Sep 02

A Different Kind of TRI – Women’s Triathlon Race Recap

What comes to mind when you think of 500 women all in the same space? Usually nothing good, right? Well, you would be right and wrong. The Women’s Triathlon is a women’s only event and has been a featured race in Connecticut for many years. It’s billed as a great triathlon for first timers, complete with a “this is my first triathlon” wave that heads into the water last. It also has a reputation for having a super supportive atmosphere and is held at a gorgeous location.


Of course that did not mean the women there were any less competitive. One glance at the results from last year assured me this would be no pushover of a field. The atmosphere may be a sea of pink, there may be a heavy stench of “girl power” in the air but, make no mistake, some of these ladies were out to win. And so was I.

You know you want something badly when you’re willing to wake-up at 4:15am on a weekend for it. After a breakfast of water, an everything bagel with butter, and two bananas, I made the 45 minute drive alone with my thoughts. And coffee, because there is always coffee.

I felt unusually calm before the race. Triathlon requires a ton of stuff so there was a lot of planning and packing, then unpacking and set up involved. Sometimes this is a good thing because it occupies your mind for the hour or so leading up to the race start. Especially when that start involves putting your shivering body into water and swimming.

I snapped one grainy photo of my set-up in the dark.

I snapped one grainy photo of my set-up in the dark. I was there just in time to snag the end spot on the rack which is a great spot to have!


The swim starts in waves by age group and, because I’m getting old, I was in wave three. This is where triathlon gets confusing and ugly. The only real “fair” way to start I guess is by age. Fine, I get it. However, this staggered start was in four minute increments (first wave starts at 7am, second at 7:04, and so on) which should have given plenty of space in between swimmers. But it didn’t.

I have never been in such a crowded swim in my life. Right off the beach someone swam over me. So much for the happy/friendly girl power love fest. I had heard some horror stories about goggles being knocked off so I tried to stay right on the buoy line and keep some distance. I guess some of the first timers didn’t get the memo about the last wave because about halfway through the swim a few women ahead of me started doing backstroke. Backstroke! And, right across my line since well, they were swimming backward! WTF?

The worst was yet to come.

On the beach and ready for action! That's me in the yellow cap - hahahaha!

On the beach and ready for action! That’s me in the yellow cap – hahahaha! No seriously, I’m in my blue onesie with my goggles on, to the left in this shot, taken by HMF.

I was swimming strong and I felt great. My mental game was in check and I was…wait for it…actually enjoying the swim and having fun…until I neared the finish.

The last 100 yards or so was so crowded that I had to swim around people! They were just kind of bobbing around in the water, taking up space. I wanted to scream “SWIM! You’re almost there! Do a freakin’ dog paddle, hang onto my leg, whatever just get to the beach!”

Maybe they should start doing seeded starts? Maybe they already do this in some races? I’m not sure what the solution is, but I do know that traffic in the water is not a good thing when you’re racing.

I exited the water and starting running up the pavement to the transition area. I glanced at my watch and saw 18 something. My mind started yelling – 18? 18? What the hell? I swam faster at the last triathlon and I felt so much better on this swim!? I couldn’t figure it out but I quickly brushed it off and set my focus to the bike.

Swim time: 19:18 (the time doesn’t register until you reach the transition mat and it was a little bit of a run!)


I sprint into transition and get my shit together as fast as I possibly can. This is where a race can be won or lost. A lot of people forget that when you’re transitioning, you’re still racing! It all counts so move your ass!…which is what I wanted to say to the two women blocking the exit to the bike mount. They were just kind of walking their bikes out of the chute! It was too narrow for me to pass them but, in hind sight, I could have hoisted my bike up over my head and ran by them! Of course that would have probably been frowned upon in this women’s only event. Surely only a man would do something so rude.

Transition time: 53 seconds and the fastest T1 overall. Imagine what I could have done if no one was in my way!

Once I get on my bike I am all business. I try to control my breathing, focus on hitting the right gears, and think about one thing – SPEED! Ok, maybe two things because I worry about penalties on the bike, especially since my coach (CRS) is a USAT official and she was judging this race. Yep. It’s kind of like having your mom on the playground, so I was on my best behavior.

All business on the bike.

All business on the bike. And trying to breathe.

Again, the bike route was crowded. I have no idea how many women I passed but it was a lot. I didn’t spend more then a quarter mile not passing someone and the roads were not closed to traffic.

The USAT bike rule is you need to keep a three bike length distance between you and the bike in front of you. If you move to pass you have something like five seconds to do it in. Here’s the kicker, if you go to pass someone you need to complete the pass. If you move in for the pass and then drop back? Penalty! So you know what some of these oh-so-nice women did? They sped up when I went to pass them. It’s an asshole move, but men and women do it all the time, and this race was no exception.

I was passed by two women in the final miles but I didn’t let it get in my head. First of all, in this and many triathlons, your age is written on the back of your calf so, as women pass you, you know if you’re competing against them in your age group or not. In my mind, I’m competing against everyone, regardless of age. Second, because of the staggered start, I’m 4 or 8 minutes ahead of some women and others are 4 or 8 minutes behind me. You never really know who is in the lead but you obviously get a feel for how well you’re racing. I was feeling good.

Bike time: 36:29


I felt strong coming off the bike and I’m usually psyched to start the run because this is what I do! During the run, most triathletes are just trying to get though it because they are super star swimmers and cyclists. For me, the run is my super power and usually where I shine. I was a bit concerned about this run though since it was on a rocky, rutted, wood chipped, and in places, deep sandy trail. Oh joy.

Transition time: 40 seconds

I don’t wear socks for the bike or run to help cut down on my transition time but, with the run terrain I was facing, I was a little nervous about my Adidas and my feet. Sand and sweat are usually a very bad mixture with your skin. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about and my legs felt as good as they can leading into the last leg of a triathlon.

Get me to the finish!

Get me to the finish! #CrazyEyes

About one mile in, I started feeling a little dizzy which is not how you want to feel with two miles and the finish line to go. I had eaten some GU Chomps on the bike and I had one left in my pocket. I gobbled it up and grabbed a Gatorade at the next aid station. That seemed to do the trick but I made note that I wasn’t properly fueled going into to this race!

The next two miles dragged on, as they do when it’s all that stands between you and the finish. Remember when my mantras were failing me during my training leading up to this race? Well, though out the run, one song kept playing in my head over and over and over and it was just the push I needed:


Thank you Luda and Snoop. You were there when I needed you most and I won’t soon forget it.

In the last hill (yes, there were hills!) I came up on a 30 year-old woman. I tried to focus on the fact that I was pushing passed someone 10 years younger then me who started this race four minutes ahead of me. So I surged to the finish and crossed the line I had been waiting to cross since I knew my results from the last triathlon.

Run time: 22:16


I was relived to have crossed the finish but that’s when the anxiety set in. Everyone in and around the finish was so, so nice and a I chatted with a few women who I had never met before and swapped stories about the crowding, terrain and overall “thank God it’s over” feelings.

After I grabbed some much needed food and a chocolate milk, I was able to go to my car, change my clothes, get all my stuff out of transition and then make my way back to the finish area.

As soon as I stepped though the crowd one of my friends grabbed me:

Where have you been? Do you know how hard it is to find you in a crowd? YOU WON!

I was so confused because I knew damn well I couldn’t have won…but, of course, what she meant was I won my age group.

As soon as she told me I also came in 8th overall, I was just filled with indescribable joy and relief. I did it. I DID IT! Nationals here I come…

Michelle (on the left) also had an amazing race but her younger age group proved to be the hardest one in this race.

Michelle (on the left) also had an amazing race but her younger age group proved to be the hardest one in this race. She beat me by 8 seconds on the bike 🙂 #BadAss

My total time: 1:19:37

Winner’s total time: 1:12:37 (she was a 25 year-old from Hawaii who was just visiting. Holy wow!)

Second and third place women in my age group: 1:22:50 and 1:23:17

*There were three 45-50 year-olds and one 50-54 year-old in the top 7 finishers above me. Triathlons are for the old. I love it!


  1. I’m psyched that for the first time ever, someone at the race recognized me from my blog! HI AMY!
  2. I have a long way to go to dominate the swim and can still improve immensely on the bike. This only excites me.
  3. I’m seriously considering getting a pointy aerodynamic helmet.
  4. How I feel in the weeks leading up to a race has almost no bearing on the race itself.
  5. I saw a girl get clotheslined off her bike, by a bike rack that was sticking out behind a parked car. #ThatIsGoingToLeaveAMark She was ok and also informed me she was getting married in two weeks!

USA Triathlon Nationals are in Omaha, NE in August 2016. Does anyone know anything about Omaha other then that’s what Peyton Manning likes to yell out to confuse the defense? Help.


Anyone have any words of wisdom for me?

Have you ever done and all women’s race? Thoughts?

*I’ll be taking a little blog hiatus for the Labor Day weekend. See you back here on Wednesday, September 9th but look for my Labor Day race updates on Instagram.


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    no words of wisdom (how do you give wiseness to the one who always gives you the wise?! :-)).
    Just awe and cheering you on.
    CARLA recently posted…Are you lucky?My Profile

    1. THANK YOU CARLA!!!!

  2. That is truly incredible and congrats! I’m glad you had such a good race. I’ve done a few women’s only races and I like them. I normally have a good time!

    Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend. I know you’ll have a great time!
    Hollie recently posted…United Medical 5k (19:59)My Profile

    1. Thanks Hollie! Overall it was a great experience and I like not being run over by the men in the swim 🙂

  3. First, thank you for this detailed recap, I appreciated every single word. I can’t believe the swim got so crowded but I’m also super proud of you because look at how far you have come swimming in open water!! You gave it your all regardless of what was happening in the week leading up to it and you did that!!!! So so proud of you and those are some amazing pictures!!! All the best fr your Labor Day race and see you next week!!!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…Weekly Wednesday Workout: Reverse Lunge Shoulder PressMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much Nellie…this was definitely a long one but I just couldn’t stop myself. I’m definitely most proud of how far I have come in the swim, even though I still have a long way to go! Have a great weekend!!

  4. AHHH congratulations!! You are awesome! First, please do not get a pointy helmet, but at least you are fast, so it is not totally ridiculous if you do. Second, Omaha is AWESOME! I did a marathon there last year and was there for a few days exploring the city. It has a really awesome downtown area with tons of cute restaurants and shops, plus miles and miles of multi-use paths. Seriously! SO many great places to run and bike there. It’s also pretty hilly, so don’t be fooled into thinking it will be a flat race! The only way any portion would be flat is if you ran right next to the river. The rest is crazy hilly but it is a really great place. I think you’ll love it!
    Danielle@T-Rex Runner recently posted…Slowly but SurelyMy Profile

    1. LOL – I don’t think my friends would let me get the pointy helmet and, I would feel extra pressure to be blazing fast!!
      Thank you so, so much for all the info on Omaha, and of course you have run there – duh. I’ll have to scope it all out and pick your brain as the date gets closer.
      Thanks Danielle!

  5. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited for you!!!!! Seriously, reading this makes me want to try a triathlon…until I read about getting clotheslined by a bike rack!!! NOT fun!!!!!!
    Really though…awesome job! I conquered my fear of swimming, but I can’t imagine having someone swim over me…it might not bring out the best in me :).lol
    Next I would need to conquer my fear of biking. Something about seeing people wipe out as they go flying around corners freaks me out!!!!
    What is it that you have to do to qualify for Nationals?
    I am 100% with you on lingering thought #4! You can be having amazing days leading into a race and bomb a race or terrible ones and be a super star in the race. Races are impossibly unpredictable, and the longer they are the more unpredictable they are!
    I have done a Zooma which is a mostly womans race :). I don’t love them or hate them.
    Jen@milesandblessings recently posted…The great update!My Profile

    1. I like your political stance about all women’s races – LOL…but it’s true, there are really good and really bad things, basically just like ANY race.
      As for triathlon, you should totally try one since runners have a distinct advantage! And don’t worry about wiping out on the bike – it doesn’t hardly ever happen unless it’s bad weather.
      To qualify for Nationals: “A non-championship USA Triathlon Sanctioned Event in one of the specified qualifying distances (as explained above) will qualify the top 10 percent or top finisher (whichever is greater) in each age group.” Make sense?

  6. Love that you crushed this like you did! And I’m not surprised one bit. Nationals here you come!

    We have an IornGirl tri here in town and I’ve done it twice. While I love the whole kumbayah girl power feel of it, it also comes with a dose of the crowdedness that you mentioned. I think these events are fantastic beginners events, without all the intimidation of others. However, when you get a big contingent of first-timers on a course, you’re going to get a lot of folks who are much slower than the norm (your swim/bike experience) and who don’t really understand all the etiquette of a course either. Neither good or bad, just something to know going into it. Oh, and ours has 2,000 women, so multiply your experience by four! ; )
    misszippy recently posted…Nearing the finish lineMy Profile

    1. Thank you Amanda!!
      And I cannot imagine that times four – yikes! I agree with what you said but this was my first experience so I had no idea what to expect. I assumed (and you what that does) all the newbies would be in the wave created for them and would be having a grand ‘ol time at the back of the pack.
      Race and learn, right?

  7. Woohoo! Huge congrats on your age group win. You are such a bada$$! Loved reading your race report. Yes, who decided 4 minute time intervals are enough. They did this at Timberman and started the men 4 minutes behind me in the same age group. Needless to say I got clobbered. So excited for you!!!

    1. Thank you so much!!!
      And YES, same thing happened to me at my last TRI with the men coming up from behind – on both sides! Needless to say, I swallowed a lot of the lake that day 🙁

  8. Wow…not only did you come in first in your AG, you were first by 3 minutes or so!!! Congrats!! The pics are all amazing….the sea of yellow caps, you on the bike….you running with “crazy eyes”….. Amazing!! I don’t know anything about Omaha….but I’ll look forward to seeing it through your post next year!! recently posted…MentorMy Profile

    1. Hahaha – thanks so much Paria! I appreciate it.

  9. No words of wisdom, just a huge congrats and seriously you are so amazing, Allie. Such a great race and so happy for the win in your age group. Totally awesome 😉
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Lighten Your Load And Get Organized with Back to School TipsMy Profile

    1. Thank you Janine. It’s a great feeling when your hard work pays off the way you want it to. Now it’s back to the grind… 🙂

  10. I have no words. I am in awe and you are just truly remarkable!!! Huge huge congratulations!
    Ps I like my aero helmet 😀
    Danielle recently posted…Saving my Sanity Through ListsMy Profile

    1. LOL!! Thanks Danielle. What brand of helmet do you have?

  11. amazing. your pictures are fantastic, allie! way to go. congrats – i would love to see you race on day 🙂 sounds like a perfect oiselle meet up to me. btw, we missed you at camp!
    courtney @ eat pray run dc recently posted…What to Look for in a Running CoachMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much Courtney! I would absolutely love to race with you one day and get out “wings out” together 🙂 I keep threatening Sue (This Mama Runs for Cupcakes) that I will RUN DC as it is big on my list. We’ll have to include you in that party!

  12. You are seriously amazing! Congrats on your AG win and going to Nationals! Enjoy your Labor Day weekend and savor your victory!
    I’ve never done a women’s only race, and probably won’t because they tend to be crowded and crowded races make me anxious. I’d probably have a panic attack if I got swam over!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Domestic Chic by Kristin Sollenne Cookbook ReviewMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you have a great long weekend too!!
      I think because the swim over happened right at the start, I was able to shake it off. If it had happened much later on, it could have been very bad!!

  13. CONGRATS!!!! That is so amazing Allie! I’m seriously in awe of you all.the.time! That is some pretty strict stuff with the bike passing. Also, speeding up is so uncool. I would clip their wheel as I pass them. JK (sorta).
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Brazilian Dance: Zumba Brazil StyleMy Profile

    1. LOL – trust me, it crosses my mind!
      Thank you so much Brittany. Hope you’re still enjoying the Cape for the holiday weekend…it’s going to be gorgeous!

  14. I got that aero Giro that looks like a space helmet! Seems like everyone and their dog had it in 2014 😀
    Danielle recently posted…Saving my Sanity Through ListsMy Profile

  15. I am no longer preggo and hormonal so I have nothing to blame the choked up tears I got reading this recap. Holy crap I am just in awe of your drive and dedication and the push you give to everything you attempt. And I am so beyond happy that it all paid off in such a big way in this race!!!

    Also, I just finished reading Bad Feminist, so when I read the T2 section, I was all like, “are the men worrying about this??? TRAMPLE THEM!!!” which may be a slightly overboard reaction. Seriously though, seeded corall starts for the swim and officials directing traffic in transition is what it sounds like this race is missing.

    Congrats, ladycake!!!!!! YOU ROCK!
    Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted…What Went On in AugustMy Profile

    1. Awww thank you SO much Carly!! And I think I need to read that book ASAP since I almost took that part out of the post, thinking some would find it *ugly* but it’s the ugly truth 🙂 THANK YOU!!! xoxo

    • Michelle on September 2, 2015 at 8:54 PM
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    Awesome race!!! (I’m so honored to have made the blog #badass).

    1. But of course! You are my good luck charm 🙂

    • Jen on September 2, 2015 at 10:29 PM
    • Reply

    I got goose bumps at the end of this blog!! So happy for you!!!! That is amaze balls!!!!!!
    I would love to do a race some time in NE and see you ! It’s like reality TV ; I know her ! Her name is Allie, she has twin boys and her husband doesn’t love running as much as she does etc:) but I’ve never met her actually:) #forreal.

    1. LOL – yep, gotta love meeting blog friends in real life! I would love to meet up with you at a race though!! Thanks Jen 🙂

  16. Congrats on an awesome finish! I love the energy of this post. It’s contagious.
    jill conyers recently posted…#7DayStretch with prAnaMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much Jill!

  17. Congrats on Nationals, Allie!! Woo hoo! Have you ever done the XTerra series? My husband used to do them and they are pretty cool…not that I have ever done one…but to watch. And I have done the run portion of it, because they usually offer a separate 10k, which is challenging enough for me. LOL. Anyway, I bet you would love them. They are off road triathlons over very challenging terrain.
    PS I can’t stand people who do that speed up thing when you pass…it happens in road races too, but there is no penalty there. Once there was this guy who kept speeding up when I passed him, and slowing down when I was behind on a single track dirt trail so I was passing on the side going thru bushes…he was doing it to me and another woman and we had to go down this steep hill into a mud pit and he lost his shoe. We were laughing so hard…he so deserved it. And we didn’t see him again for the rest of the race.
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted…Pomegranate Berry Sangria SpritzerMy Profile

    1. I have never done those races but I have a good friend who does. Trail running and races is an entirely new and different experience but yes, I’m sure I would love it!
      That is awful about that guy but looks like karma came though on that one 🙂 Men are the worst when it comes to being passed by women. They can’t deal…
      Thanks so much Michelle!

  18. Seriously amazing, congrats! That running photo is super intense! You rock!!!
    Olivia Crew recently posted…Nuun and RidesMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much Olivia! I was so focused on getting to the finish!!

  19. I’ll be honest with you, Allie – race recaps aren’t usually my thing, but I love yours! I knew the results from your FB post, but I was still on the edge of my chair reading this post. Yay you! I’m so excited for you, although I can tell you nothing about Omaha.

    Love that you have a blog fan at the race – I bet Amy is fabulous.

    1. That is a huge compliment Dana – thank you!!
      And, I need your expertise on Italy anyway… 🙂

  20. You are amazing!! Congrats Allie and so well deserved! And those photos – love love love them. They capture so much passion and intensity.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Off To The BeachMy Profile

    1. …and crazy! Don’t forget the crazy! LOL – thanks Christine! Nice to have you back, although I’m sure it’s not great to be back.

  21. I was on the edge of my seat reading this! YOU ROCK!!! Congrats on an awesome race!!!
    Loved seeing all your pic – Nationals here you come!!! Woo hoo!!!
    I have done a few TRIs in the past and have loved them. So fun and yes, you have a definite advantage on the run. It it amazing how many people you can pass on the run portion.
    Congrats again and have a fun long weekend!!
    Natalie recently posted…Siggi’s Yogurt Giveaway!!My Profile

    1. Thanks so much Natalie! When I did my very first triathlon 6 years ago, I had no idea how much I would come to love it.
      Enjoy the long weekend!

  22. Congrats Allie! You are an inspiration AND a force to be reckoned with. That’s a serious combination! I absolutely LOVE the photos too!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…High Five FridayMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much Angela!

  23. Allie you are seriously super woman! Awesome awesome job! You inspire me (but not quite to do a tri yet haha)
    emma @ be mom strong recently posted…Toxins ElsewhereMy Profile

    1. I have a feeling I’m going to be telling you the same after the rock your first marathon!!…and then we can talk triathlons 🙂 Thanks Emma!

  24. Well, can I say that you are AWESOME lady!?! Congrats on a successful race, even though that swimming situation sounds like a total nightmare. Seriously though, you’re such a fitness inspiration… and you look amazing!
    Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness recently posted…5 Healthy Ways to Add a Little Adventure into Your Everyday LifeMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much Nicole!! I think I have to get used to swimming like that since there’s just SO many people in the water. Crazy!

  25. GAHHHHHH!!!! SOOOOO excited for you!! Seriously, amazing job, I knew you would win it!! Seriously, I don’t think I will ever do a triathalon, the swim scares me to death. I’ll let you kick ass in the triathalons instead and live vicariously for you. Your pics are amazing, I love watching how focused you are! Great job lady!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Enduropacks Review: A faster way to recover from your high intensity workouts?My Profile

    1. Thanks so much Sue!!! The swim is never easy and you know it took me a LONG time to get somewhat comfortable with it! Never say never… 🙂

  1. […] that anyone who has raced competitively knows, that the A goal seems beyond elusive. And then, this happened. And I’m not embarrassed to tell you I got a little choked up reading this. I am so beyond […]

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