It’s funny to travel about three times as many hours as you plan to race the next day, but that’s what we did for the Texasman Sprint. No regrets.
We really enjoyed doing the X-50 four years ago and when I looked at the results last year, I had a good chance of placing in my age group, so we decided to make the trek.
The day before, we traveled 4 hours to Dallas to get our packet and then another hour+ to the campground, but thankfully, it was fairly uneventful. I ate typical pre-race food except for fried chips with my usual turkey sandwich at lunch because they were the option that was there. We both enjoyed what we had but on the way out, we wished we would have just stopped at any one of the 100 Subways we passed on the road instead.
Since we were camping less than a mile away from the race start (another reason we wanted to do this one), after we got the popup set up, we took a quick cruise around and down to the lake on our TT bikes and a very short warmup swim. I was debating on a wetsuit because I am a cold water wuss. While the lake was… refreshing at first, it was fine when I got going and it wasn’t worth the hassle, even with wetsuit strippers. We both slept really well pre-race, and since we were so close to the start, we were able to wake up MUCH later than normal (5am for a 7am start, OMG).
I had the normal breakfast (two caff jelly beans, earl grey tea, sunbutter honey wheat english muffin) and did all the normal pre-race things like setting up transition and using the porta potty and squinting into the sun on the sandy beach cheering Zliten off since he was the first wave and then all of a sudden six minutes later it was my turn!
My first open water swim in at least six months was Monday last week, with that short follow up the day before the race, so I had very little in terms of expectations for this. It was the first mass start I’ve had in a while (beach start, all the women started at the same time). I was not super excited about that for the swimming reasons, but I was because I would have a decent idea where my standing was in the race. When the air horn went off, I ran in until my body fit into the water and then started paddling towards the first buoy directly into the sun.
I noted early on that there was a heck of a lot of combat for it being a little local sprint in the middle of nowhere – but then I realized I was going way off course and these ladies were actually doing me a favor trying to shove me closer to the buoy line. Oops. I could have been a little more efficient on the first third of the race, but once I could see again, my stroke relaxed, I focused on form, and I felt really strong swimming it in. I also felt a little nauseous but sometimes that’s how these things go.
I paddled until I could barely fit my body between the bottom of the lake and the water and then stood up and ran through the arch to transition.
Swim time: 10:12 for 500m (2:02/100m). 4/12 AG. During the race, I was grumpy about the swim but after reflection, I’m happy with this. My times should improve organically as I stop ignoring swimming as one of the sports that triathlon includes, as well as wasted time with sighting issues.
In my last race report here, I chided myself for taking a long time in T1, and I remember it being a decent hike, so I did my best to be expedient. I did, however, stash some sandals because the parking lot was so chip seal-y it hurt just to walk on, let alone run. A lot of people did the same and it was super worth it. I had zero hiccups and was on my bike and riding quickly!
T1 time: 3:20. 2/12 AG. I’ve been working on shaving these down and I’m just fine with this.
I came out of the water 10th overall (I had no way of knowing this) but I had convinced myself I was way far back overall and I needed to bike all these mother effers down. So that’s what I set out to do. One note, they were not putting ages on your calves at this race, and at first I was like, “how do I know who do I need to pass” and then I answered myself with “well, I guess… everyone”. So, the goal was to pass everyone.
It was incredibly chip-seal-y, but I kept myself busy looking for the small patches of smooth road and aiming my tires there. They asked us to stay on the shoulder as much as possible since the roads weren’t closed, but there were miles that between getting by people and the condition of the shoulder, I just rode in the road.
The course was just 8 miles out, 8 miles back. Right around mile 5.5 I saw the first place guy, and I occupied myself with counting so I could tell Zliten what place he was in if it was good. Then, I realized I’d get to see what place I was in as well. I counted 16 men before I saw him, and only one girl (she was flying). Then, just as I approached the turn around I saw about four more right ahead of me. My goal, then, was to catch them all before transition.
They didn’t make it easy. I kept passing guys but it took me almost six miles to reel those ladies in. When I did, I tried to make sure I had the energy to decidedly passed and keep the heat on. Then, as we approached transition, one girl pulled up right in front of me and turned around and apologized for passing this late in the race. I told her I thought we were second and third or third and fourth and she was excited. We dismounted at the same time and I think I crossed the line before her, if not, it was super close (either way, I had a faster bike time so *shrug*).
Bike time: 51:00. 18.9 mph. 1/12 AG (actually, 3rd best overall for women, I think only the overall winner and the masters winner beat me). Super happy with this one since it was WAYYY hillier and just as chip seal-y, if not more. 168W average/186 normalized is the best I’ve done in a race so far. I <3 bikes and they seem to love me back lately.
As we crossed the timing mat, I heard the volunteer watching bike in say, “3rd woman in, 4th woman in, 5th woman in…” That was pretty neat to be at the front of that. I wanted to try and keep my lead on the pack as long as I could so I very quickly and efficiently transitioned and actually beat everyone else out.
T2 time: 1:07. 2/12 AG
As cool as it was to be rolling in 3rd place overall, it lasted less than two minutes. My legs did not want to run quickly right away, especially going uphill, and two ladies blew past me running faster than my legs could fathom. Ok, I was in 5th. Less than a mile in, another girl passed me, but she wasn’t going THAT much faster, so I kept a target on her back and kept trying to reel her in. When we were on flats or downhills I made progress, but on uphills she just kept getting further away (this would be the subtitle of my memoir if it was about running).
I saw my husband a few minutes before I hit the turnaround and waved, and after I started the run back to the finish, I noted that I had someone about a minute behind me but she was running about my pace so I just pressed on. I spent all my attention on reeling in the girl in front of me, and by the time I could hear the finish, she got closer but she was really giving me a run for my money.
Then, with a quarter mile to go, this crazy fast girl with legs full of fire just BLOWS past me. Like, there’s just nothing in my legs that could even come close to answering what just happened there (looking later, her run was a smoking 21-minutes for a 5k). I think I lost it mentally there a little bit, I mean, I was still racing my ass off to the finish, but girlfriend ahead of me I had been following all race pulled away and then I saw Zliten cheering me in and in a super #pathetic moment I actually went toward him which was the wrong way at the finish line around the chute (durrr), and then made my way back and I was through and done.
Run time: 28:12. 9:06/mile pace. 6/12 AG. So much conflict. I’m disappointed I couldn’t pull out the pace and the feeling I had in my run earlier in the week. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t open up my stride as much (.96 vs 1.02, which means nothing to anyone except me). I’m disappointed that I couldn’t reel anyone in and also that I just got literally CONFUSED when asked to surge at the end.
However, this is my fastest sprint pace yet (for a 5k-ish run). This was not flat and I ran this faster than the flat race a month ago. 3rd-5th on the run in my age group were less than 20 seconds/mile faster than me, when normally, that gap is huge. I’m happy that I was at least attempting to run strategically in terms of competition in the race, which seems to keep me from the Bad PlaceTM in my head.
We stood around for about an hour waiting on results. I knew I was 7th overall, but since there were no ages marked on our legs, I had no idea who was in my age group or not. I figured I had a good chance at a podium but I was still kind of bopping around nervously eating watermelon and chewing my fingernails.
Total time: 1:33:28. 3/12 AG. 7th overall (out of 43. teeeny race was teeeeny).
First place was the girl who blew by me with a quarter mile to go (finished 49 seconds ahead of me) and the one I couldn’t catch (36 seconds ahead of me). We were the 35-39 podium. I’m certainly satisfied with that.
While the run is still my sticking point, it’s getting better. I am excited to keep working on running the crazy paces and obsessing over my cadence and stride length and my arm swing and all the strength and flexibility work that makes that possible. However, this weekend, I race again, and my ankle has been randomly annoyingly cranky, so for the next few days, it’s all about keeping the body loose with some activity and all the rolling and stretching and seeing what I can do on Sunday.
This one coming up is a much bigger race, and thus, I’m less likely to podium. However, I’ve been through the calculations vs last year’s time and on a great day I could maybe knock someone else off that third step. I need to have a decent swim, efficient transitions, bike like I stole it, and find those run legs I know are there. So, that’s what I’ll aim to do!