Goal: Finish. This was the first triathlon of the season, and I wanted to gain some confidence.
Date: April 19, 2015
Location: Dallas, TX
Distance: Sprint triathlon; 400M Pool Swim, 15 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run
Conditions: 60 °F, 13 mph wind and 86% humidity at race start. Mostly cloudy/partly sunny.
Total time: 1:52:13
400M swim: 9:35
16 mile bike: 1:03:55
3.1 mile run: 33:05
Overall Place: 181 out of 277
Class Position: 13 out of 24
Gender Place: 65 out of 116
As soon as I completed the race, I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about my performance. There was an area I know I did well – the swim – an area where I wasn’t sure how I did – the bike – and an area where I thought I hadn’t done well – the run. When my friends and teammates asked me how I did immediately after the race, I said “just okay”. It wasn’t great, but I didn’t think it was terrible. It wasn’t until I had a chance to look at my data until after the race that I formed a more solid opinion on my performance. And that opinion is – I did okay on this race. Not great, but not terrible. Yes, that’s the same opinion and I’m sticking to it.
Breaking it down even further I can compare each sport. I swam strong. Admittedly, the swim is my favorite of the three sports. When I first started in triathlon, the unanimous warning feedback I received was how hard the swim would be. Well my experience has turned out to be quite the opposite – I LOVE the swim and think I’ve fairly good at it, considering I just started swimming about a year and a half ago. This time wasn’t my best, but I was happy with it considering the cluster of the two-direction snake swim setup for this race. Exiting the pool and heading to T1 was a mini mud run. It had stormed the night before and we had to traverse some nasty mud to get to transition. I just kept thinking and praying I wasn’t contracting any serious illness running through that. Eek.
I’m trying to remain positive about my gains on the bike so far, but it’s very hard for me. The bike is my worst sport. My average speed was 15.1 mph, which is almost 3 mph faster average for me. Yet I still look at my overall time and I exclaim in frustration “I’M SO SLOW!” I know I should be proud of the progress I’ve made and this is a constant struggle for me that I’m working on. I had a few Honey Stingers on the bike and only drank ¼ of my water bottle. I had aero bars put on my bike just the day before so this race was my first time trying them out. And I know, I know – nothing new on race day and I ignored the tried and true adage. But anyways, that’s how the chips fell for me and this race was my first time trying them out. I cautiously lowered down into them when I could see a long flat stretch and there weren’t any other cyclists around me. I would spend about a minute down in them and then raise back up for about a minute. I felt rather shaky when I was down in them, so I know I need to spend more time getting comfortable in them. Somehow I ended up all by myself on the last 5+ miles on the bike course. I couldn’t see anyone in front of me, and only a few distant blobs of people behind me. It gave me more time to focus on my technique and thanking police officers as I passed. I came into T2 and tried to mentally prepare for the run.
I “took off” (used loosely) for the run and was hit with numbness in my legs and an overall jello feeling. I honestly felt like I was moving backwards. Logically I could see I was moving forward, but it was like I was starring in a slow motion movie. I told myself I needed to at least maintain my half marathon pace of ~11:30 minute/miles, and I didn’t feel like I was achieving that pace. I didn’t regain feeling in my feet until after mile 1. I took in some water at the first water stop, and then told myself I had to run through the rest of the course without another break. A little after mile 2, this course played a cruel trick on us and showed us the finish line, but then had us circling back around before we actually finished. Screw you last mile, I’m ready to be done. I stopped paying attention to who and what was around me and kicked to the finish. When I looked at my data after the race, I realized I paced at an average 10:40 minute/mile. Yes, it’s faster than I thought I was moving but I know I could have ran faster. I’ll be working on more bricks to get used to shaking out that jello feeling in my legs.
I still feel like I did “okay” in this race. It didn’t do much to boost my confidence or knock me completely down. There are areas where I can improve, and I’ll be working on those over the next months leading up to Augusta. My next race is TexasMan Olympic on May 3, and I’m already spazzing about jumping up to the longer distance. But as a very good friend told me yesterday –
Don’t put off races that intimidate you. Keep racing. Keep showing up. Sometimes you’ll do great and sometimes you’ll suck. But when you stand in the water in Augusta in September, you will finally know you are capable.
This event supported Out Hunger, an organization that hosts events to raise awareness about food insecurity and provides reliable access to food. Learn more about Out Hunger and their events at www.outhunger.org.