I raced in the US Open yesterday, which was my third triathlon and my last one of the 2014 season. After a very rough open water swim practice on Saturday, I was worried the weather would be a big element in this race. Luckily the weather turned out to be very nice – a bit chilly and overcast, but the water was fairly smooth and it didn’t rain. I wanted to the end my first triathlon season on a high note, so I set out to push myself harder than in my past tris. I had put in more effort on the bike, and I was really hoping it would show in that leg. I also had been running more consistently, so I wanted to run more of the course than I had in the past.
Having my friends and family cheering for me made all of the difference this race. My mom flew in from Florida to cheer me on (check out her sweet gear!). My good friend and fellow triathlete Novia hung up her racing gear and came out to cheer. And my supportive boyfriend came with a hot pink sign. I saw several DFW Tri Club coaches, members and volunteers along the course who cheered, clapped, and high-fived when I passed. Additionally, my friends in other states sent nice messages and texts so I knew they were there with me in spirit.
Two specific cheers helped me laugh and pushed me towards the end. I heard Novia scream “Ride it like you stole it!” when starting off on the bike, and “there’s a guy behind you trying to pass you! Don’t let him!” as I ran into the finish line.
Race: US Open Triathlon
Date: Sunday, October 12, 2014
Location: Rockwall, TX
Distance: Sprint (750 meter swim, 10.5 miles bike, 3 mile run)
Conditions: 57° F with 82% humidity at race start. Cloudy and overcast.
Goal: Mostly push myself on the bike. Have fun, and remember to race hard
Total official time: 1:45:02
Age Group: 6th place
Overall: 154 of 196
Outcome: I shaved about 17 minutes off my last sprint time, but keeping in mind the variances of this course (shorter bike course but with more rolling hills, and a very long transition setup) I’m still calling it an improvement.
What went right?
I think my swim strategy was a good one. I sped to the first buoy, settled into a comfortable pace to the second buoy and drafted as much as possible, and then really kicked it into high gear swimming into the finish. I found a great pack to speed up to and draft off of into the swim finish. Passing people in the water really boosts my confidence and makes me feel like ‘oh yeah, I got this!’
While my transition times seem long, I attribute the perceived time to a very long transition setup. We had to run about 0.3 miles from the swim to transition, and then run up a hill with our bike to get to the bike mount line. Overall I was more efficient in my setup and gear changing in transition, despite the long transition setup.
What went wrong?
I wanted to really push myself on the bike. I’ve been focusing on my bike handling skills, speed and overall comfort over the past 3 months. We were met with a lengthy incline immediately after bike mount. I found myself pushing hard up hills, but caught myself twice settling into a slower than necessary pace on flat surfaces. When I realized I wasn’t pushing hard enough, I would kick up my gear and cadence, but I would like to focus more on keeping the race mentality the entire bike course.
My run was just okay. I kept a slow and steady pace the entire course. The run course was very unique; we had to run up stairs, through some mud, through a short trail run, a lengthy road incline with a final downhill sprint into the finish line. I was glad that I ran 95% of the run; I walked through water stations to drink because I haven’t mastered drinking while running, and I walked through some of the muddy portions of the run. I kept a good pace for a longer race, but I need to mentally and physically train myself for kicking it up a notch in shorter distances.
My cheering squad treated me to a nice lunch post-race, and then I headed home for a wonderful nap. I think I ended this triathlon season on a very good note. I’m itching to increase my speed and efficiency overall, and will be working on that with my club and coaches the remainder of this off-season. I’ve got my eye on a bigger prize next year, and am pumped about putting in the work to get there!