2 races into the season and 2 very interesting sets of results.
RTC Sprint – Richmond, VA
In keeping with most of our spring in the DC-area, this was a cold and somewhat yucky day outside – although no precipitation. I went to Richmond the day before and spent the night. Despite the drive to Richmond on a Friday afternoon….this was a good choice – better than having to wake up at 2 AM on race morning to drive south.
Swim – 800m pool swim – snakity-snake style – in waves of 10. We had to seed ourselves by estimated swim time. This was unusual but uneventful. Around 425m or so I was momentarily caught behind a breast-stroker in the middle of a lane but finally managed to get around him at the buoy. I can’t complain as my swim is never going to WOW anyone. I’ll probably never reach “dolphin” or even “fish” status during my life, but will keep striving for “better-than-lead-balloon” status. Out of pool – pretty damn fast T-1 and onto the bike….WHEEEEE.
Bike – 12.75 miles. This was FAST. I love the bike. Broken record on that one. Averaged 20mph and managed 2nd in my AG on the bike. This is where I need to do the work. It’s where I am strongest and need to give myself a nice little buffer for the run. I loved this bike course, although on a windy day – I think it would be a little brutal. It was perfect on race day and I wouldn’t have minded a few more loops on it. 🙂 T-2 – a little slow for my liking – I still don’t have those Yankz for shorter-distance races…but when my usual A-Races are longer distance – are they worth it?
Run – 5k. It was 2 pretty boring 1.5 mile loops around a parking lot and some tennis courts. Flat and fast though. For scenery, this isn’t the race to do. But for a first race of the season, brush off the cobwebs, I’d recommend it. Lots of wonderful people and a nice down-to-earth race director. Unlike some of the other races. The run was fine. I ran about as fast as I can go (at the moment) so I will take it. Only cramped up one time.
Overall – I was able to land my first podium (thanks to a strong bike and T-1). I never expect a podium. I race my paces and my goals. Anything else is just extra. I had created just enough buffer that the runners couldn’t quite catch up. It’s a tough age group and these girls (30-34) can run! I’ll never have a 21:00 5k even on fresh legs. Woof.
General Smallwood International – Indian Head, MD
Oh boy. This one was no joke. It might have been the toughest race I have ever done (and yes…this includes finishing an Ironman). It. Was. Pouring. Surprising? Not really, it had been forecast all week and spring has been abysmal here! No shocker.
I got to the site WAYYYYY too early. I could have slept another HOUR. But I am the person who follows the directions exactly and prefers the hurry-up-and-wait method as opposed to the scramble-last-minute. My teammate, Steph, arrived a few minutes later and we chatted a bit and stayed in our vehicles as long as possible to avoid the rain. I can’t say enough about how fabulous she is. She is an amazing athlete and person (who I might add picked up 3rd place OA and somehow managed a 20mph bike in CRAZY conditions)! She is a source of positive energy and certainly someone who provides me with triathlon inspiration as well as inspiration to fight personal/mental battles (maintaining grace & focus). Again, how lucky to be surrounded by great people.
Welllllllll – eventually the time came to grab packets, use the John, and set up…lost cause. Despite a poncho, rain jacket, etc.etc., I was drenched in about 3 minutes. Set up transition…everything in plastic bags. At least I would START with dry shoes…put on my wetsuit…did a little warm up and headed down to the lake.
Swim – I think the worst swim of my entire life. I managed to swim JUST shy of half-iron distance. Mind you – this was only an Oly. distance course. They had changed the swim from one loop to two loops (something about avoiding swamp beast – AKA seaweed). I still somehow managed to get it all up on my arms… Regardless, I was all over the place – see map (facepalm).
I was sighting the wrong buoy and swimming a diagonal…a boat guy had to tell me. Enter expletives. Lessons learned. Takeaways – when not bilateral breathing I really pull left hard. I used to pull right. WUT. IS. Happening? It was pathetic and all I could think about by the last turn was how much I wanted out of my wetsuit….I really need a sleeveless one. I HATE how restrictive mine is around the shoulders. I’m not in WI anymore, how often will I need a full sleeve wetsuit? That wiggly man wasn’t getting any closer and I just kept PULLING. Almost 1.2 miles later, I was onto transition. T-1, long run, overall – I was fine with it considering the conditions.
Bike – Rarely do I not have a great time on the bike. I did not have a great time on the bike. It poured for almost the entire 24ish miles. I knew it was a hilly course and was ready to tackle hills. I had been spending some time doing hills lately. But the roads were so wet and I just couldn’t push it like I wanted to. I was worried about my brand new back tire – it was either that or race on the old bald tire. Lose, lose. Lesson learned…get new tire more than 2 days before race. Just shy of 17mph average. This is slow for me, but considering the conditions I … well no … I wasn’t pleased with this. Some element of fear held me back. I wanted to be smart, but I think pushing a bit more would have been safe. Not sure. All I know was that I got off the bike and was drenched, frozen (I was wearing a cycle jacket but it didn’t matter), and stiff. I wasn’t in aero much on the ride and was very stiff. I kept trying to loosen up but just had to focus on areas of standing water, trying to avoid places where I might take a digger. I couldn’t relax at all on the bike.
Run – The run was okay. And I actually did hit a partial goal on this one. I wanted to land an average somewhere between my tempo pace and 10:00 miles. I did. A few times I had to lower my heart rate as I felt myself getting tight. I am learning where my heart rate needs to be to prevent cramping. So even though I had to slow it a few times, I didn’t cramp. When I cramp it’s all over and I am slowed to a halt while I try to stretch it out. I was happy with the way I managed this and just hope to continue to get that heart rate lower at faster paces.
Overall, it was my worst olympic distance performance ever. I knew I wouldn’t be anywhere near having the best performance of my life – still, I had a weird mix of disappointment and achievement. I didn’t really know how to feel. It was weird, because aside from the swim, I felt that I had a decent race for me, given the conditions. I’ll never be able to blitz on the run, but there were times when I felt really strong…and for the first time, a 10k didn’t seem long. Just — a really interesting mix of emotions. Happy to be one of the 165 who actually decided to show up – more space in transition for me (although that didn’t stop me from coming back in T-2 and seeing some guy’s bike in my spot…*insert eye roll* I was too stiff and drenched to be very upset about this). I learned a lot out on that course and will do that one again. I think in nicer conditions, it would be beautifully scenic.
Today, my friend and fabulous Iron Sherpa takes on her first half-Iron and I am so proud. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to run together on a regular basis, but it was our weekly Monday afternoon run sessions that provided me with motivation, inspiration, and a truly amazing friendship. Always an adventure on those runs and a world of fun stories. While I miss running with her, we always make sure to get in a few training sessions whenever I get back to WI – and now that she is a triathlete, we swim together too!! I remember the days of, “I’ll never do a triathlon”- Beezey. But now, she is working her way up to Ironman and there is no doubt in my mind that she will dominate her half-Iron and I can’t wait to be there for her first Ironman. She is one of those people that can and will do anything she puts her mind to. A fantastic weight-loss journey, several personal life obstacles, and venison tacos that are out of this world – she is truly someone I admire and adore. I can’t wait to keep following her adventures!
Last parting thoughts. As someone without much of a sweet tooth who prefers pickles and beef jerky on long rides over anything sweet, I am always looking for things I might actually ENJOY eating while training. Honey Stinger is starting to come up with some not-so-sweet stuff which is good. I downed some GU during yesterday’s race and almost gagged it back up…not because I felt ill…but just because I am so tired of putting that stuff in my body. My taste buds can’t handle it anymore. I want food. Digestible food…that isn’t sweet. But that will still provide calories and sustenance. Enter: A couple of new things to try. New toys. Feed Zone Cookbooks. Looking forward to this week’s food prep.
I feel it is going to be a wonderful racing season. Clear mind, clearer goals, and the continued hope for better race weather.
“I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable. I am an original.”
-Hamilton: An American Musical