A Favorite Race- My Rev3 Quassy Report
There’s mounds of work to be done. It’s 8pm and I’m sitting in my office working on a presentation for an upcoming conference in Florida. I have two papers to write, qPCR to do, and histology to perform. But I wanted to write my race report while the race is still fresh in my head.
The night before:
I kept it pretty chill on Saturday, with my feet up and fluids in. It was humid, sticky, and hot, and I must have drank a gallon of water/Nuun/EFS (at least). At least every other bottle of water I drank had electrolytes of some kind, and since I was sweating just standing around, I knew it wouldn’t hurt me. I went for a short run to get my legs moving and came back to the hotel after 20 minutes dripping in sweat. I then took a cool shower and read a book. I just relaxed and thought about the race, the course, my strategy. I tried to avoid stalking other athletes out in the blogger-world who were doing races that day, and just tried to let my brain wrap around the next big day. I got to bed early (around 930) and set an alarm for 4:15am.
I got up before the alarm. Hmm. I laid there for a while until the alarm went off, and I tried to be quiet and got my stuff out of the room. I put on my uniform, ate some Panda Puffs (5-6 handfuls) and drank a bottle of EFS (1 scoop in 16oz water). I threw my stuff in the car around 5:30 and rolled up the hill to race site, which was only about four miles away from my hotel.
I mixed a bottle of EFS and Pre-Race (1 scoop each) and sipped slowly on it while I set up my transition. In the aero bottle (50oz water) went three scoops of EFS, and in my Nathan Trail Mix sling went 3/4 scoop EFS, 1 tab of kola nuun (caffeine please!) and water in each bottle. I sprayed my bike shoes with some Tri-Slide, and then sprayed down my shoulders, neck, and thighs with it too. I finished the Pre-Race mix and headed to the beach with my wetsuit, where I got into the warm water for a quick swim. The water was 72 or so, and it was definitely warmer than I expected.
The pros were getting ready to start, and after the national anthem, their wetsuit-free swim began. By the time my wave was lining up, Matty Reed and the first group of male pros were exiting the water. It was exciting to see them coming out. The amateur elite wave, which was supposed to take off after the pros, was canceled due to lack of entrants (apparently only four people signed up, and I was one of them), so I was shimmied back into my age group start which was the second to last wave to take off. It didn’t really matter, since all the women started in the last two waves besides the pros, but it might have been nice to not have to pass some people on the bike by crossing the yellow line because some didn’t know how to stay to the right…
The swim- 37:04 (1:55min/100m)
I turned my Trakkers device on a bit before the start and the red blinking lights were searching for a signal. I threw it in my back pocket and literally forgot about it. The swim was fairly uneventful, although I felt like I slowed down after the first buoy and couldn’t really find any feet. I found some, and then they left me. I found some more, and then they were swimming away from the buoys. I found another pair, and then they slowed. I quickly ran into blue caps and silver caps (the two waves that started ahead of me) and I was soon passed by red caps (the 40+ women). Overtaking some of the swimmers was annoying, because many forgot to sight and were zigzagging, but I was impressed with how spread out and low-impact the swim was. My feet were touched, but not grabbed; I was bumped, but not shoved or elbowed intentionally; and I could see where I was going fairly well. I swam as far as I could and stood up, right behind Jill from All3sports. I was right on her heels, but had to stop because I dropped my goggles and a guy behind me kept yelling “GIRL! GIRL! You dropped your goggles!” (I would have left them, because they are $2 a pop, but then I was worried I’d get in trouble for littering on the course or someone else would step on them…).
I got to my bike and there were quite a few left on the rack, which made me think that I had a decent swim (after the race, I wasn’t too happy about my time; it was a good 4min slower than my best, and I thought I had improved muchos-muchos since last year). I grabbed my helmet, clipped it, slipped into my shoes easy-peasy, and grabbed my bike. That was all I needed. Off I went.
Bike- 3:00:54 (18.6mph)
The bike was fun. It started downhill, on a part of the course that I rode with Jenn on Friday. I was excited to get my legs spinning, and I was surprised at how steep some of the hills were in the beginning. Not long, just steep. And none of the hills were really all that steep; there were just a lot of them.
I felt good, considering the past several weeks of training. My biggest fear was that I would putter out toward the end of the bike, so I tried to stay conservative. I felt my butt burn on the ups but got out of my saddle and attacked the hills. I continued to push on the crests and just felt like smiling the whole time.
The “Big Hill” that everyone was talking about- that I remembered from driving the course on Friday- was better than I expected it would be. It was long, sure, but there were breaks it seemed, and I passed a lot of people who were riding the train (at the bottom of the hill, it looked like a train of triathletes riding side-by-side up the hill). About a mile into the hill, I caught up with a Spaniard that asked where this big hill was, not knowing that we were already there. He and I traded places for the rest of the race- him bombing past me on the downs and my catching up and gaining ground on the ups. It was so great to see my Trakkers teammates at mile 29- I was so excited I started flailing my arms and waving and smiling at them. I grabbed a bottle of water and filled up my empty aero bottle (surprised at myself that I drank 50oz in under 30 miles) and rolled through quickly.
Around mile 34, my EFS Liquid Shot literally shot out of my Nathan Propeller, and I had to stop to pick it up. It was, unfortunately, at an intersection where the downhill leading into it would have catapulted me into even MORE downhill and pushed me up the next climb a bit, but I didn’t want to get penalized and I didn’t want to be without my nutrition on this tough day. I pulled to the right, stopped, and waited for bike traffic to clear, and although a group of guys went blowing by me while I waited, it didn’t take long for me to catch back up. I tried to apologize to them for stopping as I went by.
There were a lot of flats on the course and I didn’t really know why. I mean, a LOT. I would say I probably saw at least 15 people stopped. I never saw any sharps on the road, and there were pot holes but they were well marked with red paint. I was relieved to have bought some Gatorskins a few weeks ago from The Bike Shop, and even though they are a bit heavier, I didn’t get a flat.
Sometimes gaining momentum on the downhills was difficult. One thing I wasn’t happy about- I did a really bad job of transferring my power from the downhills to the ups, and I found myself spinning without any force where I should have been at least pushing something. I would drop by gears too soon, for fear that I’d drop my chain or have some other stupid mistake, and instead it just cost me a few passes on the beginnings of the ups.
I got to the out and back and saw my teammate, Kathleen, as I was making the turn. She was flying and looked great. Not soon after, I saw Sonja with what might have been a big grin on her face. I wondered where Michelle was, because I expected them to have similar bike splits and that Michelle might have got out of the water first. Sure enough, she was close behind. I couldn’t remember just how long the turn around was, but I was glad to see that the ladies (Son and Michelle) were likely only a few miles ahead of me (maybe 4? 5?) and considering that I was a weak swimmer and they are great cyclists, I was feeling more confident. I saw Jamie and Chris, and that was it for green. I made the turn with a woman in front of me, who I didn’t expect to have as good of bike handling skills as she did. She got out of the turn faster than me, granted she was on a road bike, but she stayed ahead of me even on the downhills. I would gain some ground, and she’d go flying off the front again. She was looking strong.
I had no idea what time it was or how long I’d been biking (mileage or hours) because my bike computer sensor would go in and out, especially on the downhills. I hit mile 40, and my computer read 36 miles. I hit mile 50, and I was at 46. So the last six miles I tried to rally the troops (my legs) and get moving. I didn’t want to have too much junk in my legs, and I knew the bike ended in a climb, but I didn’t remember the exact route. I was relieved when I saw runners, because that meant that I was basically doing the reverse of the beginning of the run course, and before I knew it I was heading up Old Sherman Road and back to transition. I saw Anthony and Chris around mile 2, Kathleen, Sonja, and Michelle as they were railing down the hill. I wasn’t confident I could catch them, but I knew if I could get moving like they were I’d have a good shot at placing well.
T2 was mostly uneventful, minus the tongue of my shoe getting stuck and having to finagle it free. My bike was one of the first back on the rack, which made it easy for me to get in and out of transition (aside from the girl next to me throwing her wetsuit right on top of my shoes). I grabbed my visor, race belt, and water belt, and I was in and out, probably one of the quickest transitions I’ve had, even with a shoe hiccup.
Run- 1:42:26 (7:49min/mile)
I was glad to have brought along my Trail Mix belt, because I skipped through a few aid stations and sipped on my EFS. I lost a bottle in transition, though, so I only had one 8oz bottle to hold me over. I was also glad that I brought the belt because it had my inhaler stashed in it, and around mile 2 my head started throbbing and the sound was going in and out. This was not the time for me to be having an asthma attack. I took a puff but kept running, holding my breath as I passed a relay girl (she must have thought I was crazy), and my head throb subsided. A woman with a 30 marked on her leg went bobbing by me, running on her toes and just flying. I couldn’t match her speed, and I didn’t want to for sake of blowing up. Off she went, out of my sights.
I was cruising, but I wasn’t uncomfortable by any means. My feet felt light and fast in my Fastwitch 4s. I felt like I was just out running, below threshold but not easy, just comfortable. I wasn’t sure how hard I wanted to push it, but I was knew I needed to hold back a little. Around mile 3.5 or 4 was the big, steep climb, and it seemed to just keep going. I walked a little, but then decided that I could just get over it and keep running, and so I did. I knew the top was coming soon, and as soon as I got there, I was greeted with a turn. Down down down, I saw Michelle and a few other women. I skipped driving this part of the course, so I wasn’t sure how long it was, but I figured it was around 2 miles or so. There was an aid station at the turnaround and I took my first cup of (not flat) Pepsi. Slurped that and a cup of water and off I went, not stopping. Run run run, I felt strong and comfortable. I wasn’t breathing hard, I was focusing on keeping my arms pumping and my form strong. I stood up, relaxed my shoulders, and just moved. I was picking off the miles, and I got to a climb with a green lure ahead of me. I was hoping it was not Michelle. I noticed then that bobbing girl was just ahead of her. She was slowing too, because she was now back in my sights. I found out on the bike path (as I passed her) that it was Michelle in green, and I gave her a not-so-gentle tap on the behind and tried to get her to go with me, but she looked in pain. And bobbing girl was limping and flailing from left to right on the bike path. I went by her, and that was when I realized that I hadn’t let a single person pass me besides her. And there I went, passing her back. I started focusing on picking people off, and I started to smile as I caught the next person, and the next. I heard feet behind me, but they were not catching up- they were falling back. I saw Sonja again at the turn around, me at little before mile 10 and her past mile 11. She looked strong, and I felt a wave of confidence as I rolled out the out-and-back. Charlie passed me on the cart, and yelled at me. I passed the coach from Terrier Tri, and smacked him on the bum too, and he yelled and we exchanged thumbs ups and I kept pushing forward. After the turn around and another cup of Pepsi (not flat) and I felt the bubbles that had shaken up in my stomach come bubbling out of my mouth. Well, at least it wasn’t vomit. I spit and kept moving.
One last hill, and I knew it would be tough. And I felt like I hit a brick wall. Under the bridge, and I wanted to cry. My legs hurt, my body was tired, my head was hoping that the next turn would be the highway, but it wasn’t. I wanted to be done. And then I was back on 64, and I had a quarter mile left, and I ran across the railroad tracks. I sprinted into the finish and wanted to topple over. The volunteers gave me a bottle of water and a medal around my neck, and I moved through the finish chute. I saw Jenn and the Trakkers team and I smiled. I was done!
I ended up finishing 2nd in my division, and 13th overall for amateurs. Count the pros, and I was sitting at 25th. Yep, there were more pros racing Rev3 Quassy than both the Honu and Kansas IM 70.3s combined. With 2nd place, I received some amazing swag, including a Fuel Belt (pink!), plaque, and a $75 gift certificate to Cannondale. The post race food was outstanding, with a buffet line of some delicious salads, burgers, slaw, and even mac-and-cheese (if only I could eat it!).
Unfortunately my Trakkers device lost signal around mile 6 or so, and anyone trakking me online must have thought I crashed my bike. Luckily I was just fine, no crashes whatsoever; I think the tree cover and lack of cell reception really hindered my device from working. I literally forgot about it in the swim, couldn’t even notice it in my pocket. I made sure every once in a while during the bike that it was still in my pocket, and on the run too, but it stayed put. The new design of the device is really cool, I was just bummed that my parents got worried about me during the race. Sorry, Mom and Dad!
I feel great about this race, even though my time is not a PR and I didn’t have a very strong swim. My transitions were spot on, and my run felt strong. I left it all out on the course, but I didn’t bonk or cramp or blow up. My stomach was solid as a rock the whole race, and my energy levels never plummeted. The heat and humidity, which I am definitely not used to because I live in the UP, was not an issue for me and I hit my nutrition like a hammer to a nail. It was an incredible experience, and it was an incredible venue.
EXTRA-special thanks to my friend, Jenn, who received the Best Friend Award for hanging out with me this weekend. Not only did she meet me in Connecticut to hang out, but she followed me around Middlebury while I did neurotic triathlete things. She held my bike when I was getting my timing chip, she drove the course with me, and she was a mega-outstanding-super-awesome volunteer for both Saturday AND Sunday. Cripes. She also got in a 3hour road ride on Saturday on the hilly roads. Daaang. She rocks.
My Trakker teammates are phenomenal. The ones that raced on Saturday stuck around and ran the show, busy-bees all day on Sunday, taking on multiple tasks and just being awesome.
Also, thank you soooo much to my sponsors, Trakkers, Saucony, First Endurance, Tri-Swim (Tri-SLIDE was amazing as always), Nuun, Nathan Sports, and TriggerPoint. Rev 3 put on an incredible race- this was by far the best race I’ve ever done and it was challenging, rewarding, and incredibly well organized. I am so excited to race in Ohio in September!
Pictures to come soon!