Race Report: Mass State Triathlon 2017

Mass State Triathlon – July 9, 2017

Fran’s Race Report:

The 2017 Mass State triathlon took place on July 9th, at Lake Dennison in Winchendon, Massachusetts.  It’s a race that has a reputation of always taking place on the hottest day of the summer, but I think we got lucky this year because the temperature never got above 80 degrees.  This was my second Olympic distance triathlon and definitely my best race this year.

My training for this race perhaps wasn’t the greatest.  I ended up not following a formal training plan, and instead made up my own regimen as I went along that used some of the principals from the plan I’d used to train for my first Olympic distance race.  In the end, I may have done more training than a formal plan would have called for, but it was definitely less structured.  Another hiccup in the training was that I ended up having to travel for work for several days about a week and a half before the race, which disrupted my final training plans.  While traveling, I tried to tell myself that I was probably supposed to be tapering anyway, and then I did a last long workout when I got back before doing the real taper.  Perhaps the trip even helped in the end, especially because I was working outdoors in Florida, and just about any weather feels cool and refreshing after that.

The swim had the usual waves with mass starts.  I’d consider my swimming good but not spectacular, but I made some big improvements this year just by doing a better job of making sure my goggles didn’t fog up.  It’s amazing how much faster you can finish the swim course when you can actually see the buoys and aren’t constantly getting off track.

The bike course had some scenic sections, some bumpy sections, some parts with newly paved road, and one slightly dicey part that goes through a town center.  The race organizers assured the athletes that the bad patches of road would be fixed by next summer.  There are a few hills, especially in the middle of the course, but it’s fairly flat at the beginning and the end, which I think helped me because I could get used to being on a bike at the beginning and then prepare for the run at the end without also having to worry about anything too technical.  I thought there were also a surprising number of people pulled over with flat tires on the bike course.  There were also at least a couple crashes, one of which happened a short distance behind me that I heard but didn’t see. Fortunately, I made it back to transition without getting into any mishaps myself.

After a short bout of jelly legs coming off the bike, I ended up having a really good run.  This is most likely for two reasons.  First, the course is an out and back, so whenever I got to an uphill I could tell myself that I would get to run back down it later.  Second, I’d done the run leg as part of a relay with Z and Edith my first year on Team Envision.  It definitely helped to be able to tell myself that no matter how tired I might feel, I’d done that run before and I could do it again.  That’s made me wonder if I ought to try and do the run course in isolation before other future races, maybe it would help when the temptation to walk gets strong.

My official time was 3:13:44.9.  It’s not a spectacular time by any definition, but I achieved both of my main goals for the race: to finish in under 3 hours 15 minutes, and run the entire run course.  I’m looking forward to doing this race again next year and improving even more.

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Race Report: Patriot Half Triathlon 2017

Patriot Half Triathlon – June 17, 2017

Melaney’s Race Report:

I was fortunate enough to complete my first half iron in June 2017. I was definitely nervous signing up and committing in the fall of 2016 (since the race sells out early) but decided to take the leap after volunteering in 2016 and seeing others complete what I once thought was unaccomplishable. Gaining confidence through having three half marathons under my belt and being able to already swim a mile, I pushed myself to set a goal that I was not quite sure would be accomplished (always exciting but scary!). However, once I set a goal, in anything, I will figure out a way to best set myself up for success. This could be the scientist or stubborn in me. I set myself up to improve my bike over the winter with an indoor trainer and Computrainer classes at Fast Splits (thanks coach Karen!), I hired a coach (thanks Will @ TriHard!), swam through the winter with TE (thanks coach Becky!), and continued to run throughout the winter (thank you mother nature!). I’m sure it is obvious but goals are easier with support behind you. I followed my training plan as best I could and trusted that I had done what I could do to prepare for race day. There were definitely moments that were difficult in life and training and lessons were learned, such as ALWAYS practice race nutrition on a training day as pounding many many GUs may not agree with you : (

June 17: Race day came and I felt good and calm to just complete the race, not “race”, but finish respectably and enjoy it. I estimated my time around 6:15-6:30.

I arrived on race day with what I thought was plenty of time but quickly turned into a rush. Parking took FOREVER, so I had to rush to get marked and get my chip. Setting up transition was fast but I literally ran to get to the port-a- potty line and then had to sprint back to get my wetsuit on. I also wanted to make sure I at least got into the water for a second, so I ran to the entrance area and fought my wetsuit sleeves on, jumped in and out and had just enough time to get back to line up. I usually like a little more time than I had and felt a little like a hot mess, but maybe it helped to not fuss over things.

The weather was misty and gray, kind of cool, basically my perfect weather. My swim was calm and comfortable. I took my time and even felt like I had good form since I was out there for a bit to focus on it. In the end I was happy with my time of 39:14 since I took it easy to not tire out.

I was looking forward to T1 since they had wetsuit strippers, woohoo! and it was kind of comical when this drill-sergeant man was grabbing the remainder of my sleeve off and then shouted “SIT DOWN!” and got my legs off in a jiffy. I almost said “YES SIR!”, in summary wetsuit strippers are awesome. T1 I don’t remember too much, just got my bike gear on and off I went.

On the bike I remember I tried to push but not too much and not get caught up in the race. I took in my nutrition and watched the fast men with disc wheels whoosh by me (and Cathy too). By the second loop I was looking at my time and thought, wow! this is fast! I averaged 18.4 mph for my first loop and wondered if I should slow down or not but I didn’t feel fatigued so I kept at the same pace. My second loop was slower, 17.5 mph, but I also took a potty break where I had to wait for someone, but since I felt good so far, I wanted to incorporate the time loss into my bike rather than my run. While I had a lot of time on the bike, my mind calculated many things, like how fast maybe I could finish, considering I knew my bike time would be a little over 3 hours (in the end 3:09:57). My swim time was a mystery but I figured it couldn’t be over an hour, so this got my mind on a goal of under 6 hours, with a sub 2-hr half marathon, which was possibly achievable.

T2 was slower, but I wanted to make sure I had sun protection on and was comfortable with all my gear.

I set off running and my legs felt good. I paced myself well using my Garmin and was cruising easily between an 8:40-8:55 pace. Since I also knew my half marathon PR time, by the time I hit the 10K point, I also knew I could likely beat my PR and push under 2hrs easily. Overall the run was smooth, even when ending a little warm/humid in the day. I started to get some minor cramping on the last two mile inclines so I walked up two hills to prevent an actual cramp and then continued running. On the final turn I saw Z and a t-rex cheering on and before the final turn the feeling was incredible.

I’ve never had emotion come over me in a race and I had to break into a smile from just feeling joy. Just to finish was enough for me, to break under 6 hrs (5:52:48) was even more incredible and to set a half marathon PR (1:54:45) was icing on the cake for me. The day was almost suspiciously perfect for me, I would like to think that on Father’s Day, someone was looking out for me : )

In the end, it paid off to trust in my training, have fun and take in the entire day around me to remember such a great goal and moment.

Race Report: Buzzard’s Bay Sprint Triathlon 2017

Buzzard’s Bay Sprint Triathlon – September 17, 2017

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Amanda’s Race Report:

I attended the Buzzard’s Bay Sprint Triathlon as the runner in the relay with Z and Ruth. The morning started off cloudy but the sun came out in full force by the time I was running. There were strong winds in the morning, and the race volunteers couldn’t keep the swim buoys out in the water! It appeared to be an advanced and unpleasant swim, partly due to the weather that day. But also given that it’s an ocean course requires some solid swimming experience. The staff were recommending that anyone not comfortable switch to the duathlon. I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable swimming at Buzzard’s Bay even on a nicer day! The run was very pleasant with pretty and changing scenery… down a road, by some Cape houses, out and back to Gooseberry Island, and then through a camp ground. My most notable practical observation is that there was really no shade or cover anywhere on the run course. I put on sunscreen (a must!) but would also have a visor or sun glasses next time.

Race Report: Boston Triathlon 2017

Boston Triathlon – July 30, 2017

 

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Zabeth’s Race Report:

I was really excited to compete in the Boston Tri this year.   I’d heard good things about the event, and was looking forward to racing on closed roads along the Southie waterfront with Team Envision.

We had a fantastic energetic Team Envision turnout with Melaney Bouthillette, Bee Sullivan, Margaret Randle, Julia Rissmiller, Nathalie Apchin, Nathalie Kylander, Sara Doggett, and Sharon Perth-Olshvang all racing and Sandra O’Connor  and M-H Bourduas cheering us on.

A few training swims at Carson Beach had been superb preparation for the variety of conditions encountered on race day.  Several of us racing enjoyed a TE  open-water ocean swimming clinic there with Coach Becky.  The water temp on race morning was about 10 degrees lower than it had been the week before  — not bad, but I was glad to have my wetsuit!

Transition was set up the night before, and though I was initially suspicious, good security was provided for the bikes, and there weren’t any problems.

The swim course at Boston Tri is three sides of a rectangle in a protected bay with a running start on a nice flat sandy beach.  Swimming out and along the top of the rectangle, the water was calm, but on the return it became choppy – according to Bee Sullivan, “the mermaids were definitely having fun with us!”

We ran along the beach to T1 and headed out on the loop course for our bike leg.  As an Olympic Aquabiker, I had 4 laps to complete. The course was completely flat, but upwind heading out and downwind heading back.  Most of the course was on the closed William J. Day Blvd, and at times it was hard to avoid drafting due to the number of other bikes on the road.  In several places we had to navigate much narrower sections of pavement going on and off  the side walk out to the causeway before making a tight turn around the pavilion at the far end.  Good bike handling in  the corners and turnarounds, seeing the big picture at all times, and efficient passing technique were critical to a strong cycling split.   I did see several crashes – cyclists not paying enough attention and colliding with others or with curbs.  Worried I’d forget to count my laps, I had stuck 4 small pieces of white tape to my handle bars and removed one each time I completed a lap.   This worked great!

My favorite memory of this race were the loud cheers of Sandra and M-H at the end of each lap. Their voices spurred me to pick up the pace a little at each successive turnaround.

As I didn’t have to run afterwards, I could afford to floor it on the final lap – really fun on the last straight section of road!  Running the bike into T2 to get my finish time, I enjoyed a drink and snack before making my way to the finish chute to get one of the weirdest race photos I’ve ever had taken.  I may look cartoonish, but I do look determined and happy!

I joined the others near the end of the run to cheer on our racers.  Sara Doggett and I also took the opportunity to keep Bee company on the final hot mile of her run.

The Boston Triathlon is one of the most expensive races locally, but it is really something special to compete along the Boston waterfront with your teammates.  There is plenty of parking and you do save money and time by racing locally.

There is free beer for all racers — probably why the race was so expensive! (Remember to hydrate well first and don’t forget to apply sunscreen – I saw a  few folks suffering the effects too much sun and beer while dehydrated.)

My main criticism of the event was that post-race lunch had to be purchased from a few undersupplied food trucks with long lines.

TE did great with 9 participants and 3 podium places:  Julia earned 2nd in the Sprint, Margaret earned 2nd in the Olympic and I earned 2nd in the Olympic Aquabike.

It felt wonderful to be on the podium again after a two-year hiatus dealing with a torn rotator cuff.

I highly recommend the Boston Triathlon and hope to continue to see a big Team Envision presence there in years to come!

Race Report: Whaling City Tri & Du 2016

Whaling City Tri & Du – July 3, 2016

Sarah, Fran and Candice at Whaling City 2016

Candice’s Race Report:

I completed the Whaling City Triathlon in New Bedford on July 3rd. This was a sprint distance triathlon: .25 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. It first started with me checking in and then getting marked. I then went over to the transition area, which was nicely organized by your race number with plenty of space for each person. I then went over to the bathrooms, which was probably the biggest downside to the race: about 6-7 portable bathrooms for the whole event.

The swim portion was done in Buzzards Bay and the water was beautiful for the race! I couldn’t ask for better water temperature. The swimming portion started where you entered two by two with a five second delay until the next pair came in. I felt strong at first with the swim, although did get a little tired at points with the waves and slight current of the water. The route was a triangle from one shore line to the other.

I then transitioned to the bike. The swim transition was a little bit of a jog to the transition area, but I managed to get my bike gear together and start riding. The bike course was a 6 mile loop that was done twice. The route itself was nice and flat, with beautiful views of the water and of New Bedford. I’m still having trouble with those turns on the bike though! Any advice from TE members would be awesome.

The bike mount and dismount were very close to the transition area, which made it easy for transition to the run portion. The running route itself was flat and probably my favorite part of the whole race. The route itself was right on the water with stunning views. If I was not completing a triathlon, I would have stopped and took some pictures! The down side to having stunning views right on the water is that there are little trees or opportunities for shade. When the temperature is already sunny and in the mid 80s and humid, I was dying for some relief when I finished the race. It was probably the most scenic triathlon I have done so far, although it was definitely the hottest as well.

The finish area was also nice, with kiosks to print out your personal times and they gave you a cool rag at the finish line. The best part when I finished was the kiddie pools filled with ice cold water to put your feet in! I’m so glad they had these as I was very hot and tired when I finished.

All in all, I thought this race was very scenic and flat. I would do this triathlon again. The only thing that I would recommend in the future is more bathrooms. Oh, and keep the kiddie pools with ice cold water.

Fran‘s Race Report:

After a 4 am wake up call, I piled my bike and gear in the car and headed to New Bedford for the Whaling City Triathlon.  It’s a sprint distance, with a 0.25 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run.  It was a great day for a race, with temperatures only getting up to around the mid 70’s by the end, and just enough breeze to cause some annoyance on the bike but cool things down for the run.  And I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the race organizers had given the three representatives from TE, Candice, Sarah, and I, consecutive race numbers, so we were next to each other in transition.

It was my first race with a wetsuit (and my second swim in one), and my first real swim in salt water.  I’m still getting used to all that extra buoyancy, sometimes it felt like my feet were barely even in the water.  Save ’em for the rest of the race, I guess.  I was pleased to look at the summary from my watch later and discover that I didn’t swim as far off course as I thought I had, but I still need to work on my sighting and bilateral breathing.

The bike portion was made up of two six mile loops, which initially caused me some consternation.  It took me a little while to figure out that I was getting passed so often during the first half because I was among the super speedy people who were on their second loop.  I managed to keep out of their way and eventually got around to passing some people of my own.  Not Sarah Poole, though.  Even with a cold Sarah is way faster than me on a bike.  Still, I managed an average 15.6 mph pace, which is a big improvement on where I was this time last year.

I managed to locate my running legs somewhere around half a mile into the 5K, only to lose track of them at about the three mile mark, but still finished fairly strong after a quick breather.  And I had my fastest average pace during a race, so call it a win.  The run course was nice.  It winds along the shore around Fort Taber Park with some great views of Buzzards Bay.

Overall, it was a good race.  It was well-organized with plenty of signs to tell everyone where to go.  There weren’t many hills, and the few that were there were pretty mild.  My only advice to anyone interested in doing this race in the future is to try and get there early if you want to get a close parking spot.  Apparently, there were fewer parking options available this year and I’m not sure if those filled up and where people had to go if they did.  I got there around 6:30 and got one of the last spots in the first of the two parking lots.

Sarah‘s Race Report:

I really enjoy the Whaling City Triathlon. Unfortunately, a nasty cold (sneezing, chest congestion, cough…all the fun stuff, really) almost sidelined me this year. Neck rule be damned, I decided to adjust my expectations and race anyway. I threw all time goals out the window and set out to race at a comfortable pace and to have fun.

The water was perfect for the swim – calm, a comfortable temperature, and not too crowded (thanks to the time trial start). This was my first race in my new sleeveless wetsuit, and I really liked having the extra range of motion in my shoulders. I stayed relaxed and steady in the swim without pushing my pace and exited the water ready to hit the bike – so far, so good!

Whaling City’s bike course is flat, fast, and closed to traffic. Most of the route features a lovely view of the shoreline. I went out strong and felt much stronger (and faster) than I had anticipated. Tempting as it was to push the pace, I knew I still had the run ahead of me. I stuck to my revised plan and maintained a steady, comfortable pace, which turned out to be a little faster than expected. Sweet!

My chest congestion finally caught up with me on the run (I was SO close!). I started out slow, had to take several coughing breaks, and just never really found my pace or my breath. So, I took it easy, walked a bit, and enjoyed the scenery – the course offers beautiful views of Fort Taber Park and the waterfront.

It wasn’t the strongest finish, but I crossed the line and enjoyed a nice ice bath for my feet. I had a lot of fun racing with my Fran and Candice (I love that Sun racks teams together in transition), enjoyed a well-organized, scenic race, and surprised myself in two of the three events. Considering how close I came to not racing at all, I consider the day to be a success. I even managed to remove all traces of my body marking before attending a wedding reception that evening!

Next up – Sharon!

Race Report: Mill City Triathlon 2016

Mill City Sprint Triathlon – June 26, 2016

Award from Mill City Sprint 2016

Cheers to two podium finishes at the Mill City Sprint Triathlon! Way to go, Candice and Sara!

Candice’s Race Report:

Candice on the Podium at Mill City Sprint 2016

This past Sunday, I completed my very first triathlon, the Mill City Triathlon in Lowell, Massachusetts. The race had both sprint and olympic distance options. I completed the sprint distance of .25 mile swim, 11 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. The race started at 7 AM, with a 4:30 AM wake up for me (brutal). Everything was pretty well organized from registration, race time and awards ceremony. The only issue was the bars to hold the bikes in transition were too low which made for longer transition times in both T1 and T2.

The race started off with the swim in the Merrimack River. Given the minimal rain we’ve had and the hot temperatures the past few days, the water was beautiful and clear. The water was warm, making it an easy swim from the first marked buoy back to shore. I then had to jog across the street to the transition area. The transition areas were the same for both the bike and running, which made for easy transition out for running (after I struggled with placing my bike on the low bar). Everyone in the race was supportive and encouraging. The bike and running routes were different this year and all of the roads featured were freshly paved. This led to a smooth bike ride for the whole 11 miles for me. The bike course was relatively flat, with some small hills. All of the routes were clearly labeled with enough volunteers at each spot to show where you were going next. The olympic distance was simply another loop of the same route used for the sprint for both bike and run. The swimming for the olympic had buoys set off at a greater distance before swimming back to shore.

The weather was beautiful and I couldn’t have asked for a better day for my first triathlon. I came in at 1 hour 24 mins, which I was happy about for my first time. Then the awards: third in my age group, woot woot! Overall, I thought this was a good triathlon and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is new to triathlons or wants to ease their way back in. I feel lucky that I picked this one as my first!

Candice at Mill City Sprint 2016

I’ll see you all in the Whaling City!

Sara‘s Race Report:

Sara D. on the Podium at Mill City Sprint 2016

I was originally slated to be sitting in a conference room all day learning more about cat diseases…but somebody had a better plan for me that day. As luck would have it, the conference was cancelled so I jumped in to register for Mill City Sprint. I couldn’t ask for better weather for a summer race. The water was warm (likely mid 70’s), the air was mid 60’s at 7 AM, and the sky was beautiful and clear.

I was pretty excited for this race as I have been working so hard on my swim technique and endurance since the last event. Master’s swim and Walden have been my hangouts lately… I couldn’t wait to see if I could redeem myself.

Arriving around 5:20 AM, it was early enough to go for a warm-up bike, run and swim…and stand in line for the bathrooms (TWO porta potties and two stalls in the building).  I’ve finally learned that I need longer warm-ups for shorter races, and an early arrival keeps my stress at bay.  The race was small and the transition area was located across the main road from the swim start.

The swim start was in waves to separate out sprint and Olympic racers. It was a quick out and back around the buoy. After some confusion from the director about which side to stay on, it was settled that we would go out on the right and back on the left. Phew…could have been a disaster. A friendly lady in my wave told me there is less current going out if you say nearer the shore, and then on the return stay towards the center to use the current’s help – I followed her advice and managed a 9 minute swim – 4 minutes faster than my last race, and not an ounce of panic occurred… just fast, relaxed swimming the entire way. Redemption!!!!

The bike was fast and flat for the first 5 miles, second 5 miles was moderately hilly but manageable. Averaged about 17 mph which was a record for me again! All that hill training is starting to pay off.

The run was a fairly flat loop, but by this time the air had really started heating up. I huffed and puffed my way to a 9:35 min/mile pace, setting another PR for me!

The race started so early that I was able to get back home for a second breakfast….

My new goal is to work on my running pace over the next year and try to get it down to a consistent 8 minute mile.  In the mean time, I’m going to bask in my personal PR glow.

PR Cat

Race Report: BAA 10K 2016

June 26, 2016

Melaney at BAA 10K 2016

Team EnVision had several runners at last Sunday’s BAA 10K. Everyone did a great job racing in the heat!

Melaney‘s Race Report:

I arrived around 7:50 after an excessively long wait for the T, just in time to jump into the middle of the queue at the first open spot that I could find for the 8am start. No warm-up or stretching time for me! The weather was warm already and I am glad I decided to forgo wearing arm sleeves…that would have been a mistake. The start was slow, very crowded and I’m not sure there were really any pace groups, but by around mile 2 I was able to get to a point where I was not dodging so often. I felt strong through mile 4 but after that the heat started to get to me. With no shade in sight and the sun beating down on Comm Ave I would have believed it was 95 out if you told me (maybe it was 95???!). I threw some water on myself to cool off and finished as strong as I could but definitely dropped my pace so no PR for the day but finished at a little over 52 minutes so I’ll take it. After cooling off and collecting food and swag I found the best post-race item, free kale & pineapple smoothies!!! Seriously refreshing after the race. I hope everyone else running had fun and stayed cool!