Today life is teaching me some lessons, but we'll get to that in a bit.
Doug is a champion trooper and I love that he is with me during these events, especially because of the crazy wake-up times, like this morning when we got up at 4:15 a.m. Two cups of blessed coffee which tasted and felt so good because I've been (mostly) off of caffeine for the last 5 months and I'm saving those caffeine splurges for race days. BTW, thank you CGI for race day packet pickup and it was worth every penny - all other races out there please take note!
Doug and I walked the tricky bits of the run course - two 5k loops with a turnaround at the end of loop 1 just yards from the finish line - and then I got suited up for a warmup swim.
The water was freaking cold - somewhere between 62 and 65 degrees - but once I got going it felt fine. My goal was to finish in less than 30 minutes for the mile swim and I turned in a 27:28 but I just found out that was 0.9 miles instead of a full mile - so it would have been 30:31 for the mile. Not completely on target, so I definitely need to not skip any more swim workouts. Rank 154/364 athletes.
I have struggled with my swim to bike transition for one reason or another so today I was really working to make things go smoothly. I'm mostly happy with how it went because the goal was to keep it under 3 minutes and I hit 3:00 on the dot, but I still had two things that could have gone better. Today I couldn't get out of my wetsuit - I think the cold water messed up the dexterity in both my hands and feet - and then I struggled to zip up my wind vest, which I was wearing because the weather was damp. I won't dwell on the zipper but suffice it to say that I keep making the same darn mistake with that thing every time I wear that vest and maybe this time it has finally sunk in.
This course is a hilly beast - lots of rollers with multiple steep climbs and a few long descents. It started raining not long after I set out but it didn't suck. I felt in charge of the hills: I had a really good rhythm and was passing scads of men on the climbs (notable because I was in the last wave and both of the last two waves were all women), and the descents weren't freaking me out like they sometimes do. Props to Coach Eric Kenney (EK Endurance Coaching - check him out!) for his hill advice because it really rocked. I was able to stay aero on the rollers and broke through my mental speed barrier of 35mph and hit 40 on one of the bigger descents. And in the rain, no less - that's huge for me! Into the second or third roller I started leapfrogging a woman from my age group we'll call Pink - her bike, jacket, helmet, jersey are all Pepto Bismol pink. I would pass Pink on the uphills and she would pass me on the downhills. For a solid ten mile stretch I was out in front of her but then she passed me somewhereand I didn't see her again until the run. The last couple descents had lots of curves and turns, which eroded my courage and kept me on the brakes, which I know affected my overall time. My goal was to keep it over 16 mph and I posted a 16.3 in the rain, despite the last few lousy descents. This race was an odd 24 mile distance - finish time 1:28:34, rank 166/364 athletes.
This went like clockwork. 1:42 I've got to work on getting my T1 time down!
The overcast skies and cool weather were perfect for the run. For the first mile I tried to keep the run in control and let my legs get settled and ticked it off at 8:03. There weren't any other mile markers out on the course so I had nothing to gauge my pace except for HR and perceived exertion, and I felt like I was working at exactly the right pace. The uphills I took it a little easier and then flew downhill, and cruised the flats. Everything felt great. At the three mile mark a woman from my age group passed me and I tried to hang but she was going just a little bit faster than what I was comfortable with and it was too soon in the race to push and risk blowing up. Around mile 4 I started to feel the fatigue but a gel picked me right back up and I was able to haul the last mile. My run time was 49:43, an 8:01 pace - so I achieved my goal of less than 50 minutes for the 10k distance - and I ranked 138/364 athletes. Happy happy.
Another thank you and happy anniversary to my wonderful hubby (10 years on Thursday!) for hanging out in the rain and cheering me on. You're the best.
Finish time 2:50:25, 148th out of 364 athletes, 22nd out of 115 women, and 4th in age group. Fourth, AGAIN! Pink finished second and that woman who passed me on the run finished 3rd. I feel stuck in a 4th place, which is where I have finished in almost all of the events I have done in the last year. I want a podium finish so bad I dream about it. So this is where I get to my life lessons. First - Coach EK tells me that I should not be hung up on place because how anybody else performs just doesn't matter to my own performance. He is so right but I just need to get that through my brain. I had a bunch of things to feel proud of today and I'm not going to let that stinking 4th place finish niggle at me. So there! The key is to use this as motivational fuel for focusing on my training for the rest of my races this summer. Second - I know I would have gone supernova if I tried to stay with the woman who passed me on the run; her pace was about 20 seconds/mile faster than mine which is not a trifling matter. She finished in 2:49:19, just a scant minute ahead of me, but I could have made up that time in other ways. If I practice my T1 and if I keep building my bike handling confidence so I don't wuss out on descents then I will be doing my best. Those are real things I can do for next time that don't involve undermining the knowledge I have of my body. Those are my life lessons for today: placing against other athletes does not define my performance, don't waste time second guessing decisions you know are right, and take those actionable things that I didn't do well and work on them for next time.
Next race is at the end of June - Philly Tri, Olympic distance. This one is a regional championship, so if I finish in the top 10 in my age group I'll be qualified for Nationals. That would be pretty cool, so stay tuned!