Yesterday, I finished my fourth tri.
I finished the race feeling strong. I was pretty sure I didn’t PR, but I felt like I put in a decent effort. Once I looked at the results, I realized I was 7 minutes slower than last year. I’m kind of glad I didn’t blog about this yesterday, because I had a little more time to process my feelings about this race.
I went into the race having trained the best I could, and more than I’ve trained in years past. I’ve spent more time in the pool and more time on the bike. I also went into this race exhausted from last week’s race weekend, which my body probably never fully recovered from because a busy week this week cut into my sleep. And, in what’s turning into some terrible tradition, I woke up with my period the day before the race. Cool.
Like I said, I’m a little disappointed about my time, but as I thought about it today, I realized how much training it took for me to become a faster runner. I can’t just expect to magically become a faster triathlete. And, my half-Ironman time is probably going to suck. My first marathon time did. Also, a not fabulous race yesterday gives me lots of room to look at what I can improve by September 21.
OKAY. On to the recap.
The best part of the Franklin Lakes Triathlon is that the start is a mile from my parents’ house, which means I can ride my bike over to the start and not have to worry about throwing it in a car and taking the wheel on and off.
Somehow, by the time I got my chip and got marked up (still tried to lie about my age, still couldn’t get away with it), it was basically time to head down to the water. WAIT WHAT? Okay fine. The women’s 14-39 wave is #6, and each wave goes off 3 minutes after the next, so I had about 18 minutes before getting in the water. I tried to work on my breathing and not freak out.
Just before we got into the water, I made sure to get towards the back of my wave. This is my fourth open water swim, and the one thing I know for sure about the open water swim is that I need to let people go ahead of me. This way, I won’t get kicked and I can take things at my own (slow) speed.
So, I let everyone go and started walking in at my own speed. I noticed one other woman doing the same and said “hey! Guess you’re thinking the same thing.”
“Yeah – I’m in no rush to get kicked! This is my first tri.”
I am so so so far from an expert, but it was nice to know that I knew a teeny tiny bit more about what I was about to do than she did. I wished her luck, took a deep breath, and plunged my face into the water and started swimming.
LOOK MA, NO PANIC! My heart rate stayed high for the duration of the swim, because while I never full-out panicked, I never totally calmed down either, despite trying to channel the Taylor Swift song that got me through last year. The swim is sort of like a rectangle – it goes out to one buoy, turns left, and then turns left at another buoy before going back out to land. Once I hit the first buoy, I started hitting my stride (stroke?) a bit more, and felt good until I turned back towards land. Then, my goggles got a little water in them, the other eye fogged up, and it was also sunny as hell, and I couldn’t see a thing going back to land. I was very happy to finally touch land and be able to get to transition.
I’d rented a wetsuit from JackRabbit for the occasion. I know I’ll be wearing one in September, so I wanted to practice. It definitely made me feel more buoyant, but my range of motion through my shoulders felt a bit limited. Either way, I felt badass walking down to the water in a wetsuit.
Swim Time: 22:21 / 1/2 mile / a 30-second PR from last year!! The swim is the hardest event for me, so I’m really happy I PR-ed here!
T1: 4:01 / This was my first time with both a wetsuit and bike shoes, so this was a pretty long transition. SO MANY THINGS.
Am I posing for the country club brochure or in a tri? Unsure.
I also made sure to get on the bike at my own speed so I didn’t fall over clipping in. Mission accomplished. I took off on the bike, and having clip-in shoes gave me an extra burst of (much-needed) confidence.
I kept getting passed and passed and passed. I stared at the passers’ legs, and they were all older than me. I was equal parts impressed by them and disappointed in myself. Around mile 4, I realized I really needed to get out of my own head and needed a mantra. “One mile at a time,” I told myself. Every time I caught myself thinking I wasn’t doing well or I wouldn’t be able to handle Princeton, I told myself “one mile at a time” and thought about how I was feeling in that mile. The answer was usually that I was feeling okay. I also felt thankful that Shannon was the only one I knew racing it this year, so I only had one person I was attempting to be competitive with.
Somewhere around mile 7 or 8, I went to shift into a lower front gear…and totally messed things up. My pedals felt like they were spinning out of control no matter what I did. As it happened, I was coming up on a volunteer station. I hopped off and told them my bike was “making funny noises and not working right.” The volunteer apparently just had a magic touch, because he took a look at it, did something really quickly and it was working again.
The rest of the bike was fairly uneventful. My bike was five minutes slower than last year, so this is most of where I lost time. I can’t imagine my little stop with the volunteer was longer than a minute, so it was just me being slow. However, the first year, I walked up the big hill at the end. While I can’t say I powered up it, I certainly didn’t walk up it this year! There’s also one last tiny teaser of a hill after the big hill, and it felt like nothing to me this time! Progress.
I also still need to work on drinking on the ride. I had a bottle of Propel in my water bottle holder but didn’t touch it because drinking while clipped in terrified me.
Bike: 17 miles / 1:15
They save the best part for last! Every tri I’ve done, I’ve been most excited about the run, not surprisingly.
I knew there’d be 1-2 big hills, but also some good downhill on the course, and that I’d run that course and that neighborhood quite a few times. I’VE GOT THIS.
My legs felt a little jelly-like off the bike, but by about half a mile in, they were feeling fine. My watch hadn’t picked up signal again after the bike, so I was using it as just a fancy stopwatch. When I hit lap at mile 1, I’d run an 8:21. ALRIGHT! I was feeling good about the run, and after being hunched over on the bike, it felt good to stretch out and run. The course was great and the volunteers were really organized (and plentiful!) but the one annoying part about the race was the lack of mile markers, especially on the run. I definitely saw 1 and 2, but didn’t see any after that. But knowing I was running somewhere around an 8:30ish mile, when I saw 32:00 on my watch, I knew I didn’t have much more than a mile left.
I’d seen Shannon ahead of me as I was starting the run, and had thought I could catch up with her and pass her, as I had last year. She’s a really strong swimmer, but running is my strength. She’d had a really good swim and bike though, so I never caught up to her. (She later told me her one goal was for me to not pass her. Success!)
I came barreling in, so so happy to be done.
Run: 5 miles / 42:16
I have one tri suit and I do one tri per year, so my photos all look relatively the same.
Thanks to my parents for supporting me even though they don’t totally understand this racing thing. They understand it makes me happy, though, so they are always there for me. Even though my dad had knee replacement surgery a few months ago, he still made it to one spot on the course near our house and to the finish line because he knew it was important to me.
Thanks to Asics for this sweet tri backpack! It was full of goodies including the towel (which I definitely used for my feet), the hat and some more stuff I’ll be posting about soon. It was the perfect transition bag—it even fit my wetsuit by some miracle!
Lessons learned: Get more sleep the week of the race, use your iPeriod app to plan your race schedule, hydrate more, learn more about the bike.
Bailey’s working on learning more about my bike, too.
What lessons have you learned from races? Triathletes…what else do I need to know? (A lot, I know.)