After 4 years and no Tri, I finally competed in this race again (last Sunday, 8/21)! In 2012, I had a blast (old blog post here), and won my age group, the 25-29 division at that time. In 2013, I did the swim portion as part of a relay team. In 2014, of course lil Asher was born, so there wasn’t a lot of time to train, being less then 3 months postpartum. And last year, I did the VA Beach Half Marathon, so I didn’t want to have too many events in a short time. But this year… An Olympic year. Perfect!
Side note: Gwen Jorgensen in the Olympics Triathlon last Saturday… Just. Awesome. As she cried crossing the finish line, I cried right along with her. Such an inspiration… didn’t start triathlon until after college! Photo by AP/Gregory Bull.
I signed up several months ago when it went on sale ($75 I believe) and I will tell you that I get really really excited about racing when I sign up. Of course, life does things to mess up training, and getting Luna, the summer heat, job demands, and general excuse-making got in the way of my training this time around. So… I had maybe 6-7 swim workouts over the last month. I continued to run but my mileage has been very low. And the bike… Oh Lord, did I put off training on the bike. I did a mere 3 outdoor bike rides, the longest being 6 miles (two days prior to the race, I might add), and maybe 4 indoor bike rides (at the gym.) So with that, I would say my training was subpar and I could’ve done much better in preparing. I figured I would ride on my fitness, hope for the best, and come to find out… it did carry me a decent ways.
Packet pick up was Saturday at Fleet Feet (see above pics), so we went just before 4 and got these fun Ramblin’ Rose swim caps (I opted not to wear for the race… didn’t know if it would be as good as the one I have!)
Afterward we recon’d the course, since it had changed since 2012 when I last did this race. We ended up driving the 4 mile loop twice and I got familiar with it. This one huge hill at the beginning and then three smaller hills that were quite steep, yet short. Thankfully though there were several down hills but lots of lots of turns which made me a little bit nervous. I rented a very nice Domane bike from the Trek store for $100 for the weekend and it ended up being fabulous because of the electronic shifters and very lightweight. Note to self: try to get a very nice bike for next year ????
Outfit: I also bought a Zoot two piece Tri suit which ended up being very comfortable and have enough support on top and enough padding in the bottom. I decided to wear my Garmin vívoactive to time my bike and possibly the run, but I wasn’t really concerned about the swim time, as I had swim four minutes for the 225 yards in practice on three separate occasions. Four min was my goal swim time, but I figured I could swim faster with the adrenaline of race day.
Race morning, I got up at five to eat my PB&J and half banana, then I took Luna for a quick walk, and showered so that I could shave both my arms and legs. I know it’s probably silly to shave my arms but I figured if it would help to shave (ha ha) a few seconds of the swim then that would be worth it. It’s the only time of year that I shave my arms. I had my bag and bike and helmet already packed the night before so all I had to do was grab my GU and get the boys ready which Javi helped with.
We left around 6:30 and got to the race site a little bit before seven and they were already tons of people there. The end position on my bike rack was already taken so I took the second-from-the-end position and got my stuff set up quickly. I had the bike checked for tire pressure and fastener tightness, and ended up performing great.
Warm-Up: I did a quick down-and-back swim warm up around 7:30. I also answered questions for people who have not done this race before. It felt good to help!
I said goodbye to the boys around 7:45 and made a new friend real quick, my former coworker’s wife who I hadn’t met before but I knew of. Her name was Laura, so I helped her understand the swim also (the lane changes can be confusing). Before I knew we were lining up and ability order which means 10’s (strongest swimmers on a scale from 1-10) at the front, all the way down to the 1’s in the back. Learned my lesson in 2012 when I ranked myself as an 8 and I ended up passing about three people during the short swim. So while I’m not the strongest swimmer I still ranked myself as a 10, but then I made the mistake of putting myself in the mid-back of the group of tens. I’ve done the swim twice now, as I did the swim leg in 2013 as part of a relay team so of course it was my luck that I would get the far side of the pool (50/50 chance, as they have two sides of the pool going at once).
The Swim: I had my new Speedo goggles and felt comfortable enough (finally!) to dive in. Unfortunately, I was behind a slower swimmer that I could not pass the entire time. So instead of doing a comfortably hard pace as I had planned I ended up doing a medium pace, and probably lost at least 10 to 15 seconds if not more. C’est la vie. I was still breathing somewhat hard but when I got out of the pool I passed the girl in front of me while running on the pool deck and shot out of the building into transition.
Transition 1: I already had my swim cap, goggles, ear plugs off so I threw them down, grab my shoes and socks, got my sunglasses and helmet on, and away I went. I did not practice the transition at all except in my mind so this probably could be slightly faster, maybe five seconds with practice. Actually, I might skip the socks and save 10-20 sec and just deal with the sweaty feet, next time!
The Bike: When it came time to mount my bike, I fumbled a little bit with the platform pedals that go around the shoes, but I thought overall I did OK. The first portion of the course is this big hill so I started climbing, and told myself to ride a hard effort, yet taking time to enjoy the down hills and not be too concerned about bumps in the road or turns. I passed quite a few people on the first lap and on the second lap I saw the boys, they cheered for me and I got a little boost so I might have been faster on the second lap. (Javi later told me I looked like I was going way slow as I passed them… oops)
Fortunately I had remembered to start my watch, but unfortunately I forgot to look at it as I passed lap one because I was distracted by the crowds and the boys cheering for me. So I didn’t realize at the time that I have been averaging four minute miles which was much higher than what I had hoped for. But that’s what I get for not training very well. So on the second lap I tried to push a little harder since I was familiar with the course now but unfortunately I can’t tell from my Garmin data if I was faster on the 2nd lap or not. Later on when I checked I was dismayed to see the overall distance said 7.27 miles instead of eight and my pace said 15 miles an hour instead of my goal of 18 to 20 mph. I definitely know what I need to work on! Also, not sure if my watch was off, or the course was off…
I entered T2 thinking I did pretty well on the bike! I had passed a lot of people, and no one had passed me. I felt good, not too tired, but my mouth was definitely parched.
Transition 2: I sprinted to my spot, racked the bike, fumbled with taking off my helmet, fumbled with putting on my strap with race #, and grabbed my sports drink (nuun) and away I went!
Did I mention that my bike had no water bottle holder? Yep, I was feeling it right then. Mouth was so. darn. dry. I took several sips of my drink, as much as I could manage, then ditched the bottle. My legs felt like lead and I was hoping I could run fast. I passed a lady and vowed she wouldn’t pass me back.
The Run: I ran along the greenway and realized I had never run there before. I tried to focus on the beauty, and getting my breathing under control, but I realized that I was pretty wiped. The heat & humidity were getting to me. My goal was 7 minute miles, which I realized was quite lofty considering my lack of training. I had done maybe 2 brick workouts (bike + run) and both were short. I trucked along, and saw the girl in the lead coming back. She was 11 years old! I tried to quicken my pace, but knew I had no chance of catching her. I thought I might be close to the turnaround, but before I got to it, I saw #2, #3, and #4 women coming back. My thoughts weren’t clear, as I asked a volunteer “which way?” when the greenway forked, and she said “right”–I later saw the arrow pointing right, and realized she was standing in the left fork so people wouldn’t turn left! So my state of mind wasn’t great. The turnaround seemed to take FOREVER. My watch buzzed one mile and flashed 8:09, so I knew I wouldn’t make my sub-15 min goal for this 2 mile run.
My goal had been to get in the top 3, but at that point I just wanted to finish. I was unable to dig deep and try to really sprint it in. Lots of ladies were telling me good job, as they headed out and I headed back. One in particular said, “Yeah lady, you are rocking this!” or something like that, and it really made me feel good, so I started saying “good job” and giving the girls/ladies I passed a smile and thumbs up, if I could muster it 🙂 That made the second mile go a little faster. I was about 1/4 mile from the end and my thumb got caught on my bib number, causing it to tear on one side from the belt. I attempted to fix it but it wouldn’t stay, so I had a floppy bib number for the end (bummer)!
Finally, I could hear the finish line, and crossed a foot bridge and down into the finishing chute!
Here’s the video that Javi took for me (the slow mo was his idea, not mine!):
The Aftermath: I wasn’t feeling completely crummy, but I also wasn’t feeling strong either. Javi met me at the finish, and after turning in my chip and ankle bracelet thingy, I grabbed a water, bagel, and banana and went to sit down. I poured some of the water on my head (sooooo refreshing!) and watched the kiddos play in the Bounce house nearby. I ate some more snacks and waited. Javi said I finished 5th, confirming what I thought, but now I had to wait and see if any ladies behind me ended up beating my time. Sure enough, 4 ladies did, and 2 were in my age group 🙁 I am in a competitive age group though (30-34) so I didn’t feel too bad about 3rd place. I lost to 2nd by a mere 13 sec, so that gave me a bit of “heartburn” but I got over it quickly. I am so thankful for Javi and the boys for their support, and my friends who always believe in me. Thank you to SH for braiding my hair! It kept the frizz (mostly!) in check, haha. And lastly, I’m thankful that my body continues to be able to swim, bike, and run as well as it does 🙂
I remembered to get a shot with my other half:
We waited around for the awards, which seem to take forever… the kids were getting antsy. Next time bring games for them (or keep home with baby-sitter!)
Side note, the results page doesn’t include transition 2 broken out, because they had an issue with the timing pad. So I used my Garmin data and some math to figure out T2 time.
A few shots of the awards:
Overall times. For comparison, I have 2012 times here too… the only difference is 4 years, another baby, and less training this year! So I’m thrilled when I frame it that way!
Swim, 4:23 / 4:24
T1, 0:55 / 1:15
Bike, 28:56 / 29:11
T2, 0:55 / 0:35
Run, 15:41 / 15:30
Overall place, 9th / 13th
Total, 50:50 / 50:54
My bike data:
And my run data:
I think I’ve officially caught the Tri bug now! I had that bike wreck in 2012 that made me seriously think I’d never bike again, but I finally got past my fears and I even enjoyed the bike! I just need to get faster 🙂 There’s many more Tri’s in the area that I didn’t know about until now.
Thank you, as always, for reading!