Last summer I raced my first Olympic triathlon. And it was a doozy. Immediately afterwards I said I'd never do that distance again. Within a few days, I knew I needed to conquer it. I am a swimmer: It comes fairly easy to me, I love it, people bumping me isn't a problem. You'd think I'd be made for triathlon swims. Well, I still panicked last year and that bothered me.
In January my training girls and I looked at all the choices. I saw a great opportunity: an Olympic tri in Green Lake, a beautiful place where much of my extended family owns cabins. Sign me up! I want to swim a mile and do it well! What I failed to consider was that I'd also be training for a marathon. And that it's hard to find the time to fit in a long bike + a long run + being well enough rested to enjoy summer fun with my kids. It's too much for me and now I know that. I am putting it in print so next winter when I want to sign up for a 70.3, I will stop myself.
One thing that annoys me about triathlons is that all Sprints are different distances. Most involve a 5K run, but the swim can vary 400 to 800 yards. The bike can be 8- 18 miles. It's hard to compare race totals or have PRs. But the Olympic distance is set. You know, the distance they do in the Olympics. 0.9 mile swim, 26 mile bike, 10K (6.2 miles).
A few weeks ago I checked out the race website and see that for the Oly distance it says: 3/4 mile swim, 22 mile bike, 6 mile run. What the what??! That's not an Olympic tri. I signed up for this sucker to beat last year's time! A 0.75 mile swim may not sound that different than a 0.9 miler, but it is. Oh well. Get over it.
And I did. But then I found something else to freak out about. Unfortunately, I looked at last year's race results. Only 17 women completed the Oly. And the top 10 times were super speedy. I freaked myself out. What if I was last? Maybe I should dip down to the Sprint distance.
Oh, the taper crazies. Luckily, DH reminded me that I put a lot into training for this, that I'm not racing to place, I'm doing this for me, and that I'd be disappointed in myself. I love that guy.
One of my Irongirls came with me and she is such a calming force and so laid back about racing that she helped erase all nerves. She kept telling me that I'm faster than I think and I guess I finally started to actually hear her.
And my dad came to race the Sprint. Does it get any better than this??!
The day was gorgeous. You could not ask for better race weather. Calm lake and I was ready to swim. I had played a little with a race calculator so I had some time goals, but the most important thing for me was to feel good during the swim.
WIN! The swim was great. I didn't go out too fast or sight too often. I stuck to my breathing plan and felt good. After reaching the first buoy I saw a pack of swimmers in front and focused on catching them. It reminded me of how I feel during road races. So cool to feel like I was actually racing the swim and not just surviving the swim. I even resisted the urge to get up and run when I saw sand at the end. This is a common tri mistake and everything you read says to swim until you hit sand. You can swim faster than you can run. I kept swimming even though I saw people up & running on either side of me. And I passed those people! And my sister said I looked like a shark going in for a kill. yes!
Onto transition! I love transition. I'm pretty sure I say that in every tri blog. But I really do. Each time I steady myself and take a few deep breaths and then I just move it. The wetsuit came off with minimal struggle so that is another win. My sister and aunt were cheering by the fence and they laughed really hard when I turned and asked my aunt, "How was your bike ride this morning?" Yes I am in the middle of a race, but I really did want to know.
The bike was great. The lake is 14 miles around so we went most of the way around, which was so so pretty. I rode past another aunt's cabin and she was out cheering with a mug of coffee. Made me grin from ear to ear. Wow, how I love my family. Those little boosts really help.
I also got a lot of strength from the little girls I saw that were playing in their driveways with their families. I'd think about what kind of woman I'd want them to see: a strong, female athlete keeping up with the boys. Girl power!
The Sprint participants kept going around the lake, while the almost-Olympics shot off on a country road to do a straight out & back to add mileage. Super cool to see all the athletes in front zoom by going the other direction. And the ones that passed me all had zip wheels, aero helmets, and tri bars. All of that gear makes you faster. I don't have any of it and I'm holding my own.
The best part was when I saw my friend and she was in the lead! Amazing. And then I counted the girls behind her as I rode and knew I was in the top 10. That was good motivation to keep pushing. If my legs didn't hurt or I wasn't breathing heavy, I pushed some more. In past tris I have regretted not giving it my all on the bike because I was saving for the run. This time, my strategy was to go big on the bike. Another win. I am super happy with how the bike went.
And that's my cute sister and aunt in the background.
Transition into run and I hear my kids. This day keeps getting better! Best looking support crew around.
Everything was going so fast and I tried grabbing a water bottle off my bike and thought about opening a GU and remember saying aloud, "What are you doing? Go!" So I threw the stuff down and went!
The run was an out and back along the lake. Again, so so pretty. We were all mixed in with the Sprinters at this point and it felt good to have people around. I saw a guy with an orange shirt and yelled "Dad!" no response. I caught up and yell again, "Dad!" And he says, "What? Did you really think I'd waste energy to turn around and see you? I knew you'd catch up." hahaha. He is so funny.
I drank too much water on the bike. whoops. I could feel it slooshing around and had an ugly side ache. I was not enjoying the run or feeling quick, but I kept going. It got harder after the Sprinters turned around and I had to keep going. The race got pretty lonely. I told myself I could walk as soon as I saw my friend. I was right behind 2 guys when I saw her coming. I yelled, "Here comes the woman leader!" and they both cheered. And she yelled at me, "You are so not last!" which made me laugh and power past those 2 guys.
I reminded myself that this is a race and I could walk after the finish line. I thought about my cadence: focused on quick turnover. I could see our turnaround and saw 1 woman that I thought I could catch. I am a big believer in mental mindset. Instead of: oww, oww, oww, my side hurts. I changed my thinking to: you are a runner. you are a runner. yes you can.
And that worked. I passed the woman I had my sight set on, but another woman also passed me. (So does that cancel it out?!) Not sure of splits because this was a very small race, no timing mat at the mid way point and I don't wear a watch racing. But I know I ran a negative split.
Especially since Ironfriend & dad ran me in:
Forever. This will be a favorite racing moment forever.
I estimated that I'd finish in 2:30. (My Oly from last summer was 2:51)
swim 21:25 (1:38 / 100 yards)
bike 1:10:57 (18.6 mph)
run 51:12 (8:32 pace)
Age group: 2/6 (the one woman that passed me on the run was in my AG. I was 1st through the whole thing! But even if I had a good run, she would've beat me. Her run pace was 7:24! Gives me something to work towards)
Women: 9/22 (top 10! so yes, I am racing myself, but I obviously care about how I place)
I do care too much about where I place in comparison to others and it is something I'm working on. But I care even more about a healthy and happy lifestyle. More important than that time goal, was my happy goal. I wanted to finish with a smile.
And sharing it with friends and family makes it even better.
Why does she look so good? Because she finished 24 minutes ago! And she won. The whole darn thing! She is incredibly strong and inspiring.
I love love love triathlons. So much fun. But I'm not doing one again for a very long time. Good thing I have this race to savor.