Diamond in the Rough International Triathlon
July 13, 2013
I started to write a recap of the event, but realized it was going to be entirely too long for such a small race. So I started over, and even this is still long:
When the NYC Marathon was canceled in the fall, I didn’t run, swim, or ride for the entire month of November. With a week left in December I resumed running, because I was signed up for Boston in April. I worked my mileage up into the mid 60s and had a few weeks in the 70s (and one at 80). I had five consecutive weeks with long runs over 20. I was running slower than I ever have, but I was fit and believed I could get through Boston and start training for Ironman Lake Placid.
I had fun running Boston, but the downhills shredded my knee. I was never a good downhill runner, but since ACL surgery in 2009 and 2010 I seriously struggle with it. Boston was on April 15th, a Monday. I tried to run that Wednesday, and ride on Saturday. I hadn’t been riding, and my knee was in pain. The next morning I tried to run again and that was it – game over. Here I was, 13 weeks out from an Ironman, and unable to bend my knee enough to run, ride, or swim.
By Memorial Day, 4 weeks later, I felt okay to give it a go. With 9 weeks until Lake Placid, it looked incredibly unlikely that I would be competing. It was an impulse decision to sign up last year with friends, and after how much just making it through 2012 took out of me, I should have just hoisted the white flag.
I needed volume more than anything so I started small, and did no hard efforts. I was registered for the Columbia Triathlon in May but my knee forced the DNS. I was originally going to take the year off from Eagleman, but thought maybe I should sign up for it. By the time I went to register, it was sold out. I now faced the prospect of my first race of the season being an Ironman. It wasn’t ideal, so I decided I should sign up for something. That something was the Diamond in the Rough Triathlon.
Located in Perryville, MD, just 37 miles from my house (although an $8 toll stood in my path), the race was attractive because it was a quasi-Olympic distance event, on a Saturday, and two weeks out from the bigger race. I signed up Wednesday for the cost of a small child and arrived Saturday morning to my first triathlon in 10 months. Since I’ve generally not felt good in the past few months, I didn’t know what to expect. My goals were moderate: don’t drown, stay upright, finish.
I’m hearing the water temp at Lake Placid is quite warm. Assuming wetsuits are allowed, I’m not sure that I want to wear a full sleeve suit, because I just get too warm. If it’s slightly slower I don’t really care, I’m not swimming that fast anyway. I borrowed my friend Brian’s sleeveless and was planning on wearing it at DITR, but the water had different plans. 80 degrees meant no wetsuits. Instead I went with the TYR Torque speedsuit. In 2011 our small Team CYB picked them up and I love wearing it. The men’s wave went off at 8:30 and it was a pretty big field. I guess it’s been a while since I started in a wave that big. The water was moderately choppy, and it looked like we were going into a current to the first buoy. When we turned, the water settled down, and only on our final 200m maybe to the dock did the chop kick back up. I swam comfortably within myself, but as I ran up the steps I heard someone say the first woman was exiting, which meant they had almost eaten up the 5 minute head start. Ouch! My swim of 25:33 was 29th on the day, and not particularly reassuring. The race is billed as a 1 mile swim, but based on the times and no wetsuits, I suspect it may have been closer to an actual 1500m.
Thanks to a lot of rain overnight, transition was full of puddles and very muddy. Not Eagleman muddy, but pretty close. I ran out of T1 and hopped on the bike, ready to ride 27 miles.
Since I was hit by a car, almost 4 years ago to the day, I don’t ride my time trial bike outside of races. I know, I’d probably race better if I did, but I haven’t overcome that mental block just yet. I hadn’t even touched the Cervelo P3 since October, and found that some things just didn’t look right. It didn’t seem to have any issues riding though, so I just rolled with it. The first 1.5-2 miles are on a winding road through the park, and I sat up, soft pedaled, got myself ready. When we left the park, I picked it up and got into a rhythm. I didn’t have a chance to check out the course at all, so I was riding blind, but I was reading the road and moving through the gears well. For most of the course I was out there solo, but I did exchange positions with another guy a few times. I would pass him on the ups, he would fly by on the downs. We had a tailwind on the way out and when we turned to head back, you could really feel the wind.
The one thing I paid attention to from the bike course description was a climb at mile 22. I don’t have a computer on my bike and wasn’t wearing a watch, so when I hit the hill it was a good indication of how much time I had left to ride. I climbed well, and pressed a little bit back to the park, where I sat up again and got ready for the run.
My bike split was 1:12:59, 10th fastest of the day.
Onto the run and since I haven’t had too many runs under 7:30 pace recently, I was really not sure what to expect of the 5 mile run. It wasn’t a challenging course, but at this point it was 10am and the sun was strong. I figured I wouldn’t be running more than 35 minutes, but certainly no fewer than 30 minutes. There were no mile markers, which wouldn’t have mattered anyway as I didn’t have a watch, so I just tried to maintain a steady, honest tempo and reel in anybody I could see.
I passed one just after the turnaround, and saw another up ahead who looked to be fading. There was a brief, maybe 150m, section where you had to run on rocks, down a little hill and back up. I used this to my advantage and was able to bridge up to the runner and go by him. With a half mile remaining, my left quad was beginning to seize up a bit. I hadn’t looked back the entire run but with 100m to go, as I hit the grass finishing chute, I glanced back to make sure nobody was coming and got across the line. My time was 2:11:48 and I felt happy with the result. My run ended up being 31:37 (6:16/mi) and was 10th fastest of the day.
With the 10th fastest bike and 10th fastest run, it should come as no surprise that I finished 10th overall. It was a little strange, this race. I finished and while I had run as hard as I could, I felt recovered almost instantly. I cheered for a few of my friends from my Tuesday Night Track group as they finished (shout to Suzanne H who won her age group in her first ever tri!). It’s the first race I’ve gone to by myself in a very, very long time, and maybe it’s just become old hat, but I wasn’t nervous, nor was I particularly excited, about racing.
The good news is that I’m much more confident that I’ll be able to make it through Lake Placid now, which is just a week and a half away!
Diamond in the rough
This time I was doing Diamond in the Rough Triathlon in Perryville, MD. It’s a smaller race but generally gets a handful of fast people to keep the competition interesting in the front. Super fan Carly was coming along to spectate and was going to get her run in while I raced.
My wave started as the third and final one with all of the women chasing the dudes in the first 2 waves. That meant a decent size of about 85 women in the water. I had my new speedsuit ready to rock so my plan was to swim hard for the entire mile. It worked! We swam in a diamond shape, and on the final turn looking into the sun I actually had no clue where I was swimming so I was following bodies and just hoping for the best. But as I was pulled onto the steps out of the waters a race official signaled to me that I was the 10th woman out of the water. Sweet! Considering I usually hope for a top 20 swim I was excited. Carly was ready to give a cheer as I headed out on the bike and out I went into the hils of Northern Maryland. I had read/been told that this course was technical, but I didn’t really believe it until I was out there. A lot of hills, a lot of turns, a lot of fast descents into turns, and a road that was open to traffic and definitely not swept before we went out there. A technical, hard course actually suits me well so I was happy as I plugged along.
There was one scary section on the bike. I had just passed a dude and about a quarter mile later I saw, washed out on the road but there nonetheless, words reading “no pass zone, slow down.” So…I did. The dude however was more concerned with passing me back than slowing down, and I watched as he slid on the gravel ahead as he tried to make the sharp left, eventually skidding right off the side of the road and rolled over into a ditch. He wasn’t the only one either – 2 other men were cut up and off their bikes in the brush as well. I managed to stay upright, check that they were all ok, and get down the descent. At the bottom was another sharp turn and a race official, so I slowed here to tell him that there were 3 dudes off their bikes and didn’t look to be getting back onto them. I finished the ride up strong and was told I was the 3rd woman coming in off the bike! Did my best to get a quick T2 and head out to the run. Fast and generally flat, half shaded, the run can make for some fast times. I felt good and just focused on keeping cool when I could and maintaining my pace. I was able to see the 2 girls ahead of me since it was an out-and-back and that left little room for me to hope to catch them. But that meant I also saw the women behind me, about 2 minutes back at the turnaround and looking like she was on a mission. She also had a little pack of dudes running strong with her, whereas my little pack of dudes was walking and complaining, haha. They were all super positive for me and pushing me to get it done, but someone to run with would have been cool! Luckily I didn’t need it anyway, and I crossed the line in 3rd at 2:22:46.
Definitely a great race for the summer and a fun way to get in some hard miles. And if you’re wondering, the Oiselle Birds Tee and Roga Shorts made for the cutest outfit on the podium