Race Report: Tupper Lake Tinman 2018

When I crossed the finish line at Ironman Mont Tremblant in August 2016, I would have never guessed it would be almost two years before I would cross the finish line at another triathlon.

That fall I started a new job in a new field. I threw myself into work 100% and was working a lot of extra hours. I stopped training. I gave up my coach. And the one triathlon I had registered for in 2017, I DNS-ed and volunteered instead.

I was able to get back into running seriously enough to finish some races as 2017 came to a close, including the Cloudsplitter 50k, but it was a triathlon-free year. One of my best friends, Megan, and I joked that 2017 was “the year work won.”

During my volunteering stint at the 2017 iteration of Tupper Lake Tinman, I signed up for the 2018 race – frankly, because it was so ridiculously well-priced, in addition to knowing I wanted to get back into triathlon in 2018.

Fast forward to this year. I’m trying to get myself back into shape for Ironman Canada, but dealing with some other stuff (as we all are). I headed to Tupper Lake not sure what to expect of myself. At the very least, I was looking forward to a week away with my mom and Megan.

My mom and I drove up to Tupper Lake on Thursday and the weather was GLORIOUS!  We stopped for lunch at the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake. We could look right out at the water and it was amazing.

We left there and headed to Tupper, where we checked into our hotel. We were there all of 30 minutes and I was already in a lawn chair by the lake soaking up the sun.

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Friday was another beautiful day. I went for a short spin on the bike around Tupper Lake to make sure everything was okay with my race wheels (which have also been sitting around for 22 months…) and my new cassette. I went for a short shakeout jog with Megan and then we got into our wetsuits and went for a short swim to one of the race buoys and back (one of the many benefits to staying at the motel next to the race site). The water temperature was perfect and we both felt good.

We went to lunch at Big Tupper Brewing (get the apple pie bites if you go there!!) and then to packet pick-up at the local ice rink.

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Megan and I registered so early for the race last year that we were bib numbers 12 and 13 – AND THE NUMBERS ONLY STARTED AT 10! As has been my experience in both of the years I have come to the race, everyone associated with the race is SUPER friendly and the vibe is very low pressure, which I love.

On race morning, we only had to wake up at 5:00 (VERY late in race day terms), since we were so close to the race site. Even though the weather forecast had predicted otherwise, it was raining when we got up. We knew we had plenty of time so we tried to wait-out the rain before setting up transition. Even though the rain did let up a bit, we decided to just put all of our stuff in plastic garbage bags like you would do at an Ironman to keep everything dry.

The nice thing about having such low bib numbers is that we were in the very first row and wouldn’t have any problems finding our stuff!

The weather was chilly on race morning and we were glad to be in sleeved wetsuits to keep us warm before the start. I had the pleasure of meeting Amy Farrell from the Coeur team, who I follow on social, before the swim start. Megan and I said our good lucks and waded into the water.

So, issue number one for me was that the water is really shallow where you start and I should have filled my wetsuit with water, but I didn’t because of the fact that it was only to my knees. I should have known better, but this is why you have a race to shake off the cobwebs before doing your first IM in two years!

Additionally, I did not listen to my coach and start at the back of the swim, so that’s on me. Hand up. I wanted to swim with Megan, so I lined up with her mid-pack and that was dumb. The swim start was quite rough and I immediately regretted that decision. It really through me off and it took me a long time to recover. #listentoyourcoach

On top of all of this, 1.2 miles was much longer than I remember! I’m kind of kidding, but kind of not!

Suffice it to say my swim this year was SIX MINUTES slower than my 2016 swim. OUCH! I will leave it at that.

I was so thrilled to get out of that damn lake and move on to my bike. Megan was still in transition when I got there and was waiting for me. If you know her at all, you know that is SO Megan! She is too nice for her own good! I yelled at her to go (twice!) and she finally obliged.

I tried to move swiftly to get everything out of my garbage bag. I struggled a bit to get my bike gloves on, but with the rain I really wanted to wear them to help me grip my bottles.

I ran out of transition, said “hi” to my mom as I mounted my bike, and then off I went. Shortly thereafter an ambulance came by – lights flashing, sirens blaring – and the only reason I mention this is that the bikes that didn’t pull over for the ambulance to pass encompass everything everyone hates about triathletes.

The bike course has some notable hills, but going out, I was able to keep a strong effort once I got going post swim (that always takes me some time). My race plan did not include going all out on the bike this time around and I did feel like I was able to strike a good balance between working hard and holding back ever so slightly. I was trying to remind myself to drink, even though it was cold.

On the way back, my speed slowed and I’m not sure whether that was a result of all of the passing I had to do on the way out (#shittyswimproblems), a nutrition issue, and/or a result of the wind, but knowing my goal for the day was to come in around 3:00, I wasn’t overly concerned. That being said, I know my biking is stronger than that right now, and I hope that shows in Whistler. I did have some issues getting into the big ring on the ride, and I will obviously get that looked at before Canada next month.

One thing I should note is that the roads are open to traffic for the race and in some places the shoulder is quite rough. If you haven’t ridden around a lot of cars, you should before the race, and you should get used to looking for traffic before passing (I cringed a few times as I saw athletes oblivious to what was happening around them).

The bike was relatively uneventful. I had one guy who kept passing me and sitting up. I really wanted to say “Bro, you doing intervals?” but I didn’t. I also saw one young woman with an older guy (her dad?) pulling her the entire way, which really pissed me off, but what can you do?

I came in from the bike, saw my mom again, racked my back, grabbed my bike stuff, made a quick porta potty stop, and off I went for the run.

I did not feel great for the first few miles. This is not an easy run course and I was feeling that. The negative thoughts started rolling in. Then I remembered the old “smile even though you’re feeling shitty” trick. I started talking to the volunteers and other runners and sure enough it worked. Around mile five of the run I reminded myself I was supposed to be trying to run fast and I snapped right out of my funk and started moving. It was bizarre. It was as though I had the longest warm-up ever to an 8 mile run.

I definitely do not remember the run course being this hilly in 2016, but it was a bitch. I was so proud of myself for keeping up a strong pace even with the hills. one of my miles was an 8:37, which is great for me on a hard course in a 70.3! I ended up with a 2:03 run, which I was quite pleased with.

I ended up with a 6:00:12 total race time compared to 5:56:51 in 2016, which, all things considered is pretty good.

I can’t say enough about how much I love this race. There is TONS of on course support – plenty of aid stations on the run (which is such a huge help to the athletes), and during the swim you are never far from a paddle board or canoe. The town really seems to support the race, which I always love to pay back in turn by patronizing all of the local businesses that support the event. Huge thanks to the race director, volunteers, sponsors, and the town of Tupper Lake for another great race! I will most definitely be back in 2019 for the 37th Tupper Lake Tinman!

If you want to join me, you should sign-up soon. If you register between now and Tuesday, June 26th, you can use the code RACEDAY10 for 10% off the earliest registration. Guys, that’s 145 bucks (including all fees) for a 70.3!! Registration is available at: https://register.chronotrack.com/r/40259.

Hope to see you in gorgeous Tupper Lake next June!

 

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Race Report: Tupper Lake Tinman

When it takes me over a week to post a race report for a race I did well in, you know I’ve been really busy. With a job, second job, and hobby that all have the same busy season, the last couple of months have been insane. It’s all good stuff, but I wish it wasn’t all happening simultaneously. In fact, the only reason I was able to get to this today was that I can’t get our new office printer to work and I’m waiting for technical support. In any case, I really wanted to take the time to blog about my latest race – Toughman Tupper Lake Tinman – because it is such a fantastic event. If you’re looking for a non-WTC race to support next year, I can’t recommend Tinman highly enough.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I chose this race not because I knew anyone who had done it, but because Tupper Lake is a place my family visited when I was a child. I have so many fond memories from trips there and when I heard about the race I couldn’t wait to go back.

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We aren’t sure exactly when this photo was taken (my mom thinks I was five and I guessed seven), but the point is that I would be returning to swim in these very waters almost 30 years later for Tinman.

This race would also be special because my mom would be spectating her first ever triathlon.

Tinman is a Saturday race, which I am a huge fan of, personally. That meant I left Virginia on Thursday to head up to my parents’ house (about a five and a half hour drive from my house) and then my mom and I left on Friday to drive to Tupper Lake (an additional four hour drive). We drove straight to packet pick-up at The Wild Center, which is an incredibly awesome natural history museum in Tupper Lake.

We arrived a bit before packet pick-up opened, so we sat at picnic benches in the woods and had our lunch. It was gorgeous. The weather was perfect and it was really the ideal way to start our time in the Adirondacks. Nothing says Adirondacks like having sap drip down on you from the tree tops as you eat your lunch!

I would have loved to walk through The Wild Center and their outdoor “Wild Walk,” but I knew that wasn’t the best idea the day before a 70.3. I will have to plan another trip back to Tupper Lake for that.

After I picked up my packet, we drove to our motel (the same motel we stayed in 30 years ago), which was literally right next door to transition. I took this photo standing in the parking lot of the motel and you can see that the bike racks are just on the other side of the fence. Note that we did not have to check bikes the day before, although if I had to, I would have easily been able to check on my bike throughout the night.

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The motel was exactly how I remembered it from 30 (ish) years ago. We were right next to the water. We even spotted this seaplane landing and taking off again from the window in our motel room!

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I did my usual pre-race routine on Friday, we ate spaghetti in our room for dinner (we were able to cook dinner right in our room, instead of going out, which was great), and then went to bed early.

On Saturday morning, it was actually quite cold. I believe the temperature was only in the high 40s. I walked over to transition (which is in a beautiful park, also right next to the water), got set up, and then headed back to our motel room to hang out with my mom until the start. I’ve never been able to do that before at a race and let me tell you, it was fantastic.

I wrote out a timeline for my mom, letting her know about what time of day I would be coming in and out of transition. After a rough go in Knoxville, I really wanted to redeem myself at this race, but you never know what to expect, especially when you’re racing a course for the very first time. So, I gave her pretty wide ranges for everything. For example, for the bike, I gave her a window between 3:00 and 3:30 to look for me.

My wave didn’t start the race until 8:30 (we were the very last wave of the day), but I did one last check in transition and headed over to the swim start a bit before 8:00 to catch announcements, since there was a not an athlete briefing the day before. It was definitely getting warm as I was standing around in my wetsuit waiting to get in the water.

The Swim: 42:58 (11/22 AG, 69/125 Women)

As I said, we were the last wave of the day and after standing around in the sun waiting for the start, I was happy to finally get into the cool water. The water was really the perfect temperature (I believe they said it was around 68 degrees) and you start off in a shallow area where you can stand, which I really liked. I did a quick warm-up in the few minutes we were allowed to be in the water before our start. I felt good.

Once the swim started, it was pretty chaotic. I think that for so long I would tread water at the start of races and let everyone go that I’m not used to being in the crowd yet. I definitely got a little freaked out with all the kicking and flying arms, but, as always, once I got going, I was okay. I was actually with a pack of other ladies for most of this swim, which has never really happened to me before. In fact, one of the other athletes and I basically did the whole swim side-by-side (I guess that means I should have tried to draft off her…?) to the point that when we exited the water she turned to me and said “great swim!” My swim time was a 42:58, which is fine. I am still waiting for all of my work in the pool to translate to a fast swim in a race, but after my swim issues in Knoxville, I was happy to just get through this one without incident.

I ran into transition, switched out my gear, grabbed my bike, and ran to the bike out, where I saw my mom cheering for me from just a few steps away. Another bonus of being at a small race!

The Bike: 2:57:45 (6/22 AG, 33/125 Women)

Going under 3:00 on the bike has been a goal of mine for some time now and you may remember that I was not too pleased (bitter?) about the fact that I probably would have done so, but for the course being more than 2 miles too long at Challenge Atlantic City last year. I was hoping to be able to finally break through that barrier at Tinman, but, again, after Knoxville, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

As is always the case for me, being a weaker swimmer, I spent much of the first portion of the bike at Tinman passing people. There were definitely some challenging climbs, as well, so I needed to try to strike that balance between working hard to get up the climbs and passing people and not blowing myself up in the first 30 minutes on the bike.

I tried to focus on my nutrition and, with the hilly course, making sure I was on top of my shifting. The course was really beautiful. There were a few occasions where I did a double take because of the beautiful views. I snagged this photo from the Tupper Lake, NY Facebook page – it isn’t me in the photo, but I wanted you to get a glimpse of just how stunning the views are along this course.

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The ride is an out and back, with the first and last parts having the most climbing, while the area nearing the turnaround is fairly flat. The course is not closed to traffic, but there is a very wide shoulder along the road, so this really isn’t an issue at all. The road surface conditions were good throughout the course.

Throughout the ride I really tried to keep my foot on the gas and I knew I was setting myself up well for breaking three hours. Everything was going along well until about the last half hour when my shifter broke and I couldn’t stay in the big ring. Suffice it to say, I was not happy and quite concerned I was going to let my sub-3:00 ride slip out of my grasp. Initially, I tried just holding the shifter down, but riding with a firm grip on your shifter for an extended period of time sounds a lot easier than it is. I finally decided I was wasting too much mental and physical energy on this and just needed to do the best I could using my small ring. I pushed as hard as I could, but I knew I was going to be cutting it close.

I rode back into transition and I was pretty sure I had broken 3:00, but I wasn’t positive until I checked the results latter that day.

The Run: 2:11:30 (8/22 AG, 33/125 Women)

By the time I got back into transition, it was getting hot. I decided not to wear my hat because I was afraid it would hold in too much heat. I knew I was going to need salt right away, so as I was running out of transition, I grabbed my baggie of salt pills and off I went.

This run course was kind of different in that it changed a lot as you went along. We ran through residential neighborhoods, we ran on a gravel path, we took a lot of turns. I kind of liked that I never knew what was coming next and couldn’t get bored. The course was well-marked and aid stations were plentiful. I haven’t mentioned them yet, but the volunteers were really great all day. The only negative about the run course was that there was very little shade at all and at this point in the day (with the 8:30 a.m. start) we were running in temperatures that were over 80 degrees, with the sun blazing down.

In addition to the heat, I had stomach issues for the second race in a row, which I obviously need to address before Mont Tremblant. This time, my stomach was feeling even worse than it did in Knoxville and I actually stopped to use a porta potty on the course.

I had forgotten to bring the wrist strap for my Garmin, so I did the entire run without knowing my pace or mileage. That may have been a good thing, since I wasn’t running my best. Between the heat and my stomach, a 2:11 run in a 70.3 isn’t bad for me, but it’s far from a PR. My best 70.3 run ever (by a lot) was a 2:02:16 at Challenge Atlantic City last year and while I know that was a special day for me, it does bother me a bit that I haven’t been able to replicate that kind of run in a 70.3 since.

I crossed the line and immediately asked my mom the time of day. I knew I was going to be close to breaking 6 hours for the first time ever (!!) in a 70.3, but without having a Garmin on the run, I had no idea how fast or slow my run had been. My mom said 2:20-something and I knew I had done it. I was thrilled!

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Final Time: 5:56:51 (8/22 AG, 33/125 Women)

After the race, there was a lovely picnic (with vegan options!) in the park (under a pavilion, so we were shielded from the sun), with live music and food, and lots of friendly conversation. Since we were right next to the water, there was even a nice breeze. It was perfect!

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You need to visit Tupper Lake! It’s so stunningly gorgeous. I promise you won’t regret it!

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The day after the race, I got back in the water (voluntarily!). You can see in the second photo below (taken underwater the day after the race), the water is amazingly clear.

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I can’t think of a reason not to do this race again.

Thank you to the everyone who made this race possible – the race director, volunteers, Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce, The Wild Center and other sponsors, and of course the members of the community who have supported this race for over 30 years.

And a huge thanks, as always, to Alyssa for her guidance.

And, before I sign-off to throw our printer out the window, I have to give a quick shout out to Tupper Lake’s natural food store, Tupper Health Hub. You definitely need to stop by if you’re ever in the area. I love being able to “vote with my pocketbook” and support small, organic, vegan-friendly grocery stores when I can. I also recommend Skyline Ice Cream, which had non-dairy soft serve.

 

Post-Ironman Recovery and Planning for 2016

It’s now been over two weeks since I finished Ironman Chattanooga and I am still on my post-race high! I’m not sure I can adequately describe my feelings in words, but suffice it to say, the race was one of the best experiences of my life and I can’t wait to do it again!

Since the race, I’ve been taking it easy. My first draft of this post used the word “lazy” but I’m trying to be better about positive self-talk. So, I’m telling myself I’m “giving my body the break it deserves” after such an enormous undertaking.

Truthfully, though, my physical recovery has gone better than I anticipated. The day after the race, I was sore, but I didn’t feel as bad as I had expected. This may have been a result of pounding calories during and after the race, but maybe that is just wishful thinking on my part. 🙂 In the following days, the only thing that really hurt was my left hamstring, which had been bothering me leading up to the race, so that wasn’t a big surprise. The important thing is that it held up during the race itself (thanks again, Peter!).

During the past two weeks, I haven’t worked out much at all. I’ve done a couple of short runs and rides (on my road bike), TRX class three times, some home workout DVDs, and that’s basically it. I initially ate whatever I wanted, too – which turned out to be an embarrassing amount of vegan junk food (I discovered, unfortunately, that there are WAY too many amazingly delicious vegan junk food options on the market!). But after about ten days, I needed to get back to eating more normally. Ten days is definitely the longest I can survive living like that.

I am still a bit out of sorts scheduling-wise. This has been the hardest part of post-race recovery for me. I think I thrive when I’m in a structured routine and not having that these past two weeks has thrown me a bit off-center. My time management is actually worse, even though I would have expected the opposite since I have so much more free time now. I’ll be glad to get back on a normal schedule next week.

Now that the Ironman is over, I’ve started planning out my 2016 season. Choosing races is always so much fun!

As I’ve already mentioned, I’ll be running the L.A. Marathon in February. This will be my 6th stand-alone marathon. I’m excited to focus on running for a while, although I am somewhat nervous about the hamstring holding up. We shall see how that goes.

My first tri of the season will be Rev3 Knoxville (half) in May and then I’ll be racing Toughman Tupper Lake Tinman in June. My “A” race of the season will be Mont Tremblant on August 21st. These will all be new races for me and I’m so excited to experience them for the first time.

I may add a local half marathon or ten miler in the spring, depending on scheduling, and I’d like to go back to Team HPB tri camp in Tucson, as well. It’s always so tricky to fit everything in!

I’m actually super excited about Tinman, which jumped out at me because I spent many childhood summers vacationing in Tupper Lake, New York.

Tupper Lake, NY, circa summer 1988? (age 7?). In my mind, that was a beautiful sandcastle.
I’ll be swimming in that water at Tinman.

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Tupper Lake is an absolutely gorgeous area and should be beautiful for racing. Tinman is also a smaller and very affordable race, which really appealed to me, as well. When my mom told me my parents would come to the race if I picked that one, that sealed the deal for me! They’ve never seen me race a triathlon before, so that’s going to be huge. I’m also really looking forward to setting some new goals for the half-iron distance, now that I have three 70.3s under my belt. I think I’ll have more confidence to actually race them now, too, since I know I can survive twice that distance in a race.

In addition to my parents coming to Tinman, Taryn will be joining me at Knoxville and Mont Tremblant, and Ashley at the L.A. Marathon, so I’ll have lots of company at my races next season.

I really couldn’t be more pleased with the year I had this year and I’m super excited about what’s to come in 2016!