Sunday, August 21, 2011

Alberta Challenge mini race report!

Today, I had a *Great* day.  I swam biked and ran like it was the last race of the season.  Oh wait.  It was. the. last. race.  And, suffice it to say, i had a good ol' time racing today, despite the fact that from about 1km into the run, i wanted to die.  i wanted to throw the towel in and curse Alberta provincial parks for their challenging forest trail systems.

so, i wasn't going to really write a race report.  but, as i started writing, it has just flowed.  I will also grace you with photos that my chum took, with a bit of a teaser of how each leg went. also, a link to my Garmin files.  which, btw, is the first time racing with the 310xt, which i should've gotten back in may.  I LOVED racing with it, and the super great soft heart rate strap.   however, one thing is forsure... looking at my files really shows me how much i have to work on.  UM.  hello variable heart rates throughout a race!!! i need to learn how to control myself!  I really wish that I had had this tool earlier, so that Mary could've used it in her coaching of me this year!  

warming up for the swim, in my brand spanking new Nineteen Frequency wetsuit.  For the first time this season, i FLEW on my swim.  I don't know if it is the amazing master's group that i have swam with all summer, or the wetsuit, or my longer-than-normal warmup, or what.  But, i flew on my swim.  I'm talking 3 minutes faster than any other olympic distance that i have ever raced.  You can see my garmin connect file here.  but, the water was not so nice.  it left a nasty taste on my tounge.
alberta challenge triathlon by SeanBirch
alberta challenge triathlon, a photo by SeanBirch on Flickr.

on the bike, i was so stoked about my swim, that i had a hard time not smiling.  There was one girl ahead of me, and, man oh man did i want to get her.  I never did, she pretty much stayed about 1 minute a head of me the entire leg.  but, i actually loved riding through the prarires.  It is going into the time where fall harvest crops are starting to show. which mean golden fields and green waters (um.  from algae). The pavement was amazing, and it was HOT!  but, i hit my nutrition well, took some salt tabs and rode a course that was my strength: rolling hills, not to many huge climbs, and just steady pace (ha ha.  in terms of speed, apparently, not HR).  I wanted to push this bike, but not hit a HR so high i couldn't sustain it the whole 44km.  And, that sweet spot ended up being about 167,  but it descended through the ride, even though i kept on getting faster through this leg of the race.  here is my garmin file.
  • i think that part of the high HR at the beginning was the super challenging transition... running out, on an uphill, on a gravel path, in bare feet, to the mount line is no easy task!

alberta challenge triathlon by SeanBirch
alberta challenge triathlon, a photo by SeanBirch on Flickr.
now.  this run.  this is where the proverbial shit hit the fan.  (sorry folks.  triathlon sometimes makes this non-swearing girl, swear.) The run was a 2-lap trail run.  I found out it was a trail run, about a week ago, when someone came into the store, and we were talking about the race, and they announced "oh yeah! the trail run is really nice.  but hilly!"  and, that was an understatement. i think i kinda took it for granted how tough this run would be.  Trails are HARD.  hard.  they go up. down. up up up.  down, up.  UUUUUPPPPP, little down.  over a log.  over a little wooden bridge.  up through a wildflower field.  around trees.  down a steep little col.  up down, up down.  SIGH....

now. folks, i am not a slow runner.  I mean.  i *know* that i am never going to run people down in a race.  but, i am not super slow.  I am not fast, either.  i am a 47min 10k stand alone.  a 1:46 1/2 marathoner.  not great.  but, not terrible.  well.  this run was terrible.  in the photo below, if it looks like i am talking to myself, it is because i am. out loud.  after the first lap, i wanted to die.  i wanted to stop, but, i wouldn't live it down if i did.  i turned towards lap two, and i just slogged along. i walked. i poured water on my head, and sipped some.  i sipped nasty sports drink provided on the course, i just waited for my garmin to beep every km.  about 3/4 of a km to the end, i felt like i couldn't go any more.  i stood there for 15 sec, and said the following:
"comon' baby girl.  you got it.  drive it home. you are not done now."
and until i crossed that finish line, i ran, while saying the following things under my breath: "keep moving forward. just don't stop. you're almost there.  finish. be relentless. you got it.  comon' girl." it was hard.  it was is embarrasing that i ran 1:08 for a 10km.  but, i gave it my best.  every time i started jogging, my HR would soar to 175-180.  and, while i can hold that for a while on my bike (um.  the bike holds you up.  you just go), i cannot on a run for very long (um.  my legs will just not hold me up as well as a bike does).  but i finished. here is my garmin file.  notice the name.

alberta challenge triathlon by SeanBirch
alberta challenge triathlon, a photo by SeanBirch on Flickr.

in fact. i finished 4th woman overall (um.  hello.  if i ran 1:08, and still got 4th, it must of been hard for lots of people!) and 2nd in my age group of women 20-29.  and i finished this season with a smile on my face, a lot of salt caked to my body, and happiness in my heart.

This season has been amazing.  i have had a rockin' early season 1/2 iron.  I have gotten 3rd and two 2nds in my olympic distance events in my age group.  those also ended up be 6th, 7th and 3rd woman in those respective races.  I have taken 10minutes off of my personal best at the olympic distance. i did my first sprint and got 2nd overall.  i have been happy with every.single.triathlon. this season.  

and, i owe that to pretty much one person.  the legendary Mary Eggers.    I recently said the following to her in an email:
Mary, I am so thankful for the coaching and friendship and mentorship that i have gotten from you in the past few years.  As soon as I met you in NOLA, i saw someone who was so passionate about what she does, and someone who just wants to share that passion with others.  And, i KNEW that it would be a good match.  and, i couldn't have asked for more. You understand me, you are a nurse (so you know what goes along with that!), and you are a great coach! some of the times that I have loved the most over the past few years is the times that i get to talk to you and/or see you (even if just on skype), or train/race directly under you.  your energy is contagious, and it makes me want to be a better athlete.  you have changed me into someone who does triathlons, into a triathlete.  

Her life is moving forward, into a new and exciting future.  If you don't know, on Sept 1st, she will be starting to coach with QT2 systems out of Boston.    so. this race ended up being the end of my racing as an athlete coached by Mary Eggers.  She is so great.  and, I "owe" so much to her, and the team that she has put together.  I couldn't ask for a better coach to get my tritathlon "career" off to a start, and couldn't ask for more in the friends that i have made in Train-this.  in fact.  i love them so much that i have committed to my first ironman race.  so, today was happiness and sadness all in one. 

However, as i make my move back out west (after school is done, of course), it will become more and more difficult to be a west-coast athlete, being coached by someone on the east coast.  so, as of now, i am looking for a coach/team that is closer to Vancouver.  and a coach/team that can hold up to the standards that Mary, and train-this, set for me. :)

oh yeah.  that ironman i alluded to.  2013, people.  Ironman Canada.  It will be a train-this reunion.  it will be my first bite into ironman land.  can you guys hold me too it?  'cause i have a year before i have to register for it.  and, in that year, i might very well try to talk myself out of it.

ok.  it's late.  and in approx 30 hours, i get on a plane to go to my "home."  and, i will be bringing this box of awesomeness with me, to give to some kidlets. and that *Really* excites me.  Afrika.  here i come.  i am ready for you.  i think.


Alexa said...

I am so sad that you are not coming with us :( but I will see you in Vancouver in 2012 and in Penticton in 2013!!!!!!!

Kristin said...

great report!! Have fun in Africa!!!

Bonnie said...

Amelia, I got some good photos and have posted on is the link for any of your other readers.