My pre-race fuel (minus the banana)
Packet pickup on Friday night went well – it was fun being back with the gang in that atmosphere but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to leave right when it was over instead of staying to pack and load stuff up. I didn’t really get to eat dinner, which was a downside to volunteering. I ate a PB&J while I was at packet pickup, then an apple on the way home. Once I got home, I had a bowl of cornflakes and went to bed.
I actually slept very well that night until about 4 am, when I woke up and remembered “Crap! I’m doing a triathlon today!” Between random thoughts about rack markers (“Maybe I should’ve bought a balloon…”) and hairstyles (“I have to make sure my ponytail will fit with my helmet and my hat”), I slept a little until I got up at 5:00. Because I had gotten everything ready Thursday night, I just had to get dressed, wet my hair down and put it up into a messy bun, put on lotion (so my wetsuit would come off easier), and eat breakfast.
My breakfast was two pieces of peanut butter toast. I brought the banana along but ended up giving it to Travis because I didn’t need it. Over the course of the 2 hours before the race, I also drank 16 oz of H2O. I was worried that I’d have to pee during the race but I didn’t.
Then I made the first mistake of my triathlon career: arriving to the race site too late. We left a little later than I had been planning because Travis has a really hard time getting up in the morning but really, I should have planned to get there when the transition area opened at 6 am. Instead, we got there at 6:45 and transition closed at 7:10. It would have been fine if I could have chosen where to rack my bike. But the racks were assigned by race number and of course, my rack happened to be one of the fullest. Me and another girl got there at the same time and squeezed our bikes onto the rack between two other girls’. I had to move some of the other girl’s stuff around and ended up being able to stack my bag and wetsuit (after the swim) on the end. So it worked out. But it took quite a bit longer to set up my transition area than I had planned.
The result of that was:
1) I didn’t get to check and recheck everything.
2) I didn’t get to take a picture of my transition setup.
3) I didn’t end up getting to do a jog around the parking lot like I had planned. Instead, I settled for a couple of small laps in a grassy area. I probably looked like a fool but oh well.
4) I forgot to tape my Shotbloks to my bike, which I remembered just as I was leaving transition for the bike.
5) I felt very hurried.
So I will never show up late to transition again! If you know me at all, you know that I HATE being rushed and I hate being late. Boo!
[Note: I just realized that after all that, I went down to the beach where the race was delayed for 30 minutes because the paramedics hadn't arrived yet. So I didn't need to be that rushed after all! Aargh!]
Now for the race details:
I had been somewhat nervous about the swim but I’ve done open water swims before… how bad could it be? Surely I was exaggerating…
My wave was the 3rd sprint to leave, 5th wave including the Olympic athletes. Once both Olympic waves went off, I got into the water to warm up. It was pretty cold. But I was actually pleasantly surprised by how warm my wetsuit kept me. Too bad I didn’t have a wetsuit for my face. For some reason, putting my face in cold water like that just sucks the air right out of my lungs. I got sort of used to the water during warmup but there was probably a good 5 minutes before that and the time I actually started swimming… or should I say “swimming.”
They blew the horn for my wave. I walked out behind the swimmers in front of me until it was deep enough to start swimming. I started doing the front crawl with my head out of the water but then realized it probably wouldn’t be very good to get winded swimming that way so I put my head down in the water. Like I said earlier, it sucks the air right out of me. I was instantly out of breath, cold, and panicked. “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this. Crap! I hate this. Why am I doing this?” was running through my head. I seriously considered taking my cap off to wave it around (I had kept swimming so was farther from shore by that point.) I saw about 10 other pink caps around me struggling – doing the side stroke, the backstroke, floating on their backs. One even said they just wanted to survive. Another waved her cap and was picked up by a jetski to be brought in.
But no. I can’t quit. How many people have I told about me doing this race? How long have I trained? If I get out, I will be defeated. I am not a quitter. I will finish this swim, if it takes me an hour.
So I kept swimming, doing something that resembled the breaststroke, keeping my head above water, and trying to calm my breath as much as I possibly could (I was only somewhat successful). I will say that that swim was one of the painful, tiring, emotionally trying things I have ever done. Everything in my head and body screamed NO! I finished out of sheer willpower. For that, I am very proud of this race. I persevered against overwhelming odds.
I got in sight of the red flags marking the Swim In. It seemed like I would never get there. But then I saw a swimmer in front of me stand up. Hallelujah!! I made it to the shore!
Out of the Water Time: 24:12
Official Time: 25:12
As soon as I got out of the water, I started taking off my wetsuit – partly because that was how I had practiced my transition but mostly because I was sick of not being able to breath. I walked up the beach with my wetsuit down to my waist, then jogged into transition, and as I neared my spot, started pulling my wetsuit down my legs. I couldn’t quite get it off by stepping on it (I think because the legs end so far up on my calves) so I had to reach down and pull each leg off. Then I washed my feet off, dried them a bit, put on my socks and shoes, took off my goggles and swim caps (I wore too because of the cold), put on my race number, then my helmet and sunglasses. I grabbed my bike and after getting encouragement from my friend D (who was also the race director), I was off to the bike mount.
I figured the transition had taken me more like 3:30 but since my goal was 2:00 and I wasn’t in my best form after that swim, I feel pretty good about this time.
Official Time: 2:27
The worst thing about riding a bike when you’re wet, IMO, is that your socks get all wet. I hate that feeling. I had the thought during the bike that I should get some wool racing socks. Right now, I just wear Nike DriFit ones and while they work (they don’t give me blisters), I just wonder if wool ones would work better.
The bike was actually the best leg of the race for me. I felt really strong and passed quite a few women (I guess that’s what happens when your swim takes so long!) I only got passed by the front runner Olympic athletes (their bike course was only 5 miles longer than ours) so I felt pretty good about my bike performance. Like I mentioned earlier, I forgot to tape my fuel onto my bike so at the first aid station (around mile 6), I grabbed a HammerGel. Even though I know it’s a faux pas to try something new on race day, I figured it was better than nothing. And it didn’t give me any issues for the most part. I still only averaged 16 mph but I made my goal time.
Official Time: 1:04:07 (16 mph average)
T2 consisted of me racking my bike, removing my helmet, and grabbing my hat to put on as I ran to the Run Out. Travis tried to take a couple of pictures of me as I came back but instead, managed to shoot 2 seconds of me and 20 seconds of himself walking (he had left the camera on video mode from the swim so he thought he had taken a picture of me dismounting but had really just started to record. It’s actually pretty funny.)
Official Time: 0:52
I started jogging but had to stop and walk a bit to catch my breath or else I knew the run would be a battle like the swim. I started running again when my heart rate got down to 145 and settled into a nice, comfortable pace. I didn’t have the energy or desire to push myself by either running faster or doing intervals. Even if I had had the energy, my needing to go #2 for the last half of the run would have probably prevented me from doing so. My pace ended up being right on my training pace so I can’t be too disappointed.
Coming in to the finish
Official Time: 34:43
Overall Official Time: 2:07:20
Age Group Placement: 27/37
Gender Placement: 98/147
So I missed my goal time by 7:20 but I finished!
I can tell that I haven’t trained as intensely for this race as I have for the other ones I’ve done. So my take-aways from this experience are:
1. Never underestimate the value of open water swim practice.
I credit this for my swimming FAIL. I didn’t get into the open water once to practice before this race. I am going to remedy this for the coming weekend by swimming tomorrow and Saturday in open water. I might also have to revert back to the breaststroke – I think part of my problem was the thought of not being able to see where I was going. I don’t like that thought.
2. Never underestimate the value of intense brick workouts.
I had done about 3 bricks in training but none of them were intense ones. I did a wimpy bike ride followed by a wimpy run. I need to do an all-out, hard as I can go shorter bike ride so that my legs can really get used to what they feel like during the race.
3. Never underestimate the value of getting to the race with plenty of time.
In addition to being able to fit in a warmup and finding a better spot on the rack, this is a mental thing. Being late to a race is the stuff of nightmares.
Race bib and Finisher's medal
So I am still planning on doing the Greeley Sprint Tri this coming Sunday. Like I said, I am going to get in some open water swims this week (plus one run and one bike). The water is also expected to be 70 degrees (a good 10 degrees warmer than the Boulder Reservoir!) and it’s only 500 meters. But I think those open water swims are going to be clutch.
So that’s my triathlon recap.
I have had some really good thoughts about God and trials lately that I’ve been hoping to share… in the next day or two.