This, friendos, is the one I’ve been putting off.
Honestly, this last year and a half of racing has been beyond my wildest expectations, and that brings levity fairly quickly to a few stinkers. Doesn’t mean that they’re fun in the moment and I will admit to a fair amount of pouting that day, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a blip in the radar, and actually one that probably did me more good than harm overall as I know I can’t take the fire in my belly for granted. And also, don’t be stupid. That’s always a good lesson.
But I digress.
My life had/has been utterly non-stop the last few weeks before this one, and the week previous brought it to a crescendo. Work was extra extra, we had social or adulting obligations every day which meant finding time for training or relaxation or even opportunities for seeing my own house were few and far between, and that crashed us into 6pm the day before the race. Honestly, I was mostly ready for it to be over.
I did my best to clear my mind and go through the normal routine with my normal breakfast, playing my normal playlist, and it centered me. I felt ready to give this sprint triathlon thing one more valiant effort before a wee break.
This race has a wave start, which is annoying because of swim combat, but also nice because you know exactly where you stand in the race – if someone in your age group passes you, you know they have overtaken your position instead of questioning when they started exactly in a time trial start.
I started as close to the front as I could, and I found some feet, swam along feeling rather ready and caffeinated to seize the day… and then my stupid #%^&ing goggles flooded. Again. I had to pull up to tread water to fix them, leaving the pack behind, and a few seconds later, they flooded once more. I took more time clearing them and pulling them taut to suction to my head so hard I thought my brain might come out, but the seal held. I continued my paddling, a little cranky, but figuring if this was the worst of it, I could still rock this race.
Then, after the turn, my thoughts straying and my goggles a little foggy affected my sighting so much that I ended up in the middle of the lake. A jetski had to buzz me and send me back around a buoy that was quite far away. I wasted a heck of a lot of time and swam 650 yards to my husband’s ~550 and Matt’s ~517.
Swim time: 12:42 (2:32/100m) 6/9 AG This is almost 2 minutes slower than last year. My actual pace shows as 1:55. This was a really really really really bad swim for me. My normal pace would have seen me 2nd for my age group.
I was motivated to get on with the race quickly and this transition is decent – worse than last year but they didn’t put the carpet in the right place so we had to navigate the rocky hill instead of the clear stairs. My teammate Kari caught me running out (so she swam something like 3 minutes quicker as she started the wave after me) and we headed out on the bike together (legally).
T1 time: 2:28 5/9 AG – this doesn’t look good but 8 seconds earlier would have put me in third. Everyone was pretty similar.
My goal was to keep up with Kari. Normally, she’s much faster than me, but she did say she had celebrated her birthday the day before with lots of adult beverages, so I thought MAYBE that would handicap her enough that I could (legally) ride her wheel. Not so much. I kept her in my sights about half the race but could never catch her. She finished three minutes faster than me and first in her age group.
I rode hard and fast and just tried to keep my pace under redlining, and I did well, passing people and staying in aero and being a good cyclist. I even ate my gel when I was supposed to, which is something I don’t always do. However, it felt like there was something missing, a bit of the fire, but I was hoping it was just the wind beating down on us and I’d find something extra on the run.
Bike time: 42:18 (19.5 mph) 2/9 AG. First was in a class of her own, almost 5 minutes ahead of me. I never had a chance. So much slower than last year (almost 2.5 minutes) but HOLY HELL THE WIND. It was brutal. Considering my cycling performances in other races have been similar to last year, it was external conditions versus internal failings.
Nothing to note, fairly fast and efficient, I was hoping the wind on the bike would continue on the run, thinking that it would keep it cool.
T2 time: 1:16 4/9 AG (but by seconds).
Be careful what you wish for – I can’t remember a triathlon where wind on the run was not helpful, but it was one of those days.
The first half mile was running into a wind tunnel. I was running between 10-10:30 min/mile and it felt like a sprint. Soon after, two women in my age group caught and passed me, and I couldn’t summon the oomph to respond. I tried. I convinced myself that I was probably not first off the bike (which I was not, I was second), and I had to catch either one or both to podium. The first was just too far beyond my running capabilities. The second was within reason, in fact, she kept walking water stops and I almost caught her a few times, but her average pace just surpassed what I had in me, mentally and physically, and she found the finish line over a minute before I did.
Run time: 27:45 (9:15/minute miles). 5/9 AG. Technically, this is a 5 second PR for me, as last year I ran my best of 27:50. I can be proud of that. My splits are hilarious at 9:50, 8:59, 8:57, so you know I was *trying*, but I couldn’t keep my heart rate up like normal and again, there was just something missing.
Total time: 1:26:31. 4/9 AG. 12th female overall. If my swim had been my normal pace, I would have never seen the third place woman before the finish line and possibly even second as she finished less than 2 minutes ahead of me and I would have had a nice and shiny plaque telling me what a good athlete I am. Instead, I ended up the first position off the podium. Any other age group, I would have placed either first, second, and in only one case, third. 40-44 is soooo stacked.
But, I’m over it now. Failure happens. It doesn’t define me as an athlete or a human. And honestly, with the training I’ve put in this year, I don’t really deserve the results I’ve obtained. This was a good and proper reminder that I need to swim open water (or, swim at all) between races, I need to throw out my damn goggles, and actually train a little (or a lot) less sporadically if I want to get successful results. And, as always, continue to work on the dialogue in my head staying positive even when things go south.
I’ve taken a week, and I’ll probably take another two more to gather as much mental and physical energy and recovery as I can before I head into training for Kerrville Half (ironman) in September as a stepping stone to Ironman Texas in April. Not just yet, but soon, it’s time to start training like an athlete instead of showing up to races as one every now and again.