The perfect window of race reporting has passed for this particular race (>7 days), but as it was my first triathlon of 2012 and I did learn a lot (when do I ever not learn something in a race?), I wanted to record the experience anyway.
So if you all aren’t familiar, and there’s really no reason you should be unless you’re a triathlete in the DC area, Peasantman is a small training tri put on by the High Cloud Foundation with the organizational support from a few dedicated DC Tri members. It takes place early in the season down at Lake Anna State Park (the epicenter of last year’s freak earthquake) and bills itself as being a low-stress way for newbies to get practice with race situations. They add tons of extra stuff around the race, like a group ride the day before, an optional swim clinic, and a barbeque afterwards. It’s an awesome weekend of triathlon events. I skipped last year due to foot brokenness conflicts, but thought this year it’d be a great way to get back into the swing of things. After all, I technically haven’t done all three legs in a triathlon since late 2010.
After a few hours of frantically packing and running to the grocery store convinced I was going to starve sometime in the next 48 hours, my accomplice in this all this triathlon business (here after cleverly referred to as The Accomplice) and I headed down to Lake Anna early Saturday morning. We timed it so we got there right before the swim clinic start. My goal with the swim suit was to test out the wetsuit I won last year at Multisport World. I tried my best to work the wetsuit on all the way and not give up 3/4 of the way though like I usually do. No sag crotch for me today. Unfortunately, like all the other times I’ve practiced with a wetsuit, it was horrible and uncomfortable in the water. I couldn’t feel the current until I had long blown off course, and it was still exhausting to lift my arms after a mere 350 meter loop. I sucked it up and did 3 loops of the clinic course before running out and stripping the suit off in rage and frustration. I believe I may have actually said, ‘Ahhhhhh,’ out loud as I dove back in sans water condom. I did another 4 loops before they called it a day for the clinic.
After the clinic we hung out a bit, helped set up transition, and stole a bit of bbq food, before we drove off to stay the night with The Accomplice’s friends who lived a bit (30 minutes away) down the (dirt) road in their awesome retirement dream house. Seriously. We had a small wing to ourselves. Beer, dinner, listening to the rain on the patio, futzing, and eventual sleep brought us to race morning. Breakfast and my stomach’s feelings on breakfast were uneventful! This is, in itself, a pretty big event as I’m prone to getting sick from breakfast during a race (many tweaks have been tried, many tweaks have failed).
The Accomplice likes to arrive at transition as early as possible for maximum puttering and fussing (she can, I swear, take the whole time and still leave feeling like there was more to arrange; it’s frightening); I like to get there ~20 minutes before close to minimize nervous, bored wait time. We compromised by only being slightly late getting out the door. My morning bleariness was shown to be in full force when I racked and set up my whole transition area in the wrong bike rack. But I still had plenty of time to wander around and mutter a lot about newbies who don’t rack their bikes properly (a heretofore unknown pet peeve!). Overall, though, it was pretty great to be amongst so many new triathletes. I’d forgotten how fun and relatable they all are.
Because Peasantman was a small race, they decided to divide the swim waves up into 4 groups: confident (not fast, confident) Sprints, confident Olympics, not confident Sprints, and not confident Olympics. Basically anyone the kayakers needed to watch closely was wearing a white cap. I thought this was a pretty cool way to do things and made swimming pretty easy. I got passed by all the fast people quickly, but I didn’t have to weave around any breast or back strokers. I started in the second wave and thought the sighting for this race (a triangle on a stick) was pretty good. There also wasn’t much of a current, which helped me stay on course. My only grumble was that the swim was longer than advertised. DCRainmaker’s trusty Garmin in Swimcap technique allowed me to record my swim positioning, which was pretty darn straight, if I do say so myself:
Still, I was slow. About 24 minutes (~2:24 min/100 m pace) for 1000 meters.
I ran up to transition and made a pokey getaway on the bike. I object philosophically to putting the bike mount line in the middle of a hill, but if you took your time it wasn’t that hard to get started or make your way to the top of the hill. The bike itself was pretty uneventful. The course stayed entirely within the state park bounds, so there were twisty turns galore and the route doubled back on itself many many times. Sometimes this worked against me, like when the road forked and the volunteers were shouting a bit confusingly and I took a wrong turn. But most of the time I thought it was awesome because I got to see tons of fellow racers.
I felt (and was) slow on the course. I don’t know if it was just a long week or the rolling hills were tougher than they looked, but every time I tried to push a bit, I’d feel myself fatiguing after a minute or two. My heart rate data doesn’t bear this out, of course. My average HR was 146 for the bike course with a max at a mere 165. Bah. I clearly have dweebie muscles who haven’t gotten the new message that we love hills this year.
Bike time was about 45 minutes for 11 miles (14.5 mi/hr pace).
T2 was uneventful except that I couldn’t find the timing mat as I went out. I kept thinking it was only a little bit ahead, but it wasn’t until I approached the trail and the first hill that I realized there simply wasn’t one. Speaking of that first hill, it was…large. I tried running at first and quickly realized that it was just faster to walk. But walking so soon in the run is always demoralizing. I forget every. single. time. how awful the first mile of every triathlon run is. Big hills or not, you feel like crap. My feet constantly go numb on the bike, so I have no feeling in my feet. My legs are stumps of useless flesh attached to my torso. If I even glance at my heart rate, it goes sky high. Basically I’m a mess for the first mile. And even when I was a better runner, I was a mess. But I forget about this fact between races and am constantly surprised at how much of a hurting mess I am and how awful it all is to be forced to run this late in the game.
So I walked. A lot. I’m not proud. I also spent a lot of time being very negative in my head. With Escape from Alcatraz coming up in 5 weeks, I kept comparing what I was doing to what would be expected of me at Alcatraz and coming up horribly short. I walked most in the first mile and then suddenly everything didn’t feel quite as bad so I jogged. And I jogged more or less for another 3.2 miles because what was supposed to be a 5K ended up being 1.1 miles longer. Oops? It made me glad I wasn’t doing the 2 loop Olympic. The race finished on a downhill and I managed not to get beaten at the line by two older ladies who were running together. It was very close. They thought to pass me but I too can sprint for 20 seconds.
~1:10 (16:47 average), 4.2 miles
Overall, this was a fantastic race and I’m so pleased Tuan, Adriana, and High Cloud keep putting it together every year. They put a lot of work into making it a stress free environment and all the volunteers were friendly and helpful. It’s a great race to do as a shakedown for the season and to get to know newer folks in the club.
Looking back at my data now, it was not all doom and gloom. I walked more than I should’ve, I ran well for me when I ran. My swim times are slow but my sighting was fantastic and I didn’t come out of the water exhausting. And if I swam the same at Alcatraz, I’d still make it in before the cut off time. Biking is coming along. I made some adjustments to the bike in prep for the Alcatraz hills (in addition to, you know, training on hills) and I’ll just have to see how it goes.
The simple fact is, I had a really great first year of triathlon, took a year off with a major injury, and now, in my third year, I am having to get back into it like I’ve never done this sport before. It’s hard and slow. Having more knowledge and experience than your average beginner is more of a double edged sword than you’d think. On the one hand, I know I can do endurance. As my friend has said in the past and I’ve demonstrated to myself time and time again, the space between This Thing I’m Doing Is Really Really Hard and I Can’t Do This Thing is shockingly big. On the other hand, I have a very clear picture of how fast and strong I was before I got injured and there’s still such a big gap between that and where I am now. Where in the first year I was content to plod along at 15:00 min/miles until I slowly got faster, now I’m painfully aware that I am capable of doing better but am not there yet. I’m trying hard to put the past aside and focus on training the body I have now, but I can’t help but compare.
For a very brief moment on the run course at Peasantman I thought about finding a way to pull out of Alcatraz. It was a stupid thought and one I talked myself out of by mile 3, but I can’t deny that, for a few minutes, every part of me wanted to pull back and stay on the East Coast doing easier, less stressful races.
Then I realized that I need to do Alcatraz, if for no other reason than because this race feels risky to me and I need to be better at taking risks. (Oh hush. Whether it really is or not doesn’t matter in the slightest. It *feels* like a risk; I’ve made it into a risk in my head. Therefore, it is a risk.) I’m afraid this feeds into some larger life ruminations that I won’t bore you with here, but a little more risk taking in my life as a whole wouldn’t kill me.