Lobsterman 2011 is officially in the books. My second serving of Tri-Maine’s crazy course was just as yummy as the first.
At last year’s Lobsterman, I was giddy and terrified to be “stepping up” to the Olympic distance; at that time I had only two sprints under my race belt, so tripling the swim and doubling the run to get to Oly length seemed oh-so Herculean and slightly insane. (Tacking ten extra miles onto the bike leg sounded like nirvana to this Cannondale-addicted chick.) Newbie-me was thrilled to be welcomed with open arms by the Comfort Suites of Freeport Maine with this sign:
Well, that was 2010. Fast-forward one year—same hotel, very different sentiment:
Ironically enough, during our 2.5-hour drive up I-95 Daughter #1 and I noted the inane Maine rules and regulations posted roadside; in addition to the standard “Buckle Up—It’s the Law” postings were some rather unique signs prohibiting vehicles from “excessive noise” and motorists from “roadside excretion”. Kid you not. And now these Down East-ers ban tri bikes from our rooms? Clearly that reputation Mainers cultivate as actively as their blueberries—that we’re-so-laid-back rep—is just a ruse. Scratch the surface and they’re wound as tightly as Nantucket’s islanders. Sheesh!
I asked a hotel worker to explain the why behind this cruel and unusual banishment of Maverick the Second’s kind; she said she thought someone’s wheels sullied the carpeting last year. Oh! OK! If you’re trying to protect the carpeting then here’s a far more mutually acceptable solution…
After a little nap we headed out for a quick bite to eat. (We were in the Vacation State a mere two hours before Emma began her lobster-killing spree; assuming only one was sacrificed to make her lobster roll, a grand total of five met their Maker at her hands before we left.)
Then it was time for me to touch base with the course. It made me smile to see the Winslow Park sign again. In its ninth year, Lobsterman is so much a part of this park that it actually has its own wooden plaque that hooks right on to the main entrance sign—just the date tile changes each year, pretty cool huh?
As we hit the course, I wasn’t going to be dumb like I was in 2010, when I rode the entire 25-mile bike loop at 4 pm the day before the race (at that point terms like “glycogen depletion” and “rest” had yet to enter my vocabulary), but I also wasn’t going to follow yet another Maine dictum, this one handed down by park management:
Sorry, Winslow Park—Maverick’s speeds are “fast”, “faster”, and “reckless abandon”—he doesn’t do “leisurely”, especially not in his rented Zipp “Speed Weaponry” (That’s a 404 in the front, an 808 in the rear. At Nationals we had a set of 404s—the 808 is deeper and ergo faster. Pretty sweet, huh? The folks at my local tri store, fast:splits, said this is the setup most triathletes buy, so I figured I’d try it out.)
Once I made peace with the course, it was time for packet pickup and more food. Packet pickup was just outside the Nike Factory Outlet, where Emma thought I should buy this shirt:
While I didn’t buy this one, I do have my eye on a cycling jersey from Elevengear that conveys the same basic don’t-tread-on-me sentiment…
We had planned to dine on Main Street in Freeport as we had last year, but the power went out just as soon as I had my number in hand. We were told the outage was citywide and would last 2-3 hours, so we trekked 20 minutes south to the Portland Lobster Company where Emma ordered the untimely demise of crustaceans 2 & 3 of the trip—yep, a twin lobster dinner—while I opted for a veggie burger, potato and salad—a nutritional improvement upon last year’s single baked potato pre-race dinner. (I’m learning!)
Once we ordered we were given one of those nifty gadgets that vibrates and lights up when your order’s ready…only this one had a decidedly coastal flavor to it (Emma was thrilled):
Soon enough it was morning and Mav was racked. I was early enough to have time for a photo shoot—the bike looked too handsome in those rented Zipps for the moment to go uncaptured….
See the athlete in the yellow shirt in the upper right of that picture? Well, he noticed my photo shoot and asked if I’d like a shot of me with the object of my affection. Heck yes! Here it is (photography by #316, aka Barth Getto from Bedford who, oddly enough, I would meet again post-race in the parking lot…he and his teammates had parked right next to my minivan):
Transition closed and it was time to do the neoprene shimmy. While I knew I could muddle my way through the .93-mile swim distance this year, I was plenty nervous as now I actually have this rather elusive goal of swimming respectable times. The Oly swim distance is tough stuff for me; like a 10K footrace, I still feel the need to go my version of fast (i.e. slow for any self-respecting swimmer) and yet if I do an all-out sprint I’ll be snuffed out faster than a birthday candle. It’s a balancing act between speed and distance, for sure. To make matters more challenging, I decided this would be the first race in which I’d use my Garmin’s multisport mode to its fullest—which meant I’d lug it atop my head to record the swim. (Emma to me as I tucked the rather bulky device into my cap: “Mom, you look so dumb. No one else here has a Garmin in their swim cap. Why do you have to do these things?!?“ Sorry, Emma! What can I say…you obviously stood in the “Dorky Mom” line when they were doling out parental units. Life’s tough; deal with it.) It was a little scary trusting the swim cap’s thin sheet of silicone with my $400 device, so I strategically placed my goggle straps to up my odds that it wouldn’t be sinking to the bottom of Casco Bay:
While Wave 1 went off I cracked open my “pre-race fuel” packet (I bought eight of these pre-season and labeled each with the name of the race I’d consume it at. The girls found this exceedingly ridiculous and a little OCD of me but I found it motivating. And now I find it depressing that there are so few left on my bureau…a sure sign that the season is sadly winding down):
Fifteen minutes later we pink caps took to the water:
~ THE SWIM: Blinded By the Light ~
At Lobsterman we tread water at the swim start—it isn’t a “shore start” where you run in when the gun goes off like Cohasset. Despite not being the strongest swimmer, I once again found the chutzpah to start with the good swimmers at the front of the pack. This year I felt much stronger and my stroke felt more sustainable; I was certainly passed by some but wasn’t super-easy kill and also did my fair share of passing. That said, the water was rather choppy and the sun was blasting some major wattage our way after we made the turn at the first buoy—so glare was a big-time issue. To make matters more challenging, for some reason we only had the red turn buoys this year—no yellow sighting buoys in between. I strayed off course twice; if you click through to the map I bet you can tell exactly where kayakers yelled at me that I was veering off-course and might want to course-correct 😉
My Swim Leg Garmin file: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/113298103
My swim time: 32:11
What that means: I was sadly a smidgen slower than last year, when I swam a 30:03. I chalk this up to the chop and the glare, which weren’t an issue last year, and the lack of sighting buoys (we had plenty in 2010). I definitely felt stronger and more competent this year, and while I did want to blow my 2010 swim time out of the water, I am a-OK with the fact that I didn’t. I learned a lot and there’s always next year 🙂
~ T1: Don’t Drop the Garmin! ~
Pre-race, my biggest concern about T1 was that in my post-swim hurrah-I-survived! giddiness I would forget that my pricey Garmin was shoved in my swim cap and it’d fall to the ground unnoticed when I shed my cap. If that happened and I was Garmin-less for the rest of the race I would most certainly suck (oh yeah, I’d be out a $400 device, too.) So the last hundred yards of swimming I goofily sprinted to a mantra of “REMEMBER GARMIN! REMEMBER GARMIN!” and yes! remember I did —as planned I plucked it from my cap as soon as I had my left arm out of my wetsuit. I immediately snapped it into my wrist mount so I could have both hands free to shuck off the rest of my Xterra Vendetta as I ran to my bike.
My T1 Garmin file: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/113298108
My T1 time: 1:46
What that means: Whew! Significantly faster than last year’s 2:15! I’m getting better at swim exits and wetsuit shimmy-ing, but I’ve still plenty of room for improvement.
~ THE BIKE: Riding with Louisville and Show Off ~
As soon as I was on Maverick, I transferred the Garmin from wrist to bike mount, pushed “lap” to start my bike clock ticking and off we went. I was really excited to put the 404/808 wheel setup to the test on this challenging course.
This year would prove to be more challenging than last for two reasons: first, the chop we experienced in the water was caused by wind (no, God didn’t grant my pre-race request for the “Be quiet! Be still!” speech); crosswinds and tri bikes don’t mix. Second, a section of the course was under construction. The road work was supposed to be done well in advance of race day, but for some reason the region’s earthquakes, hurricanes, and flash floods delayed the work and the road was a wreck.
To make matters worse, the construction zone followed a significant descent—not the time you want to encounter dirt and rocks. By the time I hit it, the road (or, rather, the narrow dirt path) was strewn with gear that had been shaken off bike frames. Two athletes were off to the side, swearing at freshly flatted tires. I somehow escaped sans flat and with all my gear onboard.
Still, the course was a blast and I settled into a good pace and began passing riders en masse. I found two riders who kept it interesting. One was a tiny guy wearing an “Ironman Louisville” jersey, so I naturally nicknamed him “Louisville” (say that like a Kentuckian: LOO-uh-vull). The other, this Jolly Green Giant of a guy in a green shirt (kid you not), I nicknamed “Show Off” as he kept doing the “Look Ma, No Hands” thing while going 21 mph. While he was ostensibly stretching his back or consuming GU while hands-free, he was really just showing off and of course I told him so 😉
Show Off was hell-bent on beating me, so every time I’d pass him he’d go into overdrive to pass just as soon as he could (often he didn’t even bother to follow USAT rules and exit the drafting zone before doing so; he once combined this with an illegal pass on the right—which was utterly unsafe, as I was in the process of moving to the left after finishing my pass. Jus’ sayin’.) On the last few miles, Show Off guffawed as I passed yet again and said, “you’re killing me!” And I giggled, “GOOD!” 🙂
Louisville was more fun; he played by the rules and had not only that intimidating jersey but also a super-speedy Rudy helmet. It was fun to be able to keep pace with him. He was a better at descending while I was a better climber, so we saw each other twice per hill on this rather hilly course until he went and jinxed himself: as I passed him the sixth or seventh time, he laughed and yelled, “See you in a bit! Well, I hope I do at least!” I wouldn’t see him again until post-race; I tracked him down and asked what happened. He said he just ran out of steam.
My bike leg Garmin file: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/113298114
My bike time: 1:16:10
What that means: Slower than last year—by two minutes and 25 seconds. Last year I rode at an average 20.2 mph and this year it was 19.5. I chalk this up to the construction zone and the wind and fully intend to annihilate both times next year 🙂 I felt fast and had a blast and that’s what really matters. Right? I mostly believe that statement. 😉
~ T2: Wish I Was Better at Math ~
In T2 I was really wishing I was better at math. Since I had bothered to use my Garmin in multisport mode, I knew my overall time and knew how much I had to make up on the run if I was to meet or beat last year’s time. But I was powerless to turn that differential into a running pace I needed to hit.
My T2 Garmin file: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/113298120
My T2 time: 1:16
What that means: I T2’d in 1:27 last year, so I was a wee bit zippier this time around. I felt really clumsy in T2 though and struggled with my Kinvaras so I can do much better. A quick scan of the full results shows some athletes even transitioned in a mere 36 seconds! Holy cow! I bow to their awesomeness.
~ THE RUN: I am not a Very Nice Runner ~
I have been working insanely hard on my run for months now and I have a crazy wall calendar with pace information scribbled all over it to prove it. The crazy calendar says my best strides have been at a 5:20 pace; when I am inspired my 400s can come in at 94 seconds and when I do mile repeats in the “low sevens” I am wracked with dry heaves.
I had it in my head that I wanted to beat my Nationals 10K time of 50:08. I also had it in my head that Freeport, Maine is very different than Burlington, Vermont and I may or may not be able to pull it off.
In the third leg of an Oly, I just can’t grok a whole 10K. Like ultramarathoner Pam Reed, who refuses to think about the total day’s work during a 100-mile race (“I’m simply running one mile one hundred times,” she has written), I have to break it down. So as at Nationals, I thought of it not as 6.2 miles, but “just” 25 quarters. I aimed to have most of those quarters come in under two minutes–heck, under 1:50 to make up that pesky differential.
While I struggle with the run, plenty of triathletes are either great at it or have seemingly accepted their suckiness. These runners, both the good and the bad, are so chipper on the course that it kills me. As the first group passes me and I pass the second group, both rise to the occasion and cheer me on. I felt guilty not returning their kindness but I hadn’t the breath or patience to spare. Sorry folks.
1:56.54 / 7:46 pace / 85 spm
1:57.78 / 7:51 pace / 86 spm
2:11.65 / 8:46 pace / 86 spm
2:23.82 / 9:35 pace / 84 spm
2:01.65 / 8:06 pace / 86 spm
1:57.70 / 7:50 pace / 86 spm
2:07.40 / 8:29 pace / 86 spm
2:05.83 / 8:23 pace / 86 spm
2:04.89 / 8:19 pace / 88 spm
2:01.33 / 8:05 pace / 88 spm
2:16.19 / 9:04 pace / 86 spm
2:04.13 / 8:16 pace / 87 spm
2:09.52 / 8:38 pace / 86 spm
1:59.75 / 7:58 pace / 89 spm
2:04.38 / 8:17 pace / 88 spm
2:24.51 / 9:38 pace / 80 spm (walked water stop)
2:07.06 / 8:28 pace / 87 spm
2:05.61 / 8:22 pace / 86 spm
2:10.27 / 8:41 pace / 85 spm
2:14.53 / 8:58 pace / 85 spm
2:19.27 / 9:17 pace / 85 spm
1:44.96 / 6:59 pace / 89 spm
1:55.51 / 7:42 pace / 90 spm
2:00.06 / 8:00 pace / 90 spm
1:47.03 / 7:53 pace / 89 spm
In 2010, I had enough energy in the last 200 or so yards to give Daughter #1 a thumbs up:
2011—same photographer, same location, much less cheerful Mom:
My Garmin run file: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/113298121
My run time: 52:14
What that means: Last year I ran the course in 52:17, which was truly above my ability then—I was a woman on a mission, that is for sure! I will not even try to claim the three second difference as an improvement; it’s not! Next year, I say!
Appropriately enough, the day ended with this fabulous lobsterbake and Daughter #1s Pile of Death and Dismemberment:
So there you have it: Lobsterman 2011 is consumed and digested. I didn’t do quite as well as I had hoped, but it was good enough to place 7th out of 34 in my age group (up from 12th last year), and 23rd out of all 215 females who raced, so that’s pretty OK by me 🙂
Mav and I are already constructing our plan of attack for Lobsterman 2012–both to improve and also to thwart any hotel effort to separate us. I think we’ll need to change it up–they may be onto us!
Have fun and don’t get caught,