I have another race tomorrow morning, so I should really get off my butt and write this race report for my first tri of the summer. This is the third year in a row that I’ve raced Capitol View (fka Couples Triathlon fka Capitol View). In 2013, it was my first ever triathlon, and I raced it in a rented wetsuit and on my old mountain bike. In 2014, I did the sprint again. And this year, I raced with a friend, as part of a “couple.” A couples triathlon is not a relay, where different team members complete different parts of the triathlon (one person swims, one person bikes, one person runs). Rather, with a couples race, both participants complete the entire triathlon and then they add the times together. Each individual is still eligible for age group awards. I was racing with a friend and former co-worker, Leslie.
When Leslie and I got to packet pickup the day before the race, there was no record of our registration. I’d chalk it up to a random mistake, except the same thing happened to me last year. Maybe it’s because both times I/we registered quite early to get the cheaper prices, but it just seems weird. It’s not a big deal in that they didn’t make us pay again – we just had to fill out another form. We had originally signed up in the “Just Friends” category of couples (there were divisions for married couples, dating, relatives, etc.), but that category was getting real weird every time I saw it. On the website it said something along the lines of “ready to compete together, but not ready to be in a relationship,” which implies it’s meant to be somewhat of a romantic pairing. When we were filling out the new registration form at packet pickup, we also noticed that the Just Friends category said “M/F” after it, while other categories said “M/F, F/F, M/F.” Well, we didn’t want to be competing against men, so we switched to the watercooler division, meant for co-workers. We became friends when we worked together and spent a couple years in the office together, so it seemed legit. Plus, it was really the only option we saw for two females who were not related biologically or romantically involved.
My other plan during the packet pickup was to win the Blue Seventy wetsuit they were raffling away because i need a new one and I don’t want to spend the money on it. That plan did not come to fruition, oddly, so I went with old holey for the race.
Although we were both competing against other individual women in our age group, Leslie and I started in a wave with other couples. In fact, we were the very last wave to start the race. So, I did my usual pre-race ritual of setting up transition, going to the bathroom 400 times, putting my wetsuit on and off. It’s a fun drill. I was wearing my new Betty Designs trisuit for the first time. The suit is amazing – it feels great and it looks awesome and it somehow makes me look good in it (not that I don’t think I can look good, but I mean we’re talking about a spandex onesie). After the warmup swim, I was so disappointed to see that the stitching was coming apart underneath the zipper even though I had hardly used it. I contacted Betty Designs after the race to let them know what had happened, and they sent me a brand new replacement suit immediately, no questions asked. I’m super impressed with the customer service and I would totally recommend their stuff. It’s just so cool and I found it very functional.
Also, like the amazing teammate that she is, Leslie found a secret bathroom that no one else seemed to know about. It was in a little standalone building and was incredibly clean, spacious, and had a door that locked. Much better than the portapotties, and no, I won’t ever reveal its location.
Our wave was pretty small compared to the age group waves, which is a plus, but it also involved quite a few men, which I consider a minus. No offense to men in general, but I have personally found women to be more gracious competitors in a mass swim start. I wish i could remember which blog I read this on so I could give credit, but I read a race report once where a woman wondered what makes a man turn from someone who holds a door open for a woman to someone who thinks “Ima punch a woman in the face” when the starting horn goes off.
Anyway, our wave was small enough that I felt justified starting in the front and that worked out just fine. I got horizontal during the countdown and noticed no one else around me was, so I figured I’d have a jumpstart on everyone. And I did. The whole time I was swimming to the first buoy, I was putting distance into the people around me who were walking/wading through the waist deep water. The Capitol View swim is very shallow on the way out to the first buoy and the way back from the last buoy, and you can walk those entire lengths of the rectangle. When you’re going parallel to shore, it is deep enough that you have to swim.
The swim was mostly uneventful. The water was the calmest I’ve ever seen Lake Mendota, in my entire life. It was cold, but not too cold. After 30 seconds of swimming the cold was not noticeable. I had one guy pawing at my feet for awhile, but after I kicked with a bit more force just once, he backed off. I couldn’t find anyone to draft off of.
I caught the wave before me at the buoy where we turn back towards shore, which took some maneuvering to get around. The rest of the swim back to shore was mostly weaving in and out of folks walking in the waist- and then knee-deep water. I swam all the way to the exit – I promise, it’s much faster to swim than it is to walk – and ran up to transition.
Swim: 7:04 for 400 meters. This includes the run to transition. This was a good 45 seconds or so faster than last year, and a minute and a half or so faster than my first time when I did backstroke the whole way.
I remember nothing about T1 except running very hard and running a long way in bike shoes. I still haven’t gotten back on the bike horse of putting my shoes on while I’m on the bike (still scarred by my embarrassing mishap at Verona last year when I managed to fling my shoes all over the mount line while everyone stared at me). My transition spot was right by the swim in/run out, so I had to run the entire length of transition in my bike shoes to get to bike out.
Still, though, not a bad time at 1:20.
I really like this bike course. It has a few good hills but lots of opportunities to hunker down in aero and pound away. Being in the last wave, I had a lot of people to pass which kept things interesting. I was passed a few times, too, but not very many (I didn’t keep count). There are a few notable hills, one of which starts ascending right after a 90 degree turn, so you don’t really have much speed going into it.
The volunteers on this race are all really great, but I especially liked the bike volunteers. This wasn’t a closed course (meaning that cars could drive on the streets), but I could see the volunteers speaking in to a walkie talkie as riders approached so that police at an intersection could manage stopping and starting cars. I had one close call where a very large SUV was passing me at the same time I was passing a girl, so there were two bikes on the right side of the road and an SUV trying to pass us. I don’t know if drivers realize that it’s very difficult for us to hear their motors, especially when we’re racing – when I’m going fast, I make a lot of wind sounds myself (insert fart joke here) so I can’t hear a car until it’s right up on me. This SUV passed me close enough that I could have touched it if I reached out four inches. I didn’t do that, although I very much wanted to slap the car. Instead, I held my line and yelled something creative like “asshole.” In retrospect, I just hope the girl I was passing didn’t think I was saying that to her.
I was really pushing on the bike – I’ve been working hard on it, and I wanted to make some gains. My time was 35:40, with an average of 16.8 mph. This turned out to be the fourth fastest bike split of the day among age group (non-elite, that is) women.
As I ran into T2 towards my transition spot, I saw someone sitting right in the place I needed to rack my bike, and there were no open rack spots. In triathlon, you should rack your bike in the same place you unracked it. Capitol View doesn’t have assigned transition spots, but the racks are assigned. That is, there are 20 people for each rack, and it’s up to whoever gets there first to get a spot. I was on the very end of my rack, and when I returned from my bike ride, there was no room to put my bike back.
As I ran up to my spot, I yelled to the person blocking my way, “Dude, you have to move your bike!” The person turned around, but didn’t move herself or her bike. I ran up and pushed her bike to the side (moved it down the rack) and said, “I don’t want to hit you with my bike” (which I would have if I had just racked it without her moving). She said something along the lines of “don’t worry about it,” but did move about an inch. I squeezed my bike in and looked down – my running shoes and socks (sorry – still working on going sock free, and by working on, I mean I haven’t done anything about this except think about it) were scattered all over the aisle. Someone had clearly come in like a wrecking ball and didn’t bother to put my stuff back where it had been. Not cool.
I gathered my stuff and put on my shoes, socks, and race belt (not even remotely in that order). Time: 59 seconds.
It was on the run that I noticed it was suddenly incredibly humid. Like, unbreathably humid. Capitol View has a very nice trail run through some shaded woods for the first half, and then a prairie/grass run for the second half. The trails in the woods were very muddy, and despite me noticing this, commenting to another woman that “this is really slippery,” I did end up wiping out by tripping on a tree root, face-planting, and skinning both knees within the first mile. Maybe this explains why my first mile was exceptionally slow (over 10 min), although I thought I got up pretty quickly.
I’m not really sure what to say about the run, honestly. My legs were really heavy and I was making some creepy wheezy noises as I breathed. The end result was a 29:30 5K, 5 minutes slower than my PR. It must have been a tough run for most, though, because I saw the fastest female age group run time was 24:27, which is slower than I would normally expect for the fastest split.
Overall, I finished in 1:14:35, taking over three minutes off my time from last year. This was good enough for 2nd in my age group and sixth age group woman overall, which I’m pretty thrilled with. If you add in the elite women, I was the tenth overall female finisher for the sprint. Even better, Leslie and i won our watercooler division!
Capitol View is a fun race. The race day itself is very well organized and well run, with excellent volunteer support. I don’t know how much steam the couples format is getting, though. There seemed to be minimal participants, and even the volunteers and staff don’t seem to prioritize the couple races much. For example, the couple results aren’t posted with the rest of the results, either online or at the event.
Well, tomorrow morning, I’m racing my first Olympic distance tri at Verona. I rode the bike course last week and… it was very challenging. It’s super hilly. Like, really, really hilly. At one point, a bunny rabbit was running up the hill faster than I was riding (this is not a joke – this really happened). I’m nervous and excited, and can’t wait to see how I do at the longer distance.