For the third year in a row, I returned to the IronGirl Columbia triathlon. I love this race. I love all the beginners and the general spirit of the race. But though it is welcoming to beginners, this course is no joke. It’s tough!
This year, I wanted to show improvement again. And for most of the race, I thought I was showing improvement. Of course, in my head, I had my race time for 2013, not 2014, so what I thought was a possible PR was actually slightly slower than last year’s race. But that’s okay. I still had a blast!
One big difference this year was that the Athenas were placed much later in the start waves. That means I didn’t start til after 8am. What should I have been doing in the 2+ hours I had while hanging out at the race? Sitting. What was I doing? Not sitting. Possibly not the best plan.
It was definitely a hot morning, and I used my Osmo Preload the night before and the morning of the race, but I’m not sure it was enough for me, as you’ll see.
One fun thing about having a later start wave was that I got to watch a lot of other ladies start the race. It also meant that I saw a number of ladies get pulled from the swim. The lake is calm, but if you’re not used to open water swimming, the first time can be scary.
This race uses a time trial start, which is definitely different from what I’m used to, but I think I like it. It helps the packs get spread out a bit, which is nice for a race that is welcoming to all skill levels. Plus I knew the two people getting us into the water, so it was fun to see friendly faces.
This swim was nothing fancy, but it just felt good. Spotting the buoys was tough because for the first part we were in the sun, and then the final turn buoy… I don’t know if it was just a darker, dirtier orange than I’m used to, but it was hard to see. This is a 1000m swim, so it’s a long sprint, but the swim just felt good. Definitely better than two weeks ago when I felt like I was struggling.
I got out of the water and my right calf was all cramped up. Made it tough to walk. I had Osmo in my bike bottle and Margarita Clif Bloks, so I hoped that would help.
This is a long run to T1, but I had a great place in the racks. I’m still working on getting my cooling wings on faster, but the lack of sunburn is so worth the slight delay.
I know this bike course, but I don’t know it in the right order (I’m used to starting in a slightly different place), so I knew what I had coming. It’s filled with hills, and I was quickly passing people who weren’t ready for the hills. It was tough to see girls struggling on the early hills and I hoped they warmed up enough to do the later hills.
I was riding near a woman who was loudly huffing and puffing up the hills for comic effect and it was so funny that it got my mind off the tough course. At one point, we were going up a tough hill and I crested a minute or so before her. I could tell when she crested as she cried “WHEEEEEEE!” as she started soaring down. I laughed out loud. This is the sort of thing that makes me love this race.
While I didn’t notice my calf on the bike, I did notice it as soon as I got off the bike. This run was not going to be fun.
What I think I didn’t realize was just how hot and humid it was. I felt like I was properly hydrating and taking the right amounts of sodium, but it was hotter than it seemed (probably because I was so wet, I wasn’t noticing it). I probably needed more electrolytes at some point, because that calf cramp was no joke. I still managed to keep up some pretty decent intervals, but I could tell my gait was off, as my hips started to cramp up, which led my back to cramp up. I think that I was a mess. But I just kept going.
And I was done!
8/21 Athenas under 40
36 seconds slower than last year. 36 seconds! So close! Honestly though, I’m okay with it. The temperature was much different and I fought through some crappy cramping issues. My swim felt great, even though it was a tiny bit slower than last year. My bike was faster, so there’s improvement happening.
Of course, now I want to REALLY set a PR next year.