Sarah and I were signed up to do the race and she was super sweet and and drove me to the race so Mr. Sweetie could have the car to play in his golf tournament. I paid her back in stolen bagels :) We got to the race site in plenty of time to pick up our packets, get our bikes and transitions set up, and get on our wetsuits. When we first arrived, it was really chilly but warmed up quickly once the sun came up. The Oly had a small field (less than 200 total) so there were only two waves - men and relays first, and then women three minutes later. The women's field was small - a little less than 40 participants - so I was hoping to do well overall, not just in my age group.
The swim: 27:01
The swim was a two-loop course. When Sarah and I were looking at the swim course from shore before the start, it didn't look bad at all (you know how sometimes the swim looks ridiculously long when it's only one loop). The water was FREEZING cold when I first jumped in. SO thankful I had my full-sleeve wetsuit on. Once we got going, I warmed up and the water actually felt really nice. The plus of it being cold - I think it killed off all the weeds that infested the swim course during Waterman's last year and made me feel like swamp thing. Hardly any weeds this year! So the swim started and I tried to get out towards the front. There were some girls I knew I couldn't catch even if I had an oar, paddles, and a boat (ahem... Sarah) because they were FLYING. But I felt like I got a good start and found clear water relatively quickly. The swim was a triangle shape and the buoys never felt super far away, making the swim feel like it was going by relatively fast. I caught up to some people in the men's wave before the second turn buoy. I felt a little sluggish during the first loop, but felt like I found a good stroke rhythm and an extra gear when I began my second loop. I think this is one of my better swim times and I'm really happy with it. As I was getting close to the swim exit, I saw another purple cap from my wave and made it my mission to try to come out of the water before her; having this goal made it easier not to slack off and/or lose focus like I sometimes do when I'm swimming.
T1: A sad and sorry 4:06. I got stuck in my wetsuit.
The Bike: 1:12
As I was struggling with my wetsuit in T1, trying to decide sunglasses or no sunglasses (no), debating the merit of armwarmers (a timesuck), and generally screwing off, I heard the race announcer say "Well, the first five ladies are out on the course!" Sigh. T1 ineptness strikes again. I didn't know where I stood in the field, but I knew I would have to work hard to try to catch the girls who got out there before me. The girl who I finished the swim with side-by-side left T1 at the same time I did and we played leapfrog together throughout the entire bike. It was good for me to 1) have someone to chase; and 2) at times be chased because it forced me to focus, work hard 100% of the time, and not let up on the gas. I didn't know how good a runner she was (she looked like she would be strong on the run - turns out she was) and I wanted to put as big of a cushion between us as possible (didn't really happen). The course was rolling, no climbs that forced me to get out of the saddle, nothing technical on the descents. The rollers were big enough that I usually had to put in some effort to get to the top, but often we were rewarded with some flats and slight downhills. Most of the hills were towards the beginning, which was a nice boost for the ego as I was able to watch my speed climb as the bike went on. I planned on having two gels on the bike - when I pulled my bike out of the basement in the AM, the Bento box was still attached to it and appeared to still have gels in it, which was good because that meant I didn't need to hunt around the house for race-day nutrition. Sadly, during the bike ride I discovered that many of those gels were empty, used gels from my previous ride. Gross. I did manage to find two unopen and uneaten ones, and that was all I needed. I drank water when i got thirsty, but it felt cool outside so I wasn't drinking like crazy and I took in no salts (mistake!!). As I got towards mile 21/22, a runner out for his morning jog yelled to me "second woman" as I passed by. I wasn't sure I heard him right - I hadn't seen Sarah yet, I couldn't tell if there were any other women besides Sarah in front of me, and I wasn't ready to believe that I moved up quite that much during the bike. I figured maybe I misheard him and he said "sixth" or "seventh" woman. Anyway, as we neared the park and T2, I could see runners out on the run course and I didn't see any women yet. I rolled into T2, determined to make it out faster than T1.
T2: 1:01 - much better!
The Run: 45:48
The girl I had played leapfrog with on the bike (the same one I came out of the swim with) left T2 hot on my heels. She passed me within the first 30 steps of the run start and, seeing the relaxed, easy, yet speedy pace she was running was a pretty good sign that me and my huffing, puffing, out-of-breath, trying-not-to-blow-up self was likely not going to keep up with her (she was DEFINITELY a runner). So I let her go and focused on quick turnover (didn't feel easy and light on my feet because they were numb from cold for the first 2 miles of the run) and controlling my breathing, and generally trying not to sound like a freight train. Up ahead I also saw Sarah, who led the race for most of the bike and the first mile of the run. The run course was moderately hilly with a bit of a false flat on the way out to the turnaround. The first few miles ticked by and I was in third place and planned to work as hard as I could to keep myself on the overall podium. I caught up to Sarah around Mile 2 and was convinced through the turnaround that she was right on my heels and I was afraid to look back. I saw some friends from Team Z out on the course and it was great to see them and exchange cheers. After the turnaround, I felt like I got a second wind through mile 5 (probably helped because of the slight downhill). Mile 5-6 felt like the longest mile ever and at that point I was just hanging on and hoping to get to the finish before any girls passed me (you never know if a 5:30 miler has entered the race and could mow you down any second - you aren't safe until you hit the finish line). Running scared was really the only thing that kept me from taking it easy in the last mile, when my legs were feeling the fatigue and wishing I had taken some salts on the bike (note to self: even if it isn't super hot, salt is helpful). Once I hit the small bridge, a little more than a quarter mile to the finish line, I could see a girl coming closer and closer behind me. I had my fingers crossed that she was someone from the sprint race (she was) but I did my best to hold her off anyway. I think we crossed the line at the same time.
|Thanks to Mindy, we know how to use our podium trivets!|
Finish time: 2:29:54, 2nd OA.
I'm really happy with this race - during the bike when I had no idea where I stood in the field, it was super helpful to simply focus on holding off the girl I was playing leapfrog with. If I don't have a focus, it is super easy to go off into la-la land and suddenly find that my speed has dropped a bunch. It was also fun to just race someone, to make quick decisions on should I pick up the pace and make the pass now or hold off or if I make a move now, will I be able to sustain it and put a gap between us? Stuff like that. It's getting a little easier over time, with practice, to keep myself mentally in the game, turn off my mind to how much my legs hurt, and just go for it. Working with Jen over the years has really changed me as an athlete - not only making me physically faster, especially on the bike and making my swim much less of a liability - but also making me a stronger triathlete mentally (thank you Jen!!). Racing is so, so, so much fun again now that I'm really making an effort to test my limits. It's like a game with pint glasses and trivets as a prize :) I had a blast racing with Sarah (3rd Overall - with a super solid swim, bike, and run) and catching up with some of my other friends I hadn't seen in awhile. Big thanks to everyone for their cheers today, race day is so fun because I love the twitter and Facebook messages and texts :) Thanks, of course, to Jen for being an awesome coach. And thanks to Tri360 for their support (and I obviously need to visit again soon to stock back up on gels seeing as my bento box was full of empty ones, oops!). And now - cheers to cupcakes, mini Reeses peanut butter cups, M&Ms and ice cream - all of which are currently adorning my refrigerator and freezer shelves! Hooray off-season!