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Race Result

Racer: Emily Bonham
Race: Celebration Sprint Triathlon
Date: Sunday, June 24, 2012
Location: Columbia, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Female 30 - 34
Time: 1:56:44
Overall Place: 52 / 518
Age Group Place: 12 / 64
Comment: Swim, Bike, Bonk? Not this time!

Race Report:

Sorry for the novel...this was my first year for Celebration, and only my second tri, so I'm still really excited!

I set my benchmarks based on my Iron Girl 2011 performance. Seasoned athletes might call these A, B, and C goals, but I prefer more colorful descriptions.

2:12:14 - Time to beat from IG.
2:10:00 - “If I don’t make this I’m slinking away in shame” goal.
2:05:00 - “I’ll be proud of this but may beat myself up later” goal.
1:59:59 - “I am the greatest triathlete ever!” goal.

Needless to say, I am really happy with my overall time and AG place!

Road bikes are WAY better than mountain bikes for triathlons.
Proper nutrition eliminates the urge to vomit while running.
I want to be Missie Vess when I grow up!

I’d like to say I breakfasted on 0.627 grams of almond butter on wheat toast handmade by a ponytailed Argentinian, but I lack sufficient race experience for a specific routine, scientific or superstitious. I had a boiled egg and an English muffin (with homemade black raspberry jam, mmm) because that’s what was in my fridge.

I also didn’t have a taper plan, so I thank everyone who responded to my quest for advice. Conspicuously absent from all responses was the role of beer. I inferred that drinking during a taper is such standard practice that no one thought it bore special mention. Therefore, I availed myself of a couple brewery tours two weeks prior to the race. Obviously, it helped.

2011 - 25:03
2012 - 24:10

I tried something radical: Entering the water before the start of my swim wave (don’t ask). The only downside? More time to get nervous. There is something to be said for the adrenaline rush of wildly shoving past the next wave strolling down the boat ramp, while flinging your Keens at your sherpa, adjusting your goggles, and starting your watch.

My wave thinned out quickly, I didn’t get kicked (much), but I’m disappointed in my sub-par breath control and the effect on my time. Dark water destroys my sense of progress, and seeing my own eyeballs reflected in mirrored goggles adds to the creepy factor. It’s like swimming in a Steven King novel.

I don’t love the swim and have plenty of room for improvement. It lost further favor when I asked Missie her goal time as we stood at the boat launch. Note to self: Never ask that question of a girl with her name written across the backside of her custom race suit!

2011 - 4:19
2012 - 3:22

Improvements: bike shoes (Velcro: It’s not just for kids!), practice, and thoughtful gear layout. I debated about bike gloves but in the end wore them for the comfort of my nasal passages, not my hands. I’d rather have sticky gloves than be That Girl digitally immortalized with a snot streamer in her draft zone. I chose wisely.

2011 - 1:08:05 (15.4 mph)
2012 - 1:00:29 (17.5 mph)

Now for the fun part! This improvement is all about hard work and dedication to training. Well, swapping my 28-lb mountain bike for a road bike might have had an impact. Okay, fine, and acquiescing three weeks ago to the clip-in shoe cult--why did I wait so long? Other than one fall in front of oncoming traffic, the switch has been amazing.

My fastest training time was 1:01. I was hoping to hit 59 minutes, and I was SO close! My shaky post-swim legs needed 30 seconds to get it together and clip in; after that I settled and felt smooth. I went out hard the first two miles to get away from the pack, rested on the first big downhill on Homewood, and kicked back in after that.

I’m still learning road bike gearing, but hit all the right notes! I leap-frogged with bikers who spanked me on the downhills, but I had them on the uphills. What’s awesome about triathletes? They actually cheered me on as I went by! The cops and volunteers were also great cheerleaders, as was the crazy Princeton guy with the giant straw hat. That energy adds to the fun for me.

2011 - 1:45
2012 - 2:00

Nothing sensational here. As expected, switching shoes slowed me down. I’ll take that 15 second loss for the 8-minute improvement on the bike.

2011 - 33:05 (9:44 pace)
2012 - 26:45 (7:53 pace)

Can I get a HELL YEAH?! I expected to cut a lot of time here thanks to serious training, and am thrilled with the result. Speed kills; speedwork makes you killer (and lands you in Karyn’s clinic, but that’s another story). Oh, and not lugging a mountain bike up those godforsaken hills left way more juice in my legs! I walked a few times last year and was determined not to repeat that.

I held back the first mile to avoid hitting a wall later, and aimed for negative splits. As my legs recovered I gained confidence, and used a short list of mantras to keep myself in the mental game (including a promise from my running coach that he would punch me in the face if I walked). Also helpful? Seeing the delightfully cheery MMTC folks at the top of Gatorade Hill, both volunteers and our awesome athletes who had already finished. To the guy who said “You OWN this hill!” as I crested--I owe you one!

The only bad part? The trouble brewing in my left ear. An enormous amount of lake water had taken up residence, undetected until I started running. Each step and hard breath felt like an ice pick stabbing my ear drum. On the plus side, I had great incentive to run light on my toes and breathe smoothly! (That said, I don’t recommend it as a race strategy.)

I crossed the finish line and had trouble walking straight. Nurse Arlene in the medical tent stuck a long cotton swab in my ear and manipulated it until she released about half of Centennial Lake from behind my ear drum. Sweet relief!

Big thanks to the MMTC tent organizers--you guys rock! Food and drink were plentiful and delicious, and I enjoyed the camaraderie before and after the race. I love hearing all the stories about race experiences, and the encouragement everyone gives to each other. I’m pleased to have joined such a great group this year and look forward to more races, workouts, and other events!

Related: The endorphin high is making it hard to concentrate today on work instead of searching for more races...