Top Gun Triathlon 2014

22 08 2014

So, I owe you guys a race report. Yes, I realize that August is almost over, and I raced Top Gun in July, but better late than never, right?


The Thursday before the race, a deal I couldn’t pass up came my way for the hot pink Rudy racing helmet I’ve been drooling over for past year. I paid the extra shipping to have it overnighted so that I could race with it on Saturday.  I think they look so silly, but I’ll take the little bit of extra speed any day!

I picked up my packet on the Friday night before the race, surprised to see that we got race tattoos and a silicone cap. Dear race director: Silicone caps for July races in Florida are a DUMB idea. I was overheating standing on shore waiting for my wave. And race tattoos? This is a local sprint, not a 70.3 or Age Group Nationals. Is that really necessary?

Okay, okay, I understand that for some those are perks of this race, and that’s why they do it, so I’ll end my rant there.

Anyhow, my morning alarm came way too early. 7:00am start time for the first wave and nearly an hour drive to get there meant a wake up time that began with a 4. OOf.



I arrived at Ft. DeSoto and used my cell phone flashlight to guide my path over to transition since it was still dark out. Thankfully transition had a bunch of flood lights on, so I could get myself set up. I filled my hydration bladder, started drinking my PreLoad, and made sure everything was set before wandering around transition to see my friends. Soon enough, it was time to head down to the water.

I looked at the flags and was disappointed, as I always am with sprints. The swim was just so short (but I think it actually was longer than when I raced two years ago!)- how was I going to get any advantage there? Sigh. I warmed up, swimming nearly the entire course, and then got out and waited for my wave. We started late and my wave was one of the latter ones, so it just felt like forever until I actually got to go! Finally, the gun went off!

Swim: 6:51 (1st female)

I lined up to the right of the pack, since that was closest to the buoy. We’d be going against the current for a very short time to get to that first buoy, so no sense in making it longer! I was out in front with a few other girls, but kept my stroke strong and steady. Shortly after making the turn and the first buoy on the straight, I started passing people from the waves in front of me. Hello men doing backstroke, breasstroke, kicking their little legs away, and just floating there. Sheesh. I tried to stick as close to the buoy line as possible, and definitely ran in to some people doing that. I didn’t have a good idea of where I was within the pink caps, but I knew there were definitely girls on my tail. I picked up my pace, turned the last buoy and didn’t stop swimming until my hand hit the ground. I popped up and hightailed it out of the water.

T1: 3:15

Hello long transition. As I ran up the beach I remembered that Ft. DeSoto races have such a ridiculously long run to get to transition. Add to that the fact that they’re paving the parking lot where transition usually sits, so transition was move a little further away than usual- and it makes for one long run! On my way in to transition, I was passed by Brittany Pierce, and I did a little happy dance, because I beat a pro on the swim!

Bike: 25:53

I grabbed my bike, helmet, and sunglasses and hit the road. My goal for the bike was to give it all I had to see how fast I would actually go. The bike is about 9.5 miles on a one loop course. I didn’t wear my watch, I wasn’t looking at numbers, I just wanted to get out there and go. At about 7 miles or so (if I remember correctly) I was passed by another female. Darn it. I kept pushing, and didn’t let anyone else pass me. I don’t think there was anything else memorable to report on that short bike!

T2: 1:02

I got in and out as fast as I could here. In transition, I saw the girl that had passed me on the bike, and I was determined to get out before her. (I did- she was in there for 1:42!)

Run: 25:19

I was really hoping to average 7:XX per mile on this, so at first when I saw my split, I was disappointed. But then I learned that the run was a bit longer than a 5K, so my average was actually better than I thought. My goal for the run was to have a better run than I did 2 years ago, when I had to stop and walk. It was hot, but I was not going to give in. I knew that the only woman in front of me was Brittany, so I had a chance to be one of the top females overall. I just put one foot in front of the other and kept ticking off the runners in front of me. Thank you late wave. I had no clue what pace I was holding, since I didn’t wear a watch, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to keep going. With about half a mile to go, I was passed by a woman in a blue tri kit. I immediately looked to her calf, and saw she was in my age group. My heart sank. I thought about slowing some, but told myself no, that I was going to finish strong. I was hurting and very hot, but I only had a half mile to go- I can do this! I forged ahead and soon, I finally saw the finish line. Thank goodness- it was over!

Total: 1:02:19, 2AG, 4th F OA (I think)

Overall, I was quite happy with how the day went. I dropped time in the bike and run from 2012, and I’m pretty sure the swim was longer this year. I would have loved another 1st place podium spot, but 2nd ain’t so bad;-)



Madeira Beach Triathlon 2014

4 06 2014

Last weekend, on a whim, I signed up for the Madeira beach triathlon. My friend Chris was signed up to guide a paratriathlete  for the race (so cool, and definitely something I want to do some day!) so we drove down together bright and early on Sunday morning. When my alarm went off ay 4:25am I was definitely second guessing my idea to sign up. Why did I think this was a good idea?


Pre Race:

It was an easy 40 minute drive to the beach and we arrived with a good 45 minutes or so until transition closed. Though I had picked up my packet on Wednesday, I still had to go over to the registration tent to pick up my bike and helmet stickers, which hadn’t arrived in time for packet pickup.  The tent was kind of a disorganized mess. There was one long registration line, which as far as I could tell was where I needed to be to grab my stickers.  After standing in that line for a good 5 minutes, I realized that there was yet another line that was running parallel to the tables, which was  actually the line for picking up the stickers. Ugh. I hopped to that line, and then once I got closer to the table I saw the RD  there handing out stickers. He seemed a bit frazzled, trying to hand out stickers while answering other people’s questions. Perhaps he should have delegated this job to someone else? I was getting annoyed because I like to get to transition early and here I was wasting time in these lines- which is exactly why I had picked up my packet early in the first place! It also didn’t help that I had to go to the bathroom really, really badly. After finally getting my stickers and my chip, I put them in their designated places, and high tailed over to transition so I could quickly get set up and then run to the bathroom.

Setting up seemed easier than usual- I don’t know if it’s because I’m finally experienced enough to have my routine down, or that I was not stressing about this race at all, or if it was because all I wanted to do was to get to the bathroom as fast as possible. So as soon as I was done, I walked out and stood in the bathroom line. O.M.G. There were TWO portapotties and then the beach bathroom, which someone told me had three stalls (for the women, probably about the same on the men’s side). For a race with about 500 people, this was NOT enough. Note to the RD- GET MORE PORTAPOTTIES!  Ok, enough potty talk.


I headed to the swim start a half mile down the beach, where I did a little warm up and then met Keara! Finally, after 5 other waves, it was our turn! One of the main reasons I did this race was that it had a half mile swim (as opposed to a quarter mile, which most other sprints have), so I wanted to capitalize on this leg of the race as much as possible. I got out with the front group, and saw one girl take off, but then I settled into a comfortable stroke pretty quickly on the feet of another girl. I don’t think she liked it too much though because I would occasionally graze her feet and she would kick really hard to try and lose me. Somewhere around the second buoy she stopped for half a second (maybe to check her goggles?) and I moved up along side of her. I picked it up just a bit, and at this point we started encroaching on the waves ahead of us. I lost track of the girl and focused on my race. I was swimming strong, hoping I wasn’t pushing it too hard, and I just kept plowing down people in the waves in front of me. All throughout the swim, I noticed people walking. The water was quite shallow at times- maybe would have been chest high- and SO MANY people walked it! I heard a few people saying they dolphin dived the whole thing! I don’t stand up unless my hands touch, so I kept going. I passed my friend Chris at the last bouy, gave him a holler and kept going. I was hoping to catch a tiny wave on my way in, but no such luck. Instead, I ran over some people. Oh well.

Time: 11:04 (1st Female OA, I think).

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 8.16.01 AMI hope I’m not breaking the law by posting that screen shot, “courtesty” of BB Action Photography.


I ran up the beach and into transition, and made an immediate right. All of the racks looked mostly empty and I was wondering what the heck was going on. Oh, that’s right, there were two rows of racks on one side of the median, and then two on the other. I hadn’t taken time to go through the entirety of transition when I was setting up, and it came back to bite me. I quickly realized my mistake and cut across the median to my bike. Helmet and sunglasses on, now let’s get out of here!

Time: 0:58


My shoes were on the bike, and I had a decent mount, though not super. Maybe 100 yards from the mount line there were 2 rumble strips and 2 speed bumps, which wasn’t a super way to start off, but I got going pretty quick after that. Then there was a short straightaway before going up the first bridge. I wanted to have my feet in my shoes before the tiny climb, so I hurriedly velcroed them in. The bike was a single loop, 9.82 miles long, with two small bridges. They covered the bridge grates with thin carpet, and I’m not sure that really helped. Going over one of the bridges, I heard a guy yelling “Woah! Whoa!”  which I could relate to- they were kind of slippery! My goal was to try and average 21-22mph, despite having ridden almost 50 miles (at that pace) the day before. I also wanted to maintain my lead as long as possible. I didn’t wear a watch so I had no idea how fast I was going, but I felt speedy enough. Maybe a little more than halfway through, a girl from my wave passed me. Darn it. I checked her calf and it read “37”. Phew, at least she wasn’t in my age group. On the last little stretch (maybe two miles?) there was an annoying headwind, but soon I saw a volunteer with a flag indicating that I was approaching the dismount line. I unvelcroed my shoes, pulled my feet out, and dismounted pretty well, and into transition I went.

Time: 27:25, 21.5 mph (ish) 6th AG

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Bike racked, helmet off, and then I put on my socks and shoes. For a millisecond I contemplated running sockless, but decided that the sand in my shoes wouldn’t be so fun. So, I took what seemed like forever to put on my socks, then shoes, grabbed my visor, watch, and race belt and headed out of transition. Again, not investigating transition cost me a few seconds, as I didn’t run the shortest distance to get out. Oh well.

Time: 0:58 (apparently I like consistency in my transitions?)

IMG_4927Photo credit: Chris


A beach run was definitely NOT something I was looking forward to. It was one of the reasons I was not going to do this race in the first place. Had it been 2003 and I was guarding on the beach, I would have been pumped for a beach run, but I haven’t trained for a beach run. Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Though the tide was coming up, there was still a decent amount of hard sand. We ran out a mile and a half and then back the same way, crossed the soft sand, and into the finish chute. I struggled a little to get my watch on, but a few hundred yards I was finally able to secure and start it. I didn’t know where the girl was that had passed me on the bike, but I was hopeful that I was still in contention for a podium spot, so I dug deep and ran hard. The first km ticked off at 4:44. That’s fast for me, even if it is only a 5k. I slowed down some, because number two ticked off at 4:49. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself passing people on the run- this NEVER happens, so I got pretty excited! I also realize that I was in one of the later waves, so of course I’d be running down people. Just after the turnaround, I was passed by a female, and my heart sunk when I saw “33” on her leg. For about 5 steps I tried to stay with her, but she was going too fast for me. Not too long after that, I spotted Keara on the other side. I knew she was a speedy runner, so my goal became to try and hang on and not get beat on the run. With a little less than half a mile to go (I knew this distance because it was where we started the swim!), the gas in my tank was running out. My legs were definitely tired, but I knew I didn’t have much further to go. “I can do anything for half a mile” I repeated to myself. Finally, I crossed over the soft sand (UGH THIS SUCKED) and into the finish chute. When I stopped my watch, it read 5.16. Run was a little long and I was so happy it was over!

Time: 24:48, 3rd AG, 4:44/km average


Final time: 1:05:12

4th Female OA

1st Female 30-34

(oh, and that girl that passed me on the run? She was the overall winner)


All in all, I’d say I had a good day! I’m interested to see what I could do in a sprint if I was rested, but this is not the season for that!

I’m not sure if I’d do this race again; there were definitely some things I really liked about it (the swim, the bike course, the post race food- hello Rita’s! and good beer), but there were also things I didn’t like so much (having to pick up my stickers race day, the lack of portapotties). I guess I’ll have to see what happens next year!


And of course, a huge THANK YOU to SOAS for being an awesome company and outfitting me with a super cute, functional tri kit. My favorite part has to be that I NEVER ever have to pull down the top so my belly doesn’t show. I was CONSTANTLY doing that with all other kits, and I don’t have to touch this one at all! I love my SOAS kit!!

Tri – AC

18 09 2013

This weekend I competed in the 3rd annual Atlantic City Triathlon – International Distance. This was my second time doing the AC tri (I did it in its inaugural year) and I have to say, Delmo Sports puts on an awesome race. Before I get to my race report, let me just share a few of the perks from the AC event:

  • Bike drop off the night before the race – I really appreciated the extra sleep I got on race morning because I didn’t have to be at transition the moment it opens at the crack of dawn on race morning! (I’m one of those triathletes!)
  • Personalized Race bibs – I love hearing random people cheer me on while I’m racing!
  • Long-sleeve, gender specific tech tees – I don’t get to use them often in Florida, but I love a good long sleeve tech tee! This one fit perfectly!
  • A thorough pre-race meeting. Steven did a great job of talking us through the event and the course specifics on Saturday afternoon. If you missed a turn, you weren’t paying attention!
  • Results available electronically minutes after you finish – I’ve never been to a race that had this, so I was excited to try it out. Just type in your number on the touch screen and up pops your individual results! It took a few minutes for it to register my run split, but I’d say it was up within 20 minutes of my finish!
  • Sweet race medals – Can you call a race medal sexy? I think the black and white finish on this one makes it quite sexy!
  • A HOT breakfast spread – This was probably one of the BEST post-race meals I’ve had. It had way more than your typical doughnuts and bagels; there was eggs, bacon and sausage! The only thing missing was some Wawa coffee!
  • Free Race Photos – Yes, I said FREE Race photos. I’m anxiously awaiting the email that says they’re posted!
  • Age group awards that go 5 deep. Yes, 1st through 5th place get an age group award!
  • Tom Knoll, one of the ORIGINAL Ironman finishers gave a talk and handed out the awards for Overall Winners. So. cool.

I’m sure I’m missing something, but I’ll stop gushing right now and get on to my race!

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 8.49.40 PM

The race was International distance, so the distances were: 1 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 6.2 mile (10K) run. As I mentioned above, I racked my bike the afternoon before, so I arrived at the race site at 5:45am, about 45 minutes after transition opened.  There was a little bit of traffic to get in to Bader Field, the old, small airport where the tri was held. I was thankful I arrived when I did- they actually ended up pushing back transition close time because of the volume of cars.


By the way, I have to give A HUGE shout out to the Tuckahoe Bike Shop, where I rented a really nice carbon road bike, to which they added on some aero bars for me! They spent a good hour with me, putting on the pedals, the bars, making sure the bike was fit just right, and giving it a quick once over in the maintenance department. If you’re in the area and need a bike to race with, they’re the place to go!


Anyhow, the morning was a cool and crisp 52 degrees, quite chilly for this Florida gal! I bundled up in my sweats and hoodie, and was thankful that I had checked the weather before I left for my trip north.


I set up my things in transition fairly quickly, and then went for a short jog to warm up my legs. I waited around for a little while longer before putting my wetsuit on and heading out of transition. It seemed like there was a bit more of a delay (I think they were waiting for the all clear on the roads before they could start) before we finally heard the National Anthem and the Para-triathletes could begin. There were 9 paras who were racing, and holy smokes were they INSPIRING! There were a few who didn’t have use of their legs, some who had one leg, and even a few who had no legs. AND THEY WERE ABOUT TO DO A SPRINT TRIATHLON! As I watched them pull themselves out of the water I could only stand in awe. Talk about amazing.


After the paras, the sprint triathlon went off. After the approximately 600 sprint triathletes were in the water, it was finally time for the International.  There were no waves for the tri – it was time trial starts, aka seed yourself. They let approximately 10 people on to the dock at a time and off they went, shortly followed by the next 10. I wanted to position myself close to the front, so I pushed my way through the crowd and went in with the 4th or 5th group of 10 ( I think). One slight change I would have made to the time trial start would be to organize the athletes by approximate finish times or paces to help everyone seed themselves. I think people generally seeded themselves appropriately, but I would have preferred some kind of gauge to know where I fit in. Looking at the overall results, I probably could have gone in a little earlier.



(Not me, just a photo my mom took- and shout out to my mom for getting up at the crack of dawn to cheer me on and be my personal photographer!)

The water was a perfect 74 degrees. I was glad I wore my wetsuit, mostly to keep me warm while on land, but I definitely enjoyed the added buoyancy. Swimming in the bay is like swimming in a salt water pool, so I just put my head down and went. I fell into a groove, and found myself passing a few swimmers. When I got to the last turn, I noticed a speedy female approaching on my left. I was able to figure out that it was Susan Reich, last year’s female overall winner. I added a little kick and tried to stay in her draft for a little, but after a few strokes I decided to back off and swim my own race. I didn’t want to burn out before I got to the bike!

I pulled myself onto the dock and ran towards transition.


Swim: 22:42.8 (15th OA, 3rd F)

My T1 was pretty slow. Because it was chilly, I opted to put on my arm warmers. I was thankful I did while riding, but man it is tough (and SLOW) putting those things on with wet arms!

T1: 2:16.3

Getting out of Bader Field with the bike was probably the sketchiest part of the day. About 100 yards or so after you’ve mounted the bike, there was a REALLY gravelly area (only about 10-15 feet long) that you had to get across to make your way out onto the street. The RD gave us PLENTY of warnings at the pre-race meeting and it was very well marked with signs and volunteers, but it was still a little dicey. I went VERY slow through this section (maybe my mountain biking adventure helped!) and thankfully made it across without falling off my bike.

The bike course for this tri is pretty fun- you get to ride on the Atlantic City Expressway for a portion of it, which is basically the main highway that takes you into AC. It’s pretty amazing that the city agreed to shut down part of it for the race. There are a few “hills” – a few overpasses and a bridge to get into the city- but nothing too crazy.

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On the way out of the city, it felt like there was a slight head wind. I also couldn’t feel my legs for the first few miles because they were so cold! As usual, my goal was to try not to let any women pass me. I knew Susan was ahead of me (I was right behind her in transition, but once we hit the road she took off) but I wasn’t sure who else was out there because of the time trial start. As I was still trying to settle into my rhythm once we made it onto the Expressway, I was passed by a woman. She was MOVING! (I think she ended up winning) I finally warmed up when I was almost to the AC Connector turn around, and it was at that point that I saw another female. We played cat and mouse for a little while before she finally took me over after we’d made our turn. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful- I didn’t have my watch on, so I was clueless as to my speed, so I just kept moving at a pace that felt hard but comfortable until I made it back to Bader Field.

Bike: 58:10.3 (158 OA, no clue where I was in gender)

T2 wasn’t much to write home about. I grabbed my shoes, race belt, and watch, and headed out for the leg I was most excited about. (Wait, did I just say I was excited about the run? That NEVER happens!)

T2: 2:09.5

I was pumped about the run for a few reasons: 1) I have been working really hard on gaining speed on my runs through tempo runs and track practice. I was really hoping to see the fruits of my labor at Courage to Tri, but the heat and course weren’t working in my favor. I decided that today was going to be my day. 2) I know the run course like the back of my hand. The majority of the run was on the Atlantic City boardwalk where I have run countless numbers of miles in my lifetime. 3) The weather! Though it wasn’t ideal (for me) for jumping in the water or going for a bike ride while soaking wet, it was PERFECT weather for a run.


I hightailed it out of transition, out of Bader Field, and down Albany Avenue towards the boardwalk. Once you leave Bader Field, you immediately go over a short bridge, and then you’ve got about 3 blocks to get to the boardwalk. It was Sunday morning in Atlantic City so there was Sunday morning traffic. Thankfully, the ACPD was out directing traffic for the racers and they did a great job of keeping us safe as we crossed the streets.

When I made it to the boardwalk, I glanced down at my watch. 4:44/k. Um, WHAT? My legs were feeling strong- but it didn’t feel like I was pushing them to the point I would be crawling to the finish line. I told myself to hold on to that pace for as long as I could. Every time I glanced at my watch, my pace per kilometer was under 5:00- and after the first few hundred meters, it was under 4:50!  The first mile beeped: 7:59. Then mile 2: 7:42. Mile 3: 7:36. Oh my gosh, who am I? I was still feeling pretty strong, but I was starting to get worried I’d burn myself out. I also noticed at the turnaround that there was another female not too far behind me. I kept running strong, but some time between mile 4 and 5, she passed me. I don’t know who she was, but she gave me a little cheer as she passed. She was moving! There was no way I was going to hang with her. I kept running my own race: Mile 4: 7:43. After I passed mile 4, my legs started to tell me they were getting tired. I pushed those thoughts aside and told myself that I can do anything for two miles. Mile 5: 7:45. My legs were getting heavy. I was getting tired. I. Can. Do. This. Mile 6: 7:57. I turned off of Albany Avenue and back into Bader Field, onto the old runway and towards the finish line. There was a lot of crowd support lining the chute to the finish, so I dug deep and pushed hard to the end. PHEW.

Run: 47:39.9 <– New 10K PR!!

Overall Time: 2:12:58.8


I pulled up my results on the computers and I was stoked to see that I was the 8th overall female and I had gotten 2nd in my age group!

I waited around for the awards and was pleasantly surprised to hear “First place, Women 30-34, Stephanie Gibson”! The girl that had outright won my age group actually was 3rd overall- and since they don’t double up overall and age group awards, that meant that I was the age group winner! SCORE!

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This was a great way to wrap up my weekend back in Jersey. Thanks Delmo Sports for an absolutely FANTASTIC event. I hope to return next year!!

Now, if only the Eagles had won too. 😦