Sunday, April 19, 2009

Breaking Through . . . RAGE Race Report!

Season Opener, RAGE Olympic Distance Triathlon
Swim: 1500 meters
Bike: 25 miles
Run: 6.2 miles

Hot Damn!

I was gunning for a huge PR and got one! 46 minutes off of last year's time!

Last years' time: 4:46:xx

This years' time: 4:00:02

Now, I really wanted to break four hours on this course. But, seriously, who am I to quibble over 3 seconds. Can we say "close enough"?


I can.

I think those three seconds are a sign of more work to be done and more awesome breakthroughs to come! Not later, but now . . . in the present . . . in the 2009 season.

I could not have asked for a better, more satisfying season opener. I feel blessed.

So with that, here is the lowdown of what unfolded out there:


I was quite nervous when I got up. So nervous in fact that my stomach did not want breakfast. No problem. I took my oatmeal with blueberries, added a bit of plain yogurt, pureed it in the blender and washed it down with cold water. Worked like a charm, as did all of my race nutrition. NICE!

My friend Leslie offered to sherpa for me. Since Glenn was racing too (sailing) I took her up on that offer. Leslie is a new triathlete, training for her first triathlon, Iron Girl, on May 9 here at Lake Las Vegas. She has been training quite a bit with Tony and me. Having her there made things so much nicer!

The Swim:

Something did not quite click during the swim. My warm up felt sluggish but I was loving the cool/cold water temps! There was a bit of a breeze but not too bad. I lined up in the middle of the swim wave (all Olympic women and relays) and swam pretty solidly. Until I made the rookie mistake of swimming off course. Damn! I realized it quickly and corrected. I tried to turn up the heat on the last half but was really wanting out of the water.

The swim felt long.

In reality, I think the course was right on and something was a little off with me. No problem.

Swim time: 41:54
Last year's swim time (including T1) 56:xx


For the first time ever, I got out of the water and jogged up transition to my bike. Usually I just walk. This time I had energy!

T1 time: 3:46. The fastest T1 time in the history of Stef!
Last year's T1 time: added to the swim so don't know.

The Bike

Here is where I gained the most momentum and confidence in myself. ON THE BIKE.

It's no secret I haven't liked the bike since Silverman. Even though there's nothing wrong with my bike I've had trouble trusting my equipment again after all those flats (even though I haven't flatted since).

But thanks to training with Tony and really applying myself, especially on the KEY bike workouts, I'd seen enough gains on the bike in the past couple of months to know, even with wind, I could handle this course in under two hours. I had never done that before, but the data was there. All I had to do was do it.

Getting up the steep hill out of transition is never fun. And there was wind. NOT like at Silverman but there was enough of a breeze to be noticeable and to annoy me immediately.

My legs started hurting way sooner than they normally do, in the upper hamstrings, rather than in the quads where they normally do. My crotch area was bothering me for nearly the whole first half and I just did not feel comfortable at all!

I found myself wondering what is wrong with me??? Is this because I'm working harder than normal or am I just too tired? Maybe I don't have it today . . . . is it the shorts? NO! I've trained in them several times and rode Silverman in them. It has to be me . . . . .

Reaching the five mile marker clinched my foul mood. Already I was behind my two hour goal, the wind was in my face and I was starting to wonder why I even do this. My legs still hurt. But, what could I do but just keep the burn going? After all it wasn't too much longer to the turnaround.

The struggle continued for a few more miles grinding up the hills. Then a familiar car passed and pulled over. It was Tony (my 69 year old phenom training buddy)! He had come to find me! I was SO GLAD TO SEE HIM. The old me would have whined and complained about how uncomfortable I was. Thank God I'm not that girl anymore.

The dialogue was brief and went something like this:

Tony (grinning from ear to ear): Hey Stef!! I found you! How's it going??

Stef: Well I'm struggling a bit, but things are OK!

Tony: That's great! You look great!!

And guess what. That brief conversation produced a total shift in energy and Wow! Got to the turnaround a bit after that and had the relief of a downhill and a tailwind. I was Back Baby!!

I could make it under two hours if I pushed it and the funny thing was I already "knew" that I would. I took control, shifted in the saddle, spun down the hills (no brakes man) and powered up the tough up hills. The last uphill was the hardest by far. But once I got up there, I rode like a bat out of hell to get back down to transition.

And this is where something else shifted. I finally felt what it's like to race on the bike. For the first time ever I didn't think about going "too fast," I was thinking that I needed to really push to make my time goal. I found the right gear (gearing is too often still hit or miss with me) and powered down, passing a couple of people on the way.

I finally felt trust in my bike. And in myself. In a way that was not there before.

Bike time: 1:57:29
Last year's bike time (lumped in with T2): 2:12:xx


I sat down for the first time ever in T2 and discovered that makes it a lot easier to switch shoes. I also took two salt tabs and chugged some water before leaving and still produced my quickest T2 time ever.

T2 time: 2:39

The Run

One of the BEST parts about Rage this year was getting to meet some fellow Bloggers in person for the first time. I had the awesome privilege of spending time with RBR and her LA Run Buddy on Friday when we drove the bike course, had lunch, and went to packet pickup.

Then at packet pick up I got to meet Mike, his wife Anne, and their five adorable kids. So cute!!! Then of course there are the local boys Izaac and Johnny Tri and the awesome sherpa/athlete/spectator Kelly and Amanda and Isabelle!

Mike and I were the only ones of this group with enough sense to do the Olympic rather than the half iron (LOL)!

So when, within my first mile of the run, I saw Mike coming in on his last mile, I was like AWESOME!!!! This run is starting out great!!!!!

And the run did go great. It was tough but not quite as tough as I thought it would be after the bike. In fact I could have pushed a bit more. And I think that's what those three seconds are telling me:

You have it in you to push more. You can do it! Go for it!!

I'm very happy with how I handled this run! Last year the wheels completely fell off and I survived it. This year I was in charge. There is a nasty hill that starts at about mile 1.5 and it's a least a mile long. I knew this would be tough but I kept running. Very slowly but, like at Silverman, I was determined to not let myself walk.

On the way back down I felt like I was floating. Tried to keep good form and NOT put on the brakes. Made up a lot of time on that downhill!

The last mile and a half I got to see Izaac and Johnny Tri as they were starting their half iron runs. Those guys are too awesome for words. JT PR'd big time on the course from last year and Izaac had a strong strong race here, just two weeks after Oceanside! I'm so glad and lucky and fortunate to have such great friends.

Meanwhile I was starting to feel like I was running in slow motion through quicksand. My body wanted to be DONE!!!

Just keep at it!!! Ugh!! No really just keep at it!!! You have this!!!

Run time: 1:14:16
Last year's run time: 1:38:xx

The Aftermath

Leslie was at the finish line waiting for me. YAY Leslie!!

Another really really cool thing about the finish line is that the announcer commented on my CAF tri suit.

As I was coming to the line he said something like: Another great way to race is for a cause. Here's Stefanie Frank from Boulder City for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

I'm totally paraphrasing but that was the general gist. I love my CAF tri suit so much!!! It represents the one and only time I have fund raised for a cause that I believe in deeply. And I love that the suit has Operation Rebound all over it.

I got a ton of "good jobs" from folks on the course (more than is usual for me) and I wondered if the suit had something to do with it. It really makes a difference racing in a suit you love. I wore it at Silverman too but because it was so cold and windy/rainy that day it was mostly covered up so I consider this race to be it's unveiling.

I also got support from some great folks in a gray pickup out on the bike course. This was during the final push to the last nasty uphill. THANKS GUYS (if you're reading this). I am not sure who was in there but they called my name, gave several short honks of support and made me smile!

There were also a couple of folks who recognized me and called me by name out on the run course and in transition. Honestly, I felt like a rock star this entire race because of these people, along with Tony (my good luck charm), Mike, Izaac, Kelly, JT, RBR and LA Run Buddy

And because I was Breaking Through!

So even though I did wonder for a few down moments on the bike course why I do this, hell the answer is obvious! The people! The challenge! The confidence! The energy! The breakthroughs! The people!!!!!!!!!

Oh hell yeah!

Congratulations to everyone who did this tough, tough race!!!


Welcome to the 2009 Season!


Andrea said...

Way to go Stef! This is huge!!!

Joy | Love | Chaos said...

This is fantastic, Stef!!

I'm so excited for you. I mean, WOW, what a day out there!!

You should be so proud of how you handled every challenge that race threw at you. Good job!

Jen said...

AWESOME! Congrats on a great race :)

The Stretch Doc said...

you were Awesome out there when I saw you on the run!!!

Congrats on the PR!!!

cant wait to see your next Smash Race!!


Molly said...

Stef!!!! That's a huge PR! Congratulations!!! You worked hard for this and your strength is evident!

Unknown said...

Now THAT is a race report! See what a positive attitude can do for you? Great job! Recover well and enjoy that well earned feeling!

SWTrigal said...

Nice job Stephanie! Very difficult course and a PR!

Formulaic said...

You were so awesome out there! You kicked so much butt!

I am so proud of you and happy for you!

Way to go. Way to fight through your demons and break on through.

Can't wait to continue to read about the rest of your season

Kelly said...

Yeah Stef!! I can't believe how much your times have improved.

Great job on tackling the down hills, especially on the bike. I know that's not easy but you did it and trusted!

I am just disapointed I did not see you at all during the race :-( but glad you had so much support.

Liz Waterstraat said...

Stef, you are a totally new Stef. This race report captures that. Welcome to 2009 - the year of Stef as an athlete. Sky is the limit girl. Where will you go? So glad I am along for the ride...

Wes said...

You had me giggling :-) You smashed each and every piece of this tri and made it your beyotch!! I loved it! Congrats on the huge PR. I can't think of anyone who deserves this more than you!

ShirleyPerly said...


I'm so happy to hear how well your race went. Truly, you have worked hard and earned this huge, fabulous PR. I only wish I could have been there to cheer you on too. I love hearing how confident you were on the bike as I know Silverman must have been dreadful.

Keep up the awesome work and CONGRATS on your race!!

ShirleyPerly said...

Oops, I meant the flats at Silverman, not the race itself.

Unknown said...

WoootWooot!! You ROCKED IT!!

Seriously - you rocked every aspect of it.

Awesome job!

Anonymous said...

Phenomenal Stef! My heart was racing as I read about your race. Very inspiritational - so much that I've signed up for my first century, The Tour de Poway. Thanks for sharing your story!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Stef!! You are such a different Stef than last many positive improvements. Reading this was so exciting! I smiled the whole time thinking how happy and proud I am for you :-)

The way you changed your attitude on the bike inspired me so much. Congrats on a phenonmenal PR!!!

Watch out 2009 - there's a new Stef in town!!!

Anonymous said...

So proud of you!!!

Calyx Meredith said...

You have the most amazing triumphant style!! Congratulations on a brilliant race. So glad you had such a great group of folks to enjoy the experience with. I love your race reports!

PS - How did Glenn's race go? :D

KodaFit said...

Thanks for sharing the race! And huge congrats on the new PR!!

That course if incredibly beautiful. I'm wondering to myself if it might not be the perfect final tune-up race before IMSG next year!

Vickie said...

Stef, great job! Great breakthrough!

RBR said...

DUDE!! How did I not comment yet?! I am losing my marbles I tell ya!

AWESOME RACE! You were so strong and confident all day.

I can not tell you how great it was to meet you and get to hang before and after the race.

We will definitely race together again soon! Maybe a marathon? I am just asking...

IronWaddler said...

Way to go. What a way to start the season/

Anonymous said...


I stumpled and found your blog. Fellow NV living Tri girl here. You kicked Rage's ass!