TJ's backyard: Racing in Monticello's Half Tri

"Give about two of hours every day to exercise, for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong." 
--Thomas Jefferson

The past 9 months had left me exhausted and sleep-deprived. I wasn't training as much as last year - a full-time job and full-time Master's program aren't conducive to endurance tri training! Still, I came into MonticelloMan thinking I might be able to slip in a sub-30 swim and hoping for a 1:38-ish half-marathon. Not quite the day I hoped for, but the first race of the year always makes me antsy to race more!! 

Le Swim: Swimming through sticks and into the sun
1.2 mile swim: 31:29 (2nd female) 

Deb Hopkins and I lined up for the beach start with our comrades. Surprised to see how small the field was, and both Deb and I giggled that maybe, just maybe, we might land on the overall podium this year! 

Quick start, caught onto a pair of fast feet, and held them until the first turn buoy. Murky waters made it difficult to enjoy the swim, and I kept swimming into clumps of floating sticks. The aftermath of a storm several days before! I found Deb's feet after the first turn and held them - thanks for the draft, Deb! After the final turn, I focused on strong and solid strokes, sighting off of the men from the wave before us. It was impossible to see the buoys or the beach exit, since the sun was glaring right into my squinty Asian eyes. Egads

Finally saw the dock and exited 2nd female outta the water. Saw Loren - congrats to her on a recent pregnancy announcement!! - and did a quick wetsuit strip. Spermie onto my head; Garmin clicked on; velcro-ed my feet into the shoes. I yelled at Deb that we had a woman ahead of us to catch as I ran away with Penelope to start tackling my weakness: the BIKE! 

Post-note: I have this very weird obsession with swimming sub-30s for a half and sub-hour for a full. Swimming is the sport I have the most confidence in, and it makes me pissed every time I don't meet my goal. I could blame the slight choppiness or the sun, but really, if I got my butt into the pool more during the winter, I'd be a stronger swimmer. Can't wait for Haines Point to open so I can find motivation to be a fish again! 

The longest bike ride of the year: Hills, wind, and getting dropped 
56 mile ride: 3:03:25 (7th female??)

Every year, every race, I vow to myself that I will learn to bike. I will learn to pedal with power. I will learn to attack hills and not fear wind or descents. 

But it hasn't happened yet. I'm not sure why I struggle so much with the bike. There doesn't seem to be any real technique; you make the wheels turn faster and you go faster. I still remember when Bart first gave me a power meter; I thought it was broken because it was stuck at 80 watts. Stupid thing! Useless Garmin, I thought, can't even read my sure-to-be-200+ wattage. Sure enough, the only thing that was broken were my short and stubby legs - full of slow-twitch fibers but no fast-twitch power muscles anywhere in this frame. It takes extreme concentration and effort for me to burst through the triple-digit wattage. Sigh.

So for the entire bike race, every time I heard the swoosh-swoosh of race wheels closing in on my 650s, I would pray to the Buddha that it was a male. But as the miles ticked on, the females closed and gave sweet smiles of victory as they pedaled past me. 

OK, they passed'll get them on the run, I told myself. But by the time I was on my second loop, the wind had picked up...and me and the wind are NOT friends on the bicycle. Just get off the bike and run people down, I thought, trying to focus on my calories. 

Nutrition for the bike: 
This year, the Snapple Triathlon Team picked up a new sponsor: Osmo Nutrition

Wooohoooo!!! What a fantastic product to work with!!! Preload, Active, and Post hydration mixes all taste fantastic (number one priority). Osmo had been stellar during my marathon, and it worked for the Monti half as well! 

2 bottles of Active Osmo mix: 200 calories 
1 Clif Bar (Choco Chip, classic!) and one Honey Stinger bar: ~450 calories 
3 Clif Shot Blox (athlete's candy): 100 calories
Total liquid cals (200) + Total solid cals (550)= 750 calories 

Eating on the bike is always a highlight for me. Let's be honest, though - eating anything, anytime makes me happy. 

Into T2 - and spectators told me I was 5th female. Time to run some cyclists down! Mizunos on, tucked my extra shot blox into the bra, and then found my way to the Port-a-Potty to take a leak. 

Running with a Human God 
13.1 mile run: 1:42:11 (2nd female) 

Since my beloved Mizuno Ronins had worn thin and the model had been discontinued, I converted to the new Hitogamis.

Hitogami translates to Human God, which is a bit too other-worldly of a shoe name for my liking. Whatever. I love this shoe despite its egotistical name. 

Love love love. It fits like a glove. It's as light as the Ronin. It has yellow, my favorite color. It doesn't feel like a weight but gives just enough cushioning to sustain my feet for a half-marathon (I think it would work pretty damn well for a full as well!). 

I hadn't done any practice BRICK runs - the last run I'd done off the bike was at IMMT last year. How quickly I had forgotten (perhaps intentionally??) what it feels like to run on feet disconnected from my quads!! I couldn't get the turnover I wanted, and even though my cardio/breathing was fine and I focused on picking up the pace, I didn't settle in until about mile 5. 

Started to run down the chicks that had gotten me on the bike. Around mile 10, I felt really strong and confident - and spectators told me I was 3rd female. Yeah, man, why hadn't this surge kicked in earlier? Let's chase #1 and 2!!! 

Alas, this doesn't have a fairy tale ending, and I wasn't able to catch Ms Long Legs (1st place) or Kendra's look-a-like (2nd place). I look like a midget next to these two! 

Final Monti Half: 
3rd Female
13th Overall

Best part of the race was the final 1/4 mile. Zack, Munchies, Kraft, Lee, and KGo were there at the corner, screaming at me to put some gusto in my step. Always nice to have a cheer squad!!!  

Thanks to Loren Bazualdo for some race pics, and congrats to her and hubby Dan for their recent announcement: a lil' one cookin' in da belly! 

And congrats to Deb Hopkins - first place AG and comrade in suffering through work and school full-time. You are a rockstar and I don't know why we're smiling so widely in this pic - especially when we both went straight home and started working on finals! 

A shout-out to Kendra (3rd place female in the Oly! - and ran with me for a short stint as part of her post-race workout!!), Munchies (Champion of the Oly!), Kraft, Dez and Holly Tompkins on their MontiMan Oly races! 

And the tri community is such a wonderful place to meet new faces with similar passions...Mark and Lee rocked it at the Oly! what's next...not too sure! Just basking in the aftermath of graduating with my Masters and now have to figure out which races to sign up for. Most likely Williamsburg Rev3 Half and Wisdom Oak Winery Tri! 

I also have a mission to try every Talenti Gelato flavor before the end of summer. 

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