Rollercoaster Hills at Quassy
At 5:15 am, Chip's head poked into our bedroom.
"Guys? It's 5:15..."
"WHAT!?!? What time is it?"
"No. It's time. Uh. Get up."
This race day was not off to a good start. Bart and I scrambled out of a way-too-comfortable bed and into our Snapple spandex. I'd set 3 alarms for 4:45 am, but must have slept through all three of them. We had planned to leave for Quassy Half-Rev transition area at 5:15 - obviously, deep sleep had delayed us. Thanks to Bart's mad driving skills and fearlessness of speed, we made it to the transition area only several minutes behind Chip.
I met my two racking neighbors who both had bikes with 650 wheels as well. Oh joy, the world is a better place with more tiny bikes!
Quassy's atmosphere was electric. The pro's transition area was surrounded by giddy fans with cameras, while age-groupers peered over from our congregate transition area to the coveted corner of pro tri bikes. It's not every triathlon in which you're racing alongside (or 2 hours behind!) Mirinda Carfrae and Matty Reed. Volunteers were spraying racers' ankles with some type of wetsuit glide thing-a-ma-hairspray. Quassy's focus on creating a family-friendly weekend was evident in the dozens of kids trailing their dads, holding parents' goggles and water bottles as we all filtered toward the beach start.
Quassy's pro men went off at 6:50 am. It's pretty awesome to see 35 pros dolphin-jump their way from beach to water, then funnel their way to a streamlined pyramid. The females took off 3 minutes later, a bit less graceful in their water entrance but no less impressive. I took a little dip in the water before my wave went off, taking care of some necessary business and getting a couple of strokes in. Chip, Bart, and Sean were already 15-20 minutes well into their 1.2 mile swims, so I hung out by myself and kept track of the gray swim caps in my wave.
At 7:27, my wave lined up. I grabbed a spot toeing the water's edge on the outer right side, and as the race official yelled, "GO!", tried to high-knee-run into the water. Unfortunately, having disproportionately short legs on an already short frame meant that two steps took me thigh-deep, and I dove in. Stroke, stroke, recalibrate, and I was in a comfortable position.
Happy times in the water. Clear, warm, and relatively calm. I beelined for the first buoy and quickly found another age-grouper's feet to catch onto. She was holding a steady pace and I just followed her bubbles.
Round the first turn buoy and heading into the sun - sighting became a bit difficult now. I picked up the pace a bit and left my comrade's bubbles.
Final leg of the triangle swim: age-groupers from the waves before me were really struggling. I ran into a crotch, side-swiped a breast-stroker, and tried to avoid the stalled traffic.
Out of the water in 30:17, 2nd in my age group, 10th overall female. - Thanks to my Xterra Vendetta wetsuit for getting me out of the water in good time!
Per the norm, my wetsuit took a bit of wriggling and pulls to get off, but I was in my bike shoes and Penelope was ready to hit the hills!
It sucks to have cycling as your weakest leg because a. it's the longest and b. it doesn't seem that difficult. Swimming is a lot about technique; running about efficiency. Biking? To me, you just turn the pedals. More revolutions per minute mean you go faster, right?
Well, today I was fighting. I'd never ridden more than 40 miles before, so Quassy's 56-mile-bike-leg might be a bit trying on my legs. Those Quassy hills are endless! It seemed like I was getting passed by everyone. OK, that is being generous. I was getting passed by everyone! The only people that I passed were several folks from the older generation who had started in swim waves well ahead of me, and an 18-year-old boy who made a U-turn on the course right in front of me to retrieve a dropped water bottle. I passed him as I swerved to avoid a collision.
Bike split: 3:18:52, dropped to 6th in my AG and 47th overall.
Instead of bemoaning my awful place dropping throughout the bike leg, I'll highlight my favorite bike moment: Accel Key Lime Gels!!! Those things are delicious. I had 2 and I felt like I was having dessert in a plastic baggie while suffering those hills at mile 20 and 40.
Lessons learned: Nothing but the obvious: I gotta work on my biking skills! Time to log 50 mile bike rides on Penelope in the brutal DC heat!
T2: I was so happy to be out of the saddle and in my Zoots! I'll admit, I was a bit worried because I'd just completed the longest bike ride in my life, and I hadn't run more than 10 miles for the past 6 months. Were my legs ready?
Oh Sweet Hallelujah! A blue Port-a-Potty awaited me at Mile 1 aid station - I couldn't have asked for a better positioning. I had been unable to pee in my wetsuit on the swim (it's impossible, try it someday), and obviously I was not going to defile Penelope by going on the bike, as I've heard some people do. So I was quite excited to see a Port-a-Potty at the first aid station. In and out of that boiling closet; that 30 seconds was well worth it!
Miles 1-6 felt awesome. I was ticking off people like crazy, and it felt like the perfect revenge for my having been passed by the masses on the bike.
Around mile 6, there is a turnaround. I saw 2 girls in my AG who had passed me on the bike about 3/4 mile in front of me. I thought they might be within catching distance, so I set my goal for the next 7 miles as "Gain on and Pass Ms. Pink tri kit and Blue sports bra."
Mile 7 - more than halfway through! Mentally, I was using Mile 9 as a highlight - I knew that the Snapple volunteers would be there with water, Coke, Gu, and pretzels.
Mile 8 - massive, endless hill. Head down, feet churning, then at the crest I turned a corner and we flew downhill.
Mile 9 - thanks to Bill's sister for the water and Greg for the 2nd water!
Mile 11 - another turnaround, and I saw Pink tri kit about a 1/2 mile in front, and Blue Sports bra about 400 meters ahead of me. Time to go!
Last two miles - I couldn't wait to be done. I just wanted water and my stomach was feeling a bit...jammed...like all the Gus that I had taken on the bike were just congealed.
Mile 12 - Passed Blue sports bra! Several hundred meters later, passed Pink tri kit! I was feeling fine now and started to think about Kensington Pizza...
Finish line! The great thing about Quassy is that you hear your name booming across the megaphone as you're coming in for the final 200 meters. Talk about feeling like the whole stadium is cheering for you (when in reality, it's only the race director's enthusiastic voice)! I tried to sprint as best as my limited stride-length legs could...and crossed the line to be met by the Muscle Milk ladies with a
Run Split of 1:39:57.
Finishing Time: 5:32:43, 3rd in AG, 24th overall.
Quassy is as hilly as it gets, but it makes it all the more rewarding. Congrats to fellow Snapple teammates Bart, Sean, and Chip for a great Half-Rev race and to Jim, Audrey, Kristi, and Loren for smashing the Olympic race the day before!
Thanks, Quassy staff and volunteers, for a great race weekend and sore quads!
*And a HUGE THANKS to Chip for waking Bart and me up that morning!