Monday, August 25, 2014

Keystone State Sprint Triathlon 2014

It seems like I just raced and here I am racing again. I debated whether or not to sign up for this race back in the spring since it was only two weeks after nationals and three weeks before my half ironman. What it came down to though, was that I knew I would regret it if I didn't race it. This race has always been a favorite of mine. Although I am working on becoming more competitive and reaching a new level as a triathlete, right now I race because I love it and since there was no blaring reason not to do the race I went ahead and signed up.

Because this was sandwiched between my two goal races I didn't cut back on training at all. Translation: I was tired. I should have known to lower my expectations for this race or not have any at all but sometimes my competitiveness gets the best of me. My legs feeling like lead during my warmup should have been my second clue.

Swim (1/2 mile)
The start of this race was SO much calmer than at Nationals. I think this was the first race where I nailed the swim start. I was able to run a few steps in the water, dolphin dive, and claim some open water real estate with no issues with any of the other women. A friend of mine who used to compete in open water swimming was doing this race so I immediately hopped on her feet and let her do all the sighting. This might have been the first race where I nailed drafting during the swim too.

Swim 11:09 (1:16/100, 2nd AG, 2nd female)
T1 1:02

Bike (18.2 miles)
During the run from the lake to transition I got my first taste of how tired my legs really were. I navigated my way through the muddy swam that had become transition and then struggled for an embarrassing amount of time to get clipped in. Once I was able to get moving I tried to focus on having my own race and not worrying about anyone else on the course. I also tried to let go of whatever my garmin was telling me and race based on how I was feeling. I have a tendency to get in my own head and I didn't want to spend another race battling my mind.

Bike 1:04:22 (17mph, 1st AG, 2nd female)

Run (3.2 miles)
Even though I was tired, I had managed to put together a solid performance in the swim and on the bike. I started running and knew this was going to be a hard race. I was running as the first female with no idea how far back second place was. I was willing my legs to turn over as fast as possible but it felt like I may as well have been shuffling along the trail. Maybe a mile in I made a wrong turn, adding about a minute by the time I found my way back. It was during this minute that second place passed me. I spent the rest of the run mad at myself for what had happened as well as how tired I felt. I spent the rest of the run struggling mentally and physically. I just didn't have it in me to run her down no matter how much I wanted to and that was hard for me to deal with because I could see her almost the entire time.

Run 27:24 (8:33min/mi, 2nd AG, 7th female)

Overall 1:44:48 / 1st AG / 2nd female

Immediately following this race I was livid with both what had happened with first place as well as my performance. This was my first race where I did not set a PR and while I knew at some point that a less than stellar race was bound to happen, it doesn't make it any easier when it does.

After taking some time to reflect on the race I am actually pretty happy with my performance. I am in peak training for my first half ironman and going to a race feeling fresh would be indicative of not training hard enough. My swim and bike splits were nearly identical to last year, it was just my run that was slow. And while I didn't bike or run as fast as I did at nationals at a longer distance, this course was harder. I am proud of myself for taking a risk on the bike and really pushing despite how crappy I felt. Maybe if I hadn't gone so hard on the bike I would have had more in the tank for the run but this was a perfect race to experiment. The only way to find out how fast you can go is to risk going too hard and blowing up.

I have now finished second overall female in three races, two of which were this summer. I thought I would be more upset about not getting an overall win but I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Had I not missed that turn on the run I would have likely had a sprint to the finish with first place and as much as it pains me to say this, I'm not sure I'm mentally strong enough yet to commit to winning. I don't want to win a race because nobody showed up that day but rather because I earned it. Because I pushed myself beyond what I thought possible to beat all the other women. Recognizing this is a really good starting point with the off-season just around the corner. Although Ironman Lake Placid is my A race for next year you can bet I will be chasing that coveted first place finish.

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