Monday, October 8, 2007

Race Report: Pinehurst Triathlon

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." - George Bernard Shaw

A little more than 72 hours have passed since our last race of the season -- our A race, our first race at the olympic distance, our goal for the year -- and deep, deep, deep satisfaction is what we're feeling.

It's not the same overwhelming "I can't believe we did this" emotionality that we remember from our first marathon -- it's something else. It's a deep knowledge that when it comes to a choosing a goal, doing the work, and implementing the plan, we would bet on ourselves everyday of the year. It's a feeling of limitless possibilities. It's a self-trust and self-confidence that we've never experienced before. Yes, by golly. YES.

After a hectic-as-usual life week, we arrived in Southern Pines, NC on Friday evening eager to meet up with our coach , husbands, and friends for a wonderful pre-race dinner. Early in the meal Sage asked if we were nervous and surprisingly we weren't. Excited, yes. Ready, focused, and maybe a little taper-induced cranky, but not nervous. We'd done the training. We had a plan. We couldn't wait to implement.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel and were treated to our first race-related surprise: colorful, handmade Good Luck signs from the kids living at Genesis Home. The best part of the signs was the note from one child that said "Hope you win!" Now, there was no chance of us winning anything official this weekend -- but that note alone reminded us of how much we had already won this year.
The next morning, Robyn was up as usual before the alarm, having tossed and turned for most of the night while Ray, as usual, slept soundly. We loaded up the car and headed to Pinehurst Marina where we were greeted by our parents who would put in nearly 10 hours of driving over the course of 24 to cheer us on for 3. Thanks Mom & Dad!!

We picked up our chips, got body-marked, set up our transition areas and headed out to warm up. We found a quiet place along the run course to do a few sun salutations, gaze at the lake, and take a moment for gratitude.

Returning to the transition area, we found our second race-related surprise: a challenge from our friend Carly who was also running a 10K on Saturday morning in Montana (sans the swim/ bike warm-up, of course). Instead of sending us congratulations flowers or some other token of support, she gave us a gift consistent with this year's Tri to End Homelessness philosophy. For every second faster that we ran our final 6.2 miles, she would donate an additional $0.60 to Genesis Home in our honor. We quickly did the math and realized that this could mean some significant money for the organization we've been supporting all year.

With that extra motivation, we poured ourselves into our wetsuits (Many thanks to our family for photographing the amusing, and oh-so-pretty wetsuit picture) and made our way down to the water's edge.

THE SWIM - 1500 m
The air was wonderfully cool, the sky overcast, and the lake water was calm as the horn for our wave went off at 8:18 am. The last things we thought about were the kids living at Genesis Home who have rarely - if ever - have had the opportunity to go for a swim in such a beautiful location.

For the first time this season, we entered the water from a running beach start. Ray quickly found her groove and took off at the head of the pack. For once, Robyn decided not to wait at the back of the wave. Instead she jumped into the middle and calmly negotiated the water traffic. For the gal who couldn't swim 50 yards straight a little more than a year ago, feeling strong at the turnaround buoy was a very special moment.

We exited the water and had to climb quite a hill to reach T1. Our parents, who had earlier noted how long the swim looked, shouted "You did it!," while Sage shouted "Hooray! You're out of the water" and reminded us to be mellow as we entered transition.

Rachel - 26:12
Robyn - 33:19

Our swim to bike transition was perfectly uneventful. Rachel consciously chose to take a moment to catch her breath, while Robyn was so happy to be out of the water that she jumped on her bike as soon as she possibly could.

Rachel - 2:03
Robyn - 1:35

Our strategy on the bike was to have our effort climb in a stair-step fashion, always keeping in mind that a significant run would follow. After swimming twice the distance that we had in any other race this season, it took a few minutes for our legs to come around, but soon we were zooming away -- working the hills, intentionally taking in nutrition, and giving thanks that we'd previewed this course. We both averaged around 18 mph, passed a few gals in our age group, and felt our bike legs went exactly according to plan -- even down to Kanye West's Stronger playing in our heads throughout the ride.

Rachel - 1:22:29
Robyn - 1:21:16

Thrilled that we made it through the bike without any mechanical issues, we quickly transitioned to our own two feet and headed out on the run course. When Robyn was leaving T2, Sage asked "How do you feel?". She responded, "Good." -- but really meant SHOCKINGLY GOOD - WOO HOO!!!

Rachel - 1:25
Robyn - 1:07

We knew the run would be tough, with the hills getting longer and steeper as the course progressed. Our strategy was to settle in, take it easier during the first 3 miles, focus on efficient form, and attempt a negative split. So we did (although we're not sure of the negative split part!). We ran, we cheered for other runners, we thanked the volunteers. When it got really tough during mile 4, we latched on to our memories of the year and got very internally focused.

We were LOOKING for the last hill where we knew Sage and our families would be waiting. When Rachel reached it, she looked over at Sage with a huge smile and just nodded over and over again. Yes, this is hard. Yes, it's almost over. Yes, the training, the plan, the tips, they all worked. Yes, we're going to beat our goal times. Yes, it was all worth it.

We rounded the corner, came through the shoot, and crossed the line -- our run splits 1 second apart!

Rachel - 1:03:20
Robyn - 1:03:19

We both had perfect races. We trained, we had a plan, we executed. Yes, we know that we can drop time - especially on our bikes and during the run - in future races at this distance, but for a first time out, we'll take it - with a cherry on top.

We loved this race. We loved this distance. We loved this year.

Rachel - 2:55 (AG 14/23, Overall 92/174)
Robyn - 3:00 (AG 15/23, Overall 109 / 174)