Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: racereports Page 3 of 13

Post Spring Season Decompression

I’ve had almost two weeks to reflect (and also not do a whole lot of serious training), I wanted to document what has absolutely been my most successful season ever.

First of all, let’s talk about the races.  Honestly, all five triathlons so far this year would rank up in my great races of all time, but as long as we know we’re comparing unicorns with rainbows, here’s the order in which I feel I performed:

#1 – Pflugerville (3rd AG).  This was my best bike result by far.  For all 5 legs (swim bike run and transitions), I got a PR.  Best of all, getting 3rd in my age group with my BSS team there supporting me was the thing that was kind of missing at the “away games”.  Also, I do this race every year, so it’s a great measuring stick against where I’m at with my training.  Considering it was a huge PR, it’s proof I really actually have improved a lot.

#2 – Texasman (3rd AG/7th OA F).  The mass female start made me feel like I was actually able to RACE for the overall placement against people vs just kicking my own ass as hard as I could and hoping for the best.  I knew where I was in the race at all times after the bike turnaround and that was fun and motivating.  I think it was my most aggressive and gutsy bike, my best run, and it was super cool to hear them calling out 3rd female in as I got to T2.

#3 – No Label (1st AG).  This was the huge confidence booster (and the first National qualifier).  I had no idea how I was going to do, coming off some serious lifting and annoying injuries and some frankly disappointing races in winter.  I enjoyed the hell out of the super flat bike course even if it was a little chip seal-y at times, and I still maintain that I only won my age group because it was a point to point run to a brewery.

#4 – Windcrest (1st AG/3rd OA F).  While it’s hard to rank a race that I won my age group and placed 3rd overall female so low, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t my best performance physically or mentally.  I was just getting over being sick, the bike course didn’t play to my strengths and that frustrated me, and I let a minor gear issue (my race belt missing) mess with my head on the run for longer than it should have and I didn’t run to my potential because of it.

#5 – Rookie (4th AG).  Any other season, this would have been the highlight of it.  A 3 minute PR in an 66 minute race is nothing to sneeze at.  It was the first measure of my bike prowess on a course I’d done before and I blew away my expectations.  However, I died a little on the run when the course changed and they threw an unexpected hill at us, and watching someone just FLY past me half a mile from the finish (to ultimately take 3rd place) was humbling.  While 4th was an amazing result compared to how I’ve ever done here before, it was the only race this spring where I missed the podium in my age group.

I’ve learned a lot this season (even if some of this was re-learning, ahem).

Weight training and recovery are probably the most important factors for me succeeding at sprint triathlons right now.  Because I have so much previous base, there’s no reason I need to go out and swim, ride, and run a lot.  To build the power needed at the short distances I need to be strong, and I need to be fresh.  When I get to the point where my legs don’t feel like the limiting factor in my run, this could change, but I have miles to go before that happens.

I’ve nailed my day before, pre-race, and race nutrition.  For reference:

  • Day before:
    • Normal breakfast (yogurt and berries, protein bar or shake, bean and cheese breakfast tacos, etc).
    • Turkey sandwich on wheat for lunch.
    • Chicken, potato, and salad for dinner.
    • Snacks as hungry, like jerky, nuts, fruit.
  • Day of:
    • Earl grey tea, two caffeinated jelly beans, and a whole wheat english muffin with sun butter and honey about 2-3 hours before start.
    • The entirety of my sprint nutrition plan is: a salted watermelon caffeinated gel as early as possible on the bike, and whatever diluted gatorade I can (usually between 4-10 sips) and whatever water I can throw at my face during the run.  Besides that gel, I really don’t need much for 60-90 minutes.
    • Eat something with some protein (real food) as soon as possible after the race or I’ll be a hunger monster all day.  Pizza is actually a great immediate post race food.
    • Have easy to make healthy nutritious food on hand and try to not go over the calories burnt.  Maintaining a deficit on race day is just about impossible, so let that go.  For Pflugerville, I had a chef salad and veggies and dip ready to go in the fridge to eat right away.  That was probably the best I’ve felt post race in a while.

I have yet to have a bad race while camping.  Just sayin’.  It just feels right sleeping in the pop up and spending time outside in the quiet, something about it helps me FOCUS and then UNWIND better vs having all the distractions of home around.  I thought I was done with it for the year and I’m excited to have added one more race so I get to do it again!

When I *do* swim, bike, and run, the intensity needs to be there regularly.  We are what we repeatedly do, and by taking the pressure off with less volume (averaging about 5 hours a week since March), I get the opportunity to do things at race pace more often.  I think this is most important with running, because I rarely tend to pull out anything in a race I can’t do, or actually do even a little better in practice.  If all I’m doing is running slow, that’s probably how my race is going to go.

I’ve also come up with a great pre-race preparation schedule which involves:

  • Laying out my gear and practicing transitions three times before packing it up to go has helped me to be more confident and quicker in transitions (and I never forget anything important!).
  • Going over my day at least once before I go to bed.  I start when I wake up and walk myself through a successful day.  I mean, even the mundane stuff – wake up, make tea, eat english muffin, use bathroom, put on kit… it helps me cruise through my morning with less stress since I’ve practiced!
  • Making some solo time race morning to go internal and psych myself up before the start.  I didn’t really need the whole “race day persona” thing I was trying out last year, I just needed some time to focus and get my game face on for the day.

And finally, while ~15 lbs doesn’t sound like much, I feel like it’s made a world of difference on the bike and starting to do good things on the run.  I think I’m nearing the end of what I will call my “cutting” phase, and the weight loss is slowing, but it’s been really nice to carry one less pink kettlebell around on my body.

I have a lot of thoughts about the second half of the year, but that’s a heck of a lot more words for another post!

Eighth time’s a charm – Lake Pflugerville Sprint Triathlon

Saturday morning at 5:30am I was awake popping copious amounts of aleve and cursing being a girl.

Post swim was the best I felt yesterday.  I truly am a fish.

I’m not entirely sure why my body, which is usually a trooper, has to go into conniption fits for about a day once a month, but it’s just one of those things that it means to be me.  I’ve asked multiple doctors and health professionals about it (since all my exams have come back normal) and I’ve gotten answers from “well, just start taking painkillers when you THINK you’re about to start” (no) and “it’s just part of the process” (sad trombone).

This is all well and good until you wake up on race day feeling like a bloated, exhausted, painful monster.  I’m thankful it was the day before instead, but it hit me really really hard this month and I was a zombie on Saturday.  I woke up at 10:30am, and barely dragged my ass around to do all the packet pickup and lunch (Jason’s Deli) and swim and groceries things, and was pretty much ready to be back in bed after. I watched some TV and had dinner (chicken and air-fried potatoes) and did my normal transition practice and sadly, when I got to bed, I couldn’t fall asleep right away, but I did get almost 6.5 hours and I upgraded to halfway zombified when I woke up at 5am Sunday morning.

For some reason, waking up in the camper is a little easier, but with our own walls we were able to blare the music nice and loud and enjoy a cup of tea, the typical sunbutter honey english muffin, and two caff beans sitting at my counter.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was enough that morning but I told myself I could have more once I got to my bike.

We lucked out and two people on the primo rack (closest to bike out) had taken up ENTIRELY too much room, so we squeezed our bikes in (I take up about 1 ft of space) and filled bottles and pottied and did all the normal pre-race stuff in what felt like the perfect amount of time (getting to transition about 45 minutes before closing seems to be the sweet spot – not being rushed but not too much standing around).  At the last minute I popped two 303 (herbal muscle relaxers) to hedge my bets on any residual cramps.  I was the first one of our little group taking off in wave 8, so I wandered over to the start, and spent a little time psyching myself up.  I wasn’t sure if today was going to be a complete shitshow or a decent day but it would all be over in about 90 minutes, give or take.

Love all these goofballs that came to cheer us on!!!


Wave starts always catch me off guard, they used to be the norm and I’ve done plenty, but I’ve gotten spoiled with time trial starts and I forgot how combative they are.  Not Ironman-level kung fu judo chopping or anything, but definitely a lot of jostling for position.  I made it a goal to try and find feet to draft on, and I was actually fairly successful for the first half, but after the turnaround I just kept knocking into people or finding open water, so I just kept my efforts calm and tried to focus on good body position.

I swam until my body didn’t really fit in the water anymore and then high-kneed it out to transition.

Swim time: 11:05 (2:13/100m) 3/10 AG  This is my best in 8 years by 5 seconds (it’s always a little long, my Garmin recorded 596 yards and my sighting was pretty spot on).  To be fair, it’s only 40 seconds better than my worst showing in 2013.  I’m pretty consistent and I haven’t put much work over the years into swimming, and that goes doubly so this season.  I will say I think I got out of the water a lot fresher than I have in the past, as I really do think of the swim as a warmup for the rest of the race and rarely push it past the “I’m doing some work” feeling.


I think a spring of walking on the Addisage sandals have toughened up my feet, as I felt like I could run at a pretty nice clip even on the gravel sections.  Everything went smoothly and I got out of T1 quickly.  Technically, this is part of my bike time since I was over the mount line, but the only noob thing I did was not adjust my gearing (my TT bike had just been sitting in the garage since the last race) and it was very hard to get clipped in and going because I was in a very big gear and that was a few seconds of futzing.

T1 time: 2:13 6/10 AG.  I’m actually kind of confused by this because I thought I was pretty speedy and efficient, and it’s my best here yet by 2 seconds, but apparently I sucked compared to my 35-39 ladies.  *shrug*

No bike pics yet so you get my “stock footage” from the last race.  Are you sick of this one yet?  I’m not!


After the clipping fiasco, I got going.  I know this course like the back of my hand (it’s the Jack’s Generic course and we ride the first half of it all the time), so I knew there was no reason to do anything but coast down the first hill into the turn.  Two girls passed me in that section, and as soon as I hit the turn, I went hunting.  I caught them within half a mile and just concentrated on eating my gel ASAP (cracking it open before the race REALLY helps a lot).  That went down fine, but I had oopsed and made my gatorade too strong.  It was undrinkable.  I took a few sips of it and almost spit it out because it was like sludge, but that’s ok on a sprint (I barely drink anything anyway).

Even with the questionable body condition and the lack of palatable hydration, I was feeling rather strong so I went to war.  I concentrated on staying in aero and passing as many people as I could.  Some of the super fast guys caught me but I was not passed by anyone of my gender again.  My goal was to try to hold 20 mph on the way out because I usually slow down on the way back (that tends to be where the wind is), but we actually ended up with it from the northeast, which meant the almost 20 mph I held the first half was with a headwind or crosswind, and made for a nice trip back.

I should have probably pushed the last couple miles harder if I was looking for the absolute best bike split, but the roads were so terrible and bumpy.  I let myself take my foot off the gas for a bit from the gasp-fest that was the first half and instead watched the road and prepared my legs (and brain) for the run.

Bike time: 39:55 for 21 mph 2/10 AG (10th overall female bike split).   My Garmin said right about 20, so I think this is a little generous, but just like Kerrville last year, I will take it.  I improved upon last year’s ride by five whole minutes (same course, just backwards).  Zliten put it best by saying that he feels like he’s one with his TT bike when he rides it now.  I feel the same way this season.  Death Star and I are pretty in sync now.


Everything went without incident.  I had planned on grabbing my frozen water bottle but I didn’t feel that hot and I hadn’t ran with it in months, so I took a few seconds to take a cold sip of nuun and left it.

T2 time: 1:17 5/10 AG  Seriously, I don’t know.  I know I took 5 extra seconds getting a sip of my bottle but I usually place HIGHER in transition than the actual sports.  Maybe the spot I thought was primo was actually further away?  Again, *shrug*.  Best here by 2 seconds.

How strong does BSS member Rachel (with smiley Courtney behind her) look finishing her first triathlon? 🙂


I ran out and up the hill and got going and everything felt predictably awful.  I had reminded myself the night before when going through my race plan that it would, so it didn’t freak me out as much as normal.  I hate this run.  I’ve done it a lot, so I’m comfortable with it’s suck, but I really really really hate running on kitty litter with no shade.

Physically, to keep myself running as well as possible, I tried to stay more up on my toes, keep driving with my hips to lengthen my stride, and swing my arms to touch my waistband.  Mentally, I kept reminding myself that I had just completed a friggin’ phenomenal bike ride, and I probably had a place on the podium if I could hang on, dig in, and not let any girls in my age group pass me.

Only two women passed me, and both were in their 50s and running like wild badasses, so I tried to ride their momentum for a while and then let them go.  Near the end, my teammate Lewis passed me and I tried to latch onto him but all that I had was the steady pace that did not waver the whole time.  Running in the heat and the suck felt painful but also somehow methodical – I kept thinking “just keep doing this for 20 more minutes, 17, 15, 10” and my legs kept moving.  They wouldn’t speed up for any sort of finishing kick, but all 3 mile splits were within 3 seconds of each other so I’d call that some even pacing.

Run time: 27:50 (9:16/mile) 4/10 AG.  This is a run PR for me here.  Technically by only 17 seconds, but that was from 6 years ago when I considered myself a runner who dabbled in triathlons vs running now being my weakest sport.  While I keep getting down on myself for not being able to hold that 8 minute/mile pace in races that I have sometimes in practice, I am showing steady improvement.  I have long term plans on how to make this better but for right now, I’m happy that my run has been SOLID this season, if not super fast.

Overall time: 1:22:21 3/10 AG. 

Look at my shiny plastic thingeeee!

I am over the moon with this result.  I feel like I nailed the bike even better than I have been.  I fought hard for that run, even if it wasn’t quite as fast as I would have liked.  I PR’d all three legs of the race (+ transitions), and for one that I’ve done for eight years in a row in various states of form and fitness, that’s actually quite a big accomplishment.  This resulted in an over 8 minute PR at this particular race (previously 1:30:30, Pflugerville 2015), and an over 4 minute PR on this course (1:26:33, Jack’s Generic 2016).  I also took back the house Lake Pflugerville title by 30 seconds, which hasn’t been mine in a long time.  Sorry, Zliten.  Better luck next year. 🙂

And, finally, with this fourth podium out of the five races this spring, I think I can finally dismiss the feeling of it all being a big fluke.  I think I can finally say out loud and with confidence that my case of the proverbial triathlon yips has passed for now.  At the local sprint triathlon level, I can put together a solid race that I’m proud of time and time again.  I’m good enough at this particular thing now to race for the podium, with an 80% success rate.  I think I can finally stick that feather in my cap and call it macaroni.

Lucky #wattagecottage hat and socks. 

It was a really great day racing with Team Bicycle Sport Shop.  We had a big handful of teammates racing and also a bunch of supporters.  Can’t thank everyone enough who just came to cheer! It’s always a little boost on the run when you know you’re going to see some friendly faces yelling your name at the finish.

Now I’m looking forward to a quick summer’s nap before hitting Coz 70.3 training hard – the next three weeks, the only requirement on the schedule is lifting at least twice a week, swim bike and run are to be applied AS DESIRED (sessions, distances, paces).  I already want to swim and ride today, which is a good sign, but with how SORE and TIRED I am, I’m taking myself right to bed after supper and getting one more long night of sleep first.

All’s well that ends well – Windcrest Freshman Tri

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!

Rookie Tri – I am one with the fourth

This race felt very different.

See the tent?  Home turf.

First of all, the positives: not having to drive many hours to get there, not having to spend the week before packing and getting ready, racing with the team (support, camaraderie, team tent to drop our stuff at), and things feeling a little more low stress.

However, that also came with a less restful night of sleep – trying to lay down at 8pm without that nice loud camper fan to block out all the noise and make the bedroom area 65 degrees was NOT really successful.  Then there was the urge to do more productive things since I had more free time, which I fought and won, but it was hard.  And, the fact that I need some introvert time before the race and that’s more difficult when you have like a million friends racing.  Poor me, I know.  But there are things to consider.

The day before was fairly typical.  I had Panera for lunch, and homemade grilled chicken, baked potato, and veggies for dinner.  We took all that time we weren’t driving and popping up the camper and went to see Avengers, Infinity War.  Woah.  That escalated quickly.  The only thing I was a little iffy on my decision making skills was that I participated in a 45 minute spin + weights class (meant to just do a spin class), but I totally sandbagged it, so I don’t think I was any worse for wear.  I got a lake swim in, though it was kind of terrible due to a wardrobe malfunction (let’s just say my Coeur top’s built in bra is no longer useful), but it felt nice to be in the water.

It wasn’t the best night of sleep ever, but it certainly wasn’t the worst, and I was up with only a little prodding from my alarm at 5am and did all the normal things – earl grey, english muffin with sun butter and honey, and two caff jelly beans.

And, we played the hell out of this on the 15 minute drive to Decker Lake.  Apparently, this is Race Day 2018 song.

The morning was also very typical except the race started at 8am instead of 7 like the last two, but we arrived just as early.  I definitely noticed my muscles getting tense with all the standing around waiting.  There may be something to the strategy of skating into transition at the last minute, though I’m pretty sure doing that intentionally would cause other types of stress.  I WAS able to steal away for about 10 minutes before the start and close my eyes and get myself all pumped up and ready to go.  I’ll need to make sure and do that every time – this really helps my mental game vs being all social butterfly and then stumbling into the race before my thoughts are collected.

And I needed time to make really ridiculous faces.  (thx Jim Hungerford for the pic!)


They sent us off two by two every two seconds, and even with that many people, it actually did seem to work to alleveate the congestion.  I was pleased that the entry was pebble-y this year and not rocky like I remembered it in 2015 (or maybe my feet have just HTFU’d a little?) so I ran in until I felt the water hit just below my knees and dove in and kind of sprinted a little since I had some space.

I didn’t do a great job holding good form or position (though I did think it a few times and self corrected until I got hit by the next breaststroking person).  I did also get my goggles knocked halfway through, and my right eye was half full of water.  But when you have less than 150 meters left, you just deal with it and keep that eye closed mostly and keep pushing to the finish.   The home stretch was nice, I was just finding my stroke and then I was up and on the carpet and vertical.  This is how all these short swims go.

Swim time: 6:21 (2:07/100m) – 4/15 AG.  While on paper this time looks sucky for me, it’s a beach start with a run in and then a run out.  It’s my best here by 50 seconds, and for a 300m swim, that’s significant.


I stashed my sandals once again and took the extra 5 seconds to put them on.  This transition area is notorious for those annoying little sticker burrs and it was well worth the time for insurance.  I jogged up the hill and found my bike and had no issues with the gear change.  I did play it cautious and carried my bike out of transition instead of rolling it, which actually lost me a little time.

T1 time: 3:06 – 5/15 AG.  I’m not sure I’d do that carry-the-bike thing again, but other than that, I’m pretty happy with 3 minutes to run up that huge hill and through the large transition area.

Coming in hot!  Literally.  It was warm! (thx again Jim!)


This is where I’ve been crushing it lately in races and I went out to go blow by a bunch of people.  But, because this is Austin, I actually had the experience of people whizzing past me as well.  That was weird, lol.  My teammate Kari came by me at a million miles an hour right about mile 2 on the bike (after starting at least a few minutes back) and I knew I was definitely in a different race.

It was 150 feet more gain over 5 less miles than last Sunday, and the hillier a course gets, the less I have the advantage.  Even though I’m strong on the bike, I am fairly beefy which means more to drag up hills, which matters more the steeper they are.  I held to my plan to just keep pushing and not let myself get stuck behind someone going slower than I was capable.  There were a few times I tucked back in behind someone and caught my breath, but it was always to regroup and pass them after the next hill/turn/etc.

This course has two notable hills – Carnage and Quad Buster.  Carnage was actually just about as bad as I remember, a downhill section to a sharp right turn that heads immediately into a steep hill.  I remembered to downshift to easy gears and still had to jog it up out of the saddle for about 30 seconds.  Quad Buster looms ominously around mile 10, you go up a hill before it and then as you descend it looks like it stretches straight up into the heavens.  However, with the momentum I got (even with some jerkface passing me just to ride his brakes right in front of me ><), I found that hill reasonably… fine.  I had to shift to easy gears and I was a little out of breath after but I did not feel worse for wear.

There’s one last eff you with a hill directly into transition (we don’t baby our Rookies in Austin), and then you’re back!

Bike Time: 36:34 – 18.4 mph – 5/15 AG.  On one hand, my placement was a little disappointing, and my speed was a little lower than I hoped.  However, 2nd-4th off the bike’s splits were 36:15 – 36:32, with the age group winner at 18.9.  Also, I had a power best of 198W normalized.  That doesn’t suck for me.  Plus, my average heart rate was 164, which means I did a pretty good job at pushing the bike, but not to the point where I screw my run.  So, overall, I’m ok with this.


One oops here: I ran down the wrong rack and had to duck under it with my bike.  Thankfully, I have a tiny bike that fits under the rack so it only cost me a few seconds vs having to run entirely around.  I was in and out rather quickly otherwise and on the run in no time.

T2 time: 1:20. 4/12 AG.  Missed first by 9 seconds.  At least I’ll console myself with the fact that there were so few bikes back on the racks it was hard to tell where I should have been?  Also: duuuuurrrr.


I’m not much of a soft and uneven surfaces type runner (give me track over cross country ANY DAY), but generally I do well here.  Then, we got flooding and they had to completely change the course.  The front part of the park flooded.  The back part has massive hills.  So, when I saw us heading immediately back there, I groaned.  Right.  It’s going to be one of THESE runs.

I had followed a girl with a 36 on her leg out of transition (in my age group), and I huffed and puffed over her shoulder, drafting for at least a quarter mile (sorry).  I couldn’t quite pass until I summoned some extra oomph and I went by her expecting her to respond… nope.  I passed someone!  And it stuck!  It was exciting!

At that point, I was running to not get caught and I kept the heat on.  I thought to myself at one point, “Wow, self, this feels absolutely bloody terrible” and then followed up with, “Good!  A two mile all out run should feel just this terrible.”  I tried to console myself that I was less than fifteen minutes from sweet, sweet relief.  I saw some of my teammates coming the other way that I expected to be finished already and figured I was doing really really well.

And then I got to THE HILL.  I’m sure it isn’t as bad as I remember, but at mile 1.25 of a 2 mile all out run, it looked like a black diamond ski run.  I felt my quads burning on the way down because it was steep and rocky and then we turned around and went up.  I tried to run the whole thing but I actually walked for about 30 seconds at the steepest part.  Then a girl with a 35 on her leg just BLASTED past me like a freaking mountain goat.  I didn’t have any sort of response to that, but I at least started making with the running motions again.

I always look forward to running the last bit on the road and noticed that sadly they had used that space for parking this year, so the entire thing was uneven grass.  That 8:30/mile pace I really wanted to hold was just untenable that day, but the effort was there as I busted my ass towards the finish line hoping I wouldn’t collapse first.

Run time: 18:37 – 9:19/mile.  6/15 AG.  While it’s my lowest placement it’s not by much and my heart rate average at 175 shows me I was doing the absolute best I could (that is absolutely my redline).

Overall: 1:06:00.  4/15 AG.  Girlfriend that busted by me on that hill (running 6:49/mile average) took third by 40 seconds.  While I’m questioning whether I had an extra 40 seconds on the bike I could have found somewhere, because I know I didn’t have it on the run or swim, I really feel like I gave yesterday all I could and there were just three faster ladies than me out on the course.  The Rookie Tri is always very competitive in the veteran category, and I’m stoked to have placed so high in my age group.  You can’t always stand on the podium… is something that I’ve said no other year because it’s not something that happened to me often… so I’ll be happy that I had the chance the last two races and that I was so close this time!

All in all, I had a super fun day.  I’m so excited that so many non-triathlete BSS people came out to cheer and/or heckle us!  It was awesome to have teammates around and hang out and drink beer recovery drinks and eat tacos and otherwise enjoy the morning in ways that we couldn’t in a town four hours away by ourselves.

And, of course, it was super great to take really awesome pictures such as THIS as a team:

Accepting captions for this one in the comments. (thx Jim!)

As much as I like racing, I’m super ready to spend a month regrouping with my training.  It will be nice to not be a bag of inflammation every seven days (like I am today!), and then have one more back to back weekend of racing in June before the season shifts again to longer stuff.

A long drive for a little race – Texasman Sprint Triathlon

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!

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