My first Olympic distance triathlon race of the season was last weekend and, if you only looked at my numbers in the swim, bike and run, they could tell a pretty good story all on their own. But, obviously numbers alone do not determine a race and I have a ton of mixed feelings about how I did and what I want to do going forward.
Since I have dueling voices in my head regarding all of it, I decided to let you hear it directly from them. Sit back and take in the crazy…
As you may recall, my final words about this race were that I was going to “have fun” and see what happens since I felt mentally and physically underprepared for what I was about to take on. I have an excellent understanding of the mind body connection and I have zero doubt this mindset created the outcome of this race.
My insecure brain thoughts: You haven’t been in a good place with your training (skipping workouts, taking it easy due to being sick and stress levels though the roof) so just take the pressure off of yourself and have fun with this race.
My logical brain thoughts: You’re just giving yourself an excuse to fail. Why not go into the race gunning to place? You always do more than you think and you’re absolutely ready to take this on!
My insecure brain won the day.
I came out of the one mile swim 22nd out of 48.
I came out of the 25 mile bike 11th out of 48.
I finished the 6.2 mile run 8th out of 48.
Once again, I played catch up for the majority of the race since my swim is so slow. The good news is that I actually felt GOOD in the water and didn’t feel desperate to reach the last buoy like I usually do. The bad news is my swim time is much slower than where it needs to be (32:48) if I want to be in the top three.
My insecure brain thoughts: Most of these women have been swimming since they were in high school and you learned as a 34 year-old adult pregnant with twins! You need to practice so much more than you are and get into open water as much as possible!
My logical brain thoughts; You can improve your swim time if you really want to. You have the skill but need the guts to go for it in the race.
WHAT I DID RIGHT
This race is dubbed “the beast of the east” and this is why:
The bike course – 1693 feet of elevation:
The run course – hills and hills and hills (also note the uphill finish):
I absolutely nailed the bike portion and my numbers reflect my steady charge into transition. My coach was ridiculously happy with my performance on the bike and so was I. I could feel that I was in the zone and, yes I would have liked to have been faster but honestly, those hills were tough! My one true victory was never touching my brakes on one of the steepest downhill sections. For that, I was rewarded with a new top speed of 42.1 mph!
For the first time ever on a run I had to pee. See what happens when you “hydrate properly?” I was so annoyed and refused to stop and use the bathroom. Then, the weirdest thing happened – – I drank some Gatorade and the urge to pee stopped. It also could have been the heel of my right foot opening into a painful, bloody blister that distracted my bladder. Either way, I made it to the finish without having to stop.
WHAT I DID WRONG
Mistakes were definitely made, some of them not for the first time.
Swim – once again I didn’t get into the water prior to the swim start. It was cold and I just didn’t feel like it. Big mistake. By not acclimating to the water before you have to jump in and swim a mile, you lose precious time at the start acclimating, especially when the water is only about 62 degrees. My coach said this could have cost me as much as two minutes! Never again.
Bike – I didn’t eat enough and when I got on the run, I was in trouble. I’m not sure if it was the hills or the cooler temperature but I only ate one Honey Stinger Waffle on the bike (I only ever eat one!) but I needed two. Luckily I had a gel in my run bib belt so I was able to take it on the run but, it was a little late.
Run – I didn’t know the course. Hear me out before you loudly sigh and think “rookie mistake!” I mean, you’re right but hear me out. I have raced this course on numerous occasions and they usually use one course for the 5k and just double it for the 10k. I even asked my friend, who raced this exact course last year, about the double loop and she confirmed it. Wrong! She is dead to me. The run was much hiller than I expected, luckily my mental toughness on the run is finely tuned so I just dug in but it was brutal.
Weather – It was a lot colder than I expected on the bike (about 60 degrees) and my feet paid the price. I couldn’t feel them for the duration of the bike which made my transition times suffer. I was debating on putting on socks for the run (I never wear them on the bike) so I tried but I couldn’t feel my feet so I just clumsily shoved my sockless feet into my running shoes as quickly as possible.
If you have ever tried to run when you can’t feel your feet, you know how painful it is. If you haven’t, strap two bricks to your bare feet and run 6 miles.
I now have a stunning new blister on the back of my right foot.
Here are my times:
Swim: 32:48 | 2:06 pace
T1 | 2:35 (wetsuit!)
Bike: 1:28:07 | 17.5 pace
T2 | 58 seconds
Run: 48:09 | 7:47 pace
Overall: 2:53:42 and 8th out of 48 in the 40-44 age group.
The winner of my age group did the swim in 22:59, biked in 1:23:14 and ran 50:12 for an overall time of 2:40:48.
I was definitely disappointed with my placing but I really had no right to be. I executed the race I planned in my mind and didn’t go for it on the swim. After a long talk with my coach and asking for her full honesty, we decided that if I have a good plan to attack the swim in the nine weeks I have before nationals, there’s still a chance I can qualify for the world championship team. A small one but…
As I often do, I have been overthinking things to death. I’ve been asking the tough question of “what do I really want?”
I want to qualify for the triathlon world championship team but I want to travel, relax and spend time with my family this summer.
I want to train as hard as I possibly can but I want to have wine and desserts with my girlfriends on the weekends.
I want to carve out several hours a week to drive to a lake and swim train with a team but I don’t want to stop my regular freelancing jobs or this blog.
Unfortunately I cannot have it all and life is all about making choices. I found myself wondering if the first place finisher in my age group has young kids, a job and takes multiple vacations throughout the year with her family? Does she train harder than I do? Does she drink as much wine and eat as many french fries on the weekend as I do?
The answers don’t matter. All that really matters, when it comes down to it, was having the moment of running through the finisher’s chute with my boys and then riding the tea cups with them afterward while my husband had a light snack.
For once, I will try not to overcomplicate things and just be happy.
Do you have dueling brains when it comes to racing or anything else?
Any swim tips you have are appreciated…