The Cold Wet Race Report: Stowe Triathlon 5-15-2016

group bike stowe tri

Nice Photo from the Stowe Triathlon facebook page

Last weekend we both raced in the Stowe Triathlon in Stowe, Vermont on 5-15-2016. Our friend Scott M. has been raving about this early season sprint triathlon for a while now. Last year it didn’t quite fit into our training schedule and I am not a fan of triathlons with a pool swim to be honest. But this year I am returning from a very bad stress fracture in my hip which I incurred last summer (femoral neck). This was my first race in almost a year. So it was a good tune up and great mental practice for our upcoming half and full Ironman in June and August this summer. Plus it was very close by!

The Stowe Triathlon is a fun local event. It is simplistic without timing chips, but it is still well organized and the volunteers are super friendly and do a great job. Thanks everyone! The race is held out of the Swimming Hole which is an athletic facility with a beautiful 25 meter pool. This is where I learned to swim back in the winter of 2012 after incurring a 3 month long running injury. So this pool is near and dear to my heart. It’s very clean, clear, and has views of Mount Mansfield and the ski trails. If anyone had told me I’d be racing in it someday, I would have thought they were crazy as swimming 10 laps was a big deal back then.

group photo pre swim scott M and Julie

 Julie, me, Scott M. and my Scott – thanks for the photo Barbara M.

Since I am a numbers person who loves race data I’ll give out the statistics right off. I was the second female overall. First place went to our awesome local professional Ironwoman, Jessie Donavan. She’s amazing! I had to fight for second place as Julie is super strong and was only about 49 seconds behind me. Scott was the 5th male overall and beat me by a few minutes. Congrats Scott! Here are the top ten results (out of 52 people). The run time includes the transitions. The bike course was different this year and the cold, rain and wind made the times slower than last year from what I understand.

swim             bike                               run

1  289 Arthur Mathisen      40-49 M   1  7:08     2   35:03    1   42:11    2   19:46  1:01:57
2  270 David Connery         40-49 M   13  8:16    1   34:50   2   43:06    5   21:25  1:04:31
3  291 Scott Moylan            40-49 M    7  7:36     3   37:04    3   44:40    6   21:31  1:06:11
4  279 Sean Fleming            30-39 M   3  7:18     4   39:01    4   46:19    3   20:17  1:06:36
5  393 Jessie Donaven         40-49 F   11  7:59    5   39:35    5   47:34    9   22:31  1:10:05
6  283 Scott Holsten            40-49 M  10  7:55    6   40:46    6   48:41   12   23:58  1:12:39
7  264 Walter Bean              15-21 M   14  8:32   10   43:41   8   52:13    4   20:45  1:12:58
8  300 Chris Shaffer            40-49 M  16  8:43    9   43:33    9   52:16    7   22:06  1:14:22
9  282 Joyce Holsten           40-49 F    17  8:47    7   42:48    7   51:35   10   23:24  1:14:59
10 386 Julie Viau                  30-39 F    8  7:45   13   45:54   11   53:39    8   22:08   1:15:47

We arrived at the Swimming Hole a bit too early which is usually how we roll when it comes to races. I like to have plenty of time to get organized and warmed up. However because the pool swim had 5 different heats, I didn’t start racing until after 9am. I was in the 4th heat. And my short quick warm up in the pool was about an hour and a half earlier. So I recommend getting there a little bit later for the next time.

The Swim

my pre swim start

The swim was 500 meters (10 laps) which is now very reasonable for me. However, this was not a stellar swim for me even with all the master swims in Williston week after week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and many Saturdays. Without a proper 1,000+ yard warm up with a few sprints, doing 10 fast laps cold was hard for me. This is because I have anxiety issues in the beginning of triathlon swims. My heart rate spikes in the beginning if I go out too hard without being warmed up and I have trouble getting it to back down. Plus I am a long distance person with all my sports so sprinting is never easy or natural for me. So without a good warm up right before my heat, I had to start out slowly and build up. However my heart rate took a while to stabilize and I was never able to swim as fast as I am capable of doing. This is an area that truly needs work on my part. On a positive note, It was great to share a lane with Julie who is such a fast swimmer. Luckily she only lapped me once Smile.

swim start stowe tri

The only true problem with the swim was that my counter only counted 9 laps when I was finished with 10. So I swam another lap. But after that I showed the counter that my Garmin had down 550 meters. And Julie vouched that she only lapped me once, not twice so I did indeed swim my 10 laps. This caused a problem for the bike race as my name wasn’t called off when it should have been and I ended up riding 10 seconds after my real start time. It wasn’t a big deal as it wouldn’t have made a difference on my placing 2nd. Overall while my swim was slower than I had hoped for, it was a great learning experience for sure!

The Bike

me on bike pre race

Thanks Barbara for another good photo – I wore a running jersey over my tri kit

Once I dried off from the swim and got dressed it was drizzling lightly outside. The big question of the morning was “what are you wearing for the bike?” It was 45F but windy with the potential to rain. And once I got out there it started to rain pretty hard. To make matters worse my Garmin didn’t get satellites after the pool swim so on the first mile of the bike I was playing around with scott and scott on bikes my Garmin on dangerous conditions pedaling fast. After turning it off and back on and setting the lap button I finally had GPS to see how fast I was going and log my ride and heart rate. So while the course is supposed to be about 14 miles I am not sure on the exact distance. This was a surprisingly slow bike ride compared to what I have been doing in training. But the rain and wind slowed things down a lot for me. The wind made my race wheels feel like sails and pushed me around throughout the course. And after finally healing from a broken hip, I didn’t want to take chances on the wet roads. I was rather conservative on the downhills (not a flat course) on Barrows and Luce Hill roads. And I didn’t rip through the turns either on my skinny slick tires. I had so much more to loose than gain out there. But heck it was still a good ride and I passed so many people. I passed Julie and the fastest female swimmer somewhere before the turnaround on Nebraska road. And I was the second female cyclist out there and 7th overall with the men. I did enjoy riding back and forth with one guy on a fast looking tri bike. It was nice to meet Chris after the race who was just head of me by 37 seconds overall.

The Run

me at finish stowe tri

Barbara is awesome for taking this photo! Thank you!

My run can be analyzed as a great run or my slowest recorded 5K at 21 minutes and 16 seconds (per Garmin). However after all that I’ve been through the last year it’s a true gift that I’m racing at all right now.  11 months ago I had such a bad stress fracture in the top of my femur bone (hip) that I was on crutches for almost 12 weeks and not able to run for 7 months. And when I think about doing the run-walk-run-walk protocol only a few months ago, I am so happy to be currently uninjured and getting my running legs back!

This was my first time being sidelined for over 7 months and I kept forgetting it would take a while to get my fitness, speed and endurance back. While my awesome coach Lisa is helping me make a comeback, it doesn’t happen overnight. However when I finished the 5K portion of the triathlon, I was very disappointed because I was about a minute slower than previous sprint 5K races. I had forgotten how far I had come this year. Of course being cold from the wet bike ride, it is no surprise I wasn’t running faster. The brutal weather certainly made a dent in everyone’s times! And speaking of times, my transition time from the bike to run was over two minutes as my hands were almost too cold to tie my darn running shoes! (speed laces are coming for future races!)

My first mile started off at a 6:30 pace which was a bit overly ambitious. My pace eventually ended up being around 7 minutes for the first mile which was not terrible but I didn’t feel I could run much faster without blowing up. I felt like I had an empty “gas tank”. The next mile wasn’t a whole lot better but I trudged onwards. It was nice to see Jessie Donavan running well on the way back. After I got through the turnaround I saw Julie rounding the corner. I knew I had to pick it up or I would loose my second place. I kept thinking of what Lisa would do so I really pushed hard. Still I wasn’t running that fast. The last mile was hard but it was better than the first two at a good sub 7 pace. It is also slightly downhill so that helped! I looked back on the last 1/3 mile to see if Julie was closing in, but luckily she wasn’t in sight. I felt some relief but still pushed hard to finish strong. My overall pace was a 6:56 after hitting my Garmin.  That is slower than my normal half marathon pace but I now realize it was the best I had in me on that cold typical New England day.

me getting award st tri

Thank you Jeremy Bradley for putting on such a nice local event! Well done! And thank you for a cool prize. We have been enjoying Jenga made by Burton Snowboards. While Jessie was the overall winner and fastest in the 40-49 female age group, I was given the prize for that age group. But I’m still happy with being the second place overall female after a tough, cold and wet day at the races!

I can’t forget to mention the best part of the whole day! I really enjoyed hanging out with Scott M. and his family, Julie, Jessie and many other nice triathletes. Even when race conditions are difficult and challenging, it’s the people at the races that makes racing so much fun and fulfilling!

scott and scott Scott and Scott talking shop!

Thank you for stopping by!

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