Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Munroe Falls Race Report

My high school friend Raven, with whom I ran the Akron half marathon last year, decided she wanted to do a triathlon. She did some research and picked a great first timers race in the Munroe Falls Cross-Fit Sprint triathlon. She asked if I would do the race with her, and I said sure. Then, with a moment of really bad luck, she broke her foot and was unable to train properly for the race. I talked her into doing what she could, but we both knew it probably wasn’t a good idea for her to do the run.

f you have never done the Munroe Falls/Summit-Tri/Cross-Fit Triathlon, it’s a great race, especially for newbies! Every time I turned around, there was someone else I knew, and I found myself talking and talking and talking. I felt bad as my friend was preparing for her first race, and I was just flying around like a butterfly trying to introduce her to all of the really cool people there.

I also talked Mentor into coming out for the race to take photos for me so I can have them for the Tri club newsletter and for the fun of having him there! I will try to post some.

Swim: 400 yards

My favorite thing about this race is that they have the women start first! It’s so nice not to have to swim over guys, granted, in my state of swimming fitness, that wouldn’t have likely been a problem, but it’s nice none the less.  Per usual, I started in the front. Especially in local races, I feel I should be one of the first women out of the water. I hadn’t swum in about a month before this race, and I had two thoughts about it. 1) I was going to be way more tired than I should and 2) I used to have faster swims back when I never trained for the swim. Well, I started off well enough, but about a little over half way through the swim, I could feel that I couldn’t sustain the speed I felt I was having in the beginning.

Time: 7:17 10th overall women’s swim (only about 40 seconds slower than last year)


I got to transition and stared at my stuff like a monkey doing a math problem. It’s almost like I was on information overload. Don’t forget the helmet, turn on the watch, get the stupid wetsuit off my stupid feet. Oh, did I forget to Velcro my shoes, stop and take care of that because it’s not like you could reach down and fix that while riding your stupid bike!

Time: 1:34.8 (faster than last year’s 1:47.8) and I thought this year was bad.


I could probably write a blog post just on the internal struggle I had with which bike to take to this race. Everything from the wear on the tires to the desirability of leaving my new baby in transition came into play. I know, it’s a freakin’ sprint triathlon, not like an ironman where the decision does actually matter, but alas I took my Kestrel Talon tri bike, and I think it was the right choice.

During my siesta in transition, I think about 6-7 women passed me, which was good as I love having carrots dangling out in front of me. They also had a duathlon so I had some guys out there to chase down as well.

Going into this race, I could tell you who 1st and 2nd place would be at this race for the women, maybe not the order, but who they were. I had no doubt in my mind, and while I consider myself a pretty good triathlete, I know that these two women are both capable of gaining 2-3 minutes PER mile on me on the run so there would have to be some external factor for how I could beat them so I aimed my goals towards the bike split.

The bike course is two loops, relatively flat, with two noticeable uphills on the loop and one slight uphill on the way to the loop. The speed of his course is tempered by the number of turns and by the congestion that occurs by the time the leading women get to the second loop with the slower athletes and other waves making their way through their 1st loop.

By the time I got to the loop, I think I had passed all but maybe 4 of the women ahead of me. I passed one pretty quickly into the loop, and I was about 200 yards behind who I considered the fastest female on the bike course and just kept her in my sights. As I made my way through for lap two, I saw a cyclist on the side of the road and as I passed and thought about it for a second, I realized it was probably Raven…

I am pretty sure I did the wrong thing here, but it took me about a quarter of a mile to realize it was her. She wasn’t going to do the run regardless so I decided to keep going and finish my race. Now, two weeks prior, my sister was attempting her first 10k, and about 2 miles into that race, I had this feeling in my gut that my sister was going to need me so I literally stopped and waited for her, then ran with her for the next 2.5 miles, then basically suggested that we attempt to finish this goal another day. So, it’s not like I am always selfish.

Back to the race…

Now, as I made the next turn, I passed a rather tall guy wearing blue and white. When I looked back, he was on my wheel. Seriously, dude?  I gave it about 30 more seconds, looked back again, and he was still there. I screamed at him, “Get the F*** off my wheel!” To which he said something, what I have no clue, but then he wouldn’t get off my wheel. Making sure he wasn’t directly behind me, I braked. I let him fly by me so as not to cost me more energy towing him around the course. I couldn’t believe it! Who the heck cheats in a freakin’ local race of about 200 people?  Apparently, that guy!

As I made the next turn, I got behind a Time Warner Cable van that was trying to be nice and giving the slower people ahead on their first loop some space, but it was causing some congestion for those of us faster riders finishing our second loops. I ended up passing the van on the left and later found out that I wasn’t the only person who got caught in this kind of situation.

Finally, on a nice false flat, I was able to rid myself completely of the earlier cheater and was able to make the final push to transition. By this point, I was pretty sure there were only two women ahead of me, one was out of sight, the other was right ahead of me.  On the way back to the park, I could tell that I was going to pass the one friend ahead of me. I knew that in the scheme of things it didn’t matter because she would probably come close to lapping me on the run, but I was happy that I was having a strong bike.

Bike time: 12 miles in 33:34 21.4 mph 1st overall women’s bike split (last year: 34:13)

After a pre-mature stop before transition, I made it to T2 and was a bit better at switching shoes and grabbing stuff. I entered transition in 2nd place, left in 3rd place (pretty similar to the year before).

T2: 0:43.5 seconds, not too bad.

As I started the run, I nearly cut the course as I swear the arrow was pointed the wrong way, but I quickly re-adjusted and made my way on the course thanks to Mentor’s always present guidance. At first my legs were pretty heavy, given it was my first brick of the year, but they were pretty responsive to the effort I requested, not that I asked for all that much.  Once I got accustomed to running, I started to notice that my timing chip was way too tight. I could tell that there was going to be blood by the end of the race, but I didn’t want to take the time to fix it.

I stayed in my 3rd place for pretty much the entire first loop. As I entered the transition area again, I was passed by the same girl wearing the same VT tri suit who had passed me much earlier in the run the year before. We chatted for a couple of minutes then continued past me. I felt better on the 2nd loop, probably because I was that much closer to being finished. With about a quarter of a mile left to go, I got passed again, and that lady was moving! I let it go and decided not really to kick it at the end, but just enjoy the feeling of being finished.

I should say that I forgot to set my garmin to multi-sport mode so my splits for the run were off completely. I also had been doing some z5 intervals on the bike the day before so I had set my watch to beep every 1:15, and I had forgotten to turn that interval off. While I didn’t always hear it on the bike, it got pretty annoying on the run, but it also made me laugh. I eventually started trying to guess how many more times I would hear it beep. My run split was 24:26, but there is no way that the course was even 3 miles yet along 3.1. My best estimate is about 2.75 miles. And for those of you new to my blog, YES, I really am that slow of a runner. I am working on it, but why run when I can ride a bike? Oh that’s right, because I was only 7th overall.

Total time: 1:07:36, 7th overall female (2 women had better times from a different wave), 1st age group

Overall, it was a very fun race. Raven was unable to get the tire back on the rim so the nice man who lived where she broke down offered to give her a ride back to the park. We then had a buddy put it back together for her. I am sure she will conquer triathlon as she has conquered nearly everything else in life.

It was incredibly awesome to see so many Cleve Tri Club people at this race! It felt like I was partying with friends out there as I think I knew nearly everyone racing. While I have taken a step away from triathlon in the past month to focus on cycling, this race served as a good reminder as to why I and so many others feel so dedicated to the sport. I think after my next big cycling event, it’s going to be time to hit the pool and the trail to prepare myself for some other tri races.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Canton Criterium Race Report

For those of you who don't know what a criterium (aka crit) is, it is a cycling race that is done on a short 1-2 mile loop (usually), that is done over and over again until what usually results in a sprint to the finish line.  In my opinion, crit racing is all about maximum speed and technical bike handling skills including keeping a line and riding, not coasting, through turns.

I was pretty nervous going into this race for several reasons, but mainly because women's races have a reputation for being vicious and plagued by poor riding, leading to some serious crashes.

On the way down to the race, I called a friend to ask for advice on racing strategies.  We came to the conclusion to stay out of the front but avoiding getting blocked so going to the front if necessary.  When I got there, I saw lots of familiar faces, particularly Stark Velo and Snakebite guys I have come to know from the Westlake Tuesday night crits.  I asked pretty much everyone I knew who had already done their race for advice and was given some great suggestions about the best lines and where to take a pull if needed, but where to tuck in if possible.

The course was a figure 8 with 8 turns and a short power climb in the middle.  The loop was 0.8 of a mile long.  The CAT4 women had a 30 minute race, so I predicted about 12-14 laps.

As I was pre-riding the loop about 15 minutes before my race, the official on the motorcycle comes up to me and says, "you know that you are going to get disqualified wearing that jersey, don't you?"  What?????  He continues, "you can't wear a sleeveless jersey."  What???  "Can I wear a t-shirt?"  "yes, you can wear a t-shirt."  (A side note: why MUST I always learn these things the hard way?)

I started panicking, yelling to anyone I saw, asking if they had a t-shirt or a spare jersey.  Well, as luck would have it, this very nice guy who had already held my bike for me while going to the bathroom said he had a spare jersey and offered it up.  This guy's name was Andy, and he rode CAT12PRO for Ohio National Engineering.   He and his teammates helped pin the jersey down so it wouldn't be flapping in the wind.  I thanked them probably more times than I breathed in that five minutes, made my way to the start line after promising not to embarrass their jersey.

I got to the start line with my heart properly pumping from the adrenaline rush I had just received.  Unlike the men's races, all the women raced at the same time.  So, at one time there were two races: the CAT123 (the VERY strong women) and the CAT4 (the more newbie women).  The CAT123 were given a 1 minute lead and had a 35-40 min race, while the CAT4 had a 30 minute race.  I saw the CAT123 take off, and I talked to a friend about a potential race strategy, mainly where I thought the best place to attack would be and about a good time to do so.

As the race started, a woman I had ridden with before went to the front, and I knew she was weak, but I also knew that I couldn't drop her the last time I rode with her.  It should be said that I had seen two of the other four women in the race ride before, but I had no clue of the skill level of the other two.  The one seemed pretty serious, warming up on a trainer before the race.  But, when we got to the second turn, and they continued to brake and coast through turns, and I quickly realized that this race was going to be more like a 29 minute ride with a sprint finish so I opted to take off and see if anyone else was willing to push the pace.  In my mind, this race was about training, working on my crit skills, not necessarily on race strategy.  I wanted a hard 30 minute workout.

When I took off, I didn't look back, just went, and by the time I did look back, I had a good 20 yards on the field... with about 28 minutes left in the race.  I should say I did the Twin Sizzler road race back in 2007 and made a similar jump that lasted for all of about 2 minutes.  I fully expected this break not to last and to be caught to play for the sprint at the end.  There were four of them and one of me, they should have been able to work together to bridge the gap.

Apparently, that's not what happened.  I kept trying to ride the lines and and race through the turns, figuring that would be the best place to gain some time.  There was a guy right at the top of the hill who kept cheering for me really loudly, and that helped me every time I passed.  I was a little worried that the officials thought I was a CAT123 rather than a CAT4 as I was never hearing anything about laps or how the race was going, but sure enough, with about 12 minutes left, they posted a 5 more lap warning, and I was escorted by the motorcycle (yes, same guy who warned me of my impending DQ) indicating that I was in the lead.

I started counting down the number of times I was going to have to face that stupid power climb, but made sure not to let up on the gas.  I kept looking back for signs of a chase, but I never saw one develop.  I did get passed by the three leading women in the CAT123, but not the entire field, which made me feel pretty good.

I ended up winning the CAT4 by maybe 50-100 yards and kept the pace up the entire time, averaging over 20 mph, which I think is pretty good considering I was on my own, with 8 turns and 1 power climb.

When I went back to give the Ohio National Engineering guys their jersey back, they were super pumped that I won in their jersey.  I found it even more ironic that their team bike was the Cannondale Supersix (a step down from my Evo).  Seriously, these guys were super cool and I hope to run into the at races in the future.

This race was a lot of fun, I am enjoying experiencing something new and challenging myself to develop different cycling skills.  I know that there are women who, had they known up, would have completely changed the dynamics of this race.  I look forward to seeing how I stack up when more is on the line.