Maybe it’s a lot more about what goes on in the noggin’ than you realize.
I went into this race with just about the opposite outlook of last weekend. I didn’t have any goal times. Truly and honestly. Sometimes I say that when I actually do have secret goals, but for this day I simply didn’t. I just wanted to have a fun day. I knew that I was definitely past my prime this season, and I just wanted to have a positive last day of being a triathlete for a while.
I slept an average of 10 hours per day this week and did one hour on the trainer, 30 mins in the pool, and a 30 min run. I was trying to save every ounce of juice/motivation/oomph I had left. Finally the day before the race I finally started feeling a little “oomph” again and excited for the race, which was a good sign. I hadn’t felt anything like that since the X-50, so there’s that.
We drove up the afternoon before, got our packets (cool shirt – I have named it Gatorboobs), ate dinner at Denny’s (club sandwich, with whole grain rice and a salad – asked for no mayo, got extra mayo, was too hungry to send it back and ate it anyway), located the race site, drove the bike course (gorgeous! scary hill!), and then settled into the hotel to try and sleep.
I kinda had the shittiest night of sleep ever (the freeway was SO LOUD for some reason), but I still woke up feeling ready to rock (thank the dear fluffy lord for all that sleep I got this week). Normal bathrooming, purple stuff for caffeine, a cliff mojo pb pretzel bar, and the show was on the road.
Transition opened at 5 and it was open racking, so while Zliten wanted to be there by 4:30am at the latest, we compromised and ended up there at 5:10. Now, at 5:10 at Pflugerville, the place is frikkin’ hopping. 5:10 here – we were the fifth car parked and actually ended up as the FIRST TWO people in transition.
Well, considering we podiumed in overall transition punctuality, the rest of the race was gravy, right?
All the normal things followed – it’s sort of become an involuntary rhythm now.
- Bring most things to transition, rack bike.
- Lay out transition stuff.
- Run warmup, take some pictures
- Finish set up, dork around a bit
- NEW: test water to determine if I want to wear wetsuit. Decide to go without.*
- At last possible moment, go back into transition and fill bottles (try to save as much ice as possible) and turn on garmin.
- Usually at the lost possible moment – this time, right before seeding – bathroom again.
*The water temp was 77, and it was the first time in the history of the race it was wetsuit legal. I waffled back and forth and decided to go without it. I never get hot in my wetsuit, but I don’t think I’ve ever swam in over 75 degree water, and they weren’t providing help out of the suit, so I figured the time I’d save would probably be eaten up getting the suit off. Not a lot of people wore them so I think I made the right choice.
Soon we were lining up and trying to seed ourselves and I tried to find around 2:15/100m (there was no signs). I saw two other people in my age group in front of me, so I knew there were at least three of us, and knew who to look out for… Soon, it was my turn and they took down my number and said “Ready, Set, Go”. The lack of airhorn was kinda anticlimactic but I’m sure we would have gotten sick of airhorns every 10 seconds or so.
Time trial starts are the bomb diggety. Besides the running start into a very rocky lake (ouch ouch ouch), it was so nice and not washing-machiney even if they didn’t get the seeding right.
I felt very strong, though I spaced out during part of it and realized I was just going cruising pace during the middle. Oops. Passed a lot of people though. The only annoying part was the last ~200m, I was finishing the same time as the last sprinters, who were doing things like backstroke and breaststroke and swimming two wide talking to each other (???).
I thought I was closer to 32-33, but heard from people the swim was long. I’m ok with it. I left the water feeling warmed up and refreshed.
Swim time: 35:50 (2:23/100m) 3/5 AG
Did the big girl thing without my sandals (3 for 3 this year), and only regretted it a little once we got to the pavement. Rolled only with my bike shoes, socks, helmet, sunglasses, and garmin – yeah, I took the time this time to put it on my wrist in transition. I asked for the 910 for Christmas this year, which means probably end of the year tris I’ll chance taking this one in the water, I just don’t want to have to replace it right now. Totally uneventful and quick.
T1 time: 2:03. 2/5 AG
This bike course was definitely not for being super fast. Quite a few decent hills, and one killer hill (called heartbreak hill). It was an out and back, so I figured what I have to struggle up, I get to bomb down later, right?
First 3 miles was really for spinning out the legs, then some good climbing miles 4-6, got up said evilevilevil hill (owowowow) without having to dismount and walk up (though I really wanted to – and I saw lots of people doing it), but I wasn’t prepared for just how shredded my legs would be after that. It took me the next mile or two to be able to handle shifting out of granny gears. The hill repeats I’ve done on the trainer definitely helped here, but I just can’t simulate 50% grade (not really) or whatever this crap was.
On the map and driving the course, the back half seemed easy, but I was flying a little less than I expected (probably due to shredded legs). I finished the killer hill at 13.3mph average (yeah…) and made a goal to get to at least 15 by the turn around. I only made it to 14.5. And then… the headwind. Oops. Yeah, guess that super happy fun time bomb-the-second-half party was not going to happen to the magnitude I wanted. Ah, well.
I alternated between head down and working and just in sheer awe of how damn pretty the scenery was on the way back. Stupid, stupid gorgeous. It was impossible to do anything but smile on that course even going up and down crazy hills.
When I finally got to the downhill, THREE cars pulled out in front of me, so I freaked out and rode the breaks down the first half until they were gone. I still got enough speed to scream like a little girl. I have yet to turn on my garmin again, but Zliten clocked 36.2 mph down it. Yikes.
I found myself really dehydrated through the bike. I drank my full aero bottle by mile 9, and finished my downtube bottle before 20. I ate half a pack of chews and just couldn’t fathom anything else that wasn’t liquid, so that’s the end of calories. Definitely not enough. I really need to remember to go for jelly beans when I can’t stomach anything else (since thats what I use as indoor bike fuel, I’m pretty sure I can get those down when nothing else works).
I was ready to be off the bike once I got to transition, but I was pretty happy with the ride. ~16 mph on a hilly course is not too bad for right now, I’ll take it.
Bike time: 1:32:27. Official results clock me at 15.6 mph, but for 24.5 miles (as the race advertised, and my garmin got AT LEAST that much), it was 15.9. Counting it. 4/5 AG
I’m not sure what wizardry happened here, because I actually had a fail – the bike racks were a little short, and had issues getting my bike back on it and ended up having to fiddle with that a bit. Everything else went super quick though and I was out and running in no time flat. No gravity there!
T2 time: 37 seconds!!! 1/5 AG
Got on the run and I had some legs, but not super fast ones. I decided not to freak out about what the watch was saying (high 10s) and just run. We started up a huge hill, then two dam loops.
Out was a flat but extremely rocky for the first half of the loop, down a steep hill, and then a long, gradual uphill to the turn around, and the the opposite on the way back – a gradual downhill which was a nice relief, but a steep uphill I walked both times. There was no point not to, I got winded power walking it, and then the relief of the flat again.
The scenery there didn’t disappoint. To one side was this gorgeous greenbelt, to the other, the gorgeous lake. When I could take my eyes off the rocks for fear of tripping, it made me happy to be running there.
I finished up two loops, holding a consistent pace. I couldn’t get my leggies turning over any faster, but I wasn’t dying to slow down. I was hoping I could do the last part a little faster and gain some ground there, so I just maintained. I kept looking for the girls I had seen earlier in my age group – one was a little less than half a lap ahead of me, and I saw someone with a 39 on their calf blow by me the first lap and I couldn’t hang. I figured at that point I was out of podiuming because if I saw two people in my AG that close, there had to be someone who had, like, already finished before I got off the bike.
Nutrition note: Had a half strength gatorade in my handheld and probably put down 3-4 cups of cytomax on the course (between my mouth and on my head). Cytomax is nasty but it kept me going. I was super thirsty off the bike and finished my handheld by mile 1.25 and lost time because I filled up every aid station, but it kept me vertical and running consistent pace, so, it was worth it. I had chews but couldn’t even. Again, I should get this figured but I don’t think it was much of a factor unless I could get my stomach to tolerate a dose of caffeine early on the run, I didn’t feel HUNGRY or unfueled.
I thought the last mile was a loop around the parking lot, but it was a loop around the PARK – through grassy areas where we had to follow cones since there was no path. My poor little brain was so confused it was all I could do to not get lost, playing the game – where’s the cone, where’s the cone, where’s the cone? It was marked well – it was just the end of a 3 hour effort, y’know. Once I hit the sweet pavement again I accelerated a bit and then I could see the finish and I passed a few people on the way and then we turned in and the finish line was there and I crossed and was SO HAPPY.
Run time: 1:02:28, 10:35/mile, 4/5 AG
They let me sit for a second (I couldn’t quite brain how to get my safety pin holding my timing chip on) and gave me a water and then another and then I went and cheered other people in until Zliten finished and we checked results and OMG I got my first podium in a triathlon in which I was not 3rd of 3 by like, an hour.
Total time: 3:13:23, 3/5 AG
Transitions count people!!! Also, it was definitely a close one for my AG placing. 1st beat me by 10 mins, 2nd beat me by 3 mins, and I beat 4th by 1 min (5th was like me at my first Olympic tri – over 4 hours). I could have fathomed being in any one of those spots depending on what sort of day I had, and I’m very happy with 3rd. Love these tiny little races where I get to feel like I have a chance to actually race for a medal, heh!
Really, really happy with this. My goal was to go out and have fun, and I so did. Plus, I had a pretty dang good race result and even got a 3rd place to boot. This was the perfect way to slide into offseason, feeling like I was completely and totally happy with the last race result, and no regrets about the day (or need for immediate vengence). I kinda liked racing back to back weekends, and I’d consider doing it again.
And now… offseason. I’ve been not-an-athlete for about 3.5 days now and I’m loving it. The most strenuous thing I’ve done in the last few days is walk the aisles at Costco. I know the hunger will come back, but for now, I’m enjoying being a normal human.