Last weekend was my final du/tri race of the season, unless I get a wild hair to do another. We returned to John Tanner State Park for the final race of the “Tri the Parks” series of races. I was racing the Aquabike for this one, not the sprint tri. As a reminder, the first race in April saw air temperatures about 30 degrees lower than they normally were, and a brisk water temperature of 68 that I swam sans wetsuit. This go around, it was still not blisteringly hot (thank goodness), and the water temperature was much nicer. I never heard the official temperature, but I know it was not a wetsuit legal race, so it had to be over 78. I had two goals in mind for this race, and I was determined to hit them. This would also be despite slacking off seriously on training. I knew I should have trained more, but I was just kind of tired.
Good night sleep the night before, early morning, small breakfast, and we were off to the park. I missed packet pickup the day before, so I checked in, picked up my stuff, got body marked and got my timing chip. Came back, set up my bike and transition area, and checked out the faces around me to see who was competing. I recognized a few, said hi, and then had to head to the water.
(Thank you to Kenny for the pictures!)
I made sure on this go around not to let myself get pushed to the front of the group. I stayed in the middle and to the side, because even though the swim is my strong point, the wave start always turns into a cluster. I prefer to hang back, let everyone battle each other, and then quietly pass everyone on the outside. Our wave started off, I dove in, and my first thought was “It’s not so cold I can’t breathe!!” I got a good pace and rhythm going right away, passed a bunch of people, and made it out to the first turn bouy quicker than I thought I would.
My wave start. I’m about 90% sure I know which one is me. I think.
The only problem during the swim was the sun. It was rising, and it was bright, which meant every time I breathed, I was staring right at the sun. It made seeing and sighting hard, especially on the way back in when I had to breathe and sight into the sun. By the time I got around to the final two bouys, I saw very few pink caps with me (my wave), a bunch of purple (the wave before me), and even some greens (two waves before me). The wave that went off two before me was 6 minutes ahead of my start, so I knew I picked up some good ground. Finished with a small sprint in, and made sure to grab off my goggles and cap immediately. I did this, because the Peachtree City Tri yielded my worst race photo EVER, and Kenny told me I needed to get the cap off ASAP.
Coming out of the water, I spotted Kenny right at the same time the race photog spotted me. This is almost identical to my race photo. I was excited! I had a good swim!
I sped through transition, and took off on my bike. I also noted that the other women’s bikes were still racked, meaning I had beaten them out of the water. I did decent on the course in April, but it was a challenging course for me due to the hills. I’m not a climber. I had been working on keeping my cadence up on my training rides (which admittedly, were too few), so I wanted to pay attention to that. I had forgotten how rough the first mile of the course was – rolling hills, but they were deceptive. So you’re coming right from the swim, trying to catch your breath, trying to settle into a bike rhythm, and BAM. Hill, hill, hill, hill. The key was to keep moving, so not stopping to rest at the top and continue pedaling through the downhills. Once I made it past that, there was a long stretch of downhill for about 3 miles, so I took full advantage of that.
Once I hit the beginning of the hills, I tried to focus really hard on keeping up my cadence and keeping myself in the right gears so I didn’t exhaust my legs. It was around mile 4 that I realized I had put my chest strap for my heart rate monitor on too tight, but I wasn’t about to stop and fix it. Around mile 5, the woman that usually wins caught up to me on the bike. I thought if I could keep her in my sight, I’d be golden. I did, for about a mile and a half. Once we hit the big climbs on the back of the course, I lost sight of her.
I was actually please with how I did on the back climbing. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t fast, but for me it was good. Around mile 7 I saw who I thought was the woman who beat me at Blalock Lakes in June, and I was bound and determined not to let her out of my sight. I chased this person, even though I kind of wanted to die around mile 10. The end of the climbs were upon me, the sun was out, and I was tired. I lost some steam between miles 10 and 11, but when I hit 12 I mentally chastised myself and kicked my butt back in to gear. I still had the woman in my sight, so I was good. At mile 12, the climbs stopped, the shade came back, and I pretty much just blew it out for the final two miles. I was thrilled with how I did, not even looking at my bike computer.
I look like I’m not even working. I was.
I passed the woman I was pacing off of, flew back into the park, flew through transition and ran to the finish line. I walked back to my bike, slowly, and as I started to pull off my shoes and dry myself off, the woman I thought I had been pacing off of came back from the bike. Turns out I was pacing off someone completely different. Oops. I guess I didn’t have to worry about her beating me this time!
My goals for the race were to: a) be between 12 and 13 minutes in the swim, and b) go under 50 minutes in the bike. I hit both of those, and with some super speedy transitions, I managed to finish 2nd overall.
As a comparison, my April times were:
Swim: 14:53, T1: 1:59, Bike: 53:00, T2: 40.3, Run: 00:12, Overall: 1:10:45. I was dead last for the women, 10th out of 12 in the combined field.
Swim: 12:47, T1: 1:08, Bike: 49:16, T2: 29.6, Run: 00:13, Overall: 1:03:55. I was 2nd overall for women, and 6/12 in the combined field.
I was extremely happy with this. I completely fell short on all the training I planned to do leading up to the beginning of the series in April. I didn’t really even train as hard as I could have over the summer. However, in the tris that I did, and the aquabikes, I saw improvement in every one. I dropped almost 7 minutes off my time from April. That’s pretty awesome.
I got *another* medal. And Heed! Which I switched out for Orange and gave to Kenny. I’m a Nuun girl.
So that’s the end of my race season for 2013. I’ve started kickboxing and yoga, and haven’t ridden my bike or swam since the race. It’s nice to take the break. I’m enjoying doing new things.
I am continuing to run, because I stink at it. And I need to get better at it so I can start half ironman training in November.
That’s right. Half ironman. :-)