Vermont Sun Triathlon Sprint Race Report: 7-20-14

me seconds from finish

This past Sunday we both did our second triathlon which was another fantastic race day. We had such a great experience at the Lake Dunmore Vermont Sun Triathlon three weeks ago. (read about it here) So we decided to sign up again for the same course which was valuable experience in the swim and transitions. We have a 70.3 mile distance triathlon coming up in 7 weeks and this race gave me more confidence for a longer swim event.

Again, thank you to Steve Hare and all the awesome volunteers who made the day so successful. The Vermont Sun folks do a really great job with this Triathlon race series! It’s a friendly local race that attracts some impressive talent from Vermont as well as all over the northeast and Canada. It’s also a great venue for first timers and newbie triathletes like ourselves. Whether you are thinking about doing your first triathlon or a Kona regular, do come to one of these events! It’s a super fun day! You can’t go wrong! And if you are a vegan, you are going to be very excited like ourselves. They offer vegan pizza after the race and vegan nutritional shake packets in the race bags. How awesome is that!

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Plus it’s the second time in a row, the weather was just about perfect! Late June through August are usually gorgeous here in Vermont. The morning was cool but warm enough for a refreshing swim. The morning temps never felt too warm while cycling or running. And the post-race sun and temperatures were truly beautiful. These are some of the best times to be in Vermont! It’s been a great summer!

So I’ll get right into the race results as we both had some improvements over our first sprint triathlon three weeks ago on the same course. I improved my overall time from 1:15:24 to 1:13:54 which gave me second woman overall. I achieved a second place finish in a sprint by catching a woman at the very end of the run. It was exciting and very unexpected for me! I was very happy with my overall performance especially for my second triathlon. Some highlights were that I didn’t have any panic attacks in the water like the last time. My swim wasn’t fast at all, but it was smooth and steady. I know it will eventually improve. My bike was about 32 seconds faster and my run was 2 seconds faster. This time I wore socks during the run and had no blisters! While my transition time in T1 was about 30 seconds faster, they both still need a lot of work. I swear, I wasn’t brushing my hair in T2 .Smile

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Scott had a very good day as well! He went from a time of 1:16:50 to 1:15:53. His swim, bike and transitions improved but his run was about the same. I believe he just needs to have a few more weeks of good brick workouts under his belt. They make all the difference in being able to adjust to running quickly after getting off the bike.

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The Swim

After a very disappointing 600 yard swim three weeks ago in my first triathlon, I really wanted to redeem myself. I know I can swim well over a mile in open water without problems. But I had a panic attack which prevented me from breathing in the water me swim pro pic as I normally do in training. I had to swim a good part of the event with my head above the water and stop a few times. While I learned this is very common for new triathletes, I never wanted to experience it again! So I took the good advice of doing a few quick sprints in my wetsuit right before my wave went off to get my heart rate up a bit. I probably looked foolish doing this, but it might have helped my swim that day! This time my plan was to start off swimming slowly and gradually get up to speed. Easing into the swim worked during the last couple Monday night group swims which are intense for me, so I figured it should work at Lake Dunmore. And it did! I actually felt good swimming even with many other moving bodies all around me. After a few minutes into the swim I started to feel a little tense and anxious but I calmed myself down by saying to myself it was just another group swim. And after that I was relatively comfortable. I was actually passing many swimmers. I even caught up to some swimmers in the previous wave who were having difficulties (doing the back stroke, resting on their backs,  etc).

scott water

I know that I swim faster in the group swims and training with Scott, but for me that day it was all about finishing up without any problems. I have worked much harder in group swims, but on Sunday I needed to be calm and steady. Overall it was a huge improvement and a good accomplishment for me that day!  I will now go into the Pumpkingman 1.2 mile swim with more confidence! Scott had a better swim from three weeks ago as well. Comparing times in the swim is difficult. Our coach who is a very accomplished Ironman triathlete said, “The swim you can never really compare. Distances can vary, currents, chop, the pack you are surrounded by… “. This is good news as I was a little disappointed that my swim time only improved by 30 seconds. But there are a lot of variables to swimming!

The Bike

The 14 mile bike portion of the race went very well, but no huge improvements from three weeks ago. I wasn’t expecting to knock off minutes so I was pleased with knocking off about 32 seconds. (My bike was the second fastest of the women) The weather conditions felt very similar to three weeks ago so it was a good benchmark. I was excited to get onto my bike after the swim. This time there were a lot more people on the roads toscott bike pro pic pass as I was out of the water quicker. I find this fun and helpful in a time trial to have people to catch. My legs started off feeling a little tired on the first few miles but came around. I was having a lot of fun on the first 5 miles which are rolling with a lot of down hill. There was one minor obstacle during a downhill section on mile 5. A car got stuck between the cyclists and wasn’t sure what to do. She was following behind a group of cyclists and didn’t want to pass them on the quiet country road. But this became a problem for myself and a couple other riders who were catching up to this car. I had to use my brakes on some of the down hill portion as this car was in my way. Luckily one guy was brave enough to go around the car by riding into the opposite lane. I followed suit and we were free of any more cars that day! This car may have cost me a few seconds but playing it safe was more important. I have crashed in bike races back in the 1990s and I can report it is not a fun experience!

me bike pro pic

The long stretch on Route 7 was once again a good time to put the hammer down and get into a good zone. It was really helpful catching and going by so many people. It really does improve your time when you have other riders in sight. Once I turned onto me dismounting pro pic Route 53 which takes you back to the lake, I worked hard to not loose too much time on the “hill”. I rode up smoothly and kept up a good cadence. Hills are not the place to mash big gears. And I continued to pass people. I even passed one experienced woman who was my age at the top of the hill. Before the race, I just assumed she would be light years ahead of me, but I learned that I need to have more faith in myself! “Never judge a book” as the old saying goes….even if they have branded Ironman transition bags, out-of-state plates, and very nice racing wheels. Smile The next few miles back to the park continued to go well. I rode hard and fast after the hill . I worked on keeping my overall average pace somewhere around 21.4 miles an hour which was a small improvement from the last triathlon. I also didn’t want the 44 year old woman I passed to catch me. Luckily I kept my lead. Scott also had a good bike and improved by 37 seconds overall. After the bike I was again excited for the run which currently is my forte! Eventually my bike will improve as I accrue more quality training miles. I’m nowhere near as fast as I was 20 years ago when racing, but I plan to reach my full potential as a good masters rider! Smart training and a good base of miles is the key!

The Run

scott run pro pic

The 5K run went very well overall but in the beginning I had my doubts! This time I did remember to put on my race belt with my bib number. I decided to attach my cliff shot in the belt so I could eat it in the beginning of the run and not loose more time in T2. This was a good idea except I ended up getting some of the brown chocolate mocha gel all over my face like a 5 year old. I was definitely looking like “Pig Pen” out there! But getting a bit of fuel into my body was more important. I normally have no problems eating gels gracefully during a marathon but this time it was tricky! I felt really slow starting out and I was still winded a bit from the bike this time. So I did what I normally do and gradually eased into the run. The small short incline at the beginning felt a bit harder this time. But my first mile was about the same as the last time which was comforting. The next mile was faster in similar fashion to three weeks ago. So I was right on target. My goal was to run about the same as the last time.

me running pro pic 2 Sprinting for a second place finish!

Close to the turnaround, I did notice one woman was not that far head of me. Could I catch her? It looked like I was running a little faster but I didn’t know if I had enough time and distance to close the gap. On the third mile I had her in sight and could see I was slowly gaining on her. I still had my doubts. I was running at a good clip of around a sub 6:30 pace right before the park entrance. As we turned I was close but I still didn’t think I had enough distance to catch her. Yet I continued to close the gap on the park road. The finish line was not too far ahead. With about 1/10 of a mile to go, I decided I might have a chance if I throw it all out on the line.  I acted on my gut instinct and went full throttle into a sprint! It probably wasn’t pretty, but I was hauling ass! I went by this woman feeling strong and powerful. But at the same time it did hurt and I knew I couldn’t go much further than the finish line at that pace. Luckily I crossed it pretty quickly and a wonderful feeling poured over me. I took a risk and won! I didn’t win the race but I have never felt so happy to earn myself a 2nd place finish! I took that second place by only 5 seconds! It was one of my best running moments in a long time! My running time was a 20:15 which was 2 seconds faster than 3 weeks ago. I had the fastest run of the women and 9th fastest overall including men. I’m happy with that! It was a great race for me overall! The speed work has been paying off!

me sprinting 

The overall female winner Donna Smyers is a local legend who is an extremely accomplished and talented triathlete. So here’s a shout out to you Donna! Congratulations! It was great to finally meet you after hearing so many great things about you. I was a good five minutes behind Donna which is a long time in a sprint! She is super strong! And what’s also inspiring is that Donna is 57 years young! We all can do great things! And age doesn’t have to limit us! Believing in yourself is so important!

 

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Awards Ceremony. I love the medal for placing in the top 5 women!

Overall I highly recommend putting at least one of these triathlons onto your race calendar! I wish we could do the next one in August which also has an Olympic distance as well as the sprint distance. But this August is all about hard core training and getting some long bike rides and long runs logged in during the weekends. It will be peak training for us in preparation for our Pumpkinman half iron triathlon in early September. But we will make sure our coach can fit at least one of the Lake Dunmore Sun Triathlons into next year’s full Ironman training schedule for 2015. Maybe we’ll even try the Olympic Distance which has a longer swim! Thanks again Steve! And it was great meeting you!

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Lake Dunmore is a beautiful place to swim!

After the race we met our friends Jess, Chris and Bob at the Indian Brook Reservoir a couple hours north for some much needed fun time and post-race celebration. It was a full afternoon of socializing, swimming and stand up paddleboarding. Thanks Jess and Chris for renting the boards for the day! I love paddleboarding but have only done it a few times. I highly recommend it! Someday we’ll purchase some boards! Such a blast!

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Thanks for stopping by! We look forward to seeing you in the water and the roads this August!

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