What a weekend! The race was awesome, I am really happy with my performance, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. I am even more excited for my fall Oly now, because I know what I really need to focus on in the next few months. Anyways, on to the report.
My mom and I drove down to the lake together on Friday, arriving around 8:30. Packet pick-up ended at 7, so I missed that and would need to take care of it in the morning. No big deal, I was planning on getting to the race site pretty early anyways. Once we had unloaded the car, I went for a short 20 minute run to move my legs a bit after driving for four and a half hours. I would have liked to go for a quick bike ride as well, but it was too dark and I don’t have lamps for my bike. After my run, I took a quick shower and then organized all my gear so that I could set up my transition area easily in the morning. I went to bed about 10:00PM, but didn’t sleep very well at all. I tossed and turned all night long!
I woke up at 6:30AM, and checked to see what the weather was looking like. It was very overcast and looked like it might rain, but I was hopeful that it might clear up with the sun. I made myself a bowl of oatmeal with walnuts and raisins, and ate a hard-boiled egg for breakfast. I left for the race site at 7:00AM to check-in and pick up my race packet, number, and timing chip since I missed packet pick up the night before. I also had my body marking done right away while there was no line. After all the administrative stuff was taken care of, I put my race number on my bike and helmet, and attached it to my shirt. Then I took all my stuff over to rack my bike and set up my transition. The one thing I had been really worried about for this race was the mount/dismount of the bike. Last time, it was at the bottom of a fairly steep hill, which meant attempting to clip-in while climbing! Luckily, I found out that they had moved the mount line to the top of the hill, so I no longer had to worry about it.
I unfortunately didn’t get in a good warm-up because I was worried about the timing, just a quick jog around the transition area in the parking lot. By this time, the sun had come out and it was getting pretty hot and humid. They also announced that the water temperature was 66°F (up from 62 on Thursday). Everyone was really excited about the warmer temp. I hadn’t planned on getting in the water before the race because I was afraid it would be too cold, but I decided to start getting into my wetsuit at 8:20. There was a race meeting at 8:45, and the race was supposed to start at 9:00 with my wave leaving at 9:03 (five waves total, with one leaving every 3 minutes). Once I got into my wetsuit, I HAD to get in the water because I was HOT. The water felt amazing! I swam a quick 50 meters or so, and discovered that the water visibility was nonexistent. I located the buoys marking the course, and noted where the yellow turn buoys were. I got out of the water and waited a few minutes for the race meeting.
Then it was time for the first wave (red caps) to be corraled. After they left, my wave (pink caps for women under 35) entered the corral and lined up for entry. I ended up lining up on the inside in the front. I know in my race plan I had said that I would line up on the outside, but after checking out the course, I realized that it could add at least an extra 15 meters to my swim and probably wasn’t worth it. I got a prime spot on the inside. At 9:03AM we were off (I made sure to start my stop watch on my heart rate monitor so I could track my time throughout the race).
The first 200m were tough. I was having a really hard time sighting the buoy because my goggles fogged up really badly. I need to remember to use anti-fog gel prior to my next race. As expected, I got kicked a fair amount (I probably did my fair share of kicking others as well). I would have liked to find someone to draft, but I kept overtaking people in front of me. I actually even swam up between someone’s legs before I realized what I was doing. Oops! After the first turn, things got a little better and I got into a better rhythm. I also started seeing red caps when I was coming up to sight, so I knew I was doing ok. I had no clue how many pink caps were in front of me or behind me. The visibility was terrible. On the second and final turn, I was heading toward the shore at a pretty good pace. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good point to sight on, so I was having a little trouble keeping focused. I think a big yellow buoy at the exit point would have been really helpful for me. The last 25 meters were tough because I was also trying to keep track of when I would be able to touch the bottom and run in. When I came out of the water, I glanced at my watch and saw my time of 13:00. Whew! 2 minutes faster than my goal time of 15:00. Curtis told me later that I was probably 12th or 13th out of the water out of the pink caps.
The run out of the water to the transition area is up a hill, which I ran about halfway and then walked halfway. I didn’t want my heartrate shooting up before getting on the bike. While I was running, I unzipped and pulled my wetsuit down halfway and then took off my cap and goggles. When I got to my transition area, I pulled the rest of the wetsuit off, pulled on my shirt and shorts, slipped on my cycling shoes (no socks!). I put on my helmet and sunglasses and unracked my bike to run to the mount line (at the top of the hill). I got on and clipped my shoes in in record time! I couldn’t believe it. I had to fix my right shoe, because I apparently hadn’t gotten it velcroed all the way in transition. The first half of the bike ride was mostly downhill with some small climbs. At about mile 10.5, there was a massive hill to climb. It was actually kind of amusing to watch as all the cyclists in a line got slower and slower and then disappeared over the top of the hill. On the bike, I got passed by a lot of people, mostly men. The first few were likely some of the “red caps” I had passed in the swim. I didn’t see any women in my age group pass me, so I wasn’t too sure how I was doing relative to the field at this point. By the way, they mark our legs with our race age, so that’s how I knew who was passing me. Once I got past the hill, I cruised back into the park and tried to pick up the cadence. I’m still pushing too high a gear during my riding and wearing out my legs too much. I really need to work on that.
I got back to the line and dismounted with ease. Ran into the transition area to re-rack my bike, remove my helmet, and change my shoes. I put on socks too. I’m glad I ended up using the elastic laces, tying would have been such a hassle. I should have road-tested them a bit more because they did cause my feet to go a little tingly. My legs were tired when I started my run, but I was breathing ok. I had forgotten to eat anything on the bike, so I took a couple bites of a Luna bar, but it wasn’t sitting very well so I threw it out. I got to the end of the first mile and took a short walking break. I’m a little mad at myself now for doing this, I really didn’t HAVE to, but it’s done now. I also walked a bit at the turnaround point- this time mostly so I could get some water in my mouth instead of all over my front. When the finish line was in sight, I was able to pick up the speed a lot, so I know I could have pushed it a bit harder. Finally, I raced into the finish and looked at my watch- 1:40:07. Yes! I had made my goal time plus a few seconds. I was really excited about it, even though that was just the unofficial time on my watch. I found out later it was only off by a second. My official race time was 1:40:06.
Here are my splits:
Swim: 13:00, 2/10 in Age group
T1: 2:47, 4/10
Bike: 48:16, 5/10
T2: 1:35, 6/10
Run: 34:29, 9/10
Overall place in age group: 6/10
Overall place in all women: 80/142
In terms of my goals, two out of three is not bad. My first goal was to beat my previous time of 2:07:40, which I did by 27 minutes. My second goal was to finish in under 1:40. Now, I didn’t quite make this, but I’m considering it a goal met because my time was SO close. I definitely surpassed my swim goal time of 15 minutes, and the bike split was really close to my goal of 48 minutes. One transition was faster and one slower than my 2 minute goal for each. My run was definitely my weakest leg, I missed my goal by 4.5 minutes. I really need to work on run endurance and speed. Finally, I didn’t come close to my goal of finishing in the top 30% of women, but that’s ok. I shouldn’t really be setting goals that are dependent on other people’s performances anyways. Overall I’m very very happy with my time.
Of course, I’ve already started thinking about next year and how fast I need to be to place in my age group. I will race in the next age group next year, and it looks like the top times are 1:17:23, 1:20:56, and 1:24:20. I’ll need to take 20 minutes off of this year’s time to place. I know I can do the run faster. I would also need to drop significant time in the bike. I think I can do it.
My game plan for the next few months is going to be really focusing on bike strength and running speed. Hopefully I will see a noticeable improvement by the time the Oly comes around in September.