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Karen's Season Review 2012

18 Dec 2012
by Karen Doehrman

IMFL, November 3, 17th Age Group, 12:15:41

Swim: 1:12:37. This is usually my favorite part of the race and I love the ocean swim the best. But this year, for some reason, I had real anxiety in the water. Yes, it was rougher than normal for November (thank goodness it was not as rough as it was a couple of days prior though!) but that was not the reason for my anxiety. The waves do not bother me – I love that part if it’s not too rough. For me Saturday was just the right amount of wave to make it challenging for others and an advantage for me. I could not get any clean water and was getting swam over worse than normal. I could not breathe! I felt I just could not get enough air in my lungs. I don’t know why I was not being as aggressive as I usually am in this situation but I had to just stop and pull myself together and force myself to relax. I actually wondered if I would need to be pulled out. Once I settled down and got some space to stretch out, I got into my usual groove and enjoyed the rest of the swim which seemed to go by too fast. I felt really strong coming out and looking at my time was disappointed. I felt like I hadn’t worked hard enough once I did get over my initial panic attack. My PR swim at this race was 1:09 and I’ve been swimming as fast or faster leading up to the race so I blew that goal of going below 1:09.

T1: Even though I felt disappointed with my swim, I was happy to get out on the bike course. When I ran into the changing area, I sat down in a chair and there looking up at me was the sticker for racer #1: my friend Jessica Jacobs! (She won last year and set a course record!) I took that as a good luck omen and stuffed the sticker in my top for inspiration and motivation that I’d need to go hard the rest of the day. I knew that she was out there giving it her all and letting everyone know about it, in her colorful way and vocabulary.

Bike: Starting out on the bike, I was feeling so happy with the weather. Two years ago, it was 32 degrees at the swim start. It was so cold on the bike and I really did not have good cold weather gear with me. I was also glad there wasn’t as much wind as two years ago – don’t get me wrong there was plenty out there but it wasn’t so bad as I’ve seen. I didn’t use a wheel cover this time but I had 808’s, front and rear. I was feeling really great on the bike and achieved my goal of one bottle down by the first aid station. Another one of my goals for this race was to not screw up my nutrition on the bike like I had the other two times at Florida. I took in too many calories on the bike and paid the price on the run both times with hitting every porta-potty on the course. Eric and I have been training with very minimal calories this year and have seen a great improvement. You really can get by on a whole lot less. We credit that to Bob Seebohar and his Metabolic Efficiency training. I just had a great day on the bike. My Parlee is so comfortable and stable that I just sailed through the miles. Of course, there are always some long hard stretches but in general, I felt great and strong. About mile 85 or 90 there were pack after packs coming through. I just had to sit up and try to get through them or hope they’d hurry up and pass. I honestly think I could have been faster if I wasn’t spending so much time backing off and trying to stay legal but it was just impossible it seemed the last ten miles. It was really aggravating because again, I just wanted some space to move and breath and take off! (like my swim!). 5:25:03.

T2: As with each of the disciplines, I’m always glad to end one and get on to the next. I have been running faster, stronger, and longer than I have in 5 years so I had very high expectations of the run – not that I’m ever even in the top on this sport but for ME, I’ve been running fast this year. In fact, I couldn’t wait to see what I could do! I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to the run before. I had a quick T2 and slipped on some arm coolers which I’m VERY glad I had them.

RUN: Wow. It was hot! I started out feeling really good and running well. But the heat really got to me before mile six and I could feel myself slowing down. I began having those “I’m never ever doing this again. This is the stupidest thing ever” thoughts. I started having a hard time breathing. I could not get enough air in. I was so mad! Here I am, my legs are ready to go, I don’t have a tummy ache, and my lungs are letting me down! I vowed to go see a doctor to see if I have asthma or something (of course I haven’t yet after the race but I’m going to check into it). So, I try to slow down and not be so negative. My overall goal for the race was to be sub 12 hours. I have a good shot at it but not at this pace. Before I get to the park, around 5 miles, I find out that Eric is just up ahead. I try to speed up but I just can’t. I get to the park and another friend says he’s not far ahead and I can catch him. If only I could make myself run faster. I cannot wait to see him!!!! All I can think about is to just get to Eric. So, I try to keep running slow and steady and I do finally get him in the neighborhood. He isn’t feeling good either so we are so happy to find each other and walk together. It is just the BEST to find each other and catch up on how the day has gone and the people we’ve seen and share our mutual agonies and triumphs of the day. That bond with Eric is one of the biggest reasons that I race, just being with Eric on the course is something special. After a little while I do start to feel better and have some more energy, so I try to get us to jog a little. We do for a while and then we get to the awesome PODIUM tent!!! That is such a PICK UP to see them and laugh and have them all yell at us!! (oh, and it is such an honor when I’m running and I hear people say GO PODIUM! And then I’ll hear someone in the crowd, say they are so awesome or what an awesome store!) That makes me run even harder! It’s great to have support and be recognized. Because Eric and I are doing more in Alabama than in Georgia, we don’t always get a lot of that.

As I see my family and friends at the half point, they yell at me that I was 7th place off the bike. Eric makes me run on without him and that is one of the hardest things I’ve done – to leave him. But I knew he did want me to go try and he’d do the same. I knew as much as I’d already walked, I probably had lost a lot of time but still being under 10 was very motivating for me so I tried to pick it up and I gave it all I had. Which wasn’t much. As soon as I got back in the neighborhood, I started to fade some but I was determined that I was going after my goal and to try to make up for some lost time. It was a huge boost and blessing to see John Rotella ride up beside me! Oh my goodness, he was a life saver. He patiently rode beside me for a long time listening to me babble and telling me stories to keep my mind occupied. I was not about to walk with him there! I did pretty good until I turned around in the park and then I was pretty much done. Run/walk back but pumped knowing I was on the last 10k or so. When I finished, my daughters were there waiting on me!

I always have such mixed feelings about my races that I have a hard time writing race reports. I finished 17th in my age group and had a 5 minute PR on the course so I should be happy for those things. I didn’t make my overall goal but in hind sight, I PR’d my bike by 22 minutes and for a period of time was 7th in my age group. And, although at the time I was disappointed in my swim, it wasn’t my slowest ever. My run, which was what I was really going after ended up being my slowest ever (besides the death march Eric and I shared at IM ST. George – that does not count! Ha!). But that’s the way racing is, each race, each day, each course is unpredictable. The main thing is that I got to spend some time with Eric and I had an awesome bike! And, I finished. 12:15:41.


Atomic Man, Lenoir City, TN, Half-iron distance. 9/30/2012, 2nd Masters. 5:37:52

We love this course. It is a small race but a challenging course and only serious racers.

Swim: This is usually a wetsuit swim. It’s two loops and foggy on the water. Love to smell the smoke from the near by campfires and bacon cooking as you swim. I just relaxed on the swim and enjoyed feeling the cool water and the mist around me. I should have swam harder. I am getting into a habit of relaxing too much on my swim and not pushing like I do in the pool. My swim was a good 5 minutes slower than in 2010.

Bike: This is a new course. One of the reasons we like this race is the tough bike course (but not as tough as Mountain Maddness!). So, it’s a little disappointing that they changed it although, I guess they did leave in the most “famous” of the hills. They took out the section where it goes right near the old abandoned (or at least neglected) labs of the Oak Ridge “atomic stuff” (my apologies for lack of historical and scientific fact). I like that part: it’s sort of eerie and quiet and secretive back there. But, the new course is FAST and beautiful shoulders on fresh paved road. This was my first race on my beautiful Parlee and I couldn’t wait to see what I could do! Having switched over to a compact, I was hopeful that I’d be better at climbing which has always been challenging for me. I had a good day with the fastest bike split for the old women by over 6 minutes. I love this bike.

I’ve been working on transitions a great deal this year and it has really paid off! And, while I know this is not a big deal to some of you, it’s hard for this girl to be brave enough to start with the shoes on the bike and leave them on after the bike with the fancy dismount, but I’ve mastered that after, yes, 6 years.

Run: I had a really good run! There is no flat on this course and that really suits me. I have run hills all summer and felt like it paid off. This was a tremendous mental boost and confidence buiilder going into IMFL.

Frantic Frog, Scottsboro, AL, September, Sprint, 1st Female Masters, 1:00:47

Love this race! I wish Team Podium would come do this race!! It is so much fun and the t-shirts and prizes are GREAT! The course is flat and fast and there is homemade jambalaya and cold beer at the end! I would love to see a total Team Podium DOMINATION on the PODIUM. I know we could do it!

Swim – not much to report out of the ordinary. It’s a sprint so yeah, it’s fast. My time was average for this course (my 6th year). My bike was not the fastest that day but it was good enough. My run was awesome for me but still not super fast overall. I had super transitions that again, I know made the difference in my #1 podium for masters versus being second.


This is THE one race that I can honestly say I race with the motivation to win. Why? Because I want one of those super cool framed, signed and numbered prints of the frog. Only the overall and masters winners get those. So, I already had two and dang it – this year, I was getting another one! I totally thought of nothing else on my mind during the run than getting my frog. I would say, that in general, I’m not that competitive until I’m on the course and racing but this race is different. I wake up in the morning with nothing on my mind but being on the podium.

Wet Dog, July 21, Decatur, AL. 1st Masters -1:00:47

A sentimental favorite for Eric and me …we got married at the finish in 2007! And, it was my first triathlon and he was with me every step of the way, pedal, and waited for me after the swim, (so I should say every stroke of the way).


The weather was overcast and cooler so that helped me a lot. I do not do well when it is hot – no matter how much I train in it. This is a super sprint and filled with beginners. You see bikes with baskets, flags, and even an Elliptic-Go. It is non-USAT so you see everything. I had a great swim, great bike and great run. It’s over before you know it.

This is just a fun venue and lots of local people and kids out racing.

Mountain Lakes, August 11, Guntersville, AL. Sprint, 3rd Masters 1:23:41

Not a PR on this day but still a good race for me. This was the first time I got on the Master’s podium at this race. There is always really good competition here. It’s a flat fast course. This is a Team Magic race, like Chattanooga, and they always do a really good job. This race is always a “must do” because the t-shirts are so cool. They are ALWAYS tie-dyed. This year they were super cool – purple, blue, and yellow. In fact, Eric was not planning on race but when we got there at packet pick-up he wanted to race to get a shirt, so he pulled together a team. The other reason to do this race and to shoot for a podium spot, is that the prizes for podiums, are always a race beach towel! If you see someone with a Mountain Lakes beach towel, you know they are pretty fast to podium there. This year, the towels, for the first time ever, were tie-dyed too! Double bonus! Eric’s team got first place too!

Chattanooga Waterfront, July 8, Olympic, 2:52:32, 8th place Age Group

Ok, honestly every year it is the same. I always think this is my worst race ever. I swear every year, I’m never doing it again. I really like the Olympic distance but I don’t do well in Chattanooga. It’s the run. I’m glad I had to write a race report and relook at my results. I didn’t do as bad as I thought.

Swim: I do love this swim though. I love the point to point. And, I see looking back that I pr’d the swim this year. That’s a surprise. Seriously, when I finish this race each year, I never want to look at the results again. I do remember this year that I found a strong swimmer and I drafted, or rather, swam side by side and all I could think was I hope this guys is smoking it cause I’m hanging on and making my life easier.

Bike: I have had the same bike split for three years. 1:20. Weird. I like this bike course. It always seems long though. Nothing spectacular. It was windy and I had a disk so I was a little tentative descending, which is not my strong suit.


Run. ALWAYS HOT AND SUCKS for me. I was so upset that I had to walk. I had trained hard for the heat. I ran at noon in the sun beating down. I was ready for it. As a Hot Yoga instructor, my predominate focus in a 107 degree room is to acclimate for Chattanooga. Forget all that zen crap, I just want to run better in the heat and humidity. I wilted. I was so mad at myself. The best part of the run, I was coming up over the last hill and who was there waiting on me – yup, Eric! Halleluiah! I’ve been saved!!! AGAIN! He is the BEST. The least selfish competitor I have ever known. Many times, sacrificing his own time to be with me, or lots of times strangers that need a boost too. He helps me so much to just keep going even when I feel like laying down and dying. Yet, strangely, looking at the results, four months later, I did PR my run there ( which really honestly is not saying much at all). And, I got 8 th in my age group. Far better than the dismal last place that I imagined because I was afraid to look. Still room for much improvement. I guess we will do it next year.

Mach Tenn, June 2, 1:37:56, 2nd Masters

This race was my first race after a spring of recovery from surgery earlier in the spring so I was really nervous about how I’d do. I felt good going into it and fully recovered but mentally, the first race of the season is always cause for butterflies.

We always do Mach Tenn for several reasons: flat, fast bike; a longer swim than a typical sprint; 4 mile, hilly run course; hoe cakes, hopping John and beer at the end (do not miss this!); and the prizes are the most unique around: hand-made pottery.

I had a great race back – I was thrilled. There is always a lot of competition here with lots of Nashville people. I had a big PR this year and for the first time at this race, broke into the Masters podium with the second Master’s place. And, as usual, Eric got some pottery too!

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