It’s always weird when the drive to the venue is longer than the race, and this one was no exception.
But it worked out in the end, so let me tell you my tale of the Windcrest Freshman Triathlon.
The day before started completely by rote (yogurt and berries for breakfast, sandwich and salad for lunch), and we even got out of work a little early to make packet pickup and drive the course to scope it out. Nice roads and nice little community to race in, and the turns didn’t seem AS BAD as I had feared.
We got to camp and got set up and then turned on the grill… nothing. I finished unpacking while Zliten dithered with it for about 30 minutes and finally we gave up after 8pm and headed out for a pre-race dinner. When your alarm is set for 4:45am, this is fairly tragic. We went to Applebees (somewhere reasonably safe) and ordered too much food because by that point, we were HANGRY. I ate a giant caesar salad, half an order of fries, and almost my entire dinner of grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.
Supposed to be my pre-race meal. 🙁 It was good post race though when we finally got the stove working!
I returned to the camper around 9:30, settled into bed around 10, wondering how badly I’d effed up my race with that super late, super giant meal.
The camper is magical, as I ended up getting some fairly decent sleep (if not quite enough of it at 6 hours), and my body didn’t protest TOO hard when the alarm went off. I did the normal things – earl grey tea, hot, a sunbutter honey wheat english muffin (I figured I wouldn’t want much of it but the whole thing disappeared in the blink of an eye), two caff beans, and the normal morning dithering. We left around 5:50 and got to the parking lot just after 6.
This race had us parking at a church a few blocks away and walking our bikes down an alley. It didn’t look far on the map but seemed never ending in practice. We got there at 6:20 and the announcer was saying transition was closing in 10 minutes (website said 6:45 so I was confused, I think he was just trying to get people dithering around in there OUT), so we picked a spot on the rack, quickly but deliberately set up our stuff, and hit the potty line. During the pre-race meeting, my tummy started to rumble again, and during the pre-race prayer, I HAD to run to the bathroom. No line at least! (No offense to God or whatever, I really really really had to go)
We lined up by approximate swim times but that’s always kind of a cluster$%^#. We ended up about 30th in line (out of 151), and my thought was “gee we’re up far” but my husband was “we should be up further”, so we stayed there. They let us go once every 10 seconds, and soon it was my turn and I waded into the pool and then they said START, so I did.
The thing I love about these pool swims is once you get in the water, your path is sort of set. You can pass people, sure (I did once), and you do if they are significantly slower, but it’s a pain so everyone is just sort of going the same speed. I don’t like to shell myself on the swim, I think of it as the warmup for when the race really starts, so I was happy to cruise near 2 min/100 pace.
Zliten was right behind me and tickled my toes a few times but I think I successfully let him draft the whole way (which was the plan, I wanted to give him every advantage this time to qualify for Nationals). I could have pushed it a little more the last lap but I was behind a dude going *slightly* slower so I just cruised it into the wall instead. Up the stairs (oh yeah, it was a super regulation pool – not really – one side was about 3 feet deep, that was fun), and onto the next.
Swim time: 4:36 2:17/100m. 2/9 AG, 10/69 gender. IIRC, this also included some of the run to transition because my garmin said it was significantly faster.
They were kind enough to carpet the entire path to transition. I suppose this is the one time they actually permit running at the pool! I had no issues quickly and efficiently transitioning, the only thing that took me an extra second was I was unracking my bike and then Zliten unracked his next to me, so out of habit and politeness, I let him go first. Not sure why. I’m not usually that nice.
T1 time: 58 seconds. 1/9 AG, 2/69 gender. Yeah!
This may be the nicest pictures that anyone’s ever taken of me on the bike. Expect to see this one as “bike stock footage” over and over. 🙂
I started out on the course and something just didn’t feel right. Not like WRONG but I didn’t feel snappy. Just one week ago, I was completely laid out with a cold, and while I felt better, this was my first hard effort since, and I think what I thought was feeling 100% was really closer to 90-95%. I felt like I was pushing hard, but the speed just didn’t match up. Looking back at my heart rate data, I rolled about 3 bpm higher than normal and I had a weird catch in my breath when I was really pushing it, so yeah, maybe I was just a few shades off complete recovery. Or, there’s a chance my brakes were slightly rubbing (I haven’t looked yet), or something was just a little bit randomly off with my bike. I’m banking on ME being the problem though.
Also, this course was not my strength. I am a wimp when it comes to cornering, I slow down a LOT at turns, and this course had 28 of them in 10 miles. I tried to push it a little bit more than normal, but a few of the right turns had me shrieking like a little girl due to debris in the road. Meh.
While I was not super thrilled with my speed, I only had two guys pass me (one of which I passed back). However, the guy I was concerned about – my husband- was way far ahead. He’s less of a weenie on the turns. Also, on the first lap, I got stuck behind a car and he was just ahead, and I had to chug up a (ok, THE ONE) hill while he kept his momentum. Overall, he just had a little more OOMPH than I did. I never was able to reel him in and he was out of sight by the end of the second lap.
Bike time: 32:32 – 18.4mph. 1/9 AG, 2/69 gender. While this PLACEMENT is typically not something to complain about, I’m not thrilled about the pace. Also, my garmin said the course was short, so my actual pace was closer to 18mph. There were only about 10 people that went over 20 mph, and the first girl only beat me by about 45 seconds, so it was probably just a hard course but still, I just don’t feel like I did my best here.
I rolled into transition on a mission to get through quickly. Racked my bike, shoe off, shoe on, shoe off, shoe on, race belt… race belt? Where’s my race belt? My area was kind of destroyed with everything askew, so I rooted around through my area and my husband’s area, and the girl next to me just in case, and I had NO race belt. At this point, all I could do was go without it, so I ran up to run out and yelled over at the race director “my belt is missing” to which he said, not quite understanding, “where’s your number?” which I answered, “on my race belt, which is missing”, and he waved me through anyway.
T2 time: 1:04. 7/9 AG, 32/69 gender. A lot more dithering than optimal. I bet I could have been in and out in 40 seconds. 24 extra seconds actually isn’t that much, but it felt like an eternity.
No race belt, and what the eff am I doing with my arms?
I think the kerfuffle in T2 affected me more mentally than anything. I ran out feeling annoyed, and defeated. In my head, I had lost so much time, I was angry at some external force effing up my race, and the legs that didn’t really want to bike as hard as normal were having trouble with the run too. I won’t say I gave up, because I was still pushing, but my brain went to some weird scattered places I don’t even remember.
I realize that on the bike, I play offense (chasing people down). On the run, I play defense (running to not get caught). Maybe it’s a mindset I should work on, but it really plays to my strengths (or weaknesses), and I spent the first half mile with a dude breathing over my shoulder. As I approached the golf course, I saw tiny girl that had one of the professional suits with her name on the butt making her way back. My first thought was “I’m not first female” (not that I expected to be) but then I thought “I bet she’s first, so I’m not that far behind”.
I tried to book the whole way up the golf course, but it was enough of a hill that dude passed me and got ahead. Once we turned to go back down, the downhill started and I felt oh so relived. I worked on fixing my stride and arm swing (which I should have done earlier but I got grumpy and distracted) and caught one guy who complimented my pace (gave him a thumbs up) and asked if I wanted to do two more loops (to which I grunted HELL NO), and circled back around to head down to the stick of the lollipop.
On the run back, people who were racing kept cheering for me. At the time, I was super impressed with how friendly everyone was, and while I didn’t really have any breath to talk, I waved or gave them the thumbs up and smiled before getting back to the pain pace. Upon reflection later, I realized that because I was the second girl in, they were cheering for me because I was one of the people leading the woman’s race. That was pretty cool.
Finally the turn came and there was the arch and I could stop running and while I wasn’t stoked about a lot of the race, I was super excited about THAT.
Run time: 20:34 – 9:47/mile. 3/9 AG, 14/69 gender. Garmin showed slightly faster (9:27/mile). I didn’t push enough going up the hill (HR, cadence, and stride length show that clearly) and I need to remember to put crap I can’t control out of my head quicker. In the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t have changed anything, but seeing 15-20 sec per mile faster on my garmin would have made me feel better about the run in retrospect
Overall finish: 59:41. 1/9 AG, 3/69 gender.
My time goal was under an hour, and I made it, so I was happy there (though I thought I’d have more wiggle room than 19 seconds…).
While nothing about this race felt stellar, I was able to win my age group. Eight other people showed up and I took first by over 8 minutes for women 35-39. Not only that, sixty-eight other women showed up, and I was able to out-triathlon all but two of them. While this is a triathlon that is very newbie friendly, there were plenty of people in team kits and when the race director asked “how many people have done an Ironman” about a quarter of us raised our hands, so it wasn’t as if I was the sore thumb sticking out as a vet triathlete at the race.
And here’s the conundrum. On one hand, my confidence is a little shot because I felt like my bike performance sucked and I sandbagged myself on the first half of the run. On the other hand, I didn’t have a perfect day (or lead up), and I was third overall for my gender, and fourth was about four minutes back. I know it’s a big fish in a little pond scenario, but it’s still a nice feather in the cap.
However, I’m not quite sure how to feel. I’m trying to go with super frickin’ proud, and I am, but for some reason, I’m missing the validation that this “actually maybe being decent at triathlons” thing isn’t a big fluke that I thought would come with the third podium, second age group win, and first top three gender placement. Maybe that’s on my brain more than my actual race performance, though I just keep thinking about that bike and run pace and uggggggh, I do better in practice. See, conundrum!
The good news is I race again in five days, so I don’t have too long to ruminate on this one.
EDIT: oh, the other good news is I got my race belt back. Someone else grabbed it thinking it was theirs. Oops! Hooray!