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Race Report: Pre-season Burn Series, Series 1 (A Mini-tri!)

Posted Jan 26 2011 8:00pm
First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for your comments & cheering on my 1/2 marathon report !  Thanks so much - I sure loved and appreciated them!  Once I got time and space to dedicate to writing it, the writing was enjoyable and the finishing even sweeter.  I do love to write and share a race report!

So there I was, having this little new year slump, when what should I stumble upon online but a NEW mini-triathlon series located close to me!  (Talk about your "woo-woo" moment!)  It's the " Pre-season Burn Series ," a series of 3 triathlons on the College of San Mateo campus on January 16, February 13, and March 13.  Each event comprises a 200 yard swim in the new aquatic center pool (plush!), a 6-mile bike ride (10k actually, which is a little more) on a type of new stationary bike called the "Wattbike," and a 1.5 mile "rolling loop" course through the campus.  This distance is sometimes called a "super sprint," which is shorter than a sprint distance; there's no standard distance for sprint distance, but the Pre-season Burn Series is about half of a regular sprint.  

Well.  Y'all know I do love me a triathlon.  The question was, should I wait until February or March, or do it now?  Ha ha ha ha ha!  Yep, you got me:  you know that wasn't a question at all. :-)  I was all fired up to do it ASAP!  Since the series was new, I figured it would be okay to do a race-day registration.

So...even though the race was somewhat casual and I told myself, "It's just like a workout," I still slept really poorly the night before and was waking up every hour or so.  Typical pre-race stuff.  Then - YAWN - up bright and early and before my family on a Sunday morning, tip-toeing around (not so quietly - the orthotics in my shoes squeaked like mad) and getting ready.  Because Sunday is Kids' Donut Day in our house, I dashed off to the donut shop and picked up their donuts.  The glazed twists were HOT out of the fryer, but the donut shop people were happy to glaze a few of them with chocolate frosting.  We usually only get two, but hot donut?  Yes, please!  Part of one of them ended up as part of the 'Breakfast of'...well, this triathlete anyway.  That, and a heaping cup of coffee.  And some nuts.
Thus fueled, I was out the door and on campus by 6:30 a.m.   Start time was scheduled for 8 a.m., with packet pickup/registration 6:00-7:30 a.m.  When I arrived, the event staff were just arriving, so I ended up waiting around until about 7:15.  I walked around, did a little hula practice as I watched the sunrise.  Being a Sunday, on-campus parking was free (yeay!), so I didn't have to pay extra for waiting.

The setting up - ooo, all misty and mysterious!
I registered, and wandered around until it was time for the race to start.  Pre-race, the Wattbike folks helped everyone determine their settings and try them out.  They ride more like a regular bike than a spin bike - "coasting" will not snap your foot off, for example - and the computer monitor has all kinds of cool features, such as stroke analysis graphing, so that you can see which side of your body is delivering more power and you can see how you need to adjust your pedaling to get more power on the upstroke.  The front wheel has a huge fan inside, so with 10 of them set up along the pool deck, it sounded like a wind tunnel! :-)  I'm glad I took a little time to check them out before the race.  That was another great part of this event - everyone had the same equipment for the bike portion, although most folks had bike shoes and thus a power advantage from being able to clip into the pedals.
It turned out that I was in wave 4, which didn't end up starting until 9:30!  That's a lot of time to mill around and drink coffee and go to the bathroom about 50 times.  I took a little time to walk around the run course, which sure beat standing around and trying not to stare at the guys in their Speedos.  I'm glad I did the walkabout, because I was able to see where the hills were before the thick fog set in!  The morning had started rather clear, but you could hardly see buildings that were right across from each other as the morning progressed.
I felt a little lonely and bored - no one there seemed to want to chat - so I fired up Twitter and Facebook and got some good cheering up before the race.

On Facebook:  "I forgot how much of this sport is hurry-up-and-wait...
but at least there's lots of lovely coffee!"
Great thing #2 about the race:  Everyone in the wave got their own pool lane!  After the Lompoc tri, this was a relief, because even though everyone was really nice about sharing, I felt compelled to go a little faster than I felt comfortable going.  After the men's wave before ours, I grabbed a bike that would correspond to a lane fairly close to the pool ladder, set up transition and bike, and then waited for the go-ahead.
And then, we were off!  Only 8 times across the pool, but I still felt really rushed and like I wasn't getting enough air, so I broke from the front crawl into a breaststroke.  (I'm a slow swimmer anyway, and my pace is the same for either one, so I knew it wasn't going to cost me to do this.)  I was the last one out of the pool - had to pause a moment at the ladder to catch my breath before heaving out of the pool and onto the bikes.
Transition went fairly quickly, although it seemed reeeeeally slow when everyone was already on their bikes pedaling away.  Putting on my tights and tech shirt was a bit tricky, and of course having to tie my shoes was a bit of a pain, but on the other hand, no shoes to change after the bike!  I jumped on and stated pedaling like mad.  I made it my goal to maintain the revolutions-per-minute that the Wattbike guy recommended, and I liked the way it counted down the meters.  I could also see my neighbor's monitor, so I made it my goal to catch up with her.  Whew!  Burn, baby, burn!  Oh, and it turns out I drop things off of my bike during a race, even when the bike is stationary! *blush*  My electrolyte water bottle didn't quite make it back into the rack.  One of the nice tri staffers put it back for me. :-)  Another one of the nice tri staff came around and was writing down our names so they could record the bike times in the computer system (we wore chips during the race).  "Wow," he remarked to me, "You're kicking ass!"  Being the queen of delayed repartee, of course I didn't think of my response - "And you're taking names!" - until after he moved on. Oh well.  I was delighted to jump off the bike before a few other people, and I was off to the run...well, after the initial leg wobbles wore off, before then it was more of a quick stagger.  
I was glad to know what to expect on the run!  I felt like that helped me keep a good pace for me, and I kicked it up on the last bit.  The woman I "passed" on the bike blew past at about the halfway point - "I knew you'd catch me on the run!" I grinned - I tried to keep pace, but no dice.  Luckily there wasn't anyone around when I made my muttering-to-myself sprint to the finish!
"43:47" called the gentleman at the finish line.  Huh?  Wow!

Greetings from...the Finish line!
(Isn't it weird how foggy it got after sunrise?)

It turns out I placed 39/41 overall - yes, with all else being equal, that's still way at the back of the pack.  I think it was a pretty fast field, though.  The top 10 were sub-30 minutes (fastest time was 25:06), the next 19 were sub-40 minutes, and 8 were sub-50 minutes, and 2 were sub-60 minutes.
I was quite happy with my time, though.  I'm not sure if an equivalent time would be possible in a full-distance sprint tri with my regular bike (that would be 1:27:34 for 400 yard swim, 12.5 mile bike, and 3 mile run).  I think the bike monitor helped me push harder, and I'm sure not having to worry about steering and road conditions made it much easier to just pump out the distance.  Plus I think it gave me a taste for what a better bike could do - I don't think I could get equivalent speed out of my current bike or my limited "real bike" skills.  The most equivalent 2x-this-distance race I can think of was the See Jane Tri - my time was 1:46:40 for 400 m swim, 11 mile bike, 3.1 mile run - but the bike was much more hilly.  Lompoc, with 500 m swim, 11 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run, was 1:39:06.  It's so hard to compare sprint triathlons.  But I think it's safe to say that even though I feel like I haven't improved a whole lot, I can claim some improvement.  And that is a really, really good feeling.
So...nice setup, good swag (t-shirt and hand towel, all the Starbucks I could drink, sugar-free flavored electrolyte drinks), great staff and volunteers:  this series is a winner!  I'd highly recommend it, especially for folks who want to get a taste of triathlon without having to do a full sprint distance or lug a wetsuit, bike, etc.  I hope to do at least one more of these.  I think next time I'd see about buying a guest pass for the posh athletic center and trying out the facilities (or even better, warming up in the other lanes of the swimming pool).
It's also a good feeling to meet my Q1 event-per-quarter goal already!  And yes, OF COURSE I'm doing something for Lori of Finding Radiance's " 1st Annual Bloggers Healthy Heart Weekend "!  Check it out!  
The Not-So-Weekly Update
Well.  In the grand scheme of what a lot of you all and your families are going through, my main health-and-fitness gripe is pretty much a non-issue.  My 6 pounds of holiday overage is still hanging in there.  So, apparently, are some not-so-good food choices (see "donuts as 'Breakfast of Triathlete'" and sundry highly caloric-yet-healthy weekend madness).  No, it's not muscle, because my pants are a little tighter around the tummy and I haven't upped my strength workouts.  The weekday feedings go pretty well, the weekends haven't quite as much, so I've got something to work on there.  
On the other hand, the good news is that my blood glucose numbers are great!  I haven't reported in awhile - 30 day average is 98 overall and 101 fasting, with the last 7 days being 101 overall and 105 fasting (darn today's PMS number for messing with the curve!).  I've also been getting new and fun activity - my hula class is a blast, I found a cute, swishy-yet-fitnessy skirt at Goodwill to banish my very non-Aloha-spirited skirt envy I felt during class #2, and I think I like the deceptively difficult 30-minutes-of-not-tangling-self-in-exercise-bands (aka "Transformer" class) at the gym.  Work craziness keeps messing with my overall gym schedule, but I'm at least hanging in there with my basic minimum (30 minutes, 5 days, at least 1 strength).
How About a New New Year?
(Or a NEW New Year if you're a Two Fit Chicks fan?  Loved podcast #23 !)  
Maybe we should do a New Year's do-over on the first day of the lunar new year.  (Because seriously, I think we've had quite enough of the funky stuff in January, don't you?)  February 3, 2011 begins the year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac and year of the Cat in the Vietnamese zodiac.  Bunnies, kitties...what's not to love?  

Kittehs make everything better
Update - 2 minute plank for the PLANKTASTIC PLANKATHON!

I'm not big on planks.  In fact, when I saw that Foodie McBody and Josie of YumYucky were having a " The Planktastic Plankathon Challenge ," well, I tried to studiously ignore it.  I mean, I thought I could only do a 30 second plank, and there were folks like Sagan, the Queen of All Things Planky, doing 6+ minutes !

But then, I saw that Foodie McBody posted a video of her 88-year-old mom doing a plank, and I was won over.  I had to get off my bum and on my toes and forearms!

So I grabbed Thing 1, our camera with video powers, and my stop watch, and assumed the position.  When I got to 1:30, I knew I had to go for 2 minutes, and what do you know?  I probably didn't do it very well, but I did it!  (Well, if moving my feet a little is okay, I did.)

Raw "Planktastic Plankathon!" footage(which I think makes it even funnier)
"Why did you do that?" asked Thing 1.  "Wait - don't tell me - it's for your blog, isn't it?"

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