I’ve had almost two weeks to reflect (and also not do a whole lot of serious training), I wanted to document what has absolutely been my most successful season ever.
First of all, let’s talk about the races. Honestly, all five triathlons so far this year would rank up in my great races of all time, but as long as we know we’re comparing unicorns with rainbows, here’s the order in which I feel I performed:
#1 – Pflugerville (3rd AG). This was my best bike result by far. For all 5 legs (swim bike run and transitions), I got a PR. Best of all, getting 3rd in my age group with my BSS team there supporting me was the thing that was kind of missing at the “away games”. Also, I do this race every year, so it’s a great measuring stick against where I’m at with my training. Considering it was a huge PR, it’s proof I really actually have improved a lot.
#2 – Texasman (3rd AG/7th OA F). The mass female start made me feel like I was actually able to RACE for the overall placement against people vs just kicking my own ass as hard as I could and hoping for the best. I knew where I was in the race at all times after the bike turnaround and that was fun and motivating. I think it was my most aggressive and gutsy bike, my best run, and it was super cool to hear them calling out 3rd female in as I got to T2.
#3 – No Label (1st AG). This was the huge confidence booster (and the first National qualifier). I had no idea how I was going to do, coming off some serious lifting and annoying injuries and some frankly disappointing races in winter. I enjoyed the hell out of the super flat bike course even if it was a little chip seal-y at times, and I still maintain that I only won my age group because it was a point to point run to a brewery.
#4 – Windcrest (1st AG/3rd OA F). While it’s hard to rank a race that I won my age group and placed 3rd overall female so low, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t my best performance physically or mentally. I was just getting over being sick, the bike course didn’t play to my strengths and that frustrated me, and I let a minor gear issue (my race belt missing) mess with my head on the run for longer than it should have and I didn’t run to my potential because of it.
#5 – Rookie (4th AG). Any other season, this would have been the highlight of it. A 3 minute PR in an 66 minute race is nothing to sneeze at. It was the first measure of my bike prowess on a course I’d done before and I blew away my expectations. However, I died a little on the run when the course changed and they threw an unexpected hill at us, and watching someone just FLY past me half a mile from the finish (to ultimately take 3rd place) was humbling. While 4th was an amazing result compared to how I’ve ever done here before, it was the only race this spring where I missed the podium in my age group.
I’ve learned a lot this season (even if some of this was re-learning, ahem).
Weight training and recovery are probably the most important factors for me succeeding at sprint triathlons right now. Because I have so much previous base, there’s no reason I need to go out and swim, ride, and run a lot. To build the power needed at the short distances I need to be strong, and I need to be fresh. When I get to the point where my legs don’t feel like the limiting factor in my run, this could change, but I have miles to go before that happens.
I’ve nailed my day before, pre-race, and race nutrition. For reference:
- Day before:
- Normal breakfast (yogurt and berries, protein bar or shake, bean and cheese breakfast tacos, etc).
- Turkey sandwich on wheat for lunch.
- Chicken, potato, and salad for dinner.
- Snacks as hungry, like jerky, nuts, fruit.
- Day of:
- Earl grey tea, two caffeinated jelly beans, and a whole wheat english muffin with sun butter and honey about 2-3 hours before start.
- The entirety of my sprint nutrition plan is: a salted watermelon caffeinated gel as early as possible on the bike, and whatever diluted gatorade I can (usually between 4-10 sips) and whatever water I can throw at my face during the run. Besides that gel, I really don’t need much for 60-90 minutes.
- Eat something with some protein (real food) as soon as possible after the race or I’ll be a hunger monster all day. Pizza is actually a great immediate post race food.
- Have easy to make healthy nutritious food on hand and try to not go over the calories burnt. Maintaining a deficit on race day is just about impossible, so let that go. For Pflugerville, I had a chef salad and veggies and dip ready to go in the fridge to eat right away. That was probably the best I’ve felt post race in a while.
I have yet to have a bad race while camping. Just sayin’. It just feels right sleeping in the pop up and spending time outside in the quiet, something about it helps me FOCUS and then UNWIND better vs having all the distractions of home around. I thought I was done with it for the year and I’m excited to have added one more race so I get to do it again!
When I *do* swim, bike, and run, the intensity needs to be there regularly. We are what we repeatedly do, and by taking the pressure off with less volume (averaging about 5 hours a week since March), I get the opportunity to do things at race pace more often. I think this is most important with running, because I rarely tend to pull out anything in a race I can’t do, or actually do even a little better in practice. If all I’m doing is running slow, that’s probably how my race is going to go.
I’ve also come up with a great pre-race preparation schedule which involves:
- Laying out my gear and practicing transitions three times before packing it up to go has helped me to be more confident and quicker in transitions (and I never forget anything important!).
- Going over my day at least once before I go to bed. I start when I wake up and walk myself through a successful day. I mean, even the mundane stuff – wake up, make tea, eat english muffin, use bathroom, put on kit… it helps me cruise through my morning with less stress since I’ve practiced!
- Making some solo time race morning to go internal and psych myself up before the start. I didn’t really need the whole “race day persona” thing I was trying out last year, I just needed some time to focus and get my game face on for the day.
And finally, while ~15 lbs doesn’t sound like much, I feel like it’s made a world of difference on the bike and starting to do good things on the run. I think I’m nearing the end of what I will call my “cutting” phase, and the weight loss is slowing, but it’s been really nice to carry one less pink kettlebell around on my body.
I have a lot of thoughts about the second half of the year, but that’s a heck of a lot more words for another post!