This race report is bittersweet. I get to tell you about another great race, but it also marks the end of my triathlon racing season for this year. But it also means I get a little reprieve from countless hours of training. (I wonder if I’ll even recognize my friends any more.) And I also have a big announcement…but you have to wait to the end. And NO peeking, so quit scrolling down!
Mentally I was feeling pretty good about this race. The race directors had changed the bike course a couple times, and I rode it each time, so I felt I was ready to deal with all the turns and was glad I didn’t have to tackle that hill in the old course. Just as it was getting close to time to head down to the water, it started to sprinkle slightly. I knew rain was in the forecast, but they thought maybe it had already moved through overnight. I pulled out the plastic bags from my transition bag and bagged up my bike shoes/socks/helmet/watch, then bagged up my running shoes, hat, and water bottle, and finally bagged up my transition bag that held my keys and cell phone. As I headed to the water, I realized I forgot my Cliff Shot, so I ran back into transition to grab it (and hoped I didn’t set off my chip crossing the mats).
Swim – 1mile – 36:19
The loading ramp was slippery/slimy with algae so we all scooted our butts down to the rocks and sat in the drizzling rain to wait for the swim start. My wave was all women plus relay teams. We took off swimming to the other side of the river. Because of the rocks and the ramp we weren’t able to spread out and really got started in a tight wave.
I was right in the middle of the washing machine churn of arms and legs, but I kept my breath under control!! No anaerobic freak out!! This was a first and I was so excited! We made the turn at the first buoy and I was trying to hang on to this one girl and draft off her, but she was a little too fast. So I stuck with this other girl who was right beside me, until I realized she was zig zagging her way between me and someone on the far right of her. She would bounce off me, then zag over and bounce off the other person. Ugh, I knew I needed to get away from her, so I pushed on and was swimming by myself for a while. That’s when the “omigod am I ever going to finish this swim/ugh a mile is a REALLY long way to swim/can I do this/no, it’s like a really really long way” thoughts set in. Not good. But I was able to keep it from causing a panic in the water and just swam until I caught someone on the second buoy turn. I tried to follow a new girl, but I was really fighting swimming perpendicular to the current. But the last buoy turn, it had really started to rain hard. It is a surreal sensation to have your face in the warm river water, then turn to breach and get pelted in the face with cold rain water. Soon enough though, the zig zag girl was back, ugh! She was like a booger I just couldn’t flick. At some point she started zigging towards the shore (and trying to take me with her), but I was sighting and saw a tree sticking out of the water. I let her pass, took off towards the middle of the water, but not before a gentle shove to remind her that she’s not paying attention. When I started getting close to swim out point, I took off to wake up my legs and to beat out the other swimmers to the volunteers to help you out of the slippery loading dock. (Seriously they had the worst job, and in the rain!) But I felt pretty good about the swim. No real freakouts, I didn’t feel terrible during the swim or right after. Maybe I’ve got this swimming thing down. And I even managed the currents (though I’ll admit I’m not smart enough to figure out which way the current was going).
Don’t I look happy about the rain?
Also rain makes me levitate apparently.
I ran towards transition and by this time it was pouring rain. I made peace with the fact that this was not going to be a PR day. I wouldn’t even like driving my car in this weather, much less riding on skinny slick bike tires. So I took my time in transition and mentally prepared for a tough ride. I’m SO glad I bagged my stuff, because I had dry shoes and watch to put on. It didn’t last long, but still.
Just starting the ride. In the rain.
Bike – 25miles – 1:33:12
The first part of the bike course is 7miles out on the highway and turn around for a few miles before heading off on a bunch of side country roads. That first 7mi I was taking easy, trying to get a feel for riding in such heavy rain. I got passed a lot but I looked down and I was doing 20mph at a few points. I looked over and saw the bikes coming back after the turnaround and was confused. There were a bunch of fast guys on bikes with race wheels and the crazy aero helmets and it looked like they were hardly moving. It wasn’t really much of a hill, why were they being so puny? I made the turnaround and immediately hit a massive headwind wall and instantly dropped 10mph from my speed. Ugh! I cursed and yelled and tried to talk myself into fighting this downpour and headwind for the next 5 or 6 miles until we turned off to side roads. Unfortunately the wind and the rain didn’t change on the side roads either. And we ran into the problem of local people driving cars, who don’t know how to drive around a cyclist! So they would slow down to about 10mph and ride behind a cyclist, which meant we would bunch up 3-4 at a time behind the car. I was terrified I would get a drafting penalty and these cars were causing me to lose even more speed and time, so I finally started passing cars on the left in oncoming traffic. I had no other choice. It was such a frustrating ride. Too many cars, too many obstacles to slow down around, and the weather was horrendous. I was really glad I already knew the somewhat technical course or I would have been even more frustrated trying to figure out where to go.
Finally drying out!
As I headed into T2, the rain was starting to let up. My shoes and socks were soaked and squishy since about 5miles into the ride. I knew my running shoes would be nice and dry in the bag, but my socks were gross and I hadn’t really prepared my feet or my shoes to go barefoot, and especially not for 6miles. Then I remembered I had an extra pair of socks in my transition bag because Indecisive Sally couldn’t make up her mind which socks she wanted to wear when she packed the bag the night before. Hot Damn!! I took the extra time to get into my bagged up transition bag and get out the socks, put on my shoes and hat and I was off.
Run – 10k – 53:32
I can’t begin to tell you how good I felt running with those dry shoes and socks! Seriously I felt like a new woman. The rest of me was totally disgusting, but my feet were warm and dry and soft, and on the run your feet are the most important part! The rain had stopped (which is about the only sport I don’t mind being in the rain) and the sun had come out some, but it was still really cool (low 70s) and some cloud cover so it didn’t get steamy and gross. The run course was fairly flat and I was feeling really good. I was going along at a good pace, but I wanted to hold back on the first couple miles to make sure I didn’t blow up and have to walk the last 2 miles. I felt great the entire run, and didn’t need to stop and take water from the volunteers. I had my own handheld but I hardly used it, but you never know just how good the water support is going to be. In fact I dumped out the remainder of my water bottle on the last mile and attached it to my race belt in the back and picked up the pace to haul it in for the last 1/2 mile. I think the run felt so good, because I had to hold back so much on the bike. I just had so much more left in the tank. In fact I probably could have punched it even harder, but I’m pretty happy with the run.
What I learned in this race:
- Always pack an extra pair of socks! Seriously you might need them and they will make your life so much better. (This also goes for an extra swim cap and goggles, which I already do.)
- Keep plastic bags neatly folded up and tucked in your transition bags. I like to save the big clear plastic bags that the UPS/FedEx guys put on your boxes when they leave them on your door. Dry cleaning bags work great too, just tie a knot in the end that is open. Clear is best so you can see your stuff, but any trash bag will do.
- When you have a ride that you’re not able to really push on, you better push the hell out of the run because you’ll have so much more left in the tank.
So, overall I’m pretty happy with the race. With the bad weather and terrible circumstances with the bike ride, I still had a pretty decent finish time. I know without those issues I would have had a really good time and maybe a PR, but this year was about learning about the Oly race distance and what it takes. For my second Oly, I’m very pleased. I handled everything it threw at me and didn’t lose my mind or temper or breakfast. I kept my focus (which is better than my first tri of the season 4 months earlier).
So, now that I’ve tackled the Oly distance, it’s time to take on the next big goal. That’s right, a Half Ironman. And for my big announcement, I’ve already signed up for my first Half Ironman for next year! On July 13 next year, you can find me at Ironman Muncie 70.3! That’s 70.3 miles = 1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, and 13.1 run! I can’t wait. But for now, tri season is over. I still have 2 more big running races, then I have 3 months to relax before I start Ironman training in January!