Well, apparently 2017 was my season.
I finished my 2017 triathlon season with a bang at Patriots International and ended up as second place Athena. Pretty darn proud of how this season ended. But let’s talk about the race itself.
While I have raced two different international distance courses in Williamsburg, I had never done Patriots. That said, parts of the course overlapped those of the previous races I had done, so I had some sort of an idea of what I was getting myself into.
As per usual, I was watching the weather closely leading up to the race. Of course, it was hard to make even the tiniest peep of a complaint, considering what has been going on in Texas and Florida. But I lucked out and race day was pretty perfect. Cold in the morning (around 60 degrees), but the water was around 75, and the day promised to warm up to around 80.
The swim ended up being wetsuit legal, and I followed my coach’s instructions to always wear my wetsuit if possible, because it was just free speed. It was nice to just be able to put it on for warmth if nothing else! As we watched some of the earlier waves start, I realized how shallow the water was. In fact, the announcer said “If at any point, you forget how to swim, just stand up.” People basically walked out to the first buoy because the water was so shallow that you couldn’t swim without your hands hitting the ground. I know how much energy it takes to walk through the water, so when it was my turn, I tried to swim as much as possible, but walking ended up being easier.
The swim did involve some cross current swimming, but I honestly didn’t notice it too much. Because of the placement of the sun, I had trouble finding the buoys at times, but it wasn’t too bad. And I used the trick of taking my wetsuit off in the water and letting the water help me get it off my legs. Definitely an easy way to get out of it when there aren’t wetsuit strippers. Plus then I didn’t have to run in it.
The bad part of this race? The quarter mile run to transition from the swim. Ugh.
On to the bike. Now, they claimed this course was flat, and I would agree for the most part, but there were some rollers and quite a few false flats. I would be riding along, thinking I was flying, then realize I was nearly a mile per hour slower than I thought. Thank you, false flat. Of course, what goes up must come down, right? The only real “hill” was going over the Chickahominy bridge, which is part of the Rev3 Williamsburg course, so I had just done it in July. (Of course there, it’s right at the beginning and end of the bike course, which have to be the worst places for a bridge.) The weirdest part of the course was the last mile or so, where you sort of had to wind your way back to transition on these narrow paths. That definitely hurt my overall pace.
At one point, I passed a woman blaring music on her bike. People. Don’t do this.
My goal was simply to push my hardest on the bike and try to hold a solid pace for as long as possible. I ended up averaging about 16.5mph, a bit slower than I wanted, but I’m pleased with it, and it meant I still had some gas left in the tank.
Bike: 1:25:17 (My Garmin read this as short – closer to 23 than 24 miles)
T2 happened. Nothing exciting there. I will say, that even though I came in second, I had the fastest T1 and T2. Go me.
This run was billed as being on pavement, gravel, and trails. So that sounded fun. And it was… interesting. It was definitely scenic and shady, both things I enjoyed. But there was one turn that a number of people missed, and there were other points on the course where there was just a sign and no volunteer indicating where you should go. I know, I know, the rule of triathlon is that it’s the athlete’s job to know the course. But I didn’t love this.
Early on in the run, I heard someone yell to a teammate “Make sure you don’t miss the right turn after the water stop!” So I kept that in mind, and yep, there was a right turn right after the water stop that was very easy to miss. There were runners coming straight back at you, so it logically made sense to go straight… except for the small sign pointing you right. I talked to a few people who had missed the turn and turned around to go back. Worse, I ran into a few people who decided to run that part of the course backwards (it was vaguely P shaped, to explain how that was possible). Not sure that’s legal, and I’m fairly sure it’s a DQ, but I’m no official, so who am I to judge?
So these trails winded around and up and down and it was a very lovely place, but also a bit more technical of a run than I’m used to. I had to really push the pace here and not just run by feel.
As I was coming into the finish, there was a woman behind me with a huge cheer squad. I love seeing that. But then, her friend came up to her and said “Beat that girl in front of you.” Oh no you don’t. So I put on all the speed I had and sprinted into the finish. Okay, so my sprint isn’t that fast, but I still beat her. It wasn’t even about her, I think her friend just put a bug in my ear and I had to win.
Run: 1:18:30. Only a minute slower than Rev3 Williamsburg, which was a fast and flat course.
So I guess this was definitely my season. I’m super happy with how I did and all my work is really paying off. I can’t say I’m looking forward to an easy off season as I’m picking up distance running again, but it should be slightly less stressful. Now I just have to stop eating all the thing, as has become my habit over the past month, and things will be great.
On to the next big thing! But first, a rest week.