Race Report: Quassy, the Beast of the East. Middlebury, CT
Mission accomplished. First Olympic triathlon completed this past Sunday. My goal was 3 hours. I crossed the finish line at 3:01:45 and loved every minute of this race. One of the major highlights of the day was being able to toe the line with my partner who was making his triathlon debut. Couldn't be more proud of him for persevering through a rather challenging and humbling course.
Perhaps you're wondering why it's called The Beast of the East? One word: HILLS. Lots and lots of hills that roll through the Connecticut countryside with gorgeous views of farmland, cows, and majestic valleys.
We arrived the day before to rack our bikes, get our packets, attend the athlete meeting, and drive the course. I always try to preview race courses, whether cycling or driving them. On this particular course, it was critical to preview it, as it gave us insights into the hills we would be facing on the bike and run. We had scanned the elevation profiles offered online, but seeing those hills up close was key for mental preparation on race day.
Even though I always think I can overcome race day nerves, they're always there - in full force. While standing around waiting for the bathroom or setting up my transition area, I always try to engage others in conversation to distract myself — from myself. It's a great time to meet other folks and make some new friends.
SWIM: This was my first experience with a time trial start and for the most part I liked it. We were told to line up by our projected 100 yard split time and were then sent off in groups of three. Each group of 3 had about 3-5 seconds in between them. I definitely appreciated starting my swim with 2 other people, as opposed to starting with 100 people in a wave start. What was a bit problematic for me was swimming through a lot of folks who may have not seeded themselves correctly. I am a former competitive swimmer and so I generally finish swims in the top 5 of my AG. I probably should have seeded myself in a faster group, but I was trying to be honest with my projected time. Even with having to swim around a fair amount of people, I was very pleased with my swim, which was a 1:33/100 yard.
T1: I sometimes battle a lack of balance and equilibrium after the swim, and so I tend to take T1 slower then I would like to, as it's counterintuitive to my competitive nature. This T1 was one of my slowest and probably one of my most successful experiences because I went at a turtles pace. Had my wetsuit halfway down, goggles, and cap off by the time I reached my area and then sat down on my towel to remove the rest of my wetsuit and get my tri shoes on, as well as my helmet and Oakleys.
BIKE: I have a tendency to be overly excited when I get on the bike after the swim, and so my race plan was to be conservative out of T1. I planned to begin my second round of nutrition at the beginning of the bike. I had eaten a GU on the walk down to the swim. By eating and drinking at the beginning of the bike, my hope was this would force me to slow down a bit so I would have more energy for the hills I would be conquering shortly. The 26 mile bike course had 1900 ft of elevation. When we drove the course, I felt a little bit intimidated by some of the hills even though we had been training for hills. I'm happy to report that once I was out there riding, I felt super comfortable with the elevation gains, and found myself passing folks on some of the hills. I used my road bike instead of my tri bike, as I find hillier courses easier to navigate on the road bike. I normally pull a 17.5-18+mph on the bike and this course only yielded me a 16.5 mph. Very hilly. By the time I dismounted my bike at the transition area, I had finished all of my nutrition and about 2/3 of my hydration. I would have liked to hydrate more, but I also knew I would have access to hydration at the aide stations on the run. Overall, a solid ride — although a lot slower then I am accustomed too.
T2: Easy peasy and significantly faster then T1.
RUN: In my training, I had been doing a fair amount of bike-to-run bricks prior to this race and that definitely paid off here. As I came out of the transition area I grabbed a cup of water, tucked in behind a man with a similar pace, and comfortably began my run. The (mostly shaded) run course weaved through hilly terrain with aide stations at about every mile. Again, like the bike, I went out onto the run being conservative with my pace so I would have energy for the upcoming hills. The first major hill rose up just before mile 3. This hill wasn't too bad considering the next hill at mile 4, which was epic. And then one more hill at mile 6. I ran all of these hills. I was worried I might tighten up or not run again if I walked them, and so I ran them. As I passed other athletes walking these hills, they urged me on, which I definitely appreciated and needed. The total elevation gain for the 6.2 mile run was 460 ft. My partner, who is a very seasoned and successful runner/coach commented that this was likely one of the hardest run courses he had ever participated in. I can't lie, this felt very reassuring to hear. My pace was rather slow (for me) at an 8:47/mile.
FINISH: My partner and I figured that he would cross the finish line ahead of me and when I came through the chute the plan was for him to join me and cross with me. However, he didn't finish ahead of me as we had anticipated. We had expected him to pass me on the run, but his swim and bike took a little longer then expected, and so he never caught me. I was very relieved and excited to see him at the finish area about 5 mins after I had crossed. He had an impressive debut triathlon and I'm super happy to be sharing this sport with him.
Out of 35 ladies in my age group of 50-54, I came in 6th. My goal was to finish in the top 10 and so I'm pretty content with this finish.
All in all, Quassy was an awesome, challenging, and memorable experience with some great learnings for our next races. Next up: Boston Olympic Triathlon and HIM Maine 70.3.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. - Anais Nin
Check out this weeks new move of the week: Tricep Dip with Resistance Band Leg Press