finish an Olympic triathlon.

Now I've done three sprints and two olympics.

I'm totally hooked.

It's been challenging, downright frustrating at times, to work towards this goal.  But like most things that are difficult, it makes it mean more when I reach the goal.

While I'm enjoying the break and having a little time to just do whatever, whenever, just because I feel like it, I am really excited to get back at it and see what I can accomplish next year.

One more story:

All the athletes got a BBQ lunch included with the race and Joe had volunteered during the Olympic event so he got a free lunch too.  We got in line and loaded up our plates.  It smelled so good.  Then we made our way over to get our free drinks.  2 Towns Ciderhouse was there which is our favorite cider.  Unfortunately for us, they were a lot of other people's favorite too and they had run out before we got there.  lol  Good thing I planned ahead and brought some in a small cooler from home.

Joe set me up in a chair in the shade outside of the beer garden and awards area.  Our friend Kyle had gotten an award but had already left so Joe had gone to get his stuff because we figured we could get it to him pretty easily.

I wasn't paying attention to the awards at all but I could hear Stacie, on of the race directors, talking and calling out names over the speakers.

Suddenly I hear "in 3rd place, Lisa Van V!!"  I look up and say out loud, "No Fucking Way!!"

All the people who were sitting in the grass around me started laughing.  lol

I put down my plate and made my way up to the awards area to see if they really meant me.  Turns out they did.  I got 3rd in my age group, 45-49, out of three.  I love it.  I have never been an age group winner in any race of any kind.  So I really don't care that there were only three of us.  I got a big kick out of it and it was the icing on the cake of a really fun day.  I only would have had to be 30 minutes faster to beat the second place lady.  :-)  Hmmmm.  Maybe next year.  :-)
Check it out!  Age group podium!  :-)  
It was a very fun day!
Photo credit to my husband, my coach and Best in the West.  Best in the West takes a ton of pictures and posts them on Facebook so we can have them for free!  Pretty awesome!

Out of the five triathlons I did this year, Best in the West organized four of them.  Beaver Freezer, Oregon Dunes Triathlon, Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove and the Best in the West.  So they have been a huge part of my journey this year.  They put on great events, well organized and fun!  Everyone is positive and encouraging and they cheer the people finishing at the end of the race just as hard (maybe even harder) as they do the people who finish in the front.  If you are thinking about doing a triathlon or want a good race to add to your list next year check out their website!  They also organize several runs that are a lot of fun too.  They are awesome!  Thank you Blair and Stacie for helping me with all my fun this year.  You don't know me but I really appreciate all you do!!  :-)

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