This past weekend I headed to Oxford, MS for the third time to do the Rebel Man Sprint Triathlon. Last year my friend Ashley did it with me, but this year we went together. Due to schedules, we decided to drive over on Saturday and back on Sunday. This is what happens in a Suburban (my rental car) when two women go to a triathlon for 24 hours. It was not easy to get a good shot of all of our stuff. Let’s just say we could not have fit much more in the vehicle.
This is the third time I have done Rebel Man, a good early season race. The swim is in a pool, the bike and run are challenging without being over the top. I didn’t have big goals for this race, but I had three. One was improve my swim time from last year (done), two was to have fun (done), and three was not get injured (done). My time was not great overall but I didn’t expect much because of my run and the time this winter when I couldn’t train or was having difficulty when training. Overall, I am happy with the race. I had a couple of bonus things that I will talk about as I go through the whole event.
On the way to Oxford, we stopped at a farm market. I found something that I am eager to try this week. I just need to figure out what I want to do with this. I have never had pickled asparagus.
After we went to lunch, Ashley and I drove the run and bike courses. The race courses and set up were slightly different this year due to construction on campus. We went to packet pick-up and I swam for a short time just to get in the Olympic size pool for a bit since I have not had a chance to get in the one on campus for several months.
I dropped her off at a friend’s house and I returned to my friend’s house where I was staying. On the way I stopped to buy dinner. This is what I found at Kroger’s in Oxford:
I could have saved postage and just bought Calrose rice in Oxford. If I had only known :) I watched a little basketball and then went to bed early.
The weather forecast was not great for the morning but it kept changing. Earlier in the week there was a very nice forecast but as the week progressed, rain and colder weather moved in. The morning was quite chilly and I was glad I threw in my fleece lined cycling jacket.
Transition had some pluses this year. It seemed that they had more bike racks than last year and the layout seemed better with only two rows. There were no problems with room for bikes and gear (which made me happy since my bike was knocked over last year). We set up our areas and were early enough to be on the ends of sections so there was a little extra room. As I was putting my water bottle on the front of my bike, I discovered the bracket was cracked in half. I was glad I had the rubber band with me to hold the bottle in place. It was fine for the ride, but I am not sure when it broke or how it broke. I guess that means I will buy the one that I wished I had in the first place.
I have gotten pretty good at setting up my area. I did a little more after I took this photo but not much. I don’t usually put a jersey on but I was wearing my trisuit and decided I would need at least a jersey so I hung it on my aerobars. That worked well.
Ashley and I swim with a group and we both brought our swim caps so I shot a picture of that as well.
Swim: Practice pays
This race has a pool swim. The distance is 440 meters, or about 480 yards. There are pros and cons to pool swims. The pro is you are in a pool and if something goes wrong there is always a lane line, if not a ledge to hang onto. The con is that it is more difficult to get around someone who is in the way. I had at least 100 yards of a wild breaststroker who was kicking me in the face. I kept trying to get around her but she was not letting anyone around. I thought I could get away from her when we ducked under lane lines but it took two tries. That slowed me a bit. My time was still almost 2 minutes faster on the timing mat than last year. Swim = success.
One BONUS! came as we were waiting in line to begin. A woman looked around and asked if anyone in line was Millie. I said I was and she told me she had found this blog and had enjoyed reading it. That made me happy.
I think the distance to transition was probably the same as last year but it looked and seemed shorter. My T1 time was better than last year, even with putting on two layers of clothes. The bike out was on a hill. I would like to know who thought that was a good idea. I was in low gear and as I exited and approached the mount line, I remembered what John Hanna told me – get across the line and then mount the bike out of the way of other people trying to get started. It did not take much time and it was worth it.
Bike: Chains drop
I really thought I would have a better bike time this year, or at least the same as last year. I would have if it were not for chains dropping. This is an out and back course and crosses a busy intersection with excellent assistance from the police. There is a bike lane most of the way out and we are encouraged to use it as much as possible. The bike route goes through a residential area and then passes a complex where either softball or soccer games are played. There was some kind of tournament Sunday morning so traffic was heavier than we thought it would be. My time out to the turnaround was great – 21 minutes. My top speed was over 27 mph and I averaged 17 mph. Then I turned around to come back….slam! wind! The wind was pretty bad for at least a mile. There was also traffic and I was bottle necked by cars at a point where the was not a bike lane for a few minutes. Ashley and I both realized that coming back is a slight uphill the whole way. My problem came on Sorority Row, however. This is the turn back onto campus and I was prepared for it. It is a hill that is not awful but just enough. I was at a point where I thought I could switch gears but I was wrong and dropped my chain not once, but twice. This cost me roughly 4 minutes. I finished the bike strong though and made it back. 58:35, overall average 13.8 mph with dropped chain fixing.
I did get to wear my Skratch Labs jersey for the first time.
My feet were blocks of ice when I got to T2. I was also annoyed with myself for a dumb mistake on the hill so I lost a few seconds in T2. I am glad I took time to drink some Skratch Labs though because there were no water stops on the course this year.
Run: Your body does what your mind tells it
I knew my run would not be fantastic since I have not been running much and since this is a hilly course. With the modifications due to construction the course was not quite as hilly but the bigger hills were still part of the course. I began running and then started to think if I am going to be slow then I will take a few pictures along the way, walk if I need to, and not worry too much about time.
This is what campus looks like:
When I took the photo of the water tower I suddenly thought, “your body does what your mind tells it.” I’ve heard this and variations before but never really thought about it as I ran. I started to tell my body to “run, body, run.” And I did. Slowly, but I ran. I did a bit of walking on a very steep, short hill on Rebel Drive. But then I walked/ran the rest of the way, including running up the longest hill of the course (BONUS!). That was worth the whole race for me because hills are difficult for me even when I have been running on a regular basis. As I turned the final corner, one of the students looked at me and said, “that’s perseverance.” And the tone, unlike in some other experiences I have had, was genuine.
I ran the rest of the way to the finish. Everyone cheered as I crossed the finish line – dead last. But I finished and that was what mattered to me yesterday.
My friend Ashley received her first medal yesterday – 2nd in her Age Group. Yay, Ashley!
So, the day had a lot of pluses even if I did not match or beat my time from last year. It was a good race, lots of fun, and we did not get rained out. All in all, a great weekend.