Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bastrop Lost Pines Sprint Triathlon 2012 Race Report

I went looking for my race review from last year, only to find out that I didn't do one.  Bummer.  It's a good race, and it's run by an amazing company, Redemption Race Productions.  I follow their race schedule to do as many of their races as I can.

A little bit about last year:
2011 was an interesting year.  In April I'd completed the Galvestion Half Ironman, and had been convinced to do the Austin Half Ironman as well.  So a friend and I went out in search of a sprint and an olympic/quarter to do before the Half Iron in October.  Bastrop was that sprint.  We'd gone out looking for a simple sprint, one that would be too difficult.   The pre-race briefing started with

"Welcome to the toughest little tri in Texas!"

My friend and I looked at each other.  What had we gotten ourselves into?

It turned out to be a snake style pool swim, a VERY hilly road course, and an equally hilly run course.  The thing about this course is that the hills aren't rolling hills.  The grades are much more extreme than many are used to.

Megan and Me
This year, the course didn't change one bit.  I loved it.  I convinced a couple of friends to go do the race with me, and found out later that a few others were going out too.  Small world!

The swim - 200 meters snake style in a 33 meter pool with a time trials start.  This year's swim was great.  I was seeded pretty well (last year I was behind two teen/preteens that were slower than I and made the swim/passing difficult).  The person behind me passed me after I accidentally kicked him, but we talked after the race and I got to apologize.  One thing about this swim - the chop from the other swimmers makes this a lot like an open water swim!

Transition was fast!  I got hung up a little bit on my race belt, but sorted it out and got moving.  I'd rolled my socks up so I could just roll them onto wet feet.  It worked out really well.

The bike.  Getting out of transition I had some trouble getting my left foot clipped in, and wasted a few seconds trying to get moving.  Not a big loss, but one that pissed me off all the same.  Not sure if I had mud or debris from the previous night's rain in the cleat, but it took some doing.  Once I got on the bike, things were smooth.  Well, as smooth as it could be.  The course is considered to be a pretty technical course.  I know of at least two broken chains and many flats, mostly due to steep uphill climbs and road debris.  The course is an out and back with a net downhill going out, and a net gain on the return.  The roads were damp and winding so getting up to speed was quickly followed by a climb or a quick slowdown for a turn.  I held back a bit on the way out because I remembered from the course from the year before and really hammered it on the way back.  Getting close to the turnaround I started counting how many women were in ahead and started chasing the one in front of me.  It seemed I was a better climber, but she had better speed on the downhills.  Two new things for this race - a disc wheel cover from Wheelbuilder and an aerohelmet from Rudy Project.  Not a huge difference for a 16 mile, very hilly course, but good practice for the half iron distance race next month.  I'll blog about the wheel cover and helmet soon.  I did use some of my Infinit Nutrition cycling mix in the FLEXR Sports remote kit to get calories in.  It's debatable for that distance that one would use any, but I was going to need water anyway, so I added the calories.  It was nice to have.  I was a little nervous using the Duro Tire slicksters on the wet roads, but they stayed fast and grippy the whole race - no skidding or sliding out of control.

Transition was good.  F A S T.  And onto the run!

The run was tough.  Hilly, humid.  But not hot because of the rain the previous evening.  I was still chasing the same woman from the bike, and still she had the speed on the downhill, but I would catch up on the uphill.  Most of the run I didn't see a single other person until I joined up with the cycling course in the last mile and a half of the course.  The downhills were rough.  Then it was mostly uphill and to the finish.  The finish is a bit confusing, and I went the wrong way at some point, but was quickly directed back to the correct path by the volunteers.  I finished strong and smiling and happy with this year's Bastrop Lost Pines Sprint.

Volunteers - these guys and gals can make or break the race.  They really made it for me.  Supportive and all about the athletes.  Thanks, guys!

Hover Rachel
The race is well organized and fun, and they have lots of food available for the finishers and spectators.  The proceeds support a donation for the park, which suffered a devastating wildfire last year, seven days after last year's race.

My one complaint about the race has to do with my rack neighbor in transition.  At some point when he came into transition on the bike, rather than rack his bike (he couldn't get his seat under the rack) he just leaned his bike up against mine.  WOW.  I was appalled.  It's one thing to have your bike fall or cause another's to fall by accident, but to save time in transition by leaning your bike against someone else's is just wrong.  I checked his results later - the time he saved by leaning his bike on mine didn't help him at all.

So - since no race report would be complete without finishing times and places:

2012 2011
200 m swim with swim exit 2:14 2:24
T1 1:17 1:56
16 mile bike 52:45 56:18
T2 0:36 1:05
3.4 mile run (measured 3.5) 26:29 28:29 
Overall Time 1:25:22 1:32:20

Age Group Finisher 1 1
Gender Finisher 2 4
Overall Finisher 16 17

We were told that race registration increased from just under 150 to 210.  Add this race to your calendar and let's make next year an even bigger event!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From fat to fit, the journey of many triathletes

Today I read a post on facebook that said, "I lost my other half.  Has anyone seen it?"  At first, I thought it was going to be a sad post, but then I remembered that last week this person had posted about how close they were to having lost half their body weight during triathlon training.  Kudos to you girl - I really admire how hard you've worked.

Incidentally, during a similar conversation at work, I was discussing diet and excercise with one of my partners.

When I saw that picture that started my journey to the ironman, I was approaching 200 pounds.  Granted I was in the latter months of my first pregnancy, but babies don't come in the 50 pound variety.  We wouldn't want them to!  So at 200 pounds I started trying to get fit again.

Today, I'm dealing with a different sort of problem.  I'm at a healthy weight when I get on the scale, but I (like many other athletes) take advantage of the countless training hours and eat junk, and whatever I happen to be craving at the moment (the guys I work with have endless fun with that one!).  Today my lunch revolved around a certain favorite energy drink and a small container of cookie dough.  Okay, USUALLY it isn't THAT bad.

So I can't stress enough the importance of seeing a quality nutritionist.  One that comes recommended by other athletes in the field, and preferably, doctors and other sports professionals.

Some things to mention about losing weight:
Hair loss - often the first to suffer, your hair and nails frequently take a toll when you lose a lot of weight.  I can mark the major endurance sports events by the horizontal lines in my nails.
BMI is a bullshit metric.  Guess what.  In fall of 2010, my BMI and my body fat percentage were roughly the same.  Today, my body fat percentage is roughly half of my BMI.  In those two years I've lost about ten pounds.
Women - your menstrual cycle may disappear.  YAY!  Hooray for freedom, hooray for the extra space in my purse and tri bag, Hoor... Oh wait a minute.  Doctors say this may actually be a bad sign.  So before you celebrate your freedom, at least get checked out by your doctor. You may need to change your diet, add a supplement or multivitamin, or take some time off for pregnancy. Interesting article here...
And remember - huge calorie deficits may actually cause the body to destroy lean mass.

And speaking of multivitamin...  You should be taking one anyway.  But do me a favor?  Ask your doctor when you go in for your yearly physical with bloodwork.  Endurance sports, weight loss and all the stupid crap athletes do that goes with the territory should be accompanied by a yearly physical.  And something that's starting to be more prevalent across all ages is a physical with a heart checkup. You don't have to search far to hear about athletes dying from heart attacks.

But back to my regularly unscheduled post.  At the athlete dinner for Ironman Texas, they asked people to stand up if they'd lost more than forty pounds training for the race.

More than a quarter of the athletes stood up.

At the half iron race in Galveston in 2011, I met quite a few athletes that race because they love the sport.  A year later at the same venue, the change in each was amazing.  More confident, more fit.  Happy.

And while this post is about the weight loss that accompanies training, there are a few things that go with fat to fit.  A few friends manage their diabetes with/at the same time they do endurance sports.  Diabetes isn't a disease for the overweight, although they often do happen together.  Sports and exercise help the body manage the disease, although I'll have to ask those friends to guest post for me on the subject.

Mental fitness.  (How many of you reading just went, "Yup."?)  Between work and kids and other responsibilities, I'm never alone.  Training is my chance to be by myself without any demands other than the ones I choose right now.  Know that feeling? I know a few parents that do, too.  Training relieves stress for many of us.  I know of one mother with three children with a few more challenges than the rest of us.  She finds peace in her training and sets an amazing example for her children.

So many inspiring athletes - I often feel like a spectator in the stands watching so many friends who are exceptional age group athletes succeed at their fitness goals.  There's no way I could put every athlete in here - everyone has an amazing story of success. Each of them inspiring.  Each of them an example for those around them, often without realizing it.  But one thing I've seen all of them do - practice patience and hard work, whether they realized it or not.  And one day, suddenly, they were successful.

But the true measure of success is that each of these athlete get up every morning and don't give up.  They took the first step on their respective roads and they don't quit.  And I believe that none of us wound up where we expected to. Mentally or physically.  And our views on fitness have been completely overhauled.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. - Douglas Adams