Race Recap: Steamboat Springs Olympic Triathlon

29 Aug

I did it! The race went GREAT and I had an awesome time in Steamboat. But let me start from the beginning…

Friday

I found out from the vet that nothing is seriously wrong with our dogs. They don’t have giardia or parasites. Most likely, they ate something that upset their stomachs (I’m guessing mushrooms from our backyard). So they just need to be on a bland diet for a few days, and Charlie probably needs to switch to a new regular food to help with her soft stool. After the vet, I took a nap, ordered sushi :), packed, walked the dogs, stretched, and went to bed.

Saturday

I went for a swim at the Rec in the morning. I had tried to go Friday morning but the Rec was closed. It felt good to be moving again. That is one thing that I don’t like about taper week – not having that “I just did a great workout” feeling.

Then I talked to my mom for a bit, packed the car, and took the pooches over to my friend D’s house. I chatted with her over coffee and cinnamon rolls (yum!) and left around 11 am to go back home, load my bike on the Focus, and hit the road.

Everything was going according to plan — I didn’t forget anything, the sun was shining, traffic wasn’t bad, I was belting out my favorite tunes. And then I started to feel like the Focus was struggling a little more than usual up the big mountain grades. Like a precursor to it running out of gas and dying on the side of the highway. But I had plenty of gas. It wasn’t overheating. There had been a puddle on the driveway underneath the car though. And the Check Engine light was on (even though it has been for a while). Hmmmm…

I called Travis. “Um, the Focus is kind of lurching up the steep grades. Could it be low on oil or something?”

He had checked the oil not too long ago so he didn’t think it was that. He was at a loss as well, since he was 300 miles away and trying to diagnose the car via my very non-technical description. Eisenhower Tunnel was getting closer… visions of my car dying right in the middle of it flashed through my head. That would be very bad. Not to mention that I had only driven 45 minutes of a 3.5 hour drive — if the car was struggling already, would it even make it?

“So do you think I should turn around and go home to get the truck?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s probably the smartest thing to do.”

Blast it!

So I turned around at the Loveland Pass exit and headed all the way back to Denver, transferred my luggage and bike to the truck, and took off again… for real. Travis very kindly met me in Vail instead of just staying in Steamboat, so at least I had a companion for the last part of my trip.

The clock was ticking… at 4:15, I saw a sign that said 40 miles to Steamboat. Packet pickup ended at 5. No! We can’t be late! I floored it, doing 80 in a 65 (shhh… don’t tell the po-po) and we arrived in Steamboat at 4:30 — plenty of time! After looking for packet pickup in two wrong places, I finally found it and got all my race stuff and swag. Whew!

We headed to the hotel to unload all of my stuff and put my bike in our room. After watching TV for a bit, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant across the street called Rex’s American Bar & Grill. I had looked up restaurants online the week before and heard rave reviews about this place. And I loved that it was within walking distance!

We opted to sit outside on the patio, where we enjoyed some live music and a gorgeous view of the Steamboat ski slopes, now lush and green. I wanted a glass of wine so badly but knew I had to behave myself. I ordered Napa pizza with apples, bacon, onions and bleu cheese. It was amazing. I have discovered that I love, love, love bleu cheese on pizza. Mmmm… Travis ordered a beer and “Stuffed Bird Boob” with mashed potatoes. I couldn’t figure out what kind of meat that was until the waiter described it as chicken breast. Ahhh… now I get it. His food was also delicious.

Right before we got our food, it started to rain. Since there were plenty of umbrellas on the patio and it wasn’t raining very hard, we stuck it out. Our waiter was nice enough to bring me a fleece blanket — much appreciated!

As we finished, it started raining harder and my very chivalrous husband agreed to go get the car to come pick me up. I decided that since I couldn’t have wine, I at least needed some ice cream. So we drove over to DQ and I got a mini Brownie Batter Blizzard. It hit the spot.

By then, it was about 7:30 and we decided that since it was raining and the rodeo had ended the weekend before 😦 , the best option was just to go back to the hotel and bum. So that’s what we did.

Around 9:00, I decided it was time to sleep. And as far as nights before races go, I slept very well. I woke up a few times to panic and wonder what the heck I was thinking doing an Oly tri but was able to get back to sleep fairly quickly (I guess that’s one nice side effect of your dogs making you sleep-deprived).

Pre-Race

Race morning, I actually hit the snooze button. I finally got up at 5:30. We left the hotel by 6:05, stopped and got coffee for Travis, and got to the race site around 6:20. I thought transition opened at 6:30 but it had really opened at 6:00. It wasn’t a big deal because there were plenty of spots left. I got body marked and then set my stuff up. I chose a rack on the inside aisle, about ¼ of the way down from the swim in.

After getting my area set up, I picked up my timing chip and heard that the water wouldn’t be open for warming up until 7:15. Since it was only 6:45, I went on a little jog for a warm up, went to the bathroom, put on sunscreen (which apparently all washed off during the swim), and then headed down to the water. The temperature was announced — 68 degrees. Woohoo!

At 7:40, I got in the water. It wasn’t bad at all. I could totally do the swim without a wetsuit. I mean, the water hardly even took my breath away. It was like swimming in Minnesota! I was feeling great and doing a little swim warm up when all of a sudden, I hit a giant patch of seaweed. I hate seaweed. I refuse to swim in seaweed. EEEWWW! I panicked and swam back to shore as fast as I possibly could. As I got out, I told Travis, “Well, the water is nice but that seaweed is going to kill me.” After I stood there for a bit commiserating with a fellow athlete about how gross the seaweed was, I decided to go back in and purposefully swim through the seaweed, reminding myself they’re only plants. No little creature is going to attach itself to me or eat me. I will survive. So I swam through the seaweed and I was fine.

I got back out and we stood around for another 35 minutes, listening to the pre-race briefing and watching the four waves before me go off. I just about froze. My teeth were chattering, my legs were shaking. I couldn’t help but think, I’d probably be warm if I was wearing a wetsuit.

Finally, my wave was up. I got back in the water, positioned myself at the back of my wave, got my face used to the water and then treaded water to warm my body up while I waited.

Swim

Before I knew it, the foghorn went off and we were off! Almost immediately, my whole wave had left me in their wake. But I was just pumped that I was swimming! And feeling great! I wasn’t panicking! I kept thinking, I totally have this.

The little toe on my right foot felt weird and I thought that some of the muck from the bottom of the lake must have magically bonded to my foot. Then I wondered if it was a leech. So I reached down to feel. Nothing, not even muck, was there. I realized that my toe was frozen. So were my fingers. You know that feeling when your fingers and toes feel like they’re hollow? That’s how I felt.

By the time I reached the first sighting buoy, athletes from the last wave were passing me. I kept my pace and let them go around me. Just keep watching the buoy get closer, I reminded myself. Take it one buoy at a time. The swim will end sometime.

After I rounded the third turning buoy, I started feeling like I had to pee. I tried to pee while swimming a couple of times but that proved to be more complex than I could handle. But I knew that biking on a full bladder was absolutely miserable so I stopped swimming momentarily to pee. All better.

Finally, I passed the last sighting buoy and could see the swim exit. A couple hundred yards more and I could stand. I ran out of the swim. Yay!! I did it! The hardest part is over! Travis snapped a picture of me as I ran to transition.

Official Swim Time: 46:34

T1

While it was nice to not have a wetsuit to get off, I fumbled with my socks and shoes, and took what seemed like forever to get my helmet on. Usually, I run from the swim into transition and then out with my bike, effectively leaving me breathless between each leg. This time, I said, Screw it — I’m going to walk and catch my breath. So I did.

Official T1 Time: 2:27

Bike

For the first two or three miles of the bike, I felt like I hadn’t ridden a bike in forever. Everything felt foreign. My legs felt really weird. I realized then that I was still frozen. No wonder why my legs felt weird – they were practically numb! It took me about 5 miles to warm up.

While I was still warming up, I encountered The Bumpy Road. Some construction-working genius had decided that gravel with a thin layer of asphalt over it was just as good as an actually paved road. I beg to differ. It was miserable. And I had to pee again, which was magnified 1,000 times with each bump. I started wondering, Can I really survive 20 miles on this horrible-ness?

The course took a left turn and Hallelujah! The road was actually paved again. Oh wonderful, gentle smoothness. By about mile 9, I really had to pee. I started hoping they’d have a porta-potty at the turnaround, all the while knowing that they almost certainly didn’t. But lo and behold, the turnaround was at a baseball field. I asked the volunteer at the turnaround if there were restrooms and he said there were, but he didn’t know if they were open. I had to at least try. So I laid my bike down and ran to the door. They were open! Praise the Lord!

I was so happy on my way back — it’s so much more enjoyable to ride a bike when you don’t have to pee!

{Side note: WHY did I have to pee so much? I went twice before the race started, then during the swim, then again on the bike. I purposely didn’t drink much before the race to avoid this very problem. Argh!}

I followed my fueling strategy by eating my first 3 Shotbloks right after the turnaround (11.5 miles because of the dog leg) and 3 more right before the dog leg (22 miles). There were 4-5 steep-ish hills on the way back, the longest one being the dog leg — 1 mile of 2% grade. Lucky for me, that’s nothing compared to the crap hills on my bike to work. I cruised up the hill (being mindful to not push it too hard), back down and hit the home stretch.

Official Bike Time: 1:31:29 (16.3 mph)

T2

Once again, I walked with my bike back to my rack. I took off my helmet and grabbed my hat, race belt, and Shotbloks. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t grab my piece of bread with peanut butter. And I was off.

Official T2 Time: 1:34

Run

I started running soon out of transition and my legs felt typical – heavy and foreign. I made the decision to walk 1 minute at every aid station (there was one every mile). By the time I got to the first aid station, drank some water, and started running after my minute was up, I had my running legs and settled into a nice pace. By mile 2, I found that I was running an 11:07 pace. Decent.

Mile 3 felt long. My left knee started to hurt with a very familiar feeling caused by a tight IT band. Because I knew what it was, though, I just ran through it. I can stretch later. Finally, there was the aid station: it was a Hawaiian luau. That picked up my spirits and I made it up the hill to the turnaround. On the way back, I grabbed some water and ate my last 3 Shotbloks. On to mile marker 4.

My stomach had started sloshing around so I stopped drinking water. By mile 5, it was getting into the 80s. My knee still hurt. I had the slightest stomach cramp. But I could see the aid station and just kept running.

Finally, it was the last mile. I ran past the lot where we parked, which they said was .5 mile away from transition. There were a lot of athletes and spectators already making their way down to their cars, so I got a lot of cheering on this last stretch. That was fun.

I crested the last hill and picked up the pace. I was SO HAPPY. I couldn’t help but smile and throw my arms up. I totally made it! And…

I ENJOYED IT!

I had pushed myself so hard during the sprint tris I did back in June that I didn’t even enjoy them. The bike was hard and the run was ruined. Why did I do that to myself? I really enjoyed this race.

I crossed the finish line, all smiles, and was handed some water and my finisher’s medal.

Official Run Time: 1:13:06 (11:48/mile)

Official Race Time: 3:35:08

Sure, I didn’t make my “goal” but I am totally excited about my performance. For me, it was huge that I didn’t panic once during the swim, I enjoyed the bike instead of going balls to the wall, and I did the whole run at a very comfortable pace.

As far as the event itself, I think Without Limits Productions puts on a very good race. My goodie bag had a lot of cool stuff in it (hello Luna bars and free socks in Travis’ size!) and the shirts were cute and great quality. I’m not thrilled about the dogtag-style finisher’s medals, but oh well. Their website was kept up-to-date with all the important information and they had plenty of bike course marshals directing us where to go and holding back traffic. My only real complaint is that there wasn’t much cold water at the finish line (or maybe they ran out before I got there?). But overall, it was a great race.

Post-Race

After the race, Travis and I stuck around because my name had been called for a raffle. After I got some more free socks (that I can wear), we grabbed my stuff and loaded up the car. Since it was about 85 by then and just an absolutely gorgeous day, we decided to tube down the Yampa River. Colorado doesn’t have a big selection of “lazy” rivers that are mild enough to tube down, so we seized the opportunity.

When we were finally changed into our suits and everything was stowed in our truck, we grabbed our tubes and river shoes (pretty sweeto) from Backdoor Sports and took off down the river. It wasn’t so much a lazy river as an always-watch-where-you’re-going-so-you-don’t-fall-off-in-the-rapids river, but it was still a blast. I love mild rapids like that! Every once in a while, we’d hit the current and rapids just right that a giant splash of cool water landed on our laps. Refreshing. The ride took about 45 minutes and we waited for the shuttle back for about 10 minutes.

We changed back into our clothes at Backdoor Sports and went to lunch at Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. Travis had a tuna melt (with REAL tuna meat, not the canned stuff) and I had a Reuben. Both were delicious. We made a quick stop at the gas station and then headed back to Denver.

What a great weekend! I’m pumped that the race went so well and I loved being able to do something fun and out of the ordinary with my very supportive and loving husband. I’m very lucky that he comes to cheer me on at my races, even if he gets insanely bored and takes pictures of random things, like pontoon boats and buildings. 😉

Now it’s back to work, laundry and grocery shopping.

6 Responses to “Race Recap: Steamboat Springs Olympic Triathlon”

  1. B. in the Know August 30, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    Sounds like a great race – glad you enjoyed it!
    Much love,
    B

  2. Erin August 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Nice job! Loved the recap!

  3. marathon bracelet September 20, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    Spot oon with this write-up, I seriously believe this amazing site needs a lot more attention.
    I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!

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