On Saturday I broke my 6 month race hiatus (which lasted 2 months) with Iron Girl Olympic Triathlon at Lake Las Vegas. After “only” racing 2 tris this year (although both were 70.3s) I thought I would try a shorter distance and see how I shaped up. I had a few factors working against me.
For one, I only trained 4 weeks for the race. Typically a training cycle is 8-12 weeks and although I wasn’t starting from scratch, I didn’t feel as prepared as I wanted to be (but I rarely do!) The biggie was I was working the expo the day before. Working an expo means standing all day, a lot of heavy lifting and poor fueling/hydration. I rarely get a chance to eat lunch and since I typically work solo, bath room breaks are a luxury (so I don’t drink as much as I normally do). So I pulled on some compression sock (and my big girl pants) and grabbed a big bottle of water and hoped for the best. Luckily the expo was relatively short and I was packed up by 6:30. I was also lucky that Marc was there to help me load and unload, a HUGE help.
This was the first year for the Olympic distance, although Iron Girl has had the Sprint race at Lake Las Vegas for many years. The course was pretty much just 2 laps of the sprint course, easy enough. The swim was a little odd in that after out first lap, we had to physically get out of the water, cross the timing mat and swim a second lap. I heard that it was the only way they could ensure that we swam 2 laps, which makes sense, but was a pain! I think they could figure out a better way. I had never heard of that before.
Race morning – 4:30 AM – UGH why do I do this again? Really who pays to wake up at 4:30???
The night before the race I slept like sh!t. I woke up about 20 time in a panic looking at the clock. Don’t you just hate that? This had happened to me before ITU last year and I had one of the worst swims I could remember, so I wasn’t feeling too confident. I got up and got ready, ate some breakfast and Marc drove me to the start. I told him that he didn’t have to stay and I would call after the race for him to pick me up. I was secretly hoping he would say, “No, it is ok. I will come watch.” But he eagerly accepted my offer and slowed down enough for me to get out of the truck before he speed off back to bed! (I joke) You know you have been racing a while when your significant other doesn’t even show up anymore. But I was OK with that. I knew that Lauren and Helaine were going to be cheering me on, so that helped.
Since I was a vendor at the expo, I was able to pick up my packet before the expo opened and rack my bike first. So I had the very first spot, right at bike out, SCORE! So I set up my transition spot and was chatting with the girls around me. Everyone was excited and nervous, but generally nice and inviting. That is what I love about the all women races. Everyone is so supportive and positive.
I walked down to the beach and found Lauren. She was unable to race this year due to injury, so she was volunteering as support on the water. Keeping the swimmers safe and more importantly…on course! It was nice to see a friendly face and have someone to talk to while we waited to get in the water to warm up. This race had a time trail start, meaning only 5 racers would go out every 10 seconds. I had never participated in a race like this, but my guess is because the lake is narrow at the start, the didn’t want us all to go out together.
SWIM – 1.5K
I am not a great swimmer and I didn’t want to be in the water when the let the Sprint race start. I really wanted to get this part over, so I jumped in at the front of the line. I was in the 3rd group to go and I went out WAY too fast for me. I was about 100 yards in and I felt exhausted (just like ITU). I was getting passed right and left and I felt like I was never going to get out of the water. At that point I reminded myself that I was here to race my own race, not beat this girl or that girl. I wasn’t going to win, so just HAVE FUN DAMN IT! So I started to swim at a comfortable pace and actually look around when I can up for air or to sight. The sun was rising and the lake was beautiful (man-made but beautiful). I finished my first lap, got out of the water and did it all again, this time at my own pace. I kept a look out for green swim caps (Oly was pink, sprint was green) and I was able to make it out of the water before the green caps. Out of the water we had a 1/4 mile run up hill to transition. This was part of our swim time, which is a bummer because I would like to compare it to my past swim times. But it probably would have been longer either way with getting in and out of the water. Time – 40:44 13/20 (div) 57/88 (overall)
Lesson – I need to work on my speed and not worrying about everyone else. Getting a good night sleep is beneficial to the swim for me, but that won’t always be a given. I was good with my sighting, I felt like I was improved there but I don’t have the speed.
TI – After my hike up hill I made it to T1 with no issues. Found my bike easily and was able to get on and go…no problem. Half of the bikes were gone when I arrived and I was surprised I wasn’t the last one, even if I was one of the first in the water. Time – 2:44 9/20 (div) 24/88 (overall)
Lesson – Buy expo space at all races to ensure early bike racking! 🙂
BIKE – 40K
If you follow my blog or know me from Team Tough Chik, you know that I LOVE THE BIKE. This is my sanctuary, where I feel at home, where I should shine. Gordy (my bike) had been making a clicking sound on and off for the past few weeks. I couldn’t locate the sound and Marc had been traveling and unable to look at it. I was hoping that it would magically disappear for the race, no such luck. So there was a click with every tire rotation the entire bike. SO.FREAKING.ANNOYING. But I tuned it out the best of my abilities. The portion of the bike in and out of the resort area was pretty hilly, so we didn’t get much time to warm up before we were climbing. There were quite a few ladies already on the course by the time I go there due to my less than stellar swim. I passed a few, but for the most part, I rode the first lap solo. By my second lap there were a lot more women on the course and some of the sprint athletes were on the bike as well. I saw 2 Tough Chik jersey out riding and that made me smile. A lot of women were walking their bikes up the hills to get out to the main road. I have never seen so many people have to hike a bike in a race. It was a tough course. Time – 1:32:51 8/20 (div) 33/88 (overall)
Lesson – I could have done better, bottom line. I am a strong cyclist and I don’t feel like this reflects my true ability. I think this is were I suffered from standing 8 hours the day before. My quads were burning for nearly the entire first lap. So buy expo space for early racking but just sit in said space to ensure fresh legs.
RUN – 10K
I am not the strongest runner. I feel like a lot of triathletes start off as runners, so they are stronger runners than I am. I could be wrong, but that is my impression. This run was a B!%*#. It was hilly, very hilly. The hilliest run at a tri I have ever seen. Again, so many people were walking that is was not the exception. I knew that if I stopped to walk, it would be way harder to start to run again. I never looked at my Garmin for my pace, I just ran as fast as I could. My friends and teammates Lauren and Helaine were on the run cheering us on. It was fantastic and so up lifting. I saw them at the beginning of my first lap and the beginning of my second lap. Here is Lauren’s sign…
I ran with a gal for the last quarter mile, I was running to the finish and she was running to her second lap. I felt so bad for her because she had another lap and I was DONE. It was a very hard run. This was so many women’s first tri and it was such a difficult course. I ran across the finish line and there was Lauren and her sign, I almost cried. She stayed with me to the bitter end. All of our friends raced the sprint and were done an hour before me, but she stayed out there! She is amazing! Time – 1:00:23 11/20 (div) 37/88 (overall)
Lesson – I was very happy with my run time. 11/20 is mid-pack but I am happy with that. That was a hard 10k and I did it in an hour, I am please. The lesson is that my hill running is help and to keep moving works for me.
My final time was 3:18:35 9/20 (div) 38/88 (overall)
Final thoughts – I am going to be honest, I knew that this race was going to be a small field and there was a fleeting thought that I might, just maybe, get lucky and place. Obviously, I wasn’t even close and looking at the times of the top 3…not even in the ballpark. My goal was 3 hours and I didn’t get there. I didn’t expect the course to be so difficult but we all raced a difficult course. I went though so many emotional places during this race, from not sure if I could finish the swim, to actually feeling competitive on the run. I was all over the place. i would LOVE a do over and see how I would have done without working the day before. To see if that played a role or if it is an excuse. I am proud of my race, yes I can improve and I have room to grow, but it was a good way to end the 2013 season.
Me, Toni, Helaine and Lauren