2014 Franklin Lakes Triathlon Recap

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.

Before I go on, I just have to give mad props to both my coach, Nicole, and to Victoria for answering all of my newbie questions.

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.


Franklin Lakes Triathlon Wetsuit

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.

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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.


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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.

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Fun hills…

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

T2: 3:13


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!) 

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I came barreling in, so so happy to be done.

Run: 5 miles / 42:16

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I have one tri suit and I do one tri per year, so my photos all look relatively the same.

Overall: 2:27:24

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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.

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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.

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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.)

10 comments on “2014 Franklin Lakes Triathlon Recap

  1. Runak

    Congrats on competing your fourth tri! Have you thought of buying a wetsuit instead of just renting one? It’ll be cheaper in the long run especially if you’re wanting to practice for your big race.

  2. Catherine

    congratulations on both the race and a great recap. That totally sucks about getting your period twice now before races – i hate when that happens! I look forward to reading the rest of your training blog for the half ironman.

  3. Victoria

    Congrats on a strong finish – holding that kind of run pace at the end of a tri is incredible! I hear you on the negative thoughts that creep into your mind when things aren’t going well, especially the “how can I expect to do a longer race if I can barely handle this.” It is very difficult to squash that self doubt, but I promise, you can do it! You have months of training in front of you and a coach with a great plan for you. Just keep logging the time/miles and you’ll get there.

    p.s. It sounds like you dropped your chain on the bike leg. I did that three times during the Columbia Tri two years ago, and while it is frustrating, it isn’t too hard to fix. You can first try backpedaling to get your chain back on the ring; if that doesn’t work, just dismount and put it back on the chainring. It shouldn’t take more than ~20 seconds to fix after you stop, but you will get grease all over your hands, which is why ALL tri/bike shorts should be black.

    p.p.s. If you have time, pre-riding the bike course for Princeton could be a huge confidence boost. I love being able to ride the race course a few weeks or months in advance so that I have an idea of what I’m in for. See if your coach can work it into your plan.

    1. Katie

      @Victoria: I love the chain tip! I know nothing about bike mechanics. Also, I fully support pre-riding some of the course. I do that for road races, and will try to do that for the two sprints I’m doing this year.

      1. Victoria

        @Katie: Full disclosure: I’ve only been successful with getting the chain back on by backpedaling once. But it’s worth trying before stopping to re-place the chain.

  4. meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles

    So amazing. You did just amazing. I always envy ability to run, bike and swim. I can run, maybe bike, probably not swim much but all three together? Not a chance…And wow, getting your period the day before – you realize how much more amazing you did when your body was dealing with this? I know for me, and I have commented about it before, I can’t race at the start of my period. Dropped out of the Fitness Mag half because of it. In fact, I have now decided that if I want to run a race, I can’t have my period which stinks for planning but I know my body and know what I can and can’t handle without fainting or at least feeling like I may faint. Congrats again!

  5. Kristina

    Congrats on finishing this tri and on feeling strong, especially during the run – speedy!
    I definitely came to triathlon via running, and it has taken me a while to develop confidence on the bike, but you can definitely become a stronger cyclist and you’ll see gains as you train for your HIM.
    In terms of bike mechanics, a lot of places will have free bike clinics, and I found that attending one was helpful to at least have some idea of how to deal with a dropped chain and a flat.
    Good luck with your training!

  6. meghan @ little girl in the big world

    Congrats Theodora! Awesome job PR’ing your swim! These races take some time to figure out. I know Victoria said she thought you dropped your chain, but you also might have accidentally shifted to the little ring in the front while being in an easy gear in the back. That would make it seem that you were spinning out of control too. Definitely take your bike to some places with hills to get shifting practice. That made a huge difference in my confidence heading into races. Awesome job on the run! Isn’t it so nice to get off the bike and know that your run is your strength? I always breathe a big sigh of relief when I rack my bike after that leg. I’m excited for you for Princeton!


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