Last month (yikes I’m behind) on Sunday 8/20, I raced my third Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon (last year’s race report here).
I had high hopes that “third time would be the charm” but alas—sometimes life has other plans.
Although I know I’m in better shape than I was last year, with much more/better training this year too, I had sickness and a bike tip-over, a semi-twisted ankle, runs cut short by my dog nabbing a possum (true story!), or my 6-year-old biking slowly while I ran. Not one to make excuses, but… The heat, humidity, allergies, and busy work (and home!) schedule can all make training really, really hard. However, despite all that, I felt better prepared than years past, and looked forward to a strong showing at this race.
Except that I didn’t anticipate my head feeling awful, and my voice almost disappearing.
It started last Sunday with sneezes. I had a lovely trail run with Gabe, albeit slow because of course, North Carolina in August is like living in a steam room. But I still felt OK Monday. By Tuesday… I was full on trying to beat whatever this was (allergies? Sinus infection?) I got as much extra rest as my schedule would allow. Except the night before the race, slept like absolute $h!t. Woke up Sunday, voice nearly gone, head all stuffy, and just wanted to get the race over with.
Had an egg and 2 slices of toast at 5 AM. Funny thing is, with feeling sick, I had no nerves at all. I simply wanted to get the race over with.
I was hydrated, stomach felt great, just a feeling of congestion and pressure in my sinuses. I had prepared everything the night before:
We left at 6 and got to the race site before 6:30. I got the end rack position for my bike (yay!) and got everything set up. My boys helped me apply my sunscreen 😉
We hung out in the van for awhile since we were there so early.
At 7:15 I went to do a few practice laps in the pool. At that point I realized it wasn’t going to be a great day of racing. I tried diving in twice, and both times my goggles came loose and filled partially with water. The dives also incited a painful pounding in my head. Funny thing was, I did 3 practice dives on Friday and all went GREAT. Not race day though. I told Javi the dives felt terrible and I was just going to jump in. I just wanted it all to be over with ☹
It was 70* and sunny by 8 AM, and we lined up for the swim. I rated myself a 10 (fastest swim time), and got way in the front of the line, since last year’s swim got messed up by a slower swimmer in front of me. I was 6th into the pool, still no nerves (not a good sign—no rush of adrenaline!). I awkwardly jumped in. By 1 lap in, the girl behind me had caught up with me. I couldn’t find a good rhythm, and my breathing was so heavy. Not good.
I had a mini panic attack, as I felt as though I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move fast enough, and there were swimmers everywhere around me, arms splashing water into my face.
Nine lengths of the pool felt like an eternity, and I couldn’t believe how high my heart rate was. I felt awful about the 4-5 ladies who passed me, as I knew I was messing up their swim times. Finally, blessedly, I reached the ladder, gasping for breath.
The set-up of the transition area was different than years past, so I had a little ways to run to my bike. I couldn’t breathe very well, so I couldn’t sprint. I trotted to the bike, and did my best to quickly don my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses. I was gonna post a video of the swim exit, transition, and bike start, but it’s too large and I have no clue how to shrink it. Let’s just say it looks a lil “slow motion-ish” and in the video, Javi’s like “Let’s go!” [to me, to get me to hurry up!] and Gabe says “We’re going home?!” in a really excited voice, LOL.
I didn’t realize I had to mount my bike after a line, so I got on, then had to get off my bike, move ten feet, and get back on…frustrating. Then I fumbled with the pedals. Still breathing so hard, I headed up the first hill, quads burning. I wanted so badly to have a fast bike to make up for that horrible swim.
Because I focused on speed, I didn’t have any time to worry about crashing. I zoomed down the first hill, feeling confident and ready. There were 3 big uphills (and downhills) on the loop, and I gave it all I had. Heading into the second loop, my watch said 12:30and I felt good about that. It was then that I realized I couldn’t shift up anymore—no way I’m on the highest gear?! I looked down, and sure enough, I was on the highest gear.
My brain wasn’t too sharp, and didn’t realize I was on the lower set of gears. What??? I never use the lower set. I hadn’t realized it on my last training ride on Thursday either. So with that, I pedaled on, as fast as I could, but never made the connection to upshift to the higher gears until the bike was done… in hindsight, I’m just shaking my head at myself.
I wonder how much faster I could have gone? On the brighter side, I felt decently strong for being sick, and was proud that I handled the downhills with courage, barely braking. I also did good to hydrate 3-4 times during the bike, and take half a packet of GU (I needed the energy).
I was a little fuzzy getting off the bike. I had a quick transition of racking the bike, dropping the helmet, and donning my Oiselle tank with race number attached. I headed onto the run course (greenway) following a 47-year-old (age written on our calves). She was moving right along, and I couldn’t keep up.
My legs felt like heavy tree trunks, my breath still so labored, and my head under a vice grip of sinus pressure. Along came a 44-year-old who passed me like I was standing still. I had zero energy to even try to surge to stay with her. About half a mile into my run, the leader—the same girl from last year, now age 12—came running back. I figured she was about ten minutes ahead of me. In my mental preparation, I had this fantasy I’d be able to stick with her.
Not this time.
I had to focus on keeping one foot in front of the other. The sun beat down on me, and I told myself to just get to the water point at the turnaround. I don’t even remember how many ladies were in front of me—maybe 5?—but the water point gave me enough energy to pick it up just a bit. I dumped 2 cups on my head, saving a few sips to drink.
Onward to the finish! I wanted to stop badly, but pressed on. A girl in my age group passed me, and I had absolutely no strength to try to go with her. A tiny little finishing kick, fueled only by the desire to be done with the race.
I had to stop as soon as I crossed the line, and put my hands on my knees and rest for a few breaths. I didn’t care what my time was, only that I had completed the race. When I found out my time was a minute slower than last year… disappointment. Then I realized I competed while sick. Not feeling even close to 100%. So really it’s a miracle that I did as well as I did. My heart rate was so high the entire time.
Reflecting back on the 6 weeks of training, though they were full of bumps in the road and little challenges, I can say that I do appreciate biking much more now, and felt that my legs got stronger. Swimming, always a relaxing and peaceful activity for me, was the toughest to cram into my schedule. I took Gabe with me on many swims, and I didn’t come close to completing many of the swim workouts. I ended up following the training plan very loosely. I missed running, and didn’t realize that going from 5 runs per week to 2 would be so hard. After doing both the Asheville Spartan and this triathlon, I think I’m more in favor of Spartans at this point. It could be because my Spartan performance felt strong, while this one was so tough. I’m going to do some more of both and see how it goes.
Post-race: (also known as “That time the kids ate sooooo much junk food while we waited for the awards ceremony”)
I had to sit for awhile and cool down. The kids bounced, ate some junk food, and bounced some more.
It took over 2 hours for them to start the awards ceremony, so while I wasn’t really pumped about third, I REALLY wasn’t pumped about sitting in the sun for 2 hours to get my medal. 1st and 2nd place left, so I was on my own on the podium.
Final results can be found here, and top 15 below (I’m #15):
My Garmin data–can’t believe I managed to start and stop my watch, and change it from bike mode to running mode!
I’m a bit disappointed both the bike course and run course came up shorter than expected (7.27 vs 8 mile bike, and 1.8 vs 2 mile run)
Not sure I’ll do this one again. I do love a lot of things about it (all women, great atmosphere, very organized, great volunteers). However, I think I’m ready for a (short) open water swim, and a course that I haven’t tried yet. This is the only triathlon I’ve done, and now that I’ve done it 3 times, I think I need a new challenge. We’ll see what next year brings!
Next up: My Spartan Super in Fayetteville, NC!