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.
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!