On Saturday, May 19, I opened my triathlon season with Cedars. There are a lot of things to keep in mind about my participation in this race. I raced Cedars last year, but it was an entirely different course, was MUCH longer, and was in August and was my last race of the season. (I only now – 1.5 wks later – realized that I ended last season and started this season with the same race. Strange.) I was also racing almost 3 months exactly to the day after I had emergency surgery and was hospitalized for several days. I also had another, unrelated surgery planned for the following Monday. To say my head was not in the game would be understandable. To say I was elated to even be out there racing is an understatement. But I did it. Even if it was not the performance I wanted.
Swim – 200yds (4:40)
I lined up for the swim. I had forgotten to change my time for the swim in advance, so I was stuck back in a slower group, but fortunately the Team Magic folks were letting people jump ahead to their approximate time they wanted. I only realized it when they started asking for people with a 4:30 swim time. I wasn’t sure that it would be too fast or too slow, but I jumped in. Then my nerves jumped in about 35 seconds before I got in the water and waited my turn to go. Then I fell apart in the water. About halfway into the first lap (25 yds) I suddenly lost all my breath. I struggled the rest of the race feeling like I couldn’t breathe and basically swam freestyle with my head out of the water. I was so freaked out and disappointed with myself. I never got passed, but In also never caught up with the guys ahead of me.
***Oh and for those who were guessing or curious. The water temperature was totally acceptable. A little chilly at first, but not uncomfortably so, probably mid-high 70s.
Due to the swim, I was totally winded and exhausted running towards the VERY long distance to T1 (about a 1/4 mile I guess!!). I was disoriented and just wanted to sit down. I had lost my mojo. But I got to my bike, helmet and sunglasses on. Bike shoes on (no socks!), drank some water and headed to the confusing maze to the mount line.
Bike – 9.6 miles (36:55)
I mounted my bike and there are 2 very narrow lanes marked by cones because this is a 2 loop ride. So, as I’m starting out, all of the top cyclists (with the crazy aero helmets) are on their second lap, which also means they were all lapping me. I struggled on the bike. I knew I needed to let go of my swim freak-out and just focus on the bike, but it kept creeping in. It was haunting me. I just kept getting passed the entire race, except when I came across a beginner racer on a mountain bike or cruiser. Also, I have been struggling to get any kind of power out of my bike. There was no reason I should have been pushing so hard without getting anything back. It’s a tri bike (supposed to be super fast) and a super flat course. But I just felt like I had no gas and I kept focusing on the poor swim. I was really glad to be on the last mile of the second lap because then I could focus on the run.
I came into T2 and passed my rack for my number. I swear I used all my markers (sign hanging on the end, etc), but I ended up coming in from the back side of the row. Instead of just going under the bar and looking at it from the right angle, I just racked my bike and tried to make do. Losing more time in transition. I switched to my new red racing shoes (no socks!), grabbed some Sport Beans and a sip of water, and my running hat to hide race hair. And ran back towards another confusing maze for the run-out sign.
Run – 2 miles (18:26)
In my fury to get through transition quickly and confusion from seeing the rack from the wrong angle, I totally forgot my bib number and race belt. I realized this about 7 minutes in, so almost halfway through the run. I was tired and just wanted this race to be over. So much had gone wrong and I just wanted to settle into the run. The run portion is like comfort food for me. It’s what I know and what I do best. I had a couple poor brick workouts on this course before the race so I was hoping for a little better performance, especially after how the first 2/3 of the race went. The run wasn’t too bad. Note to self, make sure that the leftover velcro on the ankle strap is on the outside of the ankle, otherwise it sticks out enough to rub against your other leg. Ouch! This run finishes on a brutal, steep hill for the last 1/4 mile just before the finish line. I promised myself I wouldn’t walk at all. It’s just 2 miles, and once and for all I’m going to tackle that damn hill. That was about the only thing I felt like I accomplished in the race.
Total: 1:03:57 (5th in AG)
So, turns out I didn’t do as badly as I thought I had. I lost in the mental game on this race. And I lost early. If I had managed to keep my act together, I could have done much better, and possibly even placed in my age group! I’ve never come that close before. The Coach says I probably went anaerobic in the water and just never recovered. If I had prepared for that better, recognized what happened, and allowed myself to recover, I would have gotten closer to a 4:15 time in the pool I was expecting. And if I had just let that one incident go and move on and keep pushing on the rest of the race, I would have had a better time (both on the clock and as enjoying myself). But I kinda gave up early and I know better. And I’m more disappointed in letting myself give up than my actual time. This race was about dusting off the cobwebs and getting ready for the real racing season, so times weren’t that important.
But if nothing else, I hope I looked good on the course. I wore my new 1 piece tri kit, and my friend wore a matching one. She rocked the race too!! I have no excuses for my times, she had hip surgery 6 months before the race and she still kicked ass!!
I took my bike in last weekend to get the fit tweaked after discussing my power issues on the bike with the Coach. Hopefully that will mean a faster and less exhausting race on the bike for my next race. Stay tuned I’ve got a couple more in June.