These days I’m fascinated with Lance Armstrong*, and by “these days” I mean “the past decade”. (That’s normal, right?) I want to know every little detail. That said, when I read in Every Second Counts that Lance took it as a sign of luck that a bird crapped on team director Johan Brunyeel’s shoulder just before the start of the 2003 Tour de France (which would become consecutive Tour win #5 of 7, just fyi + btw), I thought: now there’s a detail I could live without.
So it totally cracks me up that here I am, about to tell you that a bird crapped on my helmet the day before the 2012 Marlborough Triathlon.
But here goes.
So, this bird crapped on my helmet the day before the 2012 Marlborough Triathlon. It happened as I practiced looking super-speedy in my aerobars whilst cruising across the causeway 18 hours before that road began its annual transformation from “Reservoir Street” to “T1”. I was pelted by a peloton of tiny insects and one really big one, or so I thought; once I doffed the helmet post-ride I realized “the really big one” was not insect but excrement. Once I got over the “eeewww” factor, I thought of the luck that bird crap brought Lance and Brunyeel. (I also thought of snapping a picture before I washed it off. Lucky you: in a rare show of restraint, I did not.)
Truth be told, I didn’t feel like I’d need luck at the 2012 Marlborough Triathlon. I had trained really hard and had promised myself that when I stepped up to the start line (or, rather, swam up to it—after all, this is triathlon and the start line is a watery one) I would not doubt myself per usual but instead focus on all the hard work I’d done since the last Marlborough Triathlon. I am a just-the-facts type of chick, so I logged on to TrainingPeaks for some supportive data upon which to focus the gray matter under my neon pink swim cap.
Here’s what TrainingPeaks showed I had done with my time between the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Marlborough Triathlon:
Bottom line is that I had swum a lot, biked a lot, run a lot and spent a ton of time in the gym attempting to both build muscle and shed my reputation as the weakest athlete on the TC2 roster. Add it all up and you get a whole lot of sweat, some nascent bumps that appear to be made up of fibrous tissue that has the ability to contract and produce movement, and one super-excited-and-more-ready-than-ever pink-capped F 40-44.
While I didn’t need luck, I did need some entertaining goals because that is how I maintain what’s left of my sanity as race day approaches. This time, however, I wised up and did not share these silly goals with my coach, so ssssshhh don’t tell him because they’ll probably get me into trouble. You see, Coach Tim has chastised me more than once for setting goals over which I have little or no control. He has even gone so far as to tell me, during pre-race frenzys, to quit acting like a “typical age grouper”, which he knows drives me insane on multiple levels. (That is apparently the point of this little exercise; since I am driving *him* crazy, he is simply returning the favor.). I kept quiet because three of my four Marlborough 2012 goals definitely would have made him roll his eyes. But they kept me from freaking out and on race day that is truly half of the battle.
Here they are, in race-day order:
Secret Goal #1: Be the first pink cap out of the water. Oh yeah, I still struggle with the swim. Big time. And when you take away my lane lines and dump me in open water, well, then it gets really sketchy. The goal is to make the GPS-generated maps of my open-water swims look like this…
…but they look more like this…
…which is much better than my swims circa 2010-2011…
Despite the clear gains, I’ve a long way to go; as Coach Tim is fond of pointing out, all the work I’ve done to get faster won’t matter if I can’t swim straight. Still, a few weeks ago a training partner who has been with me since my circle-swimming days and has watched my pace per 100 improve along with my sighting skills said he thought I was capable of being first out of the water “someday”…so I naturally took “someday” to mean Sunday, June 10th, 2012 🙂
Secret Goal #2: Beat Andrew Ference on the bike…while setting a female course record. I fully admit I am not one to spend my weekends watching ESPN; truth be told I don’t even know if it comes with my Comcast package. Still, I thought it was super-cool that Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was doing the Marlborough Triathlon on a relay team with none other than professional triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker. (For the record: I may not know if I have ESPN but I most definitely *do* have a subscription to the ITU World Triathlon Series and have watched Jarrod race. This girl’s got her priorities!) What could a hockey player know about cycling? He’d be out there on my hills, and I fully intended to pass him as I went about breaking the female course record of 39:28. (It was set by Amanda Felder, F-PRO, La Jolla, California, in 2009. Yes, I scoured the race results from the very first Marlborough Tri to present to figure that out.) Sure, she’s an F-PRO, which means she’s done this a whole lot more than I have. But she doesn’t own Viper, so really, that record’s goin’ down 🙂
Secret Goal #3: Have the fastest female combined transition time. Streamline Events does this fun thing: at each of their races they give a round-trip JetBlue ticket to the male and female age groupers with the fastest combined T times. (For those of you still struggling with that concept, T times are not tee times; they are the transition times between water and bike, then bike and run—so the amount of time it takes to shuck your wetsuit and get your bike going, plus the time it takes to dismount then rack your bike and set off on the run…that’s your combined T time.) I think this is fantastic fun and truth be told, I kinda rock the Ts. I think it is mostly fear-driven; if I slow down, I just might never start back up again, so I blaze through transition as fast as I can. So it isn’t unfathomable that someday I’d win this silly little contest, and if I did I wouldn’t be going to Disney; I’d be going to Austin, Texas to visit Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop.
Secret Goal #4: Don’t die on the run. The Marlborough course is crazy-hilly and rather intimidating to me; I practiced the hills all winter, but staring them down on race day is a whole different story. No record-breaking goals here: I was in for survival, preferably keeping my pace “in the sevens”. While I’d prefer them to be the low sevens (like the rather lovely 7:10 pace I ran last year at the Buzzard’s Bay Tri) I had a clear enough mind to accept the fact that Marlborough’s hills and Buzzard’s Bay’s pancake-flat-ness should not be compared.
How’d that all work for me, you ask? Here we go:
The swim was wicked weird. I was terrified of swimming in circles. I guess I didn’t, or if I did I was fairly adept at it, since according to the race results I was the second F 40-44 out of the water. For the first time in a race I actually used my kick, which is pretty strong, thanks to some encouragement from training partner Jim. I’ve always been afraid to tire out my legs before I get on the bike, but I didn’t and it worked and it was a whole lot of fun. I knew I had done well when I got to transition and Gayle Galletta was still in there, grabbing her bike and heading out; she is a super-speedy swimmer and I was psyched (and more than a little surprised!) to be remotely near her.
With the 28th best bike split of the day overall and the 5th best bike split of all girls, I bested a lot of riders out there…but not Andrew Ference. Hockey players can cycle after all—well, at least Andrew can. He rode the course in 41:07, at a blazing average pace of 21.9 (my average: 20.8). And Amanda Felder, you can stop worrying: you still reign supreme over my course. For now. But Note Bene that Viper and I have designs on next year, and Coach Tim is already on board. It starts with learning to descend and corner better; I apologize in advance to my neighbors (especially the ones who just this week bought the old Kennedy house and know not what they’ve gotten themselves into), since The Plan entails getting me to be able to descend Miles Standish at 30 mph by the end of July, then 40 mph by the end of August. Oh, I love a good plan! 🙂
My “You Rock” award for the race goes to #258, Ian Stearns (M 20-24, of New York, NY). Ian went down on what my coach’s wife, Leslie, calls “the hairpin turn” and by “went down” I mean blood and road rash were involved. He was writhing on the ground when I took the corner at a slower speed. Something about the way he writhed told me he wouldn’t need to leave on the ambulance that was waiting in the wings, but I certainly didn’t think he’d bounce back up and continue riding. Five miles later as I readied to descend that same hill again (it’s a three-loop course), here comes 258, blazing past me. “Well done 258!” I screamed at him, totally proud of this guy whom I had never met before in my life. His tri suit tattered and bloody, he descended right in front of me but slowed and took the turn at the same speed as me. “Worked better the second time, eh?” I said, joking. I am not sure if he got or appreciated the joke; it is hard to tell what someone’s thinking when they are helmeted and sunglassed. If I was impressed by him on the course, I was blown away later when I saw the results: despite the fall and the time lost writhing, he still had the 9th best bike split overall of the day and finished 7th overall/2nd AG! (!!!!!!)
Goal #3: Newsflash: If I really want a Mellow Johnny’s jersey I’ll have to order online, because we are not going to Austin—not yet anyways. I had the tenth fastest T time of all chicks. The splits are here. All I can say is there are some mighty good quick-change artists out there! Guess I’ll be practicing my transitions more, too. (Once again, I apologize to the new neighbors. Talk to the rest of the ‘hood, though; they’ve become accustomed to my turning the front yard into a transition area so I can practice 🙂 )
The run was hot, but all that training in the heat helped as I never felt wilted. I actually ran very well and was proud of my effort. The highlight of my run came on lap 2; I was going 6:36 pace down Route 85 between the middle and high schools when I started to pass a guy in a Worlds race suit from Ireland. “Aw! I’ll catch you at the finish!” he jokingly said. “Hope you have the Luck of the Irish!” I told him. He mustn’t be lucky, as I never saw him again 🙂
To summarize: I didn’t get out of the water first, beat the Bruin, score a free ticket to Austin or set a course record. I did, however, improve in each and every split year-over-year and had a hell of a day in the process:
|44:56 (20.03)||45:35 (19.74)|
|26:45 (8:06)||28:10 (8:32)|
…and, in the end, that was enough to earn me second place in my age group, tenth female out of 106, 43rd finisher out of 274.
It was a fantastic day and so of course I capped it off the way I always do: a beer with friends followed by a sign-stealing adventure:
That’s all for now. As usual, thanks for stopping by. Set your sights high, but watch out for falling bird crap. Writhe when necessary, but bounce back up and keep on going. Try not to act like a typical age grouper, but whatever you do, *don’t* act typical of your age. That’s just boring 🙂