Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Oregon Dunes Triathlon 2018

Spring is a hard time for teachers.  April and May are long months where there is a mad scramble to try and cram as much last minute learning as we can before state testing starts.  Then managing state testing which is a week or more of torture for both teacher and student for just one subject.  Poor kids did my Language Arts test and now will be going straight into Math testing.  Then managing kids that are so over school they can hardly manage to keep still or quiet for more than two minutes at a stretch.  And while all this craziness is going on teachers are supposed to manage behavior, inspire learning at high levels and basically keep a positive attitude until the last moment.
It's exhausting!!!  I love my job!  I mean I really really love what I do.  I love my students and I love getting them excited about what I'm teaching.  I love light bulb moments, class jokes and the day to day fun of being a part of a student growing up.  But just like parenting, when kids trust you they are going to test you and the worst of that testing of teachers happens at the end of the school year.

Will you still care about me if I'm a jerk?  Will you still hold me accountable and make me do my best?  Prove that you care!  Prove it every day!  Exhausting!

Then you add to the mix a teacher that deals with being more tired than the average teacher on a good day and trying to keep up with a training schedule that has workouts almost every day after school and often one before school as well.  Yep, I'm pretty much pooped.
All that being said, it makes getting ready for the Oregon Dunes Triathlon a bit of a challenge.  The Dunes Tri is usually on the Saturday before Mother's Day.  The second weekend in May.  I have survived April and am working my way through May.  The challenge comes from the fact that I really don't feel like working out most days after work.  I'm just done when I get home.  Often I come home and go straight into the bedroom and change into my workout clothes.  That way I'm at least started in the right direction.  I can then mentally tell myself that I'm dressed for working out so I might as well get started.  I usually tell myself that I won't do the entire planned workout since I'm so tired, but something is better than nothing.  Most of the time, once I get going, I do the entire workout.  😜

This year was my third time doing the Oregon Dunes Sprint Triathlon.  Way back when, it was my very first open water swim event.  I remember being SO nervous!  I finished with a time of 2:14.  Last year the weather was awful!  So bad that it was a bit on the ridiculous side.  I still managed to get a PR of 2:07.  Improvement in spite of the weather is awesome.  Although I really do think the biggest part of that improvement was the new lighter, faster bike.

That brings us to this years event.

Joe and I had made reservations at Honeyman State Park, as usual, for this race.  This year we got to stay in our travel trailer.  This was our first event where we packed up the trailer with racing in mind.  It was fun to see how it all packed up and worked as our home base for racing.  We got a hitch adapter for the bumper of the trailer so that the bike rack could go on the trailer.  This worked pretty slick and then on race day it was easy to move the bike rack to the truck to head to the transition area.

I loved having all our food, snacks, fueling and drinks in the trailer.  It made it easier to put things together the morning of the race.

In the past we have traditionally had dinner at Abby's Pizza in Florence the night before the race.  This year there wasn't as many friends and teammates racing and that plan kind of fizzled.  So Joe and I ate at the trailer.  I had brought dinner to make for Friday night, just in case.  Rebecca joined us for dinner, which was awesome and then Mike and Jon came later to have S'mores with us.  It was fun just visiting and hanging out with such fun people!

Saturday morning we got up early.  I'm not a huge fan of getting up early but I do like it when I don't feel rushed.  We had plenty of time to eat breakfast, get dressed, get our gear organized and loaded in the truck and take care of the dog.  Soon enough it was time to head to the lake.

Joe was doing the Olympic triathlon and I was doing the Sprint.  Which meant that Joe started a little after 8:00 a.m. and I didn't start until 9:03 a.m.  We got there about 6:30 a.m.  That seems like a long time between arriving and start time, for either race.  But the truth is, by the time we get numbers put on our arm and legs, find a spot in transition, get things organized and make sure we have everything it goes really fast!  Add in talking to people, helping people out, and taking pictures, it goes even faster!
Obligitory Pre-Race selfie with my bestie.  He humors me!  lol

Looks all neat and organized now.  After the race it looks like a yard sale. 

Woahink Lake.  A balmy 60 degrees.  Cold but quite a bit warmer than what we have practiced in.
Rebecca and me before the race.  Best smiles on the course, I'm pretty sure!
Rebecca puts her gloves on her arrowbars.  lol  It looks like her gloves are giving her the bird.  😂
Loved that our teammate Mike came along to cheer us on!  Team Pure Endurance!!!
It wasn't long before it was time for Joe and Chad to start their swim for the Olympic Tri.  I walked over and was able to spot them both and watch them get started.  Now it was time for me to get my wet suit on and then get in the water to warm up.

I decided that the water was warm enough (barely) to not wear my booties and my neoprene cap.  I got my wet suit on much easier than I did at the end of last season which was a pleasant surprise.  (Look for a follow up blog that talks about that!)  I headed down for the water to make sure I didn't want to change my mind about the cap and booties.  Coach pulled me over to scope out the situation with a larger than normal sandbar in the way at the start of the race.  He told me the game plan on how to avoid the sandbar and keep moving better.

Once I got in the water it took a few tries to get my face to stop being mad that I wanted to put it in such cold water.  But I kept at it and it didn't take long to be swimming like normal.  I warmed up for about 10 minutes and then headed back to shore to watch the men of the Sprint race start.  Three minutes later the ladies were off.

My swim felt really good.  The last three weeks or so my swimming has taken a sudden notch up to a faster level.  It's hard to explain but it was like a lot of things all clicked into place and I just bumped up to another level.  However, this meant that I was actually swimming with people the entire race.  So there was more manuevering than I'm used to.  I ended up swimming next to someone I know who is a very athletic person and usually dominates in anything he does.  But I was keeping up with this person because they didn't know how to sight while swimming and had to keep stopping to see where to go.  That really made me appreciate being able to sight and keep in a pretty straight line while keeping my speed.  My Garmin said I went 879 yards.  The swim was supposed to be 750 meters.  When converted to yards that works out to be 803 yards.  So I was a bit off but not too much.
750 meters of open water swimming.
Done with the swim.
I was really pleased with how my swim felt and was smiling when I got out of the water.  I headed up to transition and to my surprise, Rebecca was there.  She had gotten out of the water just a few minutes before me.  Usually she is long gone by the time I hit transition so that made me smile to be able to see her taking off on the bike.  I knew I wouldn't see her again until the finish but I still got a kick out of making it out of the water fast enough to see her before she left on the bike.

Transition went well.  Although I couldn't decide if I should wear my jacket or not.  It was on the cool side but I ended up not wearing it and was glad later that I made that choice.  It was fun having Mike there cheering me on while I got ready to head out on the bike.  I got out to where I could get on my bike and Jon was there cheering me on too.  I got clipped in and took off.
Here I go!!
The fun part was that the bike ride felt really solid right from the start.  There is a small hill getting out of the parking lot and then when we get on the road there is a big hill to start things off.  This whole route is basically either going uphill or downhill.  There are no flat parts.

Starting my ride and already having so much fun!
The downhills are a blast. The uphills are work.  I worked hard at biking smart and using a lot of the skills that Jon and I have been working on the last year.  Here are some of the things I focused on during the ride:

  • Not burning all my matches trying to go super fast up the hills.  As in wasting a bunch of energy going up that could be better used on the downhill side. 
  • Starting to change my gears near the top so I didn't lose momentum, I actually gained it even before I was heading downhill.
  • Changing into the big ring on the front gear so that I could use my pedaling more effectively on the downhill side.  This was awesome!  I passed quite a few people going downhill that had passed me going uphill.  And then they never caught me again.  ;-)  
  • Having more confidence in my bike handling skills so that I didn't brake going downhill.  The fastest speed I had on this race in the previous two years was 31 mph.  This year I hit 35 mph!!  Woo hoo!  
  • Best of all, even though it was a race, I just had fun playing on my bike!!  I have come so far in the bike section of a triathlon.  I was all smiles on the bike from start to finish!!
One aspect of the bike ride made me chuckle.  There is a steep little section where we do a little lollipop and then start heading back the way we came out.  I mean really steep.  The first year I had to walk up about half of it, and then stop and use my inhaler at the top before I could get going again.  This year I noticed that there was an ambulance sitting on the side of the road at the top of that hill.  This made me laugh because I wondered if they were worried someone was going to have a heart attack trying to make it up that hill.  So I was grinding my way up this hill, determined to get to the top without stopping or having a heart attack.  I got to the top and there was a volunteer standing on the corner cheering everyone on.  I looked over and said, "That hill is a bitch!"  The volunteer laughed and said that a lot of people had stopped and walked up it.  I just grinned and said, "Not me!  Not this time!"  
The last part of the ride is a downhill on the main road to the park entrance.  When I rode this route during our Spring Break trip I was cautious about traffic and tried to stay on the side of the road as best I could.  During the race I knew that the volunteers were stopping traffic and when the traffic was coming by they knew it was a race and were very patient about staying behind us and letting us do our thing.  This made me more confident and able to just go for it down that hill.  It was so much fun! 
Last part of the bike ride and I'm still smiling!
 I try really hard to not look at my watch except for when I'm hitting the button for transitions.  That way I don't beat myself up or stress out for doing what I think I should be doing.  It also makes it so that by the time I see the time, it is what it is and there isn't anything I can do about it but move on to the next part.  When I looked at my watch to hit the button for the finish of the ride it said 49:21!!  I had done a really hilly ride in under 50 minutes and more than 5 minutes faster than last year.  I was so stoked!!  Jon was there cheering for me at the bike dismount.  

I headed into transition and got ready for the run.  Having to change shoes is a new thing since this is the first season that I am wearing clip in shoes for the bike ride.  Even with that extra step my transition was not too shabby.  Mike was by me again at transition, giving encouraging words as I was heading out.  I love my peeps!  So fun to hear encouragement from people I know!  

I took off on the run.  The run is a trail run for a large portion of the run.  So small hills, roots, rocks and other obstacles that slow me down.  I was feeling pretty solid though.  I had something in my shoe which was a bit of a distraction at the start.  I was trying to decide if I should stop and get it out or just keep going.  I just kept going.  
I was almost a mile into the run when I could tell someone was coming up next to me but they didn't go zipping by like most people do.  I look over and it's my hubby!  He gave me a slap on the ass, asked me how I was doing, told me he loved me and kept on going.  I kept him in sight for a little while though.  He was just starting his 10k and I wouldn't see him again until the finish line.  He told me he had a muscle that was threatening to act up so he was going to not push too hard in order to keep it from becoming a real injury.  

There is a hill that takes us up to the bridge that goes over the freeway so that we can get into Honeyman State Park.  I was trying to keep running and then I realized that I could probably walk at the same pace and probably not burn as many matches.  So I did walk and just tried to keep the pace a very fast walk.  When I got to the bridge I started running again and worked at amping the speed so that I could make up for the walking bit.  

Again, I was feeling pretty solid.  I was wishing I could get a little more speed but I knew I was doing so much better than last year that I wasn't going to let myself get all worked up about it.  I was able to keep a pretty steady pace going for the entire run.  

Then came the dune at the finish.  

It seems so much longer and steeper on race day than it does other times when I have visited the park.  I put my head down and started up the sand.  

Running in the sand is not easy.  

Actually, I'm pretty sure I wasn't really running.  More like trudging.  

I kept at it.  

I was not going to add one second of time to my overall time because I didn't give 100%.  

Towards the very top my legs were burning and I just wanted to stop but I still had about 10 feet to go.  

I made it over the finish line and hit the button on my watch.  


I had such a good race!  I knew that I had done well and was excited about it because all the different parts and pieces felt really good from start to finish.  

Jon was there cheering for me.  He said to me, "Look at your watch!  What was your final time?"  (He said this knowing that it was really good. lol)

I looked down at my watch and couldn't believe it!

What the heck?!!

My watch said 1:55:13!  

That's like a 12 minute PR.  

On a hilly course!! 

That's ridiculous

I hoped to PR over last years time.  I never thought I could do that much better!  


I don't think I can give all the credit to my improvement on the bike since this is my second season using it.  Must mean I've made some improvements along the way too.  
Joe looked at this picture and said that this is my typical "I can't believe I just did that" pose.  I smile and scrunch up my shoulders evidently. lol  I'm okay with that! 

Jon said he almost missed me finishing because he thought it would be another five minutes before I finished and suddenly I was coming up the dune already.  ;-)  Gotta love it when you not only surprise yourself but you surprise your coach.  
One of my favorite pictures of the day. 💜
I am very blessed to have a fabulous coach that pushes me to do more than I think I can in the day to day workouts and then is just as excited as I am when it pays off on race day!  
Two best smiles at the race I'm pretty sure! 😁
Next I get a big hug from Rebecca!  She got a PR too and 3rd in her age group!  Rock star!!
Mike was great about making sure we were all taken care off at the finish line.  He went and got my bag so I didn't have to go down and then back up the dune to watch for Joe to finish.  He made sure we had snacks and water if we needed it.  He was a great support person to have around!!  Another awesome teammate!!  (Even if we do call him "The Little Shit".  He is just so stinking fast! lol)  

It wasn't long before Joe was finishing his race.  He had a great swim and bike but the run wasn't what he was hoping for.  He got third in his age group but didn't do as well as he had hoped he would.  On the plus side, because he was smart and didn't push the run when things started complaining, he also didn't finish with an injury that would have made Ironman training more difficult.  I'm glad he was a smart athlete in this case, even if the results weren't what he was hoping for.  By holding back a bit this time it will make him stay healthy for the big goal of Ironman Canada in July.  
That's my guy!! 
I love this picture!  WE do triathlons!  (Still can't believe it sometimes!)
We watched our friend Chad finish his Olympic race and then started working our way down the hill.  I got a picture of my race results which made it really official and even more real!
Looks like my watch and the official time were pretty darn close!! 
Turns out I got 5th in my age group.  Which is funny because last year (the rainy year) I got 2nd in my age group (out of two).   This time I was 5th out of 8, with a 12 minute improvement.  This is why you have to race yourself.  The age group and final results depend on who shows up on race day, and that is different from year to year.  I can only compare to myself.  And I kicked my own butt so I am totally stoked about my results!  

Last year I was 93rd out of 111 sprint triathletes.  So 18 spots from the bottom.  This year there were fewer participants, which is weird since the weather was so much better.  I would have thought there would have been way more people doing the race this year.  This year I was 63rd out of 85, 22 spots from the bottom.  A little improvement there too.  

Last year's results:
This year's results:
Pretty fun to compare and see improvement in all areas.  T2 was a tiny bit slower but this time I had to change shoes and last year I didn't so I'm okay with that.  

Another thing that I realized when looking at the times from my age group ladies.  I beat 3rd and 4th place in my swim and T1.  Was right there with them at the finish of the bike and T2.  They both kicked my ass on the run.  Even though my run was WAY better than the year before.  

I'm making improvements in all parts of my triathon but there are still SO many things to work on. 

There are some really cool things that I took away from this race:
  • I kicked my own butt!  My PR was amazing and I'm still smiling about it.  Mostly because I surprised myself AND my coach on just how well I did.  ;-)  
  • I had so much fun!!  That is so important.  I felt good.  I didn't get in my own head about things and I really just enjoyed the day.  
  • While I am able to look at the numbers and compare to other racers and see where I can make improvements, it has not taken one bit of the shine off of what I accomplished.  I didn't get all mental and go down the comparison road thinking I suck because I didn't do as well as others.  This is a HUGE aspect to my feeling successful in this race.  I am just as pleased with my results today as I was at the finish of the race.  I didn't let anything bring down how I feel about my race.  Not only did I improve on my physical race, I also improved on the mental side of things as well.  
  • I felt strong and enjoyed every single moment of this race!  When people ask me when I'm going to do a half Ironman distance or an Ironman distance race I really don't know that I ever will.  I am having so much fun doing sprints and olympics.  I love the challenge and the fact that I can see the improvements over the last three years.  Maybe someday but right now I'm having a blast with what I'm doing. 
  • And the best part!  The weather was perfect.  A bit overcast during the swim and the bike but no wind and the temperatures were in the mid 50's which is perfect for me.  The sun came out during the run but it didn't get hot so I didn't feel like I was fighting the heat while running.  Gotta love finish up a race at the beach with blue skies!  That right there will put a smile on your face!  
I still have so much to learn and improve on.  Welcome to life.  We should always be learning and growing!  However, it sure is nice to celebrate the milestones where the learning and growing show up strong and obvious.  

I know that not every race I do will have a PR, let alone a PR as big as this one.  This makes me really want to soak up every moment of being proud of this one because I know it's special.  

Originally the plan was for the next race to be a new adventure by doing the Olympic Triathlon at Pacific Crest in June.  Unfortunately, I have to be out of town doing some work in order to be able to get my school counselor license.  I either had to give up the first 10 days of my summer vacation and one race or leave the morning after Joe's Ironman in July.  That was a no brainer.  

This has caused some readjustments in my goals for the next to races I have planned, Tri at the Grove and Best in the West.  Because I will be gone for 10 days with this school counselor training I am not sure if I will be able to get many workouts done while I'm gone.  So Tri at the Grove is going to be what it is.  I am just going to go and have fun and do my best where I am at in that moment.  I do, however, plan to work hard in July and August so that I can try and have fun and kick my own ass at Best in the West in September.  

It's good to have goals and be proud of PRs.  It's also good to understand that life happens that affects how we do on race day.  
Saturday was a very good day.  I'm going to be smiling about this one for awhile.  

  • Thank you Mike for coming and cheering us on even though you weren't racing!!  It was so fun having you there!
  • Thank you Rebecca, Jon and Best in the West Events for sharing your pictures with me.  I love them, even the ones I don't like.  lol  
  • Thank you Rebecca for being such a great friend and always having a smile and a huge hug for me.  Hard to let the butterflies get too strong when you are keeping me smiling and positive!
  • Thank you Coach for being the perfect coach for me!  You see me as a whole person and get that life happens.  You never make me feel guilty for life getting in the way of training.  You also push me to keep working and do more than I think I can.  I have had improvements all along this journey with you as my coach but it seems like this year things are really clicking into place on many levels.  Exciting stuff!  
  • Big shout out to Best in the West Events for putting together another fun event.  I love how smoothly everything seems to run.  (I have run big events, not triathlons but still, and know that not everything always goes as smoothly as it appears from the outside.)  Thank you for making it such a fun day for everyone participating.  And thank you for the free pictures!  That is so cool that we can just snag the pictures and share them without an additional cost.  Your volunteers, photographers and Posse are all amazing at every single event we go to.  You guys rock!!! Check out their many events here: http://www.bestinthewestevents.com/
  • Best of all my husband, best friend and biggest fan, Joe.  You just quietly encourage me and know that I can do hard things.  When you know I can do hard things without seeming to question it, it makes me believe it more and I want to have your belief in me be proven right.  You encourage me to work harder in so many ways and never, ever make me feel like I can't do all these crazy things I decide to try.  Or make me feel guilty for taking the time to train instead of doing a thousand other mom/wife things that I could be doing instead.  
There have been a lot of frustrating workouts and times where I totally wanted to forget about doing these crazy triathlons.  Races like this one remind me that all the hard work pays off.  Looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season brings.  Both in improvements in the day to day workouts and what I can do on race day.  

Joe and I stayed one more night at the park, which was nice to be able to just hang out and relax.  A long hot shower followed by a solid two hour nap was awesome.  Steaks on the grill and hanging out in the trailer was a great way to end a fun day.  Sunday morning Joe went for a long bike ride, he's training for an Ironman so he has to keep it moving!  I just had to go for a walk/hike so Finn and I went back to the dunes where the race had finished and wandered around different parts of the park.  What a gorgeous morning!  
On the trial heading to the dunes. 
This is the dune the race finishes on.  Doesn't look as bad when it's not race day.
Finn trying to decide if he should go swimming. 
Trudging up a dune is hard work.  Glad I didn't have to run up this one!
The Rhoddies were in bloom all over the park.

The best part of my hike was realizing I wasn't really sore from the race the day before.  Tired for sure but not sore and aching. That's another cool aspect of my training that I didn't realize would happen.  I put in my best effort during the race, raced as smart as I could, came away with a PR and still didn't have a wrecked body as a result.  Gotta love that.  

We will see what July brings.  There's a lot of adventures to be had between now and then.  Will be interesting to see how it all ends up being.  

Thanks for reading my rather long account of my Oregon Dunes Triathlon.  My 4 and a half readers are the best. lol