As I write this, it’s been less then 24 hours since I raced the Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon, so maybe I need to give it more time. My emotions are still raw and I’m trying to make sense of all that happened. I can separate the outcome into two definite timeframes – before I knew the results and after. Each had a very different feeling so maybe it’s best to start there.
Race Distance: .50 mile swim | 10.5 mile bike | 3.1 mile run
Temperature: 85 degrees with 70% humidity, water temperature 75 degrees
Clothing: Pearl Izumi triathlon shorts, Oiselle Runway Sports Bra and Sleeveless Wetsuit for the swim
BEFORE THE RESULTS
In triathlon, you have staggered starts for the swim to help prevent drowning. It’s hard enough starting with your age group, which can be upwards of 30 people, never mind the entire field. For this event the elite and young men went out first, followed by my group which was the 39 and under plus elite women. I placed myself in this group, knowing I wanted to compete for a top 10 placement and qualification for triathlon nationals.
I made the huge mistake of emailing the race director, when he asked for requests for the elite group, to move me into it. It was a huge mistake because for the entire race (before, during and after!) he kept announcing things like “Allie Burdick who is vying for a top spot!” Really? I just wanted a top 10 finish, which I clearly stated in my email. Can we keep this between us? Apparently not.
This was the first time I would be swimming a half-mile in a race. I warmed up in the water and I actually felt calm as the race started. Yes, calm. A friend who was also racing gave me the best advice as I was gapping at the buoys marking our mileage, saying “just take it one buoy at a time.” It became my mantra.
I felt really good and relaxed in the swim for the first 3/4, then the third wave of men caught up to me. I only had two buoys to go when they came at me on both sides. It knocked me off my pace, had me swallowing water and forced me into a breast stroke until they passed. I definitely lost some time but was unfazed. I came out of the water strong and proud for having gone all that way, something I could not have done a year ago.
Swim time: 17:35
Tranisition one: 1:46 (damn wetsuit!)
I had traveled to the race site a few days prior so I could scout out the bike course. I’m so glad I did because I knew exactly what to expect. I was able to pass several women and even a few men. One guy even shook my hand afterward and told me what a great ride I had. This happens almost never and it made me smile BIG!
I felt solid on my bike, I was shifting well, speeding downhill and climbing like a boss. I felt good and strong coming into transition.
Bike time: 34:38
Transition two: 0:45
I wait all race to get on the run. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my left foot (peroneal tendon) and right hamstring. But, once I took those first strides off the bike, I knew I was golden. All those hours pool running and on the elliptical had actually worked!
The run course was a bear. It basically went downhill for the first 1.5 miles, turned around and went straight back uphill for the last 1.5 miles. I’m not sure what kind of sadist chose this route but it wasn’t funny.
Despite the hills, I felt good and strong, passed a few more women and even crossed the finish line glad to be done but not feeling beaten down. Essentially I felt like I had trained properly, and left it all on the course.
Run time: 21:35
Because of the staggered start, I only knew what the women in my group had raced and how many of them I had beaten. Because of the out and back run course I could literally count the ones in front of me – 6 to be exact. I also had my BRF Chrissie at the race who was sort of counting as well.
The first issue was there was a relay so, some of the women finishing were part of the rely and I was obviously not competing against them. Another issue was my friend the announcer was more then happy to announce my finish and added “Vying for a top spot today, looks like Burdick came in 6 or 7th.”
I was smiling, I was proud, I felt good and I had fun.
I texted my coach, my aunt, my husband and my BFF saying “Nothing official but I think I came in 7th overall!” And there were a lot more exclamation points.
Then the results were posted.
AFTER THE RESULTS
Little by little my smile started to fade and my confidence was stripped. I counted 11 women ahead of me in the posted results. There were no placement numbers in age group or otherwise, just a listing from 1-whatever with your overall time. How could this be? The announcer himself said I was in the top 10!
To say we were confused was an understatement. We waited around for almost an hour for the awards. I didn’t place in my age group. Being 40 worked against me this time.
To say I felt defeated walking to the car is a massive understatement. I felt like the whole race was a complete waste of time. I felt like a failure and I was embarrassed.
Soon after I changed my clothes and started the long drive home, the tears came. I was so grateful to have my friend there. She said all the right things by saying almost nothing at first. What could she say? She knows me so well and, as a competitive athlete herself, she knew what not to say. She listened. She reasoned. She let me cry.
Once I started to really think about what happened, I came to the following conclusions:
1. This is the very first triathlon I have raced in two years and it was a very competitive field.
2. This was the first time I swam a half-mile in a race.
3. The swim distance in comparison to the bike and run did not favor me, since I’m much stronger in the other two disciplines. Most sprint triathlons have a .25 mile swim and a longer bike.
4. It took me three attempts to qualify for nationals in duathlon so why did I think I could just waltz in and qualify in triathlon the first time around? It even took two marathons for me to qualify for Boston.
5. It’s been a while since I’ve set a goal and haven’t reached it on my first attempt and it stings.
6. Coming in 12th woman overall is not anywhere close to horrible and I should be proud. I’m getting there.
First of all, I’m going on vacation! Actually, first thing the morning after the race I was back in the pool.
I did a lot of things right – I trained right and as well as I could leading up to the race, I fueled perfectly and never felt weak or sick during the race and I even came away with zero chafing and minimal soreness.
Because of how much this hurt, I know how badly I want it.
I need to be challenged and that’s why I race. Competitive triathlon is still new to me and I have to remember that.
My next triathlon race is on August 30 and I will have another chance to qualify. This one has another half-mile swim but a 12 mile bike and the standard 3 mile run. I have seven weeks to take 3-4 minutes off my swim.
Here we go again…
Have you ever raced a triathlon?
What’s your best advice for getting over a disappointing race or event?
First of all – CONGRATS!!! I am in awe of anyone who does a tri. The swim just freaks me out. And second, I know how much it stings to not meet your goals (and have it broadcast everywhere!). It sucks beyond belief but it does fade with time. And gives you a little extra fire to crush it at your next race.
Thanks so much for this Angela because I know you SO get it!! And the swim used to absolutely freak me out too, so I get THAT!! 🙂
Allie you did AMAZING! It’s hard when you’re such a rockstar to not qualify round 1, but now you have a fire lit and you’ll et it next time lady! Have fun on vacay!
Damn straight! Thanks so much Emma 🙂
You are so strong. That last photo?! Damn girl!!! You are such a beautiful athlete inside and out. Do me a favor and try to hold on to the happy you felt before you knew the results because honestly that is the only happy that counts!! Don’t you remember how apprehensive you were about the open swim and look at you! You did it (like a boss I might add). I know you will train your tail off for August 30 because when Allie wants a record Allie gets it. It’s a fact. 🙂
Oh I’m laughing at that last part Nellie!!! Thank you for this. I WILL hang onto that first feeling because it’s absolutely the one that counts!
You are so amazing Allie and seriously I can only imagine your feelings, but still please know that I, for one, am seriously so stinking proud of you. I know you are always trying your hardest and for that alone you are a true hero to me always. Sending hugs and love your way this morning 😉
You always know just what to say! Thank you so much Janine. xoxoxo
Seriously amazing…and I can honestly say I feel your pain! The best thing you can do is get back out there and that is what you are doing. Be proud of yourself and all that you put into your training and your race!
I have never done a tri and can’t even imagine…biking like that scares me 🙂
It is a little scary, especially those daunting downhills with quick turns at the end – yikes!
I know you’ve been battling your own race demons lately. I have a feeling we’re both in for some big payoffs because we’re training in all the right ways. Keep your head up my friend and I will too!
I’m sorry to hear the race wasn’t exactly what you wanted. I know the hardships of setting a goal and not reaching it. It burns a little bit. You will reach the goal you wanted though, I have faith in you. I think going on vacation is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’s time to relax and enjoy life.
Yes it is!! I know you can completely understand this Hollie, and I appreciate your words. THANK YOU!
Well, you know I’ve never done a triathlon or imagined that I could, and to me what you have done here is incredible. You look so amazingly strong in all the pics. So glad you had your friend there. And I can’t believe you are doing it again in August!! Enjoy your vacation.
Hahahaha!! I actually can’t wait to do it again. And, I think I may have spied a picture of you surfing!! OMG – now THAT is scary. Good for you!
You know I think you have NOTHING to be disappointed about here, right?! You did a great job and there’s no reason to beat yourself up. Like I said before, tris are super competitive (move up to a half IM distance to really get that flavor!) and you still placed 12th overall–amazing!
Now here’s one thing I would do differently if I were you–for a half mile swim, ditch the wet suit. I know it helps w/ buoyancy, but for sprints, it’s really not worth the effort, especially when you consider what it does to your transition time. My philosophy/experience, so obviously feel free to ditch that advice. Also, know that experience with the swim counts SO much for navigation–you will only improve there. I think your swim goal is doable for the next one!
Thanks Amanda – I always love your input when it comes to this because you’ve been there and have the experience. I will not take you up on the offer of IM probably ever, so there’s that!
My coach said the exact same thing about the wet suit. I wasn’t wearing it up until about 5 minutes before the start because I was a little freaked by the distance and knew it would make me feel better to wear it. Mistake!!
And YES navigation on the swim needs improvement so I will get there. I have a lot to learn but I’m eager so…
Thank you! I completely value your opinion so please don’t hesitate to give it!
First of all, congratulations. You are amazing and I’m constantly in awe of all that you accomplish and 12th overall IS amazing. But I can imagine how much it burns and hurts and have no doubt that you will make your way to nationals. Like you said, this is the first tri you’ve raced in two years. Now that you’ve got the taste back, you know what to do to get it done. And your announcer friend – ha! Love the staggered swim start disclaimer too – so you don’t drown. So true!
Not drowning is really number one on my list of triathlon race goals – always! 🙂
Thanks so much Christine. I so appreciate it!! Running half-marathons/marathons will be a welcome relief after this!
I just want to reiterate what an ATHLETE you are and how amazingly proud I am of your results and hard work. I have never met a more determined person in my life and I hope you come to be VERY proud of what you accomplished. I am so happy for you and excited to see what happens next, after vacation .
Thanks so much Shannon and thank you for ALWAYS being there, even when you probably just want to roll your eyes and tell me to “get over it” already!! You are always so patient and kind with my training ups and downs and I appreciate it more then you know! THANK YOU!
Congrats, Allie! What an amazing time and 12th place overall is nothing short of incredible! I know the stinging disappointment of missing goals, but I really admire you for putting a big goal out there and chasing it with your all. That means so much more than setting a smaller goal and checking it off no problem. You’re going to own the next race and make it to nationals! Also, I love the design of that Oiselle sports bra.
Thank you Laura! I was actually thinking about that on my drive home – big dreams aren’t easily realized and this is all part of the journey!
I absolutely LOVE that Oiselle bra – it’s so different in design and extremely comfortable.
Wow Allie!!! I gotta say huge congratulations to you, you are a super machine! Yes I know you had something different in mind, but the fact that you kicked butt and put it all out there, and went for it, AND did so freaking well – common that’s pretty awesome. Strong race and you even managed nice race pics, lol. I love sprints! My first tri was a sprint and I smiled like a lunatic the whole time. I think I was hungover or still drunk from the night before, clearly I set my bar low. Just finish smiling is usually my main goal. Congratulations and high five!!!
Exactly! I finished with a huge smile and I need to think about that – I had a BALL out there!!
Thanks so much Danielle!!
Oh, my friend!! You did so well! Congratulations on that 1/2 mile swim and most of all for feeling calm as you owned it! I know you are disappointed and the fact that you feel that way will just make it sweeter when you DO qualify. But hang on a little bit to how you were feeling throughout and how you felt after finishing, before you saw the results – you felt good, strong, proud, kickass. That’s because the race WAS all those things for you. Don’t let a field not slanted in your favor make you forget that. Love you and I’m so proud of your amazing result, ladycake!! xoxo
That’s exactly what I keep telling myself…and then my ego whispers to me. I need to get rid that thing!! Thank you for always being there for me and knowing what to say because you truly mean it. Love you lady cake!! 🙂
Your times are amazing (even your transitions were blazing fast). This was an incredibly competitive triathlon, a huge percentage of athletes use this as training for Lake Placid (not to mention the countless people sporting the national uniform). In a short race like this, with this field, you simply don’t have enough miles for your bike/run to make up for those chicks who have been swimming competitively since high school. I am totally impressed by your times and by your motivation to get even faster, but don’t waste any more time with negative thoughts regarding this race. You were fantastic, and just because some of those other people were also fast, doesn’t negate that. See you 8/30!
Thank you SO much Michelle!! I really appreciate it and you were SO helpful in calming my nerves!!! Looking forward to seeing you again on Aug 30th!!
Allie, first of all let me say you ran a 21:35 5K during a tri (that you haven’t raced in 2 years!)!
I know what it feels like to miss a goal after training so hard, but you have a lot to be proud of too.
Think of it as getting back into the game of racing. Now you can go on vacation, keep up your training and come back strong in August!
We’ll be rooting for you!!
BTW: Look at your strong body in those photos!! #awesomeathlete
Thank you Natalie!! The running is obviously my strongest “leg” of the race 🙂 I’m looking forward to a little downtime so I can regroup and refocus!
So, don’t be so hard on yourself my friend! I know, way easier said than done. I totally get it. But you did an amazing job and it’s something you should be proud of! I’m in total awe of you and how strong you are! You haven’t raced a tri in 2 years!! That’s a long time! Just think of how great the next one will be!
I’m trying to think that way but you know how it goes!! I’m sure I’ll feel much better about the whole thing while relaxing on vacation!!
Allie, honestly, I think you are amazing and while you may not have achieved the numbers goal you wanted, you have to remember how great you felt in the race. That is why you do this! I know you are competitive and want to achieve a great number but I also know you want to have fun doing it.
If it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure your time for your swim was the same as mine when I did my sprint tri (I was 29 and it was a .25 mile swim and I didn’t have kids. . . .). Also, why the heck do they let men go after the women??? One 6 ft something guy almost DROWNED me! WTF?
Thank you so much and YES it was about having fun and I was thinking “I’m actually enjoying this!” while I was out there.
And YES that makes me feel better! The overall winner was 29 and “only” beat me by 6 minutes so… I don’t mind when the youngsters get the better of me.
I hate that about the swim. The fast and elite men went out first but ALL the men should go out before the women. Just another reason to improve my swim speed 🙂
First things first: CONGRATS on an amazing race. I love that you share so openly, and the one question that came to my mind when I read your “after the results” feelings of the race being a waste of time and being upset was: Were you proud of your effort and performance? I think in reading the first part, your answer was yes. Where we fall in the order of finishers (even if we are vying for the top spot LOL that man!!!) matters much less than how we actually performed and the effort we gave and the heart and determination we pour into what we do. Your 5K time is tremendous with those hills and that time in that heat is stellar. I know you know that and I’m glad you looked at it with a refreshed perspective. You are one awesome athlete. Don’t forget it. xo
Thank you so much Jesica! And now, that even more time has passed, I feel even better about that race and ready for my next TRI (try!) in two weeks 🙂 All this lake swimming in NH has been amazing!