If you’ll remember, I had a pretty frustrating race last year. Couple that (hehe) with the fact that while the knee is (slowly) getting back to normal, I’m still feeling the effects of the lack of fitness from missing training, and I’m only 14 days out from beating myself up hardcore for seven and a half hours at BSLT 70.3, and this is on my least favorite course pretty much in the world (Decker Lake and Walter E. Long Park… sorry, it’s not me, it’s you…), I didn’t expect much from this race.
This little airplane did have a few goals:
- Swim in the same zone where I felt at Pfluger. It’s my last sprint swim, let’s go hard!
- Bike fast, and with the confidence I felt at BSLT. Carnage is not a thing compared to that switchback at mile 35, but just to state the obvious, not getting off the bike and walking up that stupid hill.
- Run smart. Keep as fast a pace as possible while keeping my knee happy. Run up that dumb ass hill instead of getting all pissy and walking up it like last year.
- Keep my head in the game at all moments.
- Beat Zliten – if I can. We will be racing head to head this time…
- A Couples PR would be nice, but if I put together all the other goals and it doesn’t result in a PR, that’s ok too.
How did I do? Stay tuned….
We had a fun day of packet pickup, queso and veggie tacos at Magnolia Cafe (questioned whether that was good pre-race food – but since it’s just a sprint, we went with it because it sounded good), saw Pacific Rim (AWESOME!!!), more errands, grabbing a turkey sandwich for dinner, batch cooking for the week ahead, packing up tri stuff, laundry, random other shit, and it was 10pm when we went to bed. Badness. Plus, I had to make sure and rest every hour or so when my butt muscle started to get sore so my body certainly wasn’t rested. We definitely overdid it a bit. One great thing about out of town races… you can’t do errands all day. You are forced to just sit in the hotel room and have downtime. Next Austin race, we’ll strive to do a little less (how often do you get to say that?). 10pm bedtime wasn’t as tragic this time because transition didn’t open until 6am, but I would have liked to be in bed an hour earlier and lots more relax time that day.
Got up, had a great poop (yay poop)! Had a coconut chocolate cliff bar (yum), skipped my normal tea and just split Zliten’s energy drink with him, and got to the tri about 15-20 mins after 6. We got a pretty awesome spot on the “Married” rack (you rack by division, and the divisions are by who you’re partnered with), and did our normal walking around (bathroom, car again, finding our friend B, other dicking around) and got down to the race start in time for the pre-race meeting (which we ignored, sorry Couples, I’ve raced Decker like 5 times now, I’m cool), and chatted with B and caught up on the happs since Pluger.
We were able to get a pre-race swim, and I got in and, holy shit, it was total bathwater. I MUCH prefer bathwater to freezy water, but it definitely was a contrast to 2 weeks ago in that gorgeous spring-fed 74 degree lake. It was at least 84, the announcer pretty much said it was a million degrees and no wetsuits allowed period. I got my stroke dialed in on the way out, did some race pace on the way back, and on the way out, stepped sideways and tweaked my knee a little. SPOILER: this is the last time I’d think about my knee this race, so while that made me nervous, my body held it together. Fucking hooray!
Then, the race got going with the national anthem, cheering off the first wave, chatting more with B, eating chompies and beans (which I shared with Zliten since his gel fell out while swimming), and then we BOTH were on double deck, which is nice (usually, every triathlete and their mother gets to do that, and then, I get in line), because “married, combined age under 70” was wave 5. We lined up, I earplugged up, got in the water, hugged and kissed Zliten good luck (looooooove that part of this race!!!), got up in the middle near the buoys (figured, let’s go for it), and then the countdown started.
The airhorn blew, I dolphin dived (first time, it just felt right) and got to hurting. I swam over dude right in front of me, next person in front of him (apparently I should have started closer to the front), and kept that pace for a bit until it cleared and I was gasping. I did my best to settle into uncomfortably hard (like PF), and concentrate on long, lean strokes. The problem I had with amazing sighting skillz from BSLT “plagued” me here as well, but today it was a boon. Since I wasn’t swimming with M dot people, I’m much more competitive against the local tri folks in the lake. Before the first 1/3 was done, I swam over (sorry) caps from the previous wave (and apparently I swam over Zliten too, oops), and I had convince myself I was doing awesome.
I hit the turn buoy and all of a sudden, the concept of how to do a efficient and effective catch part of my stroke became completely transparent to me. *Angelic Choir*. I did not get swam over, nay, I passed about a billion people on the 2nd part. I saw lots of caps from the previous wave (4 mins), caps from the wave ahead of them (8 mins), and I caught my first pink cap (12 mins). I had to be on pace for a record setting swim (for me). I didn’t see ANY of my cap color around and I decided to believe it was because I was way ahead of most of them.
I turned around turn buoy #2 (for the last third of the course), feeling pretty strong, and felt that thing that triathletes never ever ever ever want to feel on the swim… someone knocking my timing chip loose in deep water. I grabbed my leg and tried to refasten it, and it just came off in my hands. Fuck. Well, at least I still had it. I wrapped it around my right hand as best I could and swam. Forever and ever from now on, I’ll use a safety pin to hold it on.
I won’t use it as an excuse, but I definitely felt the difference in my catch, which had just clicked a few minutes ago. I felt like a one and a half legged woman in an ass kicking contest. I did my best, still surrounded by caps of the waves ahead of me, only getting passed once, but I still left the water feeling stoked about the first 2/3rds and a little frustrated about the last 1/3.
Swim Time: gonna say 19:25 for 800m. Since I didn’t have my chip on my foot, it didn’t record a swim, but a REALLY LONG T1. I subtracted last years T1 from the total time of 23:23 (3:58) and got that. It was under 20 for sure, and that’s at least TWO MINUTES better than last year. I was hoping for closer to 16 when I entered the water, but that was unicorn and rainbow dreams on par with pool time pace. If I had to guess, I think this course was a bit long (both years).
Jogged my ass up the hill, did my normal stuff, got out, and noted I was definitely “the rabbit” and I was going to lead the chase. Zliten’s bike was there, and I didn’t see him the whole transition or hear his name, so I just got out on the bike as quickly as possible to prolong the time until I would see him again. Mounting went fine, and I was off.
T1 time: estimated 3:58. I don’t know, so I’m claiming last year’s time.
I’m sure the “shoes on your pedals” trick is good for some people, but some lady on an expensive bike pedaled past me, then she struggled to get her shoes on, and I passed her, and I don’t remember seeing her the rest of the time. Equipment and trickery only counts for so much. I chomped a chomp, and got in aero and got going.
This course can be described, in a nutshell, as RIDICI-hilly. There are very few flats – you’re either going up or down. It’s only 11.2 miles, but there’s nothing easy about it. After some mild uphills and downhills on the front of the course, you turn onto the side road (at the time – my average was about 16.5 mph). You get more of these, and I did my best to a) pass everyone I could and b) stay in aero, since my little crutch of riding the drops didn’t work as the tape was falling off and startled me every time I touched it (note to self: FIX DROP TAPE and don’t ignore it like you have been for months).
I worked on being prepared for Carnage (sharp right turn into a stupid steep hill) by dropping down to little left gear and accidentally went down to little right gear too. I started the hill with less momentum than intended, but after BSLT, I know what I had to do and just worked up it without the fear I’ve had each time in the past of falling over, and though it was crowded (out of my mouth came: : “on the…middle?” while passing two people) I made it and recovered and got up the next one n.b.d.
I leveled up a bit more in aero today. I spent a lot of time there as I have lately, but I also rode down quite a few hills in them. I maxed out at 32.3 mph, which is usually Freaky Friday speeds for me. Even with Carnage, about at the 2/3 point, I was at 17.5 mph. Super solid. I kept looking back after this, figuring it was any minute that Zliten was going to come up and fly by me, but it never happened.
However, the last few hills killed my pace. I made it up double hill feeling pretty strong, and quad buster, but I think I just lost it a little bit from the last hill to the dismount line. I just couldn’t get my legs going again and I think I mentally psyched myself out after being SO FUCKING DEAD on the run at the 70.3 two weeks ago, and I saved too much and spun too easy the last half mile. My speed at the dismount had amounted to just a 16.2 on the garmin, which, really, is not horrible, but I know I can do better. It was a few seconds better than last year, so I was happy.
Bike Time: 41:56 (16.0 mph) Better than last year by about 15 seconds. I think I held back a bit because I was so scared of being as drained as I was off the bike in BSLT, but I’m pretty ok with this overall. I don’t do well on this bike course, and this is the best I’ve done here, I keep taking seconds off every time I ride it, and considering I’ve ridden my bike twice (indoors) in the last two weeks, I’ll take it!
I felt a bit of ye olde transition gravity here, got my stuff on (this time was an added degree of difficult – it wasn’t just put on the shoes, but also put on the visor and the race belt since I was running with my handheld and 3 things is officially too much to deal with in my hands), and got out. I thought I might have seen Zliten on the bike coming in as I ran out, but still being the rabbit, I didn’t want to stay to find out.
T2 Time: 1:54. 10 seconds more than last year, but accounted for because of the handheld shenanigans.
I had felt pretty good on the warmup run (sans garmin, so no idea if my “I’m going fast, wheeee” was 11s or 9s), but when I got out, I was in the 9s and 10s and the legs and lungs were feeling ok. The head seemed to be into it too. Aight. We’re all here. Let’s party.
The problem with this course is that a) it’s just about all sticks and twigs. I have a recovering knee injury. Any jostling side to side last year would have been uncomfortable. This year, it could be potentially race ending and b) I’m pretty sure they figured out how to rack up about 3x more uphill than downhill on this course and gave it to us triathletes on a course as a present with a bow. Smiley face.
My run fitness is nowhere. I don’t have it. Tyler’s not here. Tyler gone. All I can do lately in races is run by feel, pay very little attention to pace so it doesn’t piss me off, and keep my heart rate up. I know that if my average HR is 178, I’m giving all I can, no matter what speed it is. I pushed up, and then down the sticks, onto the grass, up the hill, and then on the down, I saw my pursuer the first time this whole race. HE WAS SO CLOSE, like a tenth of a mile away. I dug in and pushed with every ounce of run-up-the-hill I had.
I got into the woods and just knew he was going to pass me with that stupid grin on his face (which I love, obviously, but this is a race…) and be going a speed I couldn’t match. I wanted to prolong that as long as I could with every fiber of my being. I wasn’t going fast (remember: fitness gone) but I wasn’t letting up. I hit mile 2 and I wasn’t caught yet (looked over my shoulder at least 10 times as people came up behind me), and got some good momentum on the downhill (though I did go slower than I might have before the knee thing) and then I hit the turn which started the part of my course that infected my nightmares.
I turned, threw my visor down low, and started chugging. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered. Then I looked up and it was the turn before the turn, and I was running away from the race course. Ha! Pushed my visor up a bit, turned the NEXT corner, and then it was go time.
This was my test. This is a huge, about half mile, extremely steep run hill. In most race situations, I’d justify walking this. However, how can you justify walking on a 5k (nevermind it was preceded by a 800m swim and 11.2 hilly ride)? I chugged. And chugged. And chugged. I had almost convinced myself that walking would be better until I noticed that I was passing all the walkers (some in my age group) and that it was PAIN LIKE THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS but somehow I was able to take it and keep going and didn’t die. And any minute, Zliten was going to pass me anyway because he’s better at hills, so I kept working at it like a bike hill. Walking equaled unclipping. No unclipping here.
Somehow I emerged at the top and hit pavement…. ahhhhh, delicious pavement. I went from the 13-14mphs I was doing up the hill to 9-10s as my feet FINALLY got some traction and I saw the finish line. Goddamn if I was going to let Zliten beat me here, so I ran, then sprinted (ok, so real standalone 5k pace, but OMG FELT LIKE SPRINT) through the finish line.
Run Time: 33:58 (10:57/mile). 30 seconds slower than last year but also WAYYYY more consistent splits (11:20, 11:09, 11:30) and also not nearly as slow, in comparison, as Pfluger this year (2 mins slower).
Total race time: 1:41:13. All my goals for this race are met. 1.5 minutes faster than last year, and my brain was in a much better place the whole time. The rabbit was never caught, as I cheered Zliten into the finish a minute and a half after I crossed. I’m back, baby! 🙂
Next week starts the volume ramp up for actually training for a 70.3, and I’m really looking forward to having 2 Olympics (my fave race length) in the next 2 months on the calendar, with many weekends in between for some toughness and badassery building training.