Back to back races can’t get much more different than a slow metric century ride one weekend, and a super sprint tri the next, but that’s how the schedule lined up. Until last week, my goal was just to make a strong effort, and then, I got wicked stupid times in my head with my performance lately on the trainer and some superfast run speeds. I even took an extra rest day to see if I could be even more rested to kick my 1:17:43 square in the ass (though, to be fair, I spent the morning before the race cleaning the garage and the afternoon running errands… so…).
We were UNREASONABLY excited for this race. First (real) tri of the season, we’re both feeling great, and there were many chants of ROOKIE ROOKIE ROOKIE ROOKIE around the Quix-Zliten household.
Then, Friday, I feel like UTTER SHIT. Sore throat, achey, ex-friggen-hausted, and I got really bummed because I figured I had to be coming down with something. Skipped everything besides work that I planned to do for the day, went to bed at 10pm, and slept 10.5 hours and THANKFULLY woke up feeling like myself. Really weird.
We’re refining the pre-race strategy. Having a really big late lunch and not much dinner worked for us. I had yogurt/apple/pb for breakfast, and steak, bread, salad, potato, a few bites of desert around 3:30pm, and that was most of my food for the day. I had a roll with cream cheese a few hours before bed, but that’s it. I felt GREAT both the day before and on race day. Poo happened in the AM well before the race, no tummy issues during the whole thing, and I didn’t feel like SUPER BLOAT like I do sometimes when fueling up.
Sadly, the weather outlook went from ok, to sketchy, to terrifying. Enter 2:45 am thunderbooms, lightning lighting up the bedroom, and torrential rains. I got up, checked the weather, checked social media for any race updates, and then tried to go back to bed. Instead, I just kept practicing the transitions in my head for 30 mins until the alarm went off. Worst night of pre-race sleep EVER.
However, I was UP and AWAKE and we were actually ready so early we sat around after loading the bikes and stuff up because the parking wouldn’t be open yet. That is a race first for us non-early birds. I kept relentlessly checking the weather, and it said it would stop around 7. Race was around 8. I had faith.
We got there, got a pretty pimp parking spot, and decided on what to do. I wanted to claim a bike spot but not set up transition yet, and Zliten wanted to set up transition. After walking over in the rain, we decided that my course of action was the most prudent. We were WET and had not thought to bring a tarp like some folks. Then, it was more time sitting in the car, bouncing up and down, and willing the weather to be better.
At 7am, we just had to bite the bullet and do it. I laid out my stuff, but instead of as planned, put my shoes upside down and my socks inside them, and covered everything with my backpack. I also left the plastic bags tied on over my seat and aero bars/bento box. Oops.
We found a dry overhang and chilled there, and the rain got a little lighter. Then, we walked down to the water and met up with a few friends who were also there, and just tried to keep moving and stay loose. The race was delayed 30 mins due to lightning to the south east, just to make sure it didn’t blow in our way. With all this excitement, I didn’t get a warmup bike, run, and they weren’t letting people in the water early, so no swim. I should have ran, especially once the race was delayed, but I didn’t put together the fact that I should actually have done it until it was too late. Oh well.
Finally, we got the word that we were a-go. Zliten was in the third wave, so I watched him go off, and then just ran through the race in my head. Back and outside on the swim, don’t worry about finding a lane on the swim or getting ahead, just swim smart. Cap and goggles off on the run up to t1, 5 (racks up) 2 (racks across). Garmin, sock, shoe, sock, shoe, helmet, glasses, grab bike, go. Bike safe in the rain. Stop pushing hard on the bike on the last mile. Rack bike, shoe off, shoe on, shoe off, shoe on, grab race belt + visor and run. Run as hard as you can, don’t save anything. You can do anything for 2 miles, you can guts out a 2 mile run no big d. Finish with everything you have!
Then, as the wave before us went, and we stepped into the water, I turned off my brain and went into execution mode. I found a good spot in the back half on the outside, waited for the countdown, and off we went. I felt more comfortable swimming in open water that day than I ever had, no nerves at all. There was some jostling for most of the short 300m swim, and some people SWIMMING BACKSTROKE AND BREAST STROKE in the middle of the pack (grr) but I just kept on going. I remember last year I got out completely brain-out-of-my-body winded, this year I swam more conservatively and got out feeling warmed up. I ran up the hill, hit transition, and didn’t execute perfectly (fumbled with garmin, had to HULK SMASH rip bags off my bike I forgot about :P), but did MUCH better than last year, and got out to the road quickly.
I also fumbled a little bit mounting the bike. I was on the wrong side, my pedals didn’t want to clip in after running through the mud, but I got going. I had just the night before set a new field on my garmin: average speed. THIS. THIS A LOT. It’s easy to get frustrated seeing a low speed going up a hill, or get lulled into a false sense of security seeing high numbers on a downhill, but it was nice to see it start around 15 mph and slowly creep towards 18, and then almost 20 as I got going. I rocked the rollers in the first 5 miles, though I did take the downhills slow because, y’know, riding through little streams makes me nervous.
Then, we got to what they named Carnage Hill. You have to slow to take the sharp right turn, and then it’s a STEEP ASS LONG HILL. Couple that with the rain, I got around it, got a little up it, and unclipped and ran instead. I had visions of getting so slow I was wobbling and my legs being too tired to unclip and falling over and getting run over by eager cyclists… yeah, no. I felt like a wuss doing it, but it was the safe bet. And, I passed most of the jerks that passed me chugging up the hill within a mile because my legs were fresh. 🙂
I ate a few powerbar cola caff chews, and note to self: eating on a hard fast ride is not as easy as a slow one – I almost choked a few times. Maybe gels are better for sprints. I also got a little stitch in my side – my hindsight guess is not enough hydration. This stuck with me for the rest of the race, but it wasn’t too bad. The second half of the course was hillier, and I had forgotten about the double hill of doom (you ride up one, and as you’re about to breathe a sigh of relief as you crest, you see a worse one), but 11 miles passed quickly. I saw Zliten on the run as I was coming in with the bike and shouted at him and he waved. I unclipped well before the line and dismounted and headed into t2.
This one went like clockwork. Bike racked, helmet off, shoe off, shoe on, shoe off, shoe on, grab race belt and visor and roll out. For those of you who have never done a tri you won’t understand (as I didn’t before), but the best way I’ve heard it described is that the gravity in transition feels about 5x as heavy as it does on the course. Everything in you wants you to stop and rest, or at least slow down. However, it’s SO MUCH MORE EFFICIENT to fly through transitions and recover on the course at 15mph or 10 min/miles while you get your bearings.
I got on the run course, and saw my pace dropping to where it should and then the hill of doom, which made my stitch go OWWWW. I powered through the best I could and got ready to kill it on the downhill – which I had forgotten was on STICKS and now MUD. And I chose to wear my minimalist shoes. I flew as fast as I could, but I almost twisted my ankle 5 times and got a little discouraged in the first mile. I fought a few negative thoughts halfway through, and just concentrated on going as fast as I could. Once I hit the pavement and solid ground, I starting fucking flying to the finish. I went from about a 10:15 avg overall to sub 10 in that last stretch (haven’t analyzed the garmin data, but I imagine it’s all 8s and 7s the last 1/3 mile). I sprinted my ass into the finish and for the first time in a tri – Zliten was at the finish to cheer me in!
1:14:12 overall (1:17:43 last year, so 3:31 faster)
SWIM: 7:31 for 300m – 2:30 per 100 (7:14 last year, so 17 seconds slower. Oops, a little more juice on the swim next time)
T1 – 3:18 (6:30 last year – so 3:12 faster!!!)
BIKE: 42:19 for 11.2 miles – 15.9 mph (42:31 last year, so 13 seconds faster. Last year was in perfect conditions, where this year was a mess. I’ll take it, especially because some time here was due to pedal awkwardness)
T2 – 1:32 (2:04 last year – 32 seconds faster. Even changing shoes, where I didn’t last year)
RUN: 19:31 for the 2 miles – 9:46 pace (19:21 last year, so 10 seconds slower. Bah)
The rankings are confusing. For 30-34 women that have completed a tri before, I was 15/28. I was 238 overall out of 815. I was 6 mins faster than the average woman.
So as you can see, I pretty much PR’d by fixing my transitions! I went from happy I PR’d to sad I didn’t PR more to content with my performance. I’m really hungry to just NAIL one of these sprint tris and have the combo of a perfect day + perfect weather = ridic PR, but my eyes are on the prize. Sept 30th is the half iron, the rest of these are playtime.
Also 10 lbs heavier this year did not impact my performance in the slightest. Even though I had some lower numbers in my head that were reasonable if I had a stellar race day, but once the pouring rain started, I abandoned them for simply a PR and a safe finish and I have to remember that. I have 3 more sprints this year to tear up!
Next major race is Pflugerville in 40-ish days. Goals are:
-Beat my time last year – 1:40:35 (they didn’t record splits, just overall due to a timing chip error)
-Run the 5k under 10 min miles. The last leg of my tri is the bane of my existence. I lose it. It’s part mental, and it’s part chowing down on the bike so I don’t hit the despair point that I’ve found is related to low blood sugar. Also, this trail slows me down. I will be running it a few times before race day. I know I have WAY more than a sub 10 minute 5k in me on tired legs, but I have yet to execute, so let’s start there.
-18 mph on the bike. This course doesn’t have stupid hills, and as long as we don’t get hit with 20+ mph winds like last year, I should dominate this. We do EZ rides on this at 15mph+ now.
-11 min swim. I want to push a little harder on the swim. It’s all well and good to save myself for later, but it is a race..
-Transitions that feel as expedient. Also, getting there super early so I can get a spot right next to the bike out/bike in.
-I may change my mind on this, but conquering the party trick of rubber banding my shoes to the pedals and putting them on after I get on the course instead of struggling with them at the mount line.
That looks like about a 1:33. So A+) under 1:30, A) under 1:35, B) PR, C) Strong finish.
This weekend we’re doing a practice Olympic tri, and the next weekend we’re racing a 5k. All race recaps all the time around here, but hey, it’s what I do. 🙂
This was an outtake, but I have to share. I’m not sure what sort of look I’m giving Evilbike, or why, but it’s not good. Hahaha!
So all in all, a great first tri of the season, and in 6 weeks, I’ll be ready to crush another one!