Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oktoberfest Triathlon- Better Shared With a Friend

        This weekend I got the pleasure to finally share my love of triathlon with a friend who was brand new to the sport! We both entered the Oktoberfest Triathlon, she doing the sprint and I in the olympic, and had a blast this past Sunday competing with about 700 other triathletes on a great course.
    Before I get to the race break-down, I have to make a public PSA. Make. Yourself. A checklist! This is my 5th triathlon, and because I was tired the night before and thought I had it together, I
My face when I realized my chip was at the hotel!
almost made a really sorry mistake. Last time (at Onalaska) I forgot my helmet, and this time, I almost forgot my timing chip! I happened to glance down at someone walking by me around 6:30- right as transition was closing up- and had that "oh s&*$" moment that no one wants to have at a race. Thankfully we stayed at a hotel just down the road and parking was convenient. My boyfriend raced back to the hotel to grab it and came back to me just as the race director was starting her pre-race meeting. Phew! I just looked him in the eye and promised I'd be making myself a laminated checklist and using it from now on. 

     The Swim- This started a bit ominously, since there were posted signs warning against alligators all around the lake. I'm an outdoors-woman and well aware that alligators have no interest in eating anything that's not shiny, but there were some worried looks. The lake was small and the water warm. The course essentially took us to the other side and back, with the sprint legs starting in a different location. That was pretty cool, since they were there to cheer us on as we passed. I handled the swim well, finishing a full 7 minutes faster than my swim at Tri Waco. The water was super murky and silty, but well, it's Houston, swamp water is the only option. I came out and trotted over to transition feeling pretty good, with Bryce telling me to hustle since he knows I tend to dawdle in transition.

     The Bike- The course was super flat! (Well, at least for me as an Austinite!) I averaged about 18.4mph, but was definitely doing 20-22 for much of the course. It was along a route that is apparently very popular with locals, because every once in a while I'd come up on a group and be
At least I had my helmet this time!
thinking "hey, y'all can't be drafting!" but then realize they're not in the race anyhow. I had a great bike leg and felt awesome the whole way. Turns out, I did really well, because I was 1st in my age group on the bike! I am really, really happy with my choice to upgrade to a tri bike. Last year, my fastest race speed was about 15.5mph, and although I know my increased fitness is a factor, having a better, more efficient machine helps! 

    The Run- I came off the bike feeling great still, so I decided that I was going to really try to tackle the run. Running has by far been my weakest race link in every race, but since I've been training for a marathon and am in the middle of high-mileage weeks, I've got better endurance built up. I fell in with a guy from college station who was running about the same pace and struck up a conversation. This is a great thing to do for several reasons! It helps time go by faster, makes the experience more enjoyable since you're running without music and often without crowd support, and keeps you
The start of the run.
motivated and on pace because we all know we're not going to wuss out in front of strangers. We kept up a steady 9:30-9:45min/mile pace, and I was keeping an eye on the calves passing me to watch for people in my age group. Around mile 4.5, we caught up to two women in my AG and I had to leave my new friend behind because I was feeling full of energy and determined to end as highly ranked as I could. We chatted a bit- both of them very friendly- and then came around a corner. My watch said only 5.3 miles, but since I could see the finish line I let all engines fire and took off. This turned out to only lead to a broken heart, because while it was the end for the sprint race, we still had one more out and back to go. Dang! I had to slow down, and my competition caught back up with me. I was way too determined to fall behind now though, and when we got back around to the finish line- again -I was able to gather up the last amount of energy I had and sprint all the way in. 

Two happy faces with two yummy beers!
     My friend finished her first ever sprint triathlon a little bit ahead of me and we met up after the race. She told me she'd actually seen me on the run course, but we kept splitting off from each other so we never got to run together. She was relieved the swim went well, and said she actually didin't get as nervous as she thought. Thankfully, she had come to Austin the weekend before and we had our own open water practice on Lake Travis to give her an idea of how it felt. She had to ride her hybrid bike for the 13 miles of the bike leg, which I warned her wouldn't be awesome, and she definitely wants a road bike before trying her next race. I'm just glad to hear she might want to have a next race! It was so much fun doing a race with finally someone to enjoy it with who would be just as interested in what I wanted to babble on about as I was.
     The next awesome thing about this race was that it was the Oktoberfest Tri and they actually had lots of beer at the end! There were several local Houston-area breweries present who were handing out full beers in tons of varieties to finishers. This was a great relief, after our terrible experience at the "wine run" that only gave us three tastings, not even a full drink! I am still not a fan of pizza as a post-race food, but beer I will always support!

     Overall, I ended up 5th in my age group. If I had been about 3 minutes faster, I would have been on the podium. Bummer! However, looking at the results, it's obvious we had a really competitive age group for this race, and I'm proud of how well I did. It's the first race I've run the whole running leg, and a great high note to end my tri season for 2014 on. Next year - after IM Texas, of course!- I am going to be doing the Texas Tri Series and my goal is to make it on the podium at the end of the year. Next up, the Dallas Duathlon with Athleta, and then on to the BCS Marathon! (Then, one week later, Ironman training begins!)

Don't forget about my fundraiser contest for Team Mercy Project!

     To donate, visit my Pledge Page and pledge! After you donate, make sure you make a comment on any blog post, either today's or future posts during the contest, saying "Hook 'em, Horns!" or "Gig 'em, Ags!" with your name and your donation will be added to the tally. Longhorns are in the lead so far! I'll be updating every week to keep track! Let's do this! I will also have labeled jars on site at other events I host, and those will count too, so come visit me at my yard sale if you want!

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