Better late then never to post a recap, eh?

Yet again, the day before felt oddly strange (the race previous was eight months removed!), but also very comfortable. A swim in quarry lake. Packet pickup. Half a Whole Foods sandwich and salad. Transition practice and packing it all up. Chicken, potato, salad for dinner. Trying to relax. Trying to sleep before the sun went down and failing miserably and having a crap night of sleep. Cursing the morning coming too soon, wondering why we do this while slugging down coffee trying to poop twenty times.

Y’know, the ush.

Once I got to the race venue, I may have spent more time this morning oogling the sunrise at Town Lake than focusing on the race to come. Good thing we got there in plenty of time to do both that and prep for the race with the usual transition setup and, you guessed it, trying to poop twenty more times.

However, it was all business once I leaped off the docks into the pristine and lovely (blehhhh) Ladybird Lake. The swim was as expected – crowded and gross – but I found a pretty good rhythm and actually found feet to follow much of the way. I placed highest here of the three sports, which is nuts, because I can count my pool swims this year on my fingers and my first lake swim since September was… the day before the race.

Ah well, muscle memory FTW. 17:55 for 750m, which was more like 825m on the garmin due to dodging and weaving.

I had a nice quick (for me) transition to the bike and started pedaling. The roads were super wet and while my bike fitness is pretty dang decent right now, my bike handling skills are not. I’ve taken one ride on Death Star outside since September, maybe you can see a trend here. I have been training regularly, sure, but race-specific prep? Not so much. I soft pedaled most of the first lap and gained a little more confidence on the second and started to accelerate… until it started to pour again. I backed off and decided to save my MOJO for the run.

My bike was 41:03, which was 18 mph exactly. Not great for me in a bubble, but considering the crowds, the slick conditions, and my lack of bike handling practice, it was just fine for that day.

When I dismounted, the calf that had been fine for months decided to threaten anarchy, so I walked my bike in, sat to change my shoes, and took 10 extra seconds to stretch. The second transition was a little slower than I’d like, but I wanted to not eff it up by trying to rush.

For some reason, the calf did not want to settle down. It kept growling at me through mile 1, and I switched my head quickly from, “oh no, not again” to remembering what to do to fix this. I ran a little bit more forward, taxing my quads, which thankfully felt rested after the “warmup” on the bike instead of thrashed like normal. I didn’t look at my watch and didn’t worry that I wasn’t pushing maximum effort. Whatever it was, it was. Then mile 1 ticked by at 10:06. That’s not bad. Actually, it’s way better than my normal 5k jaunt. In mile 2, things loosened up a bit more, and I was able to speed up just a little. Then, the last mile, I singled out Pink Betty Girl, who I had been following for a while, and made it a goal to pass her by the end. And I did. Even though the last mile had a big hill I ran it a full min/mile faster and I had a nice sprint to the finish.

The run was 29:24, 9:26/mile for 5k. It’s certainly not my fastest in a triathlon, but it ain’t too far away from the paces I was running in 2018 and 2019. I qualified for nationals rolling approximately that speed (in a smaller race).

My biggest goal was to race with joy or fire, and I feel like I made a fair effort at both! It’s been a long road back from the depths of 2020, and I’m not on form yet, but this is the first race since the pandemic hit where I’ve been proud of how I finished, not just that I limped over the finish line at all. My time/placement is nothing special (1:35:43, 17/38 AG), but I’m happy. And that’s what matters. I’m excited to see where the rest of the year brings, but at the very least, I’m pleased I can put forth an effort like this again.