After skipping the third race in this sprint series two weeks ago, I was mentally ready for another challenge. I've found that having these small races scattered inbetween the priority races really helps keep me focused. Anyways, here's my report...
Finally I made it through Hartford before traffic! It only required me to show up to the race site two hours early. haha Overkill? Probably. But I got my pick of bike position in transition before taking a nap in the car.
I went into this race not expecting too much. I've been ramping my mileage and was on little sleep, so my body felt sluggish. However, I had the mental edge of wanting to race on my side. "It's a crap shoot" I figured. I'll do my best and see where that gets me.
After Newington Bike gave me their tri kit, I decided I really wanted to sport the jersey. However, I didn't want to waste time putting it on in T1 and unless I wear the wetsuit, I can't swim with it. Four weeks ago, I posted HERE that the water temp was already above my wetsuit limit. However, I decided I'd give it a try this week.
I went with a Mint Choclate GU 15 minutes before the race start, a first for me. I figured I might need the energy this week. I still refuse to do caffeinated gels though.
The women went off at 6:!5pm and the men entered the water right after. As I walked into the water, I immediately regretted my decision to not do a warmup swim. The water was worse than bath water; it felt like stove top water. I only had a couple minutes, so I didn't have time to take the suit off. All I could do was hope that the water was cooler further from shore. 3... 2... 1... Go!
The water boiled the entire swim.
I decided to be bold on the swim from the start. I kept my strokes paced, but strong; I wanted to stay near the front. Thankfully I didn't veer too far left and was able to maintain some drag on the way out. I did, however, decide to limit my sighting early on which caused me to swim right smack into the first guide buoy, which by the way is an inflattable duck. So I can say I swam into a duck. I sighted more after that.
At the turn buoy I did a couple breastroke strokes and at that point realized how warm body was. I don't doubt I suffered a time loss due to the overheating. But I did my best to keep it steady and when I got to the beach, I was so happy to take the suit off!!
I ran to the second rack, right in front of the bike out, and dropped to the ground. The suit came off and the running shoes went on. Until I get cycling shoes, I've decided just to wear the running shoes on the bike to save time. I don't like the feel as much but I would be I make up any lost time on the bike in T2 by not switching shoes. Anyways, I grab the bike, and head to the mount line. Just over the timing mat, I look at my watch... 9:27. I'm over 30 seconds ahead of my PR. Awesome!
Swim + T1 - 9:27
In my run from the timing mat to the mount line, my aero bottle dislodged and start hopping around. I pulled it off and dropped it with a course marshal at the mount line. At least this was only a sprint.
I hopped on the bike and instantly remembered why I don't like biking with my running shoes; there is so much more room at the front of these shoes. I feel like my feet are an inch behind where they should be. Oh-well. Can't do anything now. Pedal on.
As usual, I pushed it through 3/4 of the first loop and then hit the downhills where I catch my breathe. And I mean pushed it - I'm sure other racers think I'm having breathing issues when I pass them on the first part of the course. I'm interested but scared to know what my heart rate is within that section. On the first loop I felt tired - again, sluggish due to the mileage and sleep. The second loop was much more calculated and calmer.
I passed the bike entrance at 25:00 meaning I did my first lap in roughly 15:30. "You have to drop the next lap by 30 seconds if you want to PR the bike leg" I thought. In actuality, I only needed 8 seconds.
Early on the second loop, I caught up to a friend of mine. We're both super competitive and without asking her, I know that as soon as I passed her, she pushed it to come back and pass me. We did this for the rest of the second lap. She'd pass on hills and I'd pass on downs or flat. There were a couple guys that did the same with me. I could have pushed the hills to keep up, but I knew digging in might ruin me, so I kept back. I hit the dismount line ahead of that group and ran into transition.
Bike - 30:25
I was so focused on our little rivalry that I didn't even look at my time. Later I realized that despite the fatigue, I PR'd the bike (and still know I could be in much better race shape). Love it!
As I crossed the timing mat, Dave yells that I'm in 4th or 5th. Awesome! I've been secretly hoping that someone might come spectate one of my races and that I could convince them to yell at me my place post-bike. Somehow Dave knew exactly what I needed. I racked the bike, tossed the helmet and glasses (I've been running w/o glasses recently and I like it) and grabbed my hat.
Not 50 feet into the run I see my first Target, a fellow HEAT member who I know I can out run. "Ok, so if I'm in 4th or 5th, that'll put me in 3rd or 4th." That lit a fire in me (little did I know that it was not a giant bonfire but a tiny miny match fire). Right off the bike I was cramping in my inner thighs. From experience, I knew it'd go away in time, but it frustrated me knowing I was ahead. I took the first hill slow as I always do and heard the footsteps behind me.
Two guys passed me and it was like a flashback to Lake T Sprint Tri No.2. Ironically, the second guy who passed me this week was from the same group that the guy I came in right behind last time was in (aka, they both had Yale jerseys on and until I looked at the race results, I thought it was the same guy). Because of that, I kicked it up and held onto him for two tenths of a mile with the thought that I'd hold on and pass him on the last straight away. My body, however, just couldn't hold it. I'm sure I could have physically held the pace, but mentally I wasn't able to push through the pain. The cramps were gone by this time, but the fatigue was at the forefront. I simply vowed to keep him in my sights.
The rest of the run was without incident. I looked back at one point and no one was there. We were really out on our own; the front and back of the pack have similarities in that sense - very thinned fields. I finished 1:14 ahead of the next guy which shows you how far ahead we were.
With dwindling energy and vapors of mental reserves, I hit the last straight away with roughly 1 mile to go. My watch was around 52:00. "If I can just maintain an 8:00 pace, I can beat the one-hour mark." You'd think that'd be easy. I've run sub-6:20 pace on both of my sprints and 7:01 on the Oly. 8:00 should be no problem! I admit that I kept pace well and could have gone faster, but I was in a mental battle more than physical at this point.
After lots of mental games and attempted calculations based on visual guesses of how long it'd take to get to that tree, the road sign, from the turn to the finish, etc., I made it up and down the final hill and still had 50 seconds cushion. I took solace in that fact and maintained pace - no way I was going to risk breaking pace and trip on some divot in the grass.
RUN - 19:35
FINISH - 59:27
I PR'd every leg of that race having not expected to do too hot. Another lesson in positive attitude and making the most of every opportunity, not to mention what my body might be capable of.
If you read my post HERE, you know I ran a cool down lap of the run course with Kathy, the extremely amazing 71 year old triathlete. I will certainly be running with her again if she comes back for rounds 5 and 6 to finish out the series.
I also stuck around for the awards and got one of the randoms, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc wine. After giving awards for top three male and females, they choose a few random people to give awards. I think it's great because it gives everyone a chance to win something by just participating. Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to do with it - give it as a gift or hang onto it until Thanksgiving/Xmas?
The wetsuit might have been the advantage for the swim, so despite the heat, I may race with it again. However, next time I'll be bringing ice cubes. I would prefer to catch my breathe earlier on the bike, but I don't like to back down until the downhills. I have to experiment with that. I also need to stretch a bit more pre-race to see if it helps my post-bike cramping. I might be better if I did more bricks too. Heck, maybe I'll do my track brick workout I've been wanting to try. Still room for improvement!
And I'm still on my roll...
5 Tris, 5 PRs
How long can this last?!
Questions1. Have you ever been surprised by a PR or a race that went much better than expected?
Sometimes I find being more relaxed by no pressure or being a bit fatigued helps to loosen up and let your body take over.
2. What "mark" is your next target?
I doubt I have the money to shoot for sub-5 Half Iron again this year, so my marks are a sub-1:30 half mary and sub-10 hour Ironman (lofty, I know!) Then, if I can, I want to squeeze in a 5k at the end, sub-18.
Swim fast. Bike smart. Run hard.