So, last we spoke, I was doing some major mental gymnastics about a B+ race.
Picture fail. My name is actually right under my butt.
I think it actually became kind of important to me for a few reasons.
- This is the first race since Ironman where I felt like I showed up fit to compete. Against my age group, against my previous self, though not really against my husband who is getting super fast (which I love and hate at the same time, mostly love, but yeah…)
- B. It’s the last tri of the season.
- C. After reading the sports psychology book, I realized that I had a lot of work to do, and less of it involved swimming, biking, or running than I imagined.
So, it’s not that THIS race actually mattered that much, but it was a great opportunity to throw some new strategies against the wall to see what sticks. So, I did these things, some of which are new, and some of which I used to do and they fell off somewhere around Tri #30.
- Going to bed, I visualized the race going really well. I actually fell asleep before the end of the run so I have no idea how that one ended up.
- I did the same thing as I was waking up. I honestly think it helped me focus my energy somewhere positive instead of being grumpy about how early it was.
- When I went to go potty and put in my contacts, I put on my headphones and listened to a few pump up songs good and loud. My husband needs light to wake up on race mornings. I need sound. Loud sound. This was step #2 about not being apathetic and I felt it actually start to work.
- I actually followed my race breakfast plan. I consumed a whole sunbutter jelly on wheat and a cup of earl grey, hot. At the race I was full but not sick, caffeinated to the level of excitement and enthusiasm, but not jittery.
- We took 10 minutes and went through our normal stretching routine. That helped my body not be so stiff (these things involve standing around for hours before its go time and my body hates standing) and helped having something to DO for a bit instead of spacing out and wandering around.
- When I sent my husband off, I spent a few moments away from everything, focusing on the race and what I was asking my body to do and just preparing to fight. Then, I got in line, put my earplugs in, put my game face on, and didn’t talk to anyone.
The end result? I started this race more focused, energized, and enthusiastic than I have in quite a while. Every time I felt doubts creeping in (no effing way you’re going to hit 20 mph on the bike, you’re going to die on the run like you always do, yay, they delayed the start, I don’t have to be ready yet), I countered them with positive thoughts from my alter ego like – “you’re going to ride your ass off and try, you have been running really great off the bike the last month so probably not, eff that, let’s GET THIS THING GOING Y’ALL” with positive thoughts from my alter ego.
Enthusiastic or caffeinated? You decide…
I thought fake-it-til-you-make-it was a little hokey, but damn, that changed my attitude.
I found myself getting pushed to the back of my swim wave in the line as people continue to jump in, and instead of being grumpy about it, I just walked up closer to the front (earplugs in, gameface on, saying nothing). With this confidence, I walked over the line and started my race.
This swim is hard to really quantify how I did in terms of pace. First of all, you WALK to the ramp and venture carefully down this steep incline which you are under no circumstances allowed to run. This probably takes about 30 seconds if you’re as paranoid about tripping as I am.
Then, you swim. I think the current was in our favor and I think I did fairly well in terms of my goals. Swimming is the thing I’ve practiced least of all the sports, and open water swimming the least (once since my last race), so I decided that I would try to swim steady and strong but not gas myself. I did just that. Oddly enough, when I seed myself properly, I have a great swim, I never got swam over or passed, and I also had my own little bubble most of the time and never got into combat.
The only thing was there was definitely congestion at the swim exits and only two people at a time could get up the steep ramps with volunteer help, so I probably had to wait another 20 seconds here.
Swim official time: 11:19 – 2:16/100m – 6/29 AG
Interesting notables from garmin: 1:49/100 yd moving speed (which is exactly 2:00/100m). 159 average HR and normally my max in the pool is around 140 so I was pushing pretty hard. Considering my pool swims these days are only about 5-10 seconds faster per 100 I’ll call this a win.
I knew I had paced the swim alright because I was able to jog up the steep hill. Stepping gingerly on the rocky ground and hoping to avoid the stickers, I hustled to my spot as much as I could. Looks like it took me about 1:20 to get to my spot, 1:00 to do stuff at my spot in transition (my feet were super muddy so I had to take a little extra time to wipe them off or the run would have been terrible), and about 30 seconds to carry my bike out to the mount line.
T1 official time: 2:55. 4/29 AG.
Best I’ve done here so I’m stoked. I honestly think the 3 other girls who got through T1 quicker (2:10-18) were just faster runners than I am.
Death star and I are starting to make a pretty great team.
Here’s where I wanted to start spicing up the enchilada. I have been biking my ass off. I have been putting in the miles. I have been chasing faster people. Since forever, one of my long term goals was to hit over 20 mph officially on a bike split. I know this course really well (at least, I thought I did), and I figured if I’m going to do it anywhere this year it’s here.
Then the wind hit me. I started freaking out a little because keeping that 19-21mph pace downhill was actually a lot of work. Then I realized it was all a blessing in disguise. If it was that hard to ride down the hill at that speed, riding UP the hill was going to be amazing. I kept my effort on, and pretty much rode on the left side the entire time and I realized that I had become the person I used to grumble at that passed me and left me in the dust on tris. At least I try to say “on your left” most of the time. The caffeinated gel pre-opened in my bento box was amazing. I may have skipped it entirely if I didn’t remember it was open and would be wasted, but when I did at about mile 3 it went down in 2 seconds, so obviously it was a good decision.
Then, my husband comes whizzing by me and yells, “the bike is two loops!”. I tried to kick into another gear and go with him but by the time my brain found that thought, he was very far ahead. I had yet to see the second half of the course and I didn’t want to gas myself early. I figured I’d hammer the second lap depending on how the second half of the first loop felt.
I continued to pass pass pass and got surprised by a diversion to a side street and had to sit up and slow down a sec to not wreck on the turn. Then, we hit the turn around and I started going up… faster than I was going down. My average speed had dropped to about 19.5 mph at the bottom of the hill and climbed back up to 20.0 by the time I hit the top. Let’s be fair, the total elevation gain in 14 miles was less than 300 feet, so finger quote “hills” is more appropriate, but it still went up vs going down.
The second loop I maintained what I had built but I had a little less oomph up the hill and only got to 19.8 when I pulled into transition. Either way, I was super excited about it because it was my fastest bike split yet and I maintained it at a reasonable heart rate (165), though my power was kind of pathetic (150W, 162W normalized).
Official Bike Results: 43:08 for 15 miles, or 20.9 mph. 3/29 AG.
So, of course my Garmin (19.8) and the official race results (20.9) don’t match up. I’m going to credit it to three things. First, I probably took a few seconds to turn it off in transition. Second, I think my garmin sandbags me because my pace is almost alllllways slower than race results. Third, I think we actually biked less miles than planned. Either way, the exact wording of my goal was to have 20+ mph official result on the bike split and it happened (and I’m taking it).
I was a little shelled from the bike coming in, but I kept repeating THIS TRANSITION IS LAVA. LAVA. LAVA. I feel like I did OKAY here until I looked at my age group placement.
Official T2 time: 1:43. 10/29 AG.
I was 30 seconds slower than the leader. While this in and of itself didn’t make a difference in my placement overall, I could have hustled more.
I started here and I had decent legs but not great ones. Sub-10 minute miles were happening with some prodding. My lungs felt like they could handle a little more, but my legs just felt so heavy, especially when we were going up (the absolute smallest) hills. I gave myself the first mile to get with it and tried to turn it on for mile two… nope. I had this 9:40-ish average pace and that was it.
I tried all my tricks. Driving with the hips… which actually worked since my stride length of .96 of a meter is pretty good (for me). Quick feet… nope. My cadence was solidly 85 instead of the 90 when I’m really loose and rocking it. I tried fishing but my mind honestly was too scattered to focus on anything external, it was taking an internal focus to keep my parts moving correctly.
Then, this moment happened. Right at mile two a girl went by me with 39 on her calf. Shortly after that, another with 35 went by as well. “Well, this is it. If you were in 1st off the bike (not likely, but let’s assume), the best you’re at right now is third. Let’s catch them.” I tried, folks. Mile three’s split was about 7 seconds faster than mile two, but looking at both of those girls’ run splits, they were running 7- and 8- minute miles average.
I gave it all I had to cross the line as quickly as possible, but the best I had was roughly the pace I started with.
Official run results: 29:33 for 3.2 miles (9:28/mile). 12/29 AG
First of all, ouch on the AG placement, but I officially (and actually) did what I set out to do. I ran sub 10-minute miles. It’s actually one of my best run paces in a tri yet (I did slightly better at Pflugerville in 2014 and Rookie in 2015 but it’s been a WHILE). However, my heart rate average was 170. I can raise that 3-5 bpm and not blow up usually. I’m not sure what happened there.
Happy finisher. Also, I’m glad my husband and I are about the same size because I grabbed his tri top and that’s what I raced in…
Official results: 1:28:39 for 5/29 AG.
I missed 4th by about 45 seconds and 3rd by less than two minutes. I was in 3rd place off the bike until the last freaking mile. I recognized the moment where I needed to go and tried. I was at least conscious enough to do that. I maintained a pretty positive attitude throughout, and I didn’t quit.
So, here’s what I need to do for next year:
- Put my eggs in the bike basket (hehe) next year and go all in. Aim to come off the bike in 1st place in these events (I’m typically coming in 3-5th, and this time I was only down 90 seconds on the leader’s bike time) and hang on during the run.
- Or, the obvious, get faster on the run. I’ve made amazing strides (ha!) in the last few months taking my fast runs down from 11-something minute miles to 9-something, but I need to be able to run a 5k off the bike with an 8 in front of the pace to compete for podiums. I need to have a mile time back in the 7s. I need to shed at least 1-minute per mile over what I’m doing now. I can out-bike a lot of women but I need to have a run that can at least hold position if not gain.
More reasonably, I need to work on both. Also, do regular training that’s specific to my event instead of kind of whatever I feel like doing at the moment. Also, maybe run more than 3-5 miles a week max. Also, possibly ride the TT bike more than a handful of times all season not in races. Oh, and swim more than an average of once a week for 20 minutes.
But, none of this was the focus this summer. It was to recover after the Ironman and not get burnt out and still love what I do. Any race goals were secondary to that. I am more than happy with how everything went this tri season even if I was grumbly in the messy middle where my fitness was missing. I’m stoked to have such a great bike split and more confidence on the TT. I’m glad I did reasonably well on the other events and put up a time that’s hard to compare with anything else but was 11 minutes faster than 2011 on the same course, so at least I have improved a little in the last 6 years!
I have all the thoughts and goals for the next two seasons, but for right now, it’s time for one more month of biking all the miles as slow or fast as I feel like in preparation for Livestrong 100!