This race felt very different.
See the tent? Home turf.
First of all, the positives: not having to drive many hours to get there, not having to spend the week before packing and getting ready, racing with the team (support, camaraderie, team tent to drop our stuff at), and things feeling a little more low stress.
However, that also came with a less restful night of sleep – trying to lay down at 8pm without that nice loud camper fan to block out all the noise and make the bedroom area 65 degrees was NOT really successful. Then there was the urge to do more productive things since I had more free time, which I fought and won, but it was hard. And, the fact that I need some introvert time before the race and that’s more difficult when you have like a million friends racing. Poor me, I know. But there are things to consider.
The day before was fairly typical. I had Panera for lunch, and homemade grilled chicken, baked potato, and veggies for dinner. We took all that time we weren’t driving and popping up the camper and went to see Avengers, Infinity War. Woah. That escalated quickly. The only thing I was a little iffy on my decision making skills was that I participated in a 45 minute spin + weights class (meant to just do a spin class), but I totally sandbagged it, so I don’t think I was any worse for wear. I got a lake swim in, though it was kind of terrible due to a wardrobe malfunction (let’s just say my Coeur top’s built in bra is no longer useful), but it felt nice to be in the water.
It wasn’t the best night of sleep ever, but it certainly wasn’t the worst, and I was up with only a little prodding from my alarm at 5am and did all the normal things – earl grey, english muffin with sun butter and honey, and two caff jelly beans.
And, we played the hell out of this on the 15 minute drive to Decker Lake. Apparently, this is Race Day 2018 song.
The morning was also very typical except the race started at 8am instead of 7 like the last two, but we arrived just as early. I definitely noticed my muscles getting tense with all the standing around waiting. There may be something to the strategy of skating into transition at the last minute, though I’m pretty sure doing that intentionally would cause other types of stress. I WAS able to steal away for about 10 minutes before the start and close my eyes and get myself all pumped up and ready to go. I’ll need to make sure and do that every time – this really helps my mental game vs being all social butterfly and then stumbling into the race before my thoughts are collected.
And I needed time to make really ridiculous faces. (thx Jim Hungerford for the pic!)
They sent us off two by two every two seconds, and even with that many people, it actually did seem to work to alleveate the congestion. I was pleased that the entry was pebble-y this year and not rocky like I remembered it in 2015 (or maybe my feet have just HTFU’d a little?) so I ran in until I felt the water hit just below my knees and dove in and kind of sprinted a little since I had some space.
I didn’t do a great job holding good form or position (though I did think it a few times and self corrected until I got hit by the next breaststroking person). I did also get my goggles knocked halfway through, and my right eye was half full of water. But when you have less than 150 meters left, you just deal with it and keep that eye closed mostly and keep pushing to the finish. The home stretch was nice, I was just finding my stroke and then I was up and on the carpet and vertical. This is how all these short swims go.
Swim time: 6:21 (2:07/100m) – 4/15 AG. While on paper this time looks sucky for me, it’s a beach start with a run in and then a run out. It’s my best here by 50 seconds, and for a 300m swim, that’s significant.
I stashed my sandals once again and took the extra 5 seconds to put them on. This transition area is notorious for those annoying little sticker burrs and it was well worth the time for insurance. I jogged up the hill and found my bike and had no issues with the gear change. I did play it cautious and carried my bike out of transition instead of rolling it, which actually lost me a little time.
T1 time: 3:06 – 5/15 AG. I’m not sure I’d do that carry-the-bike thing again, but other than that, I’m pretty happy with 3 minutes to run up that huge hill and through the large transition area.
Coming in hot! Literally. It was warm! (thx again Jim!)
This is where I’ve been crushing it lately in races and I went out to go blow by a bunch of people. But, because this is Austin, I actually had the experience of people whizzing past me as well. That was weird, lol. My teammate Kari came by me at a million miles an hour right about mile 2 on the bike (after starting at least a few minutes back) and I knew I was definitely in a different race.
It was 150 feet more gain over 5 less miles than last Sunday, and the hillier a course gets, the less I have the advantage. Even though I’m strong on the bike, I am fairly beefy which means more to drag up hills, which matters more the steeper they are. I held to my plan to just keep pushing and not let myself get stuck behind someone going slower than I was capable. There were a few times I tucked back in behind someone and caught my breath, but it was always to regroup and pass them after the next hill/turn/etc.
This course has two notable hills – Carnage and Quad Buster. Carnage was actually just about as bad as I remember, a downhill section to a sharp right turn that heads immediately into a steep hill. I remembered to downshift to easy gears and still had to jog it up out of the saddle for about 30 seconds. Quad Buster looms ominously around mile 10, you go up a hill before it and then as you descend it looks like it stretches straight up into the heavens. However, with the momentum I got (even with some jerkface passing me just to ride his brakes right in front of me ><), I found that hill reasonably… fine. I had to shift to easy gears and I was a little out of breath after but I did not feel worse for wear.
There’s one last eff you with a hill directly into transition (we don’t baby our Rookies in Austin), and then you’re back!
Bike Time: 36:34 – 18.4 mph – 5/15 AG. On one hand, my placement was a little disappointing, and my speed was a little lower than I hoped. However, 2nd-4th off the bike’s splits were 36:15 – 36:32, with the age group winner at 18.9. Also, I had a power best of 198W normalized. That doesn’t suck for me. Plus, my average heart rate was 164, which means I did a pretty good job at pushing the bike, but not to the point where I screw my run. So, overall, I’m ok with this.
One oops here: I ran down the wrong rack and had to duck under it with my bike. Thankfully, I have a tiny bike that fits under the rack so it only cost me a few seconds vs having to run entirely around. I was in and out rather quickly otherwise and on the run in no time.
T2 time: 1:20. 4/12 AG. Missed first by 9 seconds. At least I’ll console myself with the fact that there were so few bikes back on the racks it was hard to tell where I should have been? Also: duuuuurrrr.
I’m not much of a soft and uneven surfaces type runner (give me track over cross country ANY DAY), but generally I do well here. Then, we got flooding and they had to completely change the course. The front part of the park flooded. The back part has massive hills. So, when I saw us heading immediately back there, I groaned. Right. It’s going to be one of THESE runs.
I had followed a girl with a 36 on her leg out of transition (in my age group), and I huffed and puffed over her shoulder, drafting for at least a quarter mile (sorry). I couldn’t quite pass until I summoned some extra oomph and I went by her expecting her to respond… nope. I passed someone! And it stuck! It was exciting!
At that point, I was running to not get caught and I kept the heat on. I thought to myself at one point, “Wow, self, this feels absolutely bloody terrible” and then followed up with, “Good! A two mile all out run should feel just this terrible.” I tried to console myself that I was less than fifteen minutes from sweet, sweet relief. I saw some of my teammates coming the other way that I expected to be finished already and figured I was doing really really well.
And then I got to THE HILL. I’m sure it isn’t as bad as I remember, but at mile 1.25 of a 2 mile all out run, it looked like a black diamond ski run. I felt my quads burning on the way down because it was steep and rocky and then we turned around and went up. I tried to run the whole thing but I actually walked for about 30 seconds at the steepest part. Then a girl with a 35 on her leg just BLASTED past me like a freaking mountain goat. I didn’t have any sort of response to that, but I at least started making with the running motions again.
I always look forward to running the last bit on the road and noticed that sadly they had used that space for parking this year, so the entire thing was uneven grass. That 8:30/mile pace I really wanted to hold was just untenable that day, but the effort was there as I busted my ass towards the finish line hoping I wouldn’t collapse first.
Run time: 18:37 – 9:19/mile. 6/15 AG. While it’s my lowest placement it’s not by much and my heart rate average at 175 shows me I was doing the absolute best I could (that is absolutely my redline).
Overall: 1:06:00. 4/15 AG. Girlfriend that busted by me on that hill (running 6:49/mile average) took third by 40 seconds. While I’m questioning whether I had an extra 40 seconds on the bike I could have found somewhere, because I know I didn’t have it on the run or swim, I really feel like I gave yesterday all I could and there were just three faster ladies than me out on the course. The Rookie Tri is always very competitive in the veteran category, and I’m stoked to have placed so high in my age group. You can’t always stand on the podium… is something that I’ve said no other year because it’s not something that happened to me often… so I’ll be happy that I had the chance the last two races and that I was so close this time!
All in all, I had a super fun day. I’m so excited that so many non-triathlete BSS people came out to cheer and/or heckle us! It was awesome to have teammates around and hang out and drink
beer recovery drinks and eat tacos and otherwise enjoy the morning in ways that we couldn’t in a town four hours away by ourselves.
And, of course, it was super great to take really awesome pictures such as THIS as a team:
Accepting captions for this one in the comments. (thx Jim!)
As much as I like racing, I’m super ready to spend a month regrouping with my training. It will be nice to not be a bag of inflammation every seven days (like I am today!), and then have one more back to back weekend of racing in June before the season shifts again to longer stuff.