The End of a Successful Triathlon Season

With Giant Acorn complete, my 2015 triathlon season is complete.  I can’t believe this was my third year of triathlon.  I still feel like such a beginner.

In 2013, I did two triathlons, plus one indoor triathlon (which I don’t really count).  It was definitely a whirlwind.

In 2014, I doubled that and did four triathlons, greatly improved my finish time for IronGirl Columbia and found myself on the podium at Dragonfly Heart.

In 2015, I did six triathlons, improved my finish at Giant Acorn, and found myself on the podium twice.  I also raced on Team Coeur, and it was such fun to be on this team.  I have some incredibly impressive teammates.

I feel like I should continue the trend and do 8 triathlons in 2016, but it’s really going to depend on scheduling.  I want my racing to be about quality, not quantity.  Will I be on the podium three times?  Probably not.  Ideally, I’ll continue to lose weight and find myself no longer eligible for Athena, because man, it would be nice to have less weight to haul up those hills.  But we’ll see what happens.

I started the season with the Kinetic Sprint.  I wasn’t really ready to start the racing season and while my body did just fine, my mind wasn’t into it yet.

After that, I jumped right into Challenge Williamsburg Oly.  This was really my “big” race for the year.  It was my second oly, and I had big goals.  Huge goals.  And then the weather pushed back.  It was so very hot, but rather than lament the heat, I just decided to laugh my way through it.  It was a good lesson to learn and something I tried to stick with through the rest of the season.  And I had a surprise podium finish!

Next up, Colonial Beach Sprint.  When Liz convinced me to sign up for a triathlon in July, I figured it would be a hot slog.  Oh, how wrong I was.  It was cold and so very rainy.  And we had an absolute blast.  It would have been easy to be frustrated with the conditions, but instead we just laughed it off and it may have been the most fun I had while racing all season.

Then back to the Fort Ritchie Sprint.  I wanted to do better than the previous year.  And I did, but it wasn’t the race I wanted.  I’m used to battling my heart rate issues, but this was the first time that I really felt affected by my condition, as I had to get off my bike for a hill once my HR was in the 190’s.  I was angry at the situation and frustrated that it was due to a last minute course change (not the director’s fault – it was the safest option).  But still, I managed to finish 5 miles faster, and with walking a chunk of the bike, that’s a pretty good thing.

Later that month was IronGirl Columbia.  This was my third time back, and it was very different than what I was used to.  It’s a huge race, and in previous years, we were a very early start wave.  This time, I was in a fairly late wave, which meant I got to watch a lot of racers start.  That was a lot of fun, but it also meant way too much time on my feet before the race.  My own fault.  I had a good race, not as good as the previous year, but given the temperature and my own pre-race mistakes, I’ll take it.

Then one more race, Giant Acorn Oly. Another repeat, so I had some concrete goals.  First off, don’t get a flat tire during the race.  But I had a general idea of how much time I had lost with that flat tire, so I wanted to do better.  I wanted to do better than I had at Challenge Williamsburg.  The two races aren’t really comparable – the distances are the same, but the courses are very different, plus Williamsburg was kind of like the surface of the sun when I raced there.  But I pushed myself and had a phenomenal race.  I have been focusing on proper fueling over the past month and I think it might be paying off.

All in all, it was a really good season for me.  I really focused on putting in the training and it definitely paid off.

I have some pretty big goals for 2016, but I’m not sure I’m ready to make a big pronouncement just yet.  Over the winter, I really need to work on my cycling.  I think my trainer and I are going to become very good friends this winter.  I also need to get more comfortable on my tri bike so I can start racing in aero.  (I also need to find money to kit out said bike, which currently has no hydration system.  I wonder how Santa feels about bringing triathlon gear.)

I’m super glad that I got into triathlon.  I have made SO many friends through racing.  I’ve started taking better care of myself, and I’ve made my training a priority.  Even though I may not have lost a bunch of weight (yet?) I know that I’m in even better shape than I was when I was only running.  If you’re thinking about getting into triathlon (or duathlon or even aquavelo racing), I highly recommend it.

Wednesday Workout Recap

First off, thanks for all the kind comments on yesterday’s post.  I didn’t write it to have people compliment me.  I am well aware of what I look like in spandex and 95% of the time, I just don’t care.  That’s not what racing is about for me.  But it’s nice to hear anyway.

On to the recap.  Taper weeks are so lovely.

Monday  – Rest Day

Tuesday – Easy 3 mile run with pickups.  Did this in about 40 minutes.  I’m finding that my easy runs are getting easier.  Guess this training thing is working.

Wednesday – Easy 30 minute bike with pickups.  So nice.  Also, the fan I bought to put in front of my bike trainer was possibly the best purchase I made all year.  Glorious, glorious wind.

Thursday – Ended up on a conference call during swim, so I missed swim practice.

Friday – Rest Day

Saturday – RACE DAY

Sunday – Rest Day

And that’s the end of my triathlon season.  I’d say it was a pretty darn good one.  On to the next adventure!

There is No Magic Pill

I wasn’t going to post about this, but I don’t think the person I’m referring to reads my blog, and if they do, well, it’s their own fault for doing what I’m about to discuss.

I don’t post a ton on my personal Facebook page, but when I do, it’s often in reference to races (or funny animal videos, which is the purpose of the internet).  And this includes photos of me in race gear.  For triathlons, that means spandex.  Spandex is the great equalizer.  I don’t know that anyone really looks great in spandex.  Okay, there are some people.  But the average human being doesn’t look stellar.

And you know what?  No one cares. At a triathlon, no one is judging you for how you look in your kit.  (Unless you look fabulous.  Then we’re probably envious.)  Triathlon has been great for my body image.  Yes I have some unsightly bulges that perhaps should be smaller.  But I just hauled those bulges through a tough race and I deserve all the accolades coming my way (even if they’re just in my own head).

So at some point in the not so distant past, there was a photo of me in my cute pink Team Coeur kit on my Facebook page.  My hair was a disaster and I probably had dirt on my face, but I was grinning and having a grand time.   I thought it was a good pic.

And then I got the message.

A “friend” messaged me to tell me that she had seen my pictures and wanted to offer me a deal on some great slimming wraps to help improve my shape.  She just knew that these would help me out a lot, and since there was a sale going on, it was the perfect time to buy.

Now if that’s not a hit to the self-esteem, I don’t know what is.  I’m so glad to know that people are reading my Facebook page and judging what I look like and deciding “Hey, that girl looks like she could lose some inches.  Let’s try to get her to buy some product I’m selling!”

Plus, let’s be real here.  Those things do not work.  I don’t care what anyone says.  Slimming wraps have no real effect.  Will they dehydrate you and temporarily reduce your waistline?  Sure.  But we’re talking extremely temporarily.  Like less than a day temporarily.  Like “drink a glass of water and it’s gone” temporarily.  So, you know, if you’re about to go out and do a bikini photo shoot, by all means!  These things are for you!

But if you’re looking for a true change in your body, one that lasts?  There is no magic pill.  No wrap or cream or pill is going to make you smaller.  I know, the ads are compelling.  All the before and after pictures make you want to try it out.  But it’s not worth it.  What works is hard work and dedication.

We would all love that magic pill to solve all of our problems.  But the biggest problem is that we spend all of our time hunting for it instead of working towards real solutions.


Race Report – 2015 Giant Acorn International Triathlon

I now have International Distance Triathlon Number 3 under my belt.  And I’d say it was a success.


But let’s back up a bit.  Saturday morning was the Giant Acorn International Triathlon.  I raced this last year as well, and got a flat tire on the bike.  Managed to change it, which was a huge boost for my cycling confidence, but my finish time wasn’t stellar.  I’m not going to just blame it on the bike, of course.

This year, I was much better prepared.  I had actually thought about what I wanted to do for the race.  I knew where I needed to push.  I was ready.  Or as ready as I could be.

Race morning, it was raining.  *sigh*  But I had done this before, and I knew a rainy race wasn’t always a bad thing.  Rain meant it would be cool.  And besides, once I got in the water, I was going to be wet anyway.  There was no lightning, so no worries that the race would be changed in any way.

Liz and I were among the first racers to get to transition.  I’d rather be early than late, and we were up, so why not?  We placed our bikes, then went back to our cars to deal with everything else.  No need to have everything get wet right away.  There was some confusion as to the water temperature. It was wetsuit legal, but some people were saying the water was 77 degrees.  After Fort Ritchie, I wasn’t sure I wanted to wear my wetsuit if it was that warm.  But a race official told me it was 72ish, and that was perfect.  Wetsuit legal, but still good for Liz, who doesn’t love her wetsuit.  I’d say the wetsuit/non-wetsuit split was pretty even.

Lately, my swims haven’t been great.  I’m not nervous in the open water, but I’ve been struggling with pulling to the right, and that makes it really freaking hard to swim straight.  It’s annoying.  And of course, it happened again here. About 8 minutes into my swim (you can see it on my Garmin stats) I thought “I bet bilateral breathing would help this.  I should work on that over the winter.”  And then I thought, “What the hell, let’s try this now.”  So I did.  And while my bilateral breathing needs work, my pace definitely picked up for the swim.  So over the winter, it’s time for some bilateral breathing work.

I wasn’t happy with my swim because I felt so far back.  One of the perils of being a mediocre swimmer in the last wave.  I was far from the last person out of the water, but still.

Swim: 39:27 (2014 – 37:15)

It’s a long, uphill battle to T1 in this race.  At least it’s on a sidewalk.  It was really overcast when I got to T1, so I opted to not put on my cooling wings.  I wear them to prevent sunburn, and figured I was okay for the bike.  I realized that all but one of the Athena bikes were still in transition, and I saw the lead Athena go out, so I thought I might be able to catch her.   Here goes nothing.

T1: 4:04 (2014 – 4:29)

This bike forces you to mount on an uphill, then continue to ride uphill.  Ugh.  But it’s a good time to get settled in.  I passed a few racers early on and then really didn’t see a lot of other riders.  My goal was to try to hit an average 15mph pace, which I knew would be a challenge for me on this course, but it was a way to force myself to work.  I kept watching for the lead Athena, but just tried to focus on my race.  I passed her when she was off to the side on a hill.  I think she dropped her chain.  I felt a little bad about not stopping to offer help, but was moving too fast to really think straight.  I just kept pushing, trying to hit my pace.  My first 5 miles were under my goal, but that was okay.

I also worked on fueling properly.  I think I need somewhere between 160-180 calories on the bike every hour (I need to figure that out better using my Garmin data).  I have been trying out Tailwind, but haven’t used it enough to be ready for it on the bike, so I had my beloved Osmo in my water bottle (with a spare bottle of plain water) and a variety of chews and Barnana bits in a baggie in my bento box.  I did enjoy the variety, but I felt like I was constantly reminding myself to eat something.  If I plan to do longer rides, that’s something I’ll have to work on.

At one point, I rode underneath a set of power lines that I swear were buzzing.  That’s not normal, right?

The cars were mostly respectful on the bike, though at one point, a car was riding behind a slow racer, and I could either slow down to follow the car or try to pass on the shoulder.  I chose the stupid option and passed and nearly lost my balance, but kept moving.  Probably not the best way to go.

Around mile 15 or so, the girl I saw on the side of the road passed me.  She is an awesome biker and I want to be her friend.  We leapfrogged quite a bit, but in the end, I finished the bike first.  As we were coming into the park, I came up on Liz’s heels and we finished the bike together.  I think she was a little annoyed to see me, but I was just so glad to not see her sitting on the side of the road fixing her tires like last year.

Bike: 1:42:24 (2014 – 2:01:33)

When I got into T2, I saw an Aquabike finisher and told her she was super smart.  She was done and now I had to go run.  I was in a really good mood, just having fun.  The perfect mental state for a race.  I considered putting on my wings, but it was still cloudy, so I figured I was okay.

T2:  1:54 (2014 – 2:35)

Onto the run.  I figured this was where I would lose my lead, but I just wanted to finish in a respectable time.  It’s a double looped course, and it starts out with a giant uphill.  Ugh.  With my heart rate issues, I don’t even try to run it, just power walk, which still gets my HR way up, and then when my HR gets into a good zone again, I start my run intervals.  I’ve started doing 30:30 intervals during triathlons and it’s been working pretty well for me.  I think because my body’s already so tired, 30 seconds works well.  I decided to have fun with this run and I just kept shouting encouragement to other racers, and teasing the volunteers who were on bikes. (“Hey, that’s cheating!”)   The volunteers at this race were awesome and I always make a point to thank them when I run past (and ride past on the bike too).

On the out and back, I saw the other Athena.  I was barely ahead of her, but I thought if I pushed, I could keep the spot.  (I found out later she didn’t even know that she had a chance to place, so I felt a little guilty about this.)  And Liz was doing great too.

I completed my first loop and pushed for the second loop.  I was flying, or so it felt to me.  I was definitely drained, and around mile 4, thought the wheels were coming off, but put my faith in the chews I had with me and hoped the sugar would help.  It definitely did.  I knew if I wanted that win, I had to not let up.

And then I sailed into the finish line.

Run: 1:21:57 (2014 – 1:27:13)

Total time: 3:49:06 (2014 – 4:13:02)

I beat the second place Athena by less than half a minute.  Her name is Ashley and she’s super nice and I want to be her friend and I hope to race with her again.   We both went back to cheer for Liz to finish, and she POWERED into the finish line.  I don’t know where she found the energy.



Man, I look good after a race.

So all in all, a great race day!  Afterwards, everything hurt, but in a good way.  Also, that brief period the sun was out before it started to rain on our run meant that I do have race numbers sunburned into my arms.  But it could have been worse.  Lesson learned.

Great way to wrap up the season.  On to the next big thing!

Last Triathlon of the Season

I don’t know what this guy has to do with this post, but I thought he was cute.
OpenClipartVectors / Pixabay

Saturday is my last triathlon of the season – Giant Acorn Olympic.  This will be my second year doing this race, and I’m hoping for a completely different race as compared to last year.   To summarize, last year I got a flat tire very early in the bike (possibly flat coming out of transition) and had to change it on the fly.  Screwed up my derailleur doing so, and just spent the rest of the race frustrated.  Was lucky to finish, but very nearly missed the cutoff.

One big thing in my favor this year should be the weather.  Last year was hot, and it should be cooler this year.  Unfortunately, it may rain, but after Colonial Beach, I know that I can race in the rain.  The cooler the weather, the better my run will go.  Personally, I’m hoping for just overcast, but beggars can’t be choosers.

This will be my third Olympic distance race.  Neither of the other two have been in ideal situations.  The second was Challenge Williamsburg, where it was ungodly hot.  So in terms of races, I’m not sure what to predict.  I’d like to finish under 4 hours.  That was my goal for Williamsburg, and I just barely missed it, which I consider super impressive given the weather.

For me, I will make or break that goal on the bike.  For me, the swim is about focus and just trying to stay as on course as possible.  I like this water, so I’m not too worried about that.   I just need to stay focused and sight properly.  It will probably be wetsuit legal, so I’ll get some free speed there.

This run is a double loop, and it starts with a giant hill.  It is not fun.  But at least the hill is at the beginning (and middle) and not near the end.  The run is just going to be about finding my rhythm and finding a balance between keeping my heart rate in a proper range while still pushing the speed.  Typically, it’s my heart rate that slows me down on the run, which I always think of as a good thing.  It means I’m doing the best I can.  Of course, I’m hoping that losing weight will help my heart rate issues as well.  The cardiologist didn’t indicate that it would, but a girl can dream. Plus if the weather is cool, my heart rate will be lower anyway, so here’s hoping for some rain on the run.

The bike is where I can really push.  I’m still trying to find that good balance between holding back too much and pushing too hard.  25 miles is no joke.  I can’t ride the whole thing full out.  I won’t make it to the end.  But at the same time, I can’t just sit back and pedal either.  It’s a ride with rolling hills, and that’s something I love.  So I’m just going to work to find that middle ground and race.  What I love is when I can find someone to chase.  Someone who is just a bit faster than I am.  It forces me to push myself more than normal, but it’s rare that I find that in a smaller race.

So now, I have followed my Coach’s advice and have started getting my head in the game for the race.  Next up?  Laundry.  I need something to wear for this race.