My first real triathlon of 2014 is in the bag! After the swim being cancelled at the Columbia Triathlon I was feeling a little more nervous and anxious about this race than I wanted to. I have been training hard but my focus has been more on building endurance than speed so I didn't know I would fare in a sprint triathlon. I took some time the night before to go over the training I had done to remind myself that I was well prepared to have a strong race.
Race morning started with a 5:45 wakeup call. I feel lucky that this race is only 5 minutes from my house because I can sleep in some and don't have to worry about traveling or parking. I ate a small bowl of oatmeal before finishing getting everything ready to head out the door by 6:30. Check-in and setting up transition were pretty uneventful, which is how I like it. I could feel the nerves building but I wasn't all that stressed out.
Around 7:30 I hopped in the pool to get in a warmup and just didn't feel great. My heart rate was super high and I was jittery from the nerves. I had a specific warmup planned that I bailed on in order to try to get myself to calm down some. Unfortunately I wasn't able to relax all that much. At 7:45 there was a pre-race meeting explaining how the swim would work (serpentine swim- do two laps in each lane, starting at the left side of the pool, going into each lane until you are at the other side of the pool).
Swim (500 yards)
As expected from my warmup, I didn't feel great during the swim. I felt all over the place and like I just couldn't get my shit together. After a few laps like this I eased up a little and focused more on my stroke. I know from past races that starting the bike with too high of a heart rate is not good for me so I didn't want to waste any energy fighting the water.
Although my swim time was 10 seconds faster than last year I am pretty disappointed with how this went. I have made a lot of progress in the pool since last year and was expecting to shave more time off. I just hate that my performance does not reflect my training. I like seeing progress and was hoping for more. I am glad this was my only pool swim this season though. I definitely like being out in the open water better.
Swim + run to T1: 7:29 / 1st AG / 3rd overall
Bike (15 miles)
I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to run from the pool to the transition area without feeling nauseated as I have in the past. I quickly threw on my helmet and shoes, grabbed my bike and was on my way. I want to say for anyone who is considering doing this race in the future that while the bike course is challenging, it is beautiful and the volunteers out on the course are great. There are two bigger climbs in the first half of the course but you can easily make up speed during the second half. Another perk of living so close to this race is that I do a lot of training on the course. I am not the best at cornering so being able to get out there and practice the challenging turns makes a huge difference for me.
So like I said, the first half of the course is definitely the harder half. I really didn't feel all that great and was nervous about how the rest of the race would play out. I was struggling more than normal on the hills but felt strong on the flatter sections. The first third to half of this race was a struggle between trying to ride as hard as I could and trying to not overdo it since I wasn't feeling great. I kept reminding myself that this was a race and I shouldn't feel comfortable.
Somewhere around two-thirds of the way done I was starting to feel considerably better and decided to try to push the pace some. I wanted to be risky with this race and really try to push myself. If I blew up on the run I would deal with that later. With about 10 minutes of riding left I took a caffeinated gel and realized that I hadn't had that much to drink. This is something I need to work on moving forward because the races are only getting longer and staying hydrated is more important.
Bike: 52:58 / 17.3 mph / 1st AG / 4th overall
Run (3.1 miles)
Coming off the bike I was the first female. Unfortunately this is not the same as being in first place. Because the swim is seeded based on your projected swim time and is a staggered start, you don't know exactly where you sit place wise until after quite a few people finish the race. Being a stronger swimmer I was second coming out of the water and first coming off the bike. Going into this race my goal was to PR and if it was in the cards, to win. It's hard to try to win when you have no idea who is there and how they are doing.
After arriving back in transition I put on my racing flats (first time wearing them in a race!) and had an "oh shit" moment. I had no idea how my legs would hold up on the run and I wasn't sure if I was ready to find out. Because of training for a half marathon last year I had a lot of speed work under my belt in the few months before this race. This year I logged somewhere around 200 less miles with only a handful of speed workouts. Needless to say I was nervous about what kind of run split I would put up.
All of the run seems to blur together for me but I remember wondering if I was pushing too hard during the first mile. I decided not to wear my garmin so I wouldn't be freaked out by running a faster than normal pace so I had no clue how fast or slow I was actually running. It was just me out there on the streets so I couldn't gauge how I was doing either. During the second mile I was starting to get tired. I kept telling myself to get to the third mile and then I was in the home stretch but the second mile never seemed to end.
Around the start of the third mile was when I could see some of the other athletes. Most of the last two miles is an out and back so I was checking to see how far back the other women were. Because there was also a duathlon and a relay it was hard to tell who was competing in what but I knew that there were some fast running ladies behind me and I needed to get a move on it.
I ran with every ounce of energy I had left until I crossed that finish line. The last little bit of the run is on a gradual hill before entering the track to complete half a lap. By the time I got to the track I closed my eyes and willed my legs to go as fast as they possibly could, which at this point couldn't have been very fast.
Run: 23:38 / 7:37 / 2nd AG/ 4th overall
After finishing it was time to play the waiting game. I ended up finishing second, which at first I was pretty disappointed about but now I am okay with. I raced strong and hard and wouldn't have caught first place had my swim been faster or had my legs felt fresher during the first half of the bike. In the end I came to race and put up a fight, and that's what I did. I PR'd each distance and set a standalone 5K PR by 50 seconds.
Finish time: 1:25:57 / 1st AG / 2nd overall
Next up is a couple easier days before jumping back into training with a big build block before my next race- USAT AG nationals in August!