Transition area: photo by Maple Grove Tri
My first thought when I woke up Saturday morning was, "man, I wish I would've stuck to that training plan." but, oh, well, here we go. I threw the plan out after vacation in July when I realized it was stressing me out and the whole point of this is to have fun. I managed to get in a handful of bike rides that were 20-25ish miles, some were extremely hilly routes. I wasn't worried about the bike. And a 10k is a great distance for me. It was the swim.
About 2 weeks ago I started to freak out. I realized I had not done nearly enough swimming to prepare myself to my standards. I love to swim. But I wasn't ready for a mile. 0.9 of a mile, but I'm rounding up! A mile in a pool is WAY different than open water. Pushing off ends and lane lines give you an incredible boost. I am a horrible sighter in open water. I do everything they tell you not to, like pulling my whole upper body out of the water to look for buoys.
Luckily, my friend gave me her wetsuit to wear. That sucker makes ya float! I felt a lot better. Until we got to the lake and I saw how far the buoys were. Deep breaths. Whew, that is far. I wonder how we'd feel as runners if at the start of a race we could see the entire distance. I think it may make us appreciate how far we really run. Because, seriously, those buoys were so far out in the water. Maybe I'll feel better if I keep typing about how far they were.
I need to get over this. They gathered all the athletes together for some announcements. Even had an official referee in a striped top talk about the rules. This was a pretty big tri: 1200 athletes, 800 were doing the Sprint distance. And there was a collegiate wave that was competing for Nationals, which was cool. It was a pretty fit bunch of athletes. I love checking everyone out and feeling good that so many people want to do something positive. OK, happy energy is back! And then a guy sang the national anthem and it was so beautiful and goose bump worthy.
And we're off! I had a good start, didn't go out too fast and I'm not bothered by all the kicking and arms everywhere and all that chaos. What bothered me was how long I had swam and then I looked up and saw that the first buoy was FRICKIN FAR AWAY. Since I zig zagged so much during the sprint tri a few weeks ago, I kept looking up to make sure I was swimming straight. This was a horrible strategy because I couldn't get a rhythm, I wasted so much energy pulling my body out of the water and I just got stuck in a bad mental place. It was really hard. I flipped onto my back, I treaded water, I thought about quitting, I thought about the athlete that drowned awhile ago, come on now, just get to that first buoy.
I finally made the first turn and started to feel a bit better. Too much sighting again, but better. Then the last turn and I hit it. Reminded myself that This. Is. A. Race. And I swam. Coming out of the water is a powerful feeling. And since this was such a big race and all the Sprinters were waiting to start, the crowd was super loud. It was awesome. And I could hear my dad's voice out of the crowd, which sure gave me a boost.
I passed quite a few people on the run to transition and actually managed to get the wetsuit off rather quickly. I love transition! It is so exciting. Things flying everywhere and boom, you're on the bike. 26 miles. I felt good. My goal was 18 mph, which meant I'd really have to push myself. And I did. The beginning of the course was hilly. No steep inclines, but I was changing gears a ton. I left my big ring alone the entire ride because I'm still nervous about chain issues. Experience will help with that. But still, the bike went really well. Only 5 girls passed me the entire ride. Lots of guys with fancy gear zoomed right by. fine by me. I'm not competing with them. And it's actually cool to be in an event with those athletes. There was a point on the bike where I thought to myself, "I can't believe this is what I'm doing right now." I am living and loving life. Feels good! The volunteers on the course were incredible and I made sure to thank them all and smile. I thought of Chrissie Wellington and the joy she exudes as an athlete. That's how I felt. As we were approaching the end I checked my bike computer and it said 18.6!!!
It's super awkward to run in cycling shoes!
Transition! Quick change of shoes and I'm off. I was saying to myself, 'You're a runner. You're a runner" as I zoom out of the transition area and turn the corner and BAM! Huge hill. Short, but steep. I only saw one other girl running. Loads of athletes were walking. It was that bad. I don't mind hills, but the problem with this was that it took away all my speed. I've become a faster runner because of tri training. Not fartleks or intervals or track workouts. It's the bike. Develops different muscles plus you're all warmed up plus you're legs were just moving so fast that they are ready to keep the pace up. This can be hard on some people. It has worked to my advantage in brick workouts, but that hill worked against me on race day.
I could feel that my pace was off. I don't wear a Garmin so I had noideal data. I listened to my body and pushed myself. It was hard to do at times because we were on the same course as the Sprint athletes. So some people were flying by me which was a little demoralizing and I had to remind myself that most people were running a 5K, not a 10K. And I had just done twice as much swimming and biking. They should be cruising by! But it's still tough. In races I like to focus on someone ahead of me and try to pick them off. I wasn't able to do that to many runners on my first loop. And the hills kept coming!
One good thing about tris is that ear buds are not allowed so people talk to each other a lot during the run. But then I had to run the whole course again. doh! The second loop was better. I picked up the pace and felt good. Was able to sprint down the finisher's chute.
There is something so great about the first time you race any distance. PR! no matter what! I estimated that it would take 3 - 3.5 hours for me. I didn't really know. Seeing the 2:57 on the clock was emotional. Such a feeling of pride and accomplishment. If I had not been so spent from the race, maybe I would've had the presence of mind to do some simple math. I was in the 3rd wave so I started 6 minutes after gun.
swim .9: 29:09
bike 26: 1:26:02 (18.3 mph)
run 6.2: 52:39 (8:30 pace)
total time: 2:51:12
That's 6th in my age group. In a big tri, a competitive field with serious athletes. I'm not trying to rudely brag, but I am surprising myself. Not only am I having a ton of fun, but I'm actually pretty good at this. Makes my heart and all those other muscles smile.
Immediately after the race I swore to my friends that I was never going to do that distance again. I hated the swim. I woke up the next day and felt great, not sore at all, so of course my first thought was, "Coulda run faster!"
And now a few days later I'm thinking about how to improve my time. I was a mental wreck during the swim and I'm a little mad at myself about it. I know what you're all going to say. I know my time is good. But I also know how much better I could do and that's what I love about sports; the constant room for improvement, new challenges, different workouts for mind & body.
These race blogs get so long. Thanks for taking the time to read. I appreciate my Sparkbuds a great deal. Your support and motivation continue to push me. Thank you!