Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bandit's Challenge Race Report

You can call me naive, blissfully unaware, inexperienced or heedless but I am not a quitter. See, this was not only my first age group race in the series but also my first "D" as in difficult race and my first Olympic distance. To quote the parts of the bike and run course descriptions from Set-Up's website:

"At the very beginning of the bike, you realize what Bandits is all about. Coming out of transition you immediately have to climb up to the top of the dam in order to exit the park. This is one nasty little very steep climb. It's always a good idea to make sure that when you rack your bike, you have it in your smallest gear. Just about the time you have caught your breath, you encounter the biggest climb on the course (about the 2 mile mark). The climb isn't very steep but you climb for over a mile."

"The run course at Bandits is what makes this race famous. There are three VERY steep climbs. Fortunately they are not very long. Remember the climb out of the transition area up to the top of the dam at the start of the bike? - well you tackle it again right at the beginning of the run. BUT, it's the climb on the other side of the dam that you have to do twice on this two-loop run course that people talk about the most. Words just don't do it justice. We estimate that over 90% of all participants walk this hill during the race including many of the Elites."

Oh, friends tried to warn me about Bandit's Challenge. When I asked my girlfriends to do this race with me, they declined and asked if I was crazy. After today, I think I am certifiable.

When we got to packet pick up, I thought the shirt in my bag was very original and funny. It says:
"I swam it, I biked it and I did the dam run." Still, I was clueless. Until we drove to the race site.

When we parked the van near transition area, I saw the steep hill coming out of transition. I wanted to try out which gear would be easiest to use and practiced last night before the race. I had to get in Clifford's babiest gear, the tinest of them all and I had to stand up while climbing the hill. When I came back to the car, Don says,

"Wow, was that hill hard to climb? You were going so slow, I thought you were going to tumble over."

I love you too, thanks for your observation, dearest husband. I thought that hill was bad until I saw the run course hills, they were so steep I felt scared thinking about running down them. Maybe I could roll down them and crawl back up? Then some set-up guy tells me to run in the grass because it kills your legs to run down the hill. I realized why this course was called "Challenge". Because it sure as hell didn't look like a walk in the park. I kept telling myself I'd be fine, it was nice and cool in these mountains. I wouldn't overheat at least.

We had a nice room at the Hampton Inn, it was suite. We ordered carry-out sushi and ate in the room for dinner. My fortune cookie said, "Listen to you intuition." I really needed to sleep, I stayed up until 2am on Thursday night. The bed was glorious. Because I let our Doberman sleep with us at home, we cannot have a pretty fee-fee-foo-foo bed filled with white, cottony pillows. They called it "cloud nine bedding" and it indeed felt heavenly. I conked out at 8:45pm.

When the alarm sounded at 4:45am, I felt pretty good. I had a great sleep and felt rested. Until I opened the curtain to look outside. It was pouring rain. We look at the weather channel and it doesn't look good. I'm kinda freaking out now because if it is raining, I don't ride my bike. I have very little wet road/brake experience, especially in the mountains. I was also freezing after leaving the bed made of feathers. I'm used it it feeling like it's 100 degrees. Raining and in the 70's, I started shivering!

"Honey, I don't know if I should race in this rain. Could we stay in the cloud nine bed instead? My fortune cookie said to follow my intuition. It's telling me being warm and dry is better than cold and wet."

As much as I give my husband a hard time, he is wise. He always knows the right thing to do. He said, "You can do it, you are not a quitter. Embrace the challenge!"

It's all he needed to say. We ate breakfast, drank coffee and bugged the houskeeping lady for trash bags so we could create makeshift ponchos. We headed to the race site in the dark, cold rain. Guess who had a transition area right behind me? TriDaddy! I took off my trash bag for a picture!

Even though I was smiling, I was cold and scared. I was mostly scared about the bike though. Would my brakes work going down the hills? Worrying about my hands being wet and slipping off the handle bars. I started thinking about my fear of falling and road rash. Did I tell you I was fucking cold? So cold that when it was my turn to swim I was thankful. The water was warmer than the outside air temperature. I needed to get moving to get warm or I thought my nipples would crack from being so hard for a long period of time.

The swim was pretty uneventful. I got warmer with blood circulating. It seemed long. I realized that wetsuits help a lot. My longest swim was WL Half, wetsuits were allowed. My legs felt a little tired at the end of this swim.

I get out of the water and it's still raining pretty hard. I run to Clifford splashing mud all over myself. My transitions will suck because I wanted to keep my things dry and wrapped them in plastic bags. I climb the hill over the dam and exit the park. I see another blogger, Brett! I get up to a decent speed and I'm cold again. I think I had goosebumps the entire ride. The rain feels like little needles poking me. The faster I went, the more the downpour would sting. I knew the bike would be hard and it was probably more mentally difficult than physically.

I dropped my chain climbing a hill. Because I'm mechanically challenged, I had to get off and put it back on. It look me two minutes. People weren't following rules either. Lots of drafting going on. Probably because officials didn't want to drive motorcycles around in the rain. I was behind this pink Barbie girl the last nine miles. I seriously wanted to bitch slap her because she was riding in middle of the lane! When I passed her, I literally had to yell "on your left"! Not once but twice. She didn't move over either. I didn't want a penalty for passing on the right or going over the line. She passed me back going down a hill. It wasn't worth crashing to keep passing back and forth. "Barbie girl, learn how to ride your pretty pink bike in a race okay?!! Quit being so pink and stop acting like a road hog!" I came in on her tail, you can see her bike in the picture.

I was so happy to be off my bike in one piece. Usually, it's my favorite leg. I knew what was ahead for the run but I was alive, in one piece, and running! I knew I wouldn't feel fridgid during the run. Running always makes me sweaty.

The run was very difficult and I walked up the mountains. Even walking, my quads were burning. I saw girls in my age group passing me. I just didn't have the extra "uuuoommmppphh" to chase them down. This wasn't a tri that I really raced hard because I was so nervous on the bike. I just wanted to finish it.

When I finished, my husband, Brett and TriDaddy were waiting for me. I had seen Tri Daddy and Brett on the run course too. We always encouraged each other every time we passed. It helped because I didn't feel so alone without any of my girlfriends racing with me. I never knew blogging could bring such support. Thanks for my husband and all the volunteers for cheering us on in the rain, I know it was wet and cold for you too!

I didn't place in age group. In fact I would guess I placed close to last because I doubt all 12 girls that registered in my age group showed up. Only the hard core triathletes were out there today (and the crazy ones like me). This was the probably most difficult race for me to date. It's funny how it changed me though. Maybe the rain was good because I told myself this morning, "You just have to finish today". I didn't beat myself up for not placing like I thought I would. My final race this season, Pinehurst will look like a piece of cake compared to Bandit's.

I will update this entry when my times and splits are posted. I know that my finishing time was 3:09 but that's it. I had to stick around for awards to find out where I would have finished if I'd stayed novice. I would have placed 1st by twenty minutes. I have no regrets though because I wouldn't have cheated anyone but myself by winning so easily.

Seven hours after the race and I'm still FREEZING!
Results have been posted, The Cold Hard Facts:

5/7 Age Group, 30/66 Overall

Swim: 32:00/ 1.5k 2nd Age Group, 19 overall

Bike: 1:37.55/ 45k 5th Age Group, 31 overall

Run: 56:00/10k 5th Age Group, 41 overall

I have been really disappointed with my run times lately. I run a lot during training every week too. I can run 8 minute miles easily during my long training runs. When I race, I am really trying but obviously not moving very quickly. During the run leg, all I wanted to do was stop. I wanted it to end. Maybe I need to play with nutrition more, I ate two gels during this race. Maybe it wasn't enough. I was going to eat a third on the run but it just didn't sound appetizing.


At 4:32 PM, Blogger 21st Century Mom said...

CONGRATULATIONS! Not only did you do a really hard Tri but you conquered your unwillingness to ride in the rain and lived to tell the tale.

You are one brave MoFo... I mean MoJo.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Robin said...

GOOD FOR YOU! And I am very glad that you are happy when the race was said & done with your decision to move to AG.



At 5:41 PM, Blogger Laurie said...

Fantastic job! You overcame your fears and are even stronger because of it. You definitely have something to be proud of.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger Miss Jenny said...

You are AMAZING!! Seriously, I'm so proud of you for getting out there and for realizing what a success it was to finish strong, rather than worrying about some unrealistic standard of "perfection." And you looked so cute out there -- I would have been all drowned rat in the pictures if that was me.

At 9:53 PM, Blogger nancytoby said...

Congratulations and well done indeed!! That's definitely a race experience that will serve you in good stead in the future!!!

I think I can see those cracks you were talking about in the last photo....

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are hard core girl!
I am so impressed.
Really, you are amazing!
I am proud that you went AG instead of novice...
What a warrior!
Big hug to ya!

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Miss Jenny said...

I had a dream last night that I was watching you in a race (don't know where) and you totally rocked the whole race, coming in first place. I was so proud of you and when I woke up, the first thing I thought was, "That girl is a champion." And it's true!

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Papa Louie said...

Congratulations! Sounds like you survived a tough race in tough conditions. You're one tough cookie! So cool to have some encouragement from friends while out on the course too.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Mojo said...

Thanks Miss Jenny but unfortunately it was just a dream.

But I'd like to have that dream, especially after looking at my run time. :)

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Nytro said...

mojo! you did fantastic! on a much harder course than i did! congratulations! you beat me by six minutes! way to go! i'm jealous that you get to race with other bloggers... congrats again!


At 10:03 PM, Blogger E-Speed said...

great job! Fun pics! You look cold though!

At 2:22 AM, Blogger Bolder said...

i wanna do that race!

wow. what a test.

rain = booooooooo!

ok. you're making me crazy. tell me after my long RANT comment that you didn't do an Oly on two gels and water. TELL ME!

what color was the swim cap?

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Swordfish said...

Glad to hear you got yourself to the start of the race M . That was a very studly performance !!!!!!

I think you oughta start training today for an Ironman in 07....You Can Do It .

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Papa Louie said...

Hey Mojo, regarding "fast leg turnover speed" I am referring to cadence. Just as in cycling finding an efficient high cadence to conserve engery is important as in running. I believe leg strengthening exercises and speed workouts will help you to find the right leg turnover and make you a faster runner.

While I run in training or racing I mentally scan from my face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, hips, lower legs and feet for any tightness and I try to relax that part of my body. I also focus on turning my legs over fast without overstriding.
I don't want to say too much to confuse or complicate my ideas but if you have any questions and would like to discuss this more please feel free to email me.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Jessica A. Freas "Freeze" said...

Great job Mojo! I am so proud of you! I don't think that I could ever do that race! You did such a great job. I hope you know what an accomplishment it is that you did that!

Good luck at Pinehurst! You will like it! It will be easy compared to Bandits! I think the hills on the bike are a lot like the hills in Sanford. You will rock!

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Don't worry about that run split. You're bound to be a little slower with those massive hills out there!

Congrats on your finish and on your first age group tri! Even though you didn't place, you can take heart knowing that you didn't beat up on the sisters of the poor in the novice division. :)

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Kim said...

you did GREAT! i'm amazed you can eat sushi the night before a race!!! you did so well..youre a well-oiled tri-machine!

At 8:52 PM, Anonymous April said...

Hi! I found your blog by putting in a search for Bandits Challenge. I feel your pain b/c I too did the BC on Saturday. I'm from Wilkesboro and am the girl you would've beat by 20 minutes had you raced novice----so thanks for moving to AG! :) (Heehee) This was my first Tri ever and only my 2nd time on the road, so I was just happy to finish in one piece. I chose Bandits b/c I live here and am familiar with the territories but hopefully I can do some other tri's next year. I plan to do White Lake Half but it would probably take me a few days to complete. Anywho- just wanted to say "hi" and tell you congrats. You had a great time reguardless of the pouring rain! See ya next year! :)----#276

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Mojo said...

Hey April,

Thanks for stopping by. I don't know if you'll read this again but congratulations! I saw you get your award and hear you "woot'! You looked so excited and I was happy for you.

You did awesome, especially for your first Tri, it was a tough day. White Lake will be a breeze for you. The course is extremely flat. Hope to see you next year!

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Sheila said...

a) congratulations on a tough race.
b) run speed in a triathlon isn't solely about run fitness--it's a lot about bike fitness. If you aren't really strong on the bike or you are biking at the wrong pace you won't be able to run up to your abilities. Maybe you need to do more threshold intervals on the bike (with a brick run following), or maybe you run too fast too much of the time in training. Could be a number of things. If you pace the bike properly for your fitness, you should be able to get close to your open 10K time in an Oly. Assume you are doing threshold work in your run training, too. Another thing to consider is your weight training. I never lift the week of an important race; it will slow me down on the run ALWAYS. Weights need to be tapered down just as the s/b/r does.

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Sherri said...

Mojo, you are the bomb! I want to be you! Congratulations and great, great job! I, too, wish that you lived near me. I could definitely use your help in the swimming arena. =< Congratulations again, you're super duper fly!

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Fe-lady said...

Novice no more...sounds like you are ready for an Xterra with all the hills, rain and mud! Good job!

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