I don’t know if y’all have seen us in the news, but Texas is having some WEATHER.
The last four years, we’ve been in a massive drought. This year has been so wet, among other more important things, whether a triathlon is going to get cancelled or at least modified is kind of a coin flip. We were lucky enough to get good weather for Rookie, but since then we’ve had storms days than not. This is our wettest May on record, by 2 inches, and it’s not over yet.
The weather was kind enough to stop the spitting and thunderbooms for one morning for us to be able to race, but Ladybird Lake was in NO condition to have bodies in (that shit was naaaaaasty, not to mention a strong current and debris all over), so the day before, they announced that the race was moving to a duathlon – a bike/run in the same distances as before, in a time trial format.
I was kinda bummed because I was all ready to crush a sub-3 and this is my only chance at an Olympic this year, but quickly decided holding the correct effort on the bike and the run (and extrapolating what a reasonable swim would have been) would be just about as sweet. So, I set a stab in the dark goal of 2:20, which actually was actually my bike + run goal time (ignoring transition), and decided the M.O. was:
- Go out fast on the bike
- The run starts the minute I get off the bike, not at the end of transition.
- Hang on for the run
Also, it afforded some potential changes, like I didn’t have to wear contacts (did anyway just in case it rained), didn’t have to wear a tri kit top (did anyway), could stash stuff in different places, and decided to wear bike gloves since I didn’t have to put them on, only take them off. I also wore my fitbit and got all the steps. 🙂
The morning logistics went just as planned. Kind bar, purple stuff, some coconut water, warmup run, bathroom, setup, another warmup run, and then we were corralled INSIDE transition instead of locked out of it, and had to wait by our bikes until our wave was called.
Zliten was one of the first age group waves out, so I cheered him on as he went by in the line, and then… waited. Made friends with the gals around me. Kept my run shoes on as long as humanly possible because my stupid heel was cranky. My wave was supposed to go at 7:47 and at 8am, we weren’t even close. Sigh.
I felt off. I didn’t feel excited. For some reason, the only thought that gave me a slight sideways grin was “y’know that new bike you’re always talking about wanting but don’t feel like you deserve yet? Let’s go attack that like you want to earn that new bike.” I don’t know if it makes sense to anyone but me but whatever.
Finally, we all lined up and they sent us across the bike mount line every few seconds. They told us to clip in one shoe and move up to which I was like… um… you don’t know my track record with that but I managed to stay upright and it was like… 3, 2, 1… GO!
My goal for the first lap was to go as hard as I could fathom holding for 25 miles, but not pay too much attention to metrics. Up and over the bridge, up to the capitol and back down, a loop down 1st street and I saw Zliten and shouted hi at him, then under and around and then up the hill that’s probably not steep enough to get out of the saddle for but it felt good to change position and jog up it anyway and dowwwwwwn the freeway exit and back and do it again!
And 1/4 laps down, I noticed I was holding about 19 mph. That’s not exactly a speed I see outdoors, like, ever. I felt like I was working but not cooked so I was like, ok, let’s do this. 3 more like that. And pretty much, that’s how it went.
I could tell you about Coeur girl (that had the kit I wanted last year) and how we chased each other around the whole course. I could tell you how how my bottle came out of my cage on a bump and like a ninja I fucking caught it and put it back in. Normally, I can barely fumble to grab it when I’m riding. I could tell you about the poor guy on the b-cycle (rental bike with a basket on it) doing the international course. I could tell you about playing gel roulette in my kit pockets and coming up with salted watermelon on lap 3 (caffeine!!!!)
But what I really want to tell you is that I spent four laps doing some good solid work on the bike. I was able to ride aggressive without being aggressive like Rookie. I didn’t sit behind anyone that was going slower than I wanted to go just because I didn’t feel like passing. I only yelled at one guy who buzzed me REAL close while passing, and all I said was HELLOO!!!, not anything I could have been… reprimanded for.
I also made it into the dismount line a full 3 minutes and 20 seconds faster than my A goal, which I already thought was kinda far above me. What???
Bike time: 1:16:40 for something like 24.8 miles, official course pace of 19.45 (13/36 AG). Again… what??? I am over the moon. Me, on my entry level road bike and the engine a little heavy and biking being the sport I’m least comfortable at… I can’t really say it’s my weakest now after this year.
And… while I decided to hold off on the new bike – we did pull the trigger on two new Garmin Vector 2 power meters today. 🙂
I dismounted and ran my bike in and had to run around a girl who was completely strolling and dazed. Those stupid gloves tripped me up for a while (they’re new and pull off differently and I left my rings on) but everything else went as planned. I wasn’t sure where transition stopped and the run started after the racks, but that’s ok. Because for me, the run started when I got off the bike.
I was at the rack for 30 seconds per Garmin data. I could have done better without the gloves but it is what it is and was under 2 minutes so I couldn’t complain too much.
Transition official time: 1:56 (15/36 AG). It was a pretty large transition area too. Just next time, leave the rings at home and/or get the gloves off in the last few miles of the bike.
Well, in the biggest shocking surprise to probably no one except me at that very moment, a bike PR by over 1 mph on anything I’ve ever ridden ever and a VERY VERY VERY humid day meant there were literally zero of these miles, literally zero of these inches that were going to be comfortable. They varied from hell to maybe-in-the-suburbs-but-still-in-hell-county and mostly in the fire and brimstone proper.
I accepted any pacing strategy was out the window beyond running as fast as I could without hurling. I can barely remember what I was thinking about, it was so hazy. Couer girl passed me before mile 1 and was off, and I was like, yep, you’re skinny, of course you’re going to run faster than me.
While that sounds kinda down on myself, it really wasn’t, it felt factual when I thunk it. I didn’t get really negative, I tried to stay out of “sorry for myself” territory, I just tried to acknowledge that a) yes, this run sucks b) you’ve gotten through runs that sucked c) everyone else is out here suffering and doing work so do yours and d) x more sections (sections helped more than miles) and then you can lay down wherever you fucking feel like but for now you are running as fast as you can.
I took a gel after mile 2. If I thought the caff would have made any difference, I probably would have done that and then been awake for 2 days, but I just felt like I needed sugar. Most of the aid stations were 1-2 waters on the head, 1 of *something liquid* in the mouth. I was SOAKED by the end.
There is a run up and down a bridge which last time I ran this course killed me, but this time, I kind of liked it. The uphill made sense that it was hard and it sucked, and the downhill was a bit of relief, and then the lap was almost over. I saw Zliten and he was all “woohoo! go finish strong!” and I was like “nope, another lap” and “give me your damn gatorade” because I finished my gel and hadn’t hit an aide station and then yelled back “I started an hour after you” so he wouldn’t think I totally bonked. It was a chaotic 5 seconds.
Oddly enough, I wasn’t completely demoralized by all that. I wasn’t moving terribly quickly, but I was like, ok, self – one more lap, you got this, just keep the same effort. I switched over to total time and just got to work on trying to get in at 2:20. It started the lap on the fence, and became more and more out of my reach as I wasn’t able to put together a mile under 10s. I felt ROUGH, but I never hit despair. I just kept at it, the best I could, in robot mode. Pain face robot mode but still.
The last mile I found a little extra – it had the most downhill which made it ok to push the uphill and then I headed down the last stretch and couldn’t quite figure out where the finish was but then figured it out. The last few meters were grass and it was so wet I was like OMG DON’T SLIP but then I was across.
Run time: 1:03:16, official pace: 10:11 (25/36 AG). It wasn’t the A goal of 1:02 and it wasn’t the pixie dust time of sub-1 hour, but it was the best I could do and I wouldn’t have traded that bike for anything.
Official time: 2:21:52 (17/36 AG). I would have had to do a 38 minute swim + T1 to sub-3 hours and barring something especially wrong, that wouldn’t have been a problem. I’ll get it officially someday! 🙂
After, I was a bit of a mess. I sat down. I laid down. I stood up because I was afraid that I wasn’t going to get up. I went to the med tent and asked for an ice pack since I wasn’t cooling down well. I took a picture. I barely held it together to get all my shit from transition and walk a billion miles back to the car.
I felt that weight, that shortness of breath that stomps down on your chest in the heat and humidity when you run, for HOURS. I can say that I suffered sufficiently.
Also, once I got over the initial just-raced heat induced nausea (doesn’t my sport sound so fantastic!), I had the appetite of a basketball team of teenage boys. It wasn’t like “yay, I splurged and ate pizza” it was like “if I don’t eat pizza right now I am literally going to faint”. After I replaced the calories I figured out I needed salt like woah and a cup of chicken broth finally perked me up.