I’ve been rolling this one around in my head for a bit.  I definitely have a lot of conflicting thoughts about the day.  I had a lot of negativity during the race itself, negative thoughts about myself, the course, my progress, who I am as a triathlete, doubts, insecurities, etc.  After the race, I felt a pretty good glow about the day and my performance.  After a few days to marinate, I feel somewhere in the middle, and have much more useful thoughts (so it’s probably time to write my recap).

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Day(s) before:

We ended up making this one a bit of a tri-cation – that is, we left work Friday after work, and drove up to Denton right away, and had the hotel for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  The drive up was ridiculously low-stress for a Dallas drive, and we got there quick.  We slept until we woke up and did the norm – brunch (waffle power!), packet pickup (got a tri top and socks this race – that was different), grocery store, hunting for the chamois cream Zliten forgot, etc. Mostly driving around, not much walking, so it was good.

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I ended up with something a little more fatty than normal for early dinner – half a blt with like 10 strips of bacon, avocado and cheese on wheat bread and some rice, but felt pretty good and fueled and a little less carb-bloated than normal which I was hoping would serve me well.  We decided to skip a shakeout run for the hot tub, and then curled into bed and got some pretty darn decent pre-race sleep.

Pre-race:

We woke to the hottest day of the year (or really close) thus far.  I specifically picked this one to race as my A race because the weather *should* have been temperate.  While I realized this would probably result in a slower overall time, I was more concerned about the effort, so I wasn’t changing my strategy of a steady swim, pushing myself to see where I was at on the bike, and then hammering the run.  How hot could the mid-to-upper 80s be, really? 😛

We ate our cliff bars, drank purple stuff, got the stuff in the car, mapped out the directions from the address on the Texasman website and drove through some beautiful areas watching the sun start to peek out, happy that we left early enough to get to transition just after opening.  Then we got to said address, and found NOTHING (except a few other confused triathletes).  After some deduction by looking at the course maps, we found we were supposed to be on the other side of the lake, which by my trusty phone, was 30 mins away.  Fuck fuck fuck.

We were really nervous – we would just barely make it into transition and that was IF we were going to the right place.  Luckily, we were and I’m not writing a pissed off post about how I DNS’d my A race because I’m an idiot.  Got bodymarked, got transition set up hastily, just barely had enough time to potty and squeeze into the wetsuit and it was pre-race briefing time.  They quoted this as the “thinking man’s course” as there were a lot of different distances going on at the same time.  Then, we held for a bit to let them get the timing folks in place, and shortly, wave 1 and 2 were off and I was lined up along the shore in wave 3.

Calorie tracking: 1 cliff bar (250 calories)

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Swim:

I was missing the butterflies this morning, and I think it’s just because of the attitude and tactic I was taking with the swim.  I know I haven’t done much OWS this year (this would be my 4th) and I’ve only been doing 1-2 swims per week (minus the week I did 4 because I was injured and couldn’t do anything else), so I expected just to do about as well as I did last year.

I ran into the water until I had enough space to stroke (up to about my knees) and then dove in and got to it.  There were very few ladies doing the x-50 so there wasn’t that much jostling.  Since I didn’t get a warmup swim and it was a little chilly I was definitely doing the breathe every two strokes thing at first but oddly enough I felt less awkward than normal at the beginning of a swim.  Good good.

It was hard to sight into the sun so I probably tacked on some extra yardage, and as we got out further from shore it got SUPER CHOPPY.  It was side chop, which I prefer to front/back chop, I know how to swim in it.  Only hiccup was I got pushed underwater (unintentionally) and choked on some water for a while, but otherwise, I felt pretty decent, like a long, lean, buoyant fish.

The small amount of swimming directly into the chop was miserable, but it was over quick, and then all I had to worry about was asphixiating to death on the fumes from a nearby police boat.  I swam pretty strong back into the shore, and realized my watch was still on, and it looked like I was on pace for about 35 mins for a mile, which I’m very happy with.  This is my average pool time, and I was able to pull it out in super choppy open water.  I overheard that the course was a little long too from someone with a garmin, so I’ll totally take it.

I swam until my fingers touched dirt and then ran up and onto the beach.

Swim time: 35:41 for 1 mile

Performance vs expectations: I’m super happy with this, and I’m really looking forward to just getting better in the water as the year goes on, because all I want to do when it’s hot is go swim in the lake.

T1:

I ran out, and got my top half of my wetsuit off before the strippers, which is an improvement over my first wetsuit race, where I was just shellshocked and pretty much wandered up and said “halp?”.  He made off with it in short order and I ran up the beach, onto the path, and finally to transition.  I had set my sandals out but couldn’t find them so I just left them and ran barefoot (again, which was fine, I need to remember I’m less of a priss than I think I am).

Once I got to transition, gravity hit me hard.  I’m not quite sure what took so long, but it did.  I put on sleeves which I probably didn’t need considering the heat.  I took the time to put on my gloves instead of doing it on the bike.  I didn’t rush.  I saw Zliten as he was leaving and said hi and chatted a little.  I’m cutting myself a little slack because it was a long run in, and it’s the first tri of the year, but over 5 mins to get on the bike is pretty ridiculous.

T1 time: 5:06

Performance vs Expectation: I figured I’d be slow, but this is sloooow.  Ah well, onward and upward.

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Bike:

I clomped out to the mount line, got going quickly and without incident, and was off.  The first few miles were pretty uneventful. I decided to go with the athletic tape on my garmin, so I just concentrated on effort and not my speed. I ended up playing (legal) leapfrog with a few girls and chatting, and then I finally saw Zliten and caught up with him, and leapfrogged with him a bit. I did a successful bottle grab, and came in for the second lap.

All was going well… until I just flat out MISSED the turn around for the x-50 distance. All my riding friends were apparently doing the Sprint and I followed them about half a mile in until I started doubting myself, and I flipped a u-turn, hoping I wasn’t cutting the course, and asked everyone I saw on the way back until I confirmed that the turn around was where it was and I had gone long. D’oh!

The second lap, I was a little bit in a funk, feeling stupid for missing the turn, and there was literally NO ONE riding with me that I could see. I almost convinced myself that I had gone the wrong way somehow. Then, I realized that was stupid, it was the same road, still had police blocking it off, etc.  This was just a small race.  I saw Zliten a couple more times but I never caught him again.

This was not really my course. It was always going up and down. Only one or two real big hills, but nowhere to dig in and really fly in high cadence and aero like I’ve been practicing. My splits were all over. One mile, 13.7, next mile, 21.2. Hilarious. It also was windy, and the second lap was definitely windier than the first.  My garmin clocked 41.09 miles, and 16.6 mph – so this probably added about 4 mins to my time. Lame.

Bike Time: 2:28:03 (16.2 mph)

Performance vs Expectation: Overall, I’m feel dumb for doing extra credit, but I can forgive that.  I was focused.  I’ll pay more attention next time.  16.6 mph (let’s not even talk about that 16.2) isn’t as good as I was hoping for – it’s exactly what I rode at Kerrville last year.  Even though I wasn’t discussing times, I really wanted to see at least 17mph. This feels like the absence of gain in skill.  I expected it in swimming, but I actually have been working the bike.

I still have a lot of questions.  Like, if I would have turned around in the right place and stayed with people, maybe I would have pushed harder?  Maybe I needed the garmin reinforcement?  However, the way I answer them is ride my bike in more races, and push myself harder/do more volume on it this spring/summer, so that’s what I aim to do.

Intake: 2 bottles gatorade (200 calories), 1 bottle water.  180 calories strawberry chews, ~100 calories of pink lemonade chews

T2:

I was still feeling down and told the volunteer at the dismount line that I was definitely ready to get rid of evilbike.  I racked it and did my thing and saw Zliten again as he was taking off.  I shoe’d off, shoe’d on, got my number and handheld and visor and got on the run.

T2 Time: 3:01

Performance vs Expectation: I don’t know what the crap I was doing for over 3 minutes besides moping about my bike, but since there was no reason for it (I should have been in and out in half that time, easily), I need to cut that shit out next tri.

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Run:

Set out on the run and it had gotten HOOOOOT. All that wind whipping around on the bike? Gone. The only salvation is the run course had some shade, but the sunny parts were just miserable. I’m thinking it was in the upper 80s by that point. Ughhhhh.

The good news was I had some decent legs left, and they stabilized pretty quickly.  I knew I wasn’t running super fast, but definitely in the zone so I kept trotting away as everything would allow.  I tried eating some chews, and got them down ok (no tummy issues!) but then i couldn’t get the bag closed and i couldn’t get it back in my handheld so I just stuck them in my boobs and promptly forgot about them.

I still had the tape over my garmin, and my goal was just to dig and stay in as much manageable pain as I could the whole time. I definitely forgot about staying in the moment though, I just kept thinking how I wanted to be done that first lap and I didn’t know how I was going to deal with two laps. I didn’t walk though. I found Zliten and passed him around mile 3.  I was loving up the aide stations and took all the ice and water I could to stay cool and keep up my speed.  I was starting to come out of my funk though.  I didn’t love running in the heat, but at least I felt semi-competent at it, especially as the majority of the folks around me were just melting, walking, and looking dejected.  Pass, pass, pass, pass, I did a lot of it.

The second lap, I broke a bit too. I got grumpy at one turn around going up a hill and I walked there a little. Once I got to the aide station, I filled my bottle with ice and dumped a bunch of water on me and more ice in my tri top and got going again. I had a few more walk breaks, but in the same vein as Kerrville, or the marathon – controlled powerwalking (14-15 min miles) to recharge some energy for a short time, and then off I went, back into the frey of 9s, 10s, maybe some 11s on the uphills.  I could tell my run speed was actually decent, but I felt like I needed those quick little breaks to keep it up.

I ripped off my tape at about 7.5 miles. Even with the walking and the heat and all the other b.s. – I was still holding just under 11 minute miles average and I did my best to keep it there. I finally gave it some gas right around mile 8.5 and found some 8-9 min mile pace left and then there was the finish and I almost tripped going from path to uneven grass but I crossed the line and it was glorious to stop and collect my medal and get water and then go cheer Zliten in.

Run time: 1:38:05 (10:54 mins/mile avg)

Performance vs expectation: on paper, I’d say this is 8 mins longer than expected.  I really wanted to meet or exceed 10 minute mile pace.  However, that plan was put into place when I expected the temps to be high 60s/low 70s, not scorching the earth.  I ran 1:19 min/mile slower than my standalone 10 mile run pace 3 weeks ago, on a hillier course in hotter conditions.  I cannot hate that.  Last year, this run would have been at least a minute/mile slower, even if I had the run of my life.

There’s definitely some improvement to be had here – I could have taken off some time in the later miles by toughening up a bit and not walking if I could have kept pace – but that’s the question.  Would I have fizzled?  I wanted to try and find the edge, but the combination of heat + hill just wilted me and I played it a little more defensive than I expected/wanted.

Intake: 3 chews (~40 calories + maybe a tiny bit of caffiene), 1 bottle gatorade (100 calories), so much water and ice and probably some cytomax.

Overall time: 4:50:23.

Performance vs Expectation: I missed my goal of 4:30 by 20 minutes, which I think may have been a little ambitious on that course (I really underestimated the hills on that bike course) with my current fitness. On a perfect (both me and the weather) day, I think I had a few extra minutes on the swim, a few extra minutes in transition, I wasted probably four mins on the bike with the extra mile/riding slow to find someone to tell me if I was on the course, and some extra bike speed lost vs wind gusts, and certainly time on the run if I wasn’t melting.  It would have been close, and it would have taken a perfectly executed race.

I missed placing in my division by 10 mins (I got 4th – 3rd had a time of 4:40 and change).  I think THAT’S what I’m most bummed about.  If I wouldn’t have fucked around in transition, if I wouldn’t have lost that time on the bike, if I would have pushed a little harder on the run… I could have gotten my first triathlon podium besides when I got 3/3 place in the Athena division at my first Olympic Tri.

On the bright side, I beat Zliten by 11 minutes.  I got him by 5 mins on the swim + transition, he made up a little time on the bike (but only because I screwed up), and I ran 7 mins faster on the run.  Take that, Mr. I-Run-Up-Hills-Like-A-Mountain-Goat-Lately. 🙂

And hey, at least they still let you have margaritas when you get 4th place.  So, really, that makes it all better.

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Since this is already novel-length, I’ll save the afters and the what’s next for my next post.

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