Monday, June 5, 2017

Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon 2017

It was a good day.

Actually it was a great day!!

I'm still smiling about it.

The week leading up to the triathlon was busy.  The school year is winding down, the students are winding up and I am definitely end-of-the-year teacher tired.
Yep! lol
But I was able to still do all my workouts like I was supposed to and I was pretty proud of that.  There were several evenings that I really had to talk myself into going.  I really just wanted to sit down on the couch and not move again.

For a few days before the race I also was dealing with a cough.  Didn't really feel sick, just had a tickle in my throat.  I thought it was just allergies but it kept getting worse.  Saturday night was bad.  I kept waking up coughing.  Which makes getting good rest the night before a race difficult.  Makes getting up at 4:00 a.m. painful!

Saturday afternoon Joe and I spent time getting all our race gear out and organized.  He took one side of the dining room table and I took the other side.  It's pretty funny seeing all the stuff that is needed all spread out.  This didn't even have our wetsuits, bikes and helmets.
Lots of stuff needed for a triathlon.  😀
At this point I wasn't nervous about the race at all.  Just ready to get it done.

During the day I got this text from my new awesome-sauce teammate Rebecca:
Excellent words of advice!!

I love that!

Breathe, smile, have fun, repeat.

Rebecca, we just might have to have shirts made with that on it.

We went to bed early but with all the coughing I was up a lot and didn't get solid sleep.  Knowing that I need to be sleeping  just made it worse.  Four o'clock in the morning came way too fast!

I got up and ate breakfast and then started getting ready.  One I was wearing what I needed I started putting the rest of the stuff in ziplock bags by swim, bike and run to keep it all organized.  This also helps me be able to make one last check to see if I missed anything.

Swim bag:  Heart rate monitor, earplugs, two pairs of goggles (in case one breaks), velcro ankle strap for timing chip, glide and swim cap.  (They usually have one for us to wear but I always bring one, just in case.)  Then I make sure my wetsuit is in the car.

Bike bag:  Bike gloves, socks, sunglasses, hat, drink and fuel for the ride and a jacket if I need it.  I brought it along this time because I wasn't sure if it might be a little rainy or cold and windy.  I also make sure I have my helmet in the car at this point.

Run bag:  Race belt for my bib number and my hand-held water bottle.  Also have fuel for the run as well ready to go.

Next I make sure I have clothes to change into.  I knew that Joe would be done quite a bit after me since he was going an Olympic triathlon and he started a half an hour after me.  If I'm standing around in wet and sweaty clothes I get chilled fast and then spend the whole day trying to get over that.  So I brought along sweatpants, a clean shirt and a sweatshirt.

Once Joe and I had everything packed into the car we headed out.  Our goal was to be on the road by 5:00 a.m. and we left the driveway at 4:58 a.m.  😊

We got to Blue Lake and found a parking spot.  First thing I had to do was go to the bathroom.  Luckily it was early enough the line wasn't too bad.  Then we went to pick up our packets.  I like the shirts this year.  Great color and this one fits better so I'm sure I will wear it way more than the one I got last year.

We headed back to the car so that we could finish getting ready.

Stickers on the bikes and helmets.
Make sure the tires on the bikes had enough air in them.
Heart rate monitor on.
Hair in a ponytail.
Fold up wetsuit and put in my backpack.
Grab my helmet and head for the line to get into transition.
Pre-race selfie with my favorite guy!  Couldn't do all this without him cheering me on. 💜
I took off to get in line for transition because the line was getting really long and I knew it would take awhile and I still needed time to get on my wetsuit.

When it was finally my turn to have my numbers put on my arms and calves another volunteer walked up to ask my volunteer a question.  A woman who was there spectating wanted to know a good place to run while her husband was doing the Olympic bike ride.  So they start talking about it and I'm just standing there!  Ugh.  So finally I said, "I really need to get into transition and get ready can someone please put my numbers on and then help her out?"  They said sorry and one of the gals took care of me.  They were super nice and I really did try to ask nicely but I was starting to get antsy and waiting wasn't helping.  lol

I got into the transition area and found the rack I was assigned.  The racks were pretty crowded and it didn't help that people that got there early had set up all their stuff next to their bikes taking up a lot more room.  But as people came back to start getting ready for the swim we were able to move things around so that more bikes would fit.  I was close to the end so I ended up putting my backpack at the end of the row just to get it out of the way.  Once I had all my bike and run things set up like I wanted I started getting on my wetsuit.  It wasn't long before I was ready to head down to the water.  By this time Joe had arrived in transition so I was able to get one more kiss from him before I started down to the lake.  Then our friends and teammates Marcus and Melissa gave me a shout!  So cool to see them.  They came just to cheer Joe and I on.  I love our team!!

I got down by the water and was starting to get really nervous.  I hadn't been nervous at all up to this point but suddenly I was anxious.  Melissa and Marcus found me down by the water and I got a great big Melissa hug!  I seriously can't wait for this lady to be able to be racing with me again.

Jon showed up next and I got a pre-race coach hug.  Then a few last minute instructions that went something like this:  Go fast, have fun and smile because I will go faster that way.  Sounds like a pretty solid plan.  Funny how smiling seems to be a common thread in encouragement.  😃

I went into the water and warmed up for a bit.  The water temperature was 71 degrees so I didn't need my booties or my neoprene cap which was awesome.  Felt like warm bath compared to the other open water swims I have done this year so far.  It wasn't long before they started the first wave of the Sprint Triathlon.  First wave wore silver caps, second wave wore blue caps, third wave wore purple caps and my wave had red caps.  Each wave after the first one started three minutes later.

Joe arrived at the water just in time to give me one more smooch and tell me to have fun.  His race started 30 minutes later so I know he hustled to get down there when he didn't have to.  I love my husband and how much he supports me!

Soon enough it was time for me to get ready to start.  I got to the left side of the group and we counted down to the horn going off.  Here's a new problem and not really a problem that I ever anticipated having.  I have gotten so much faster with my swimming that I'm not at the back of the pack anymore.  I was right in the middle of everyone.

You know what?  Everyone does not swim in a straight line!  I had trouble getting away from people. I didn't want to sprint to much at the start but at the same time I know I was smacking people and kicking them as I was swimming. Since they were basically swimming into me I figured I had the right of way and just kept going and let them adjust rather than stopping and letting this go by.  I have learned a few things and the last time I kept stopping for someone that zig zagged it was constant because they would zig and run into me.  I would stop and let them go by and then they would zag and run into me again.  I may not be the fastest person out there but I do a pretty good job of sighting and swimming in a straight line.  When I got to the first buoy the crowd thinning out.  I was struggling some with my breathing but I think that had more to do with the cough I was struggling with than anything else.  By the time I got to the second buoy I had passed several ladies with purple caps on which was cool because they started three minutes before me.  By the time I got to the last buoy and started heading back to the spot to get out I started passing blue caps!  That made me excited because those people started six minutes before me!!!
Finishing the swim.
I came out of the water and my coach and teammates were cheering for me.  Can't help but smile when you have your own personal cheering section.  I was pretty sure I had done better than last year.    I had looked at my final time from last year just so I could have it in my head but I decided not to look at the individual times because I didn't want to be thinking about whether I was faster or slower than last year while I was racing.

I'm trying really hard to do my thing at each race and then see how it panned out after.  I am also working at not looking at my watch at all during so that I don't start thinking about how I should be going faster and then get worked up about it.  That actually slows me down!

I was able to trot the whole way up to the transition area which was better than last year too.  I got my goggles, cap, earplugs off, hair out of the ponytail holder and my wetsuit off to the waist all before I got to my bike.  Sat down and took the wet suit the rest of the way off.  Put on my hat.  Dried my feet and put my socks and shoes on.  Did a quick rub down to get some of the water off.  Put on my sunglasses, my helmet, my gloves, unracked the bike and headed out.
Smiling as promised.

I can't remember what Jon said but oh my word, don't I look sassy.  lol
One of the things that my coach and my hubby always say to do is make sure you know where you come into transition and go out of transition each time.  I had done this before the race and was able to get out to the bike mount area quickly.  Once again Melissa and Jon were cheering me on.  Started really well and got around the corner and Marcus was on the road cheering me there too.  That's when I remember I forgot to push the button to start the bike part of my triathlon on my Garmin.  At least I wasn't miles down the road. lol
I got out of the park and headed west on Marine Dr.  Marine Dr. goes along the Columbia River.  It's really beautiful and if you know anything about the Columbia River and the Gorge you will know that it can be extremely windy.  While I wouldn't say it was extremely windy, I would say that the wind did have an impact on my speed.  Since Jon has had me get down in the lower part of my handle bars he said that I should try and do that for as much of the ride as I felt comfortable doing.  This would help with reducing my wind resistance and I would go a little faster.  I was able to do the entire ride out and most of the ride back.

Here's another thing that happened that was not something I was used to.  I was passing people on the bike.  Not tons of people but a fair amount.  I got passed by quite a few people as well but many of those were doing the duathlon where they only biked and ran so I think they don't count.  lol

One guy I started to pass because I had been gaining on him at a steady pace for a while.  When I got next to him he sped up.  Stinker!  When someone is passing the rule is you maintain your speed or even back off a bit so they can get in front.  I don't think he liked getting passed by a chick.  Too bad for him because I just put on a little more steam and moved right on by.

I was working hard but had found a good groove so was enjoying the ride.  When we got to the turn around it was like someone had turned off the sound.  I didn't realize how loud the wind was when I was going into it.  When we changed directions and started heading east with the wind at our backs it was suddenly much quieter.  I was also going much faster!!  I could tell I was going faster and made adjustments to my gears accordingly.  It was so much fun!!  I was moving right along and loved every minute of it.
Definitely faster on the way back!  😊
I just getting to the park entrance when I hear someone shouting my name.  Marcus was hanging out at the road waiting for me.  I was pretty sure he would call or text the others to let them know I was almost there.  Sure enough, I arrived at the bike dismount area with Melissa and Jon shouting my name.

Got off the bike and trotted into the transition to get going on my run.  I felt like the bike ride and gone really well.  Wasn't sure if it was faster than last year because the wind slowed me down but it sure was fun so I really didn't care.

I racked my bike, took off my gloves, grabbed my race belt with my bib on it and my water bottle.  I took two steps and remembered that I was still wearing my bike helmet.  That would have looked pretty funny on the run.  I wonder if anyone would have said anything.  😉

Started out just trotting.  My plan was to run five minutes and walk one and try to keep a good pace the whole time.  After the first five minutes I took a bit longer than one minute to eat some sport beans and use my inhaler.  I could tell the breathing was a bit worse than usual, probably because of the cough.  That helped greatly and I was doing decent until after the half way point.  Then my stomach started not feeling good.  I've had this at a few races but not all of them.  Not sure why one race I'll be fine and another one I feel gross during the run.  The last mile was a lot of self talk on not just walking the whole way.  Last year was so hot and I walked a lot of the 5k.  I knew that if I ran most of this one, even if it was slow, I would have a faster 5k than last year.  When I got to the lake and had maybe a quarter mile to go I see Marcus again.  That was good motivation to keep running!  Can't walk in front of my teammate when they drove all that way just to cheer me on.  Then I hear "Way to go Lisa!!" from the distance and I say to Marcus "I do believe I hear a coach!"  lol  I knew that meant Jon and Melissa would be up around the corner so I had better keep running.

Sure enough they were waiting for me near the path.  Jon starts telling me to push it hard at the end and speed up my cadence.  (Cadence is something we are working on together during track workouts.)  So I try and add a little more to my run.  Super hard because I was getting pretty tired and my stomach was NOT happy.  But super hard doesn't mean not doable.  I may not have been setting any records but I did speed up.  I call that a win.

When I crossed the finish line Jon, Melissa and Marcus were all there cheering for me.  I stopped my watch when I finished, got my medal and took off my timing chip.  As I made my way out to my fan club I looked at my watch and I could not believe what I was seeing.

My watch said 1:54:28!!!

My secret goal was to finish under two hours.  I knew seven minutes was doable since I had improved that much at the Oregon Dunes Tri in May.

This was a 12 minute improvement at least!

I showed my watch to Jon.  He looked at me with the biggest smile on his face!  "WAY TO GO LISA!"  I started to get teary (imagine that) and gave Jon a huge hug!!  (Getting a little teary writing about it, to be honest.)
Coach Jon getting his huge, smiley, teary hug!  😀  
Thank you so much for this picture Melissa!  It's my favorite!!

Then another big hug from Melissa and a high five from Marcus.

I said I would be smiling about that time all day.  Jon said I had better be smiling about it all week.

Last year I had to ask Jon to ease off on my workouts because I was having a hard time balancing work, workouts and family.  I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  Because he is a great coach he understood what I needed as a real life person and we made a plan that wasn't quite as intense and then picked things up once I was on summer vacation.

I really didn't want to have to do that this year.  It helped that Meighan can drive herself to all her many, many activities so that is one less thing I have to worry about.  But I was able to do all my workouts like they were planned.  Sometimes they weren't pretty and I didn't always hit the target for a particular workout but I did them all.

I think that made a huge difference this year for this race.

We walked around for a bit and then I went into transition to grab some of my stuff and go to the car and change my clothes.  There was enough wind that I knew I would get chilled if I stayed in the wet stuff too long.  I decided to take everything but my bike to the car that way I could help Joe with his stuff when he was done.  It was so nice to get sweatpants, a dry shirt and a sweatshirt on!!  I was much more comfortable and could hang out waiting for Joe and not be miserable.

I found the others and we headed to the bike dismount area to watch for Joe to finish his ride. While we were standing there Jon asked me questions about the race.  What went the best?  Why?  What was a struggle?  Why?  It helps him know what things we should work on.  ;-)  Such a teacher thing to do.

My favorite part was the bike ride.  I was proud of getting down in the lower bars and staying there most of the ride.  It was also fun going so fast on the way back.

I struggled with breathing during swim and with finding myself around more people than I'm used to.

I struggled during the run with my stomach not being happy.

Jon has plans for ways to improve those things.  ;-)

Soon we saw Joe coming into the park. I love being able to cheer on my guy at races.  We watched him head into transition and then went running to where the run exit was.  Except that was the run exit for the Sprint triathlon.  Joe exited on the opposite side.  Major support crew failure.  Sorry honey!
Looking strong after the bike.  
We had some time before we would see him so I went to get some food.  It all sounded yummy when I was fixing my plate but once I started eating my stomach was not appreciative.  The chocolate milk was delicious and I loved the oranges but everything else was just kind of yuck.

Jon and I went to go look at my results and I took pictures of what the screen showed. I got excited all over again.

I hadn't told Jon that we could pick Pure Endurance as the group we worked out with when we registered.  It was fun showing him this so he could see our team name right there on the screen.  Very proud to be a part of Pure Endurance and one of Jon's athletes!!!!

Last year my finish time was 2:06:26.  I improved by 12 minutes and 4 seconds.  I blew my secret goal out of the water.  😊
Such a cool medal!!!
We headed out to stand on the path were everyone had been when I finished.  It was a good spot because you could see the runners come out of the trees a long way off.  It wasn't long before we saw Joe heading down the path.  He looked really good and very focused.  We hooted and hollered as he went by.  Jon sprinted to the finish line.  I was trotting along behind and then had to walk.  My legs were thinking I must be crazy to want to run at this point.
Done!  Nice work Joe-Joe! 
I saw Joe just after he crossed the finish line.  He looked pretty done.  He had pushed hard and need a few minutes to regroup.  I went and got him a chocolate milk and he found a spot out of the way to do some stretching.

He's not sure but he thinks that might be one of his fastest Olympic triathlons.  So proud of him!!!

We talked with Jon for a bit so that Joe could debrief him and how his race went.  Then we decided to  get our stuff and head to the car.  Marcus and Melissa had already taken off.  I still can't believe they spent half their day driving to Portland and back just to cheer us on.  Love the amazing people that we have gotten to meet since we started working with Jon.  These two top the list.

Joe and I had decided to go to the RV show that was going on at the Portland Expo since it was just down the road from where the race was.  It was kind of nice to walk around for a while.  It kept us from getting tight muscles.

Then we headed for home but decided to stop at the Woodburn Outlet Stores to shop at the Pearl Izumi store.  They are going to be closing and the nearest one once it's closed will be Bend.  I got a sleeveless bike jersey and Joe got a pair of bike shorts and the total bill was $79!!!  We didn't realize that everything was 50% off the lowest price.  We thought we were getting a good deal with the lowest price.  So that was worth the extra side trip.

On the way home we ordered pizza to be delivered.  It timed out perfectly.  I called when we were close to home and by the time we got home and cleaned out the car the pizza had arrived.

It was SO GOOD!

Glad my stomach wasn't rebelling anymore!  ;-)

This morning when I was driving to work I was thinking (and smiling) about the race something else occurred to me.  I didn't taper for this race.  Since my big goals are the Olympic triathlons in July and September, and because I had a bit of a slow down with the heart rate issue in March and April Jon told me he was going to have me work hard right up to the race.  I had tiny workouts on Friday and Saturday but not near as long of a taper as I would normal have if I was trying to really kick butt at a race.

And I still kicked butt.

I have a cough that kept me up half the night and made breathing more of a struggle than normal.

And I still kicked butt.

Makes me a little excited to see what I might be able to do at Cottage Grove in July!

Big shout out to Why Racing Events for putting on a fantastic event.  The volunteers were great and all smiles and encouragement.  While there were a ton of athletes and sometimes lines got long, everything went smoothly and no one ever got frazzled or rushed.  The wide variety of good food available for us after the race was awesome (even if my stomach wasn't appreciative).

Check out their website for other races they put on:

I also loved all the encouraging signs they had posted along the run portion of the race.  But this is the one that they have all around transition and the finish.  I love it!  What's your why?

So many reasons why and this is just a short list!

I think that Smiling should be on that list.  😃

Thank you to my amazing husband who pushes me to be better at everything I do and at the same time supports me when I struggle.

Thank you to my awesome coach for also pushing me to be better, even when I'm pretty sure he is crazy.  lol

Thank you to my awesome teammates that came and cheered us on and took awesome pictures.  Marcus and Melissa you are fabulous!! And the teammates that sent us texts and messages on Facebook encouraging us.

Huge thank you to all the friends and family that sent congratulations messages on Facebook.  You have no idea how overwhelmed I was but all the love.

Photo credit to Jon and Melissa (and me for some).

Guess what?

Yep, still smiling!


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