Last weekend, I got a chance to race an Olympic distance triathlon (0.9 mile swim, 26.2 mile bike, and a 6.2 mile run). I’ve only done one Olympic, as my second triathlon last year. All of my races this year have been sprints or 70.3’s, so I was excited to take a crack at the Olympic.
I attended the wedding of one of my childhood friends and neighbors on Saturday night, which made pre-race prep a bit of a challenge! Of course I wanted to dance, drink, and eat wedding cake, but I did have to take it easy so I could be as fresh as possible for the race. But, it was great to see a bunch of my high school friends and celebrate my friend’s marriage!
4am wake up call on race morning came early after squeezing in only about 5 hours of sleep – I got down race morning breakfast and hit the road for the 45 minute drive. Check-in was easy and painless, and I only forgot one thing (an extra CO2 that was easily purchased at the race site – much better than forgetting to put the race wheels on your bike like I did on my last local race…whoops!). I got to catch up a bit with a friend from my masters swim team, Medena, who won the first triathlon I did last year and qualified for Worlds in London this year. I knew she would give me some good competition!
I was competing in the Elite/Open division, so was in the first wave of the swim. The start was in waist-deep water and was pretty intense with the Elite and Collegiate groups starting together. I was pretty happy with my swim start – I was much more aggressive than I have been in the past, and although I got bumped around a lot, I was able to maintain a good position and get out in the first group. There was one guy way ahead already, and then a small pack of us trailing behind. Within a few hundred yards, I was able to get on some feet and start drafting. Medena and I ended up swimming side-by-side behind the guy for almost the entire race. He was unfortunately a poor sighter, and drifted way off course a few times. I debated whether or not the drafting benefits would outweigh swimming further, but I strategically decided to just keep swimming straight, which ended up working out because everytime he eventually would come back to us. Swim split: 17:35
I exited the water a couple seconds back from Medena. When you leave the water, you have to climb these rock stairs (which was a bit scary!) and then run a pretty significant distance to transition. Medena was in and out of transition before I even got my wetsuit off (theme for this year: my transitions suck!). In my hurry to get out on the bike course, I managed to forget my gels stashed next to my bike shoes, so I embarked on the hour+ bike loop with only 1 bottle of perform for fuel. Yikes! I knew I would miss about 2 gels during this time, but I had to keep moving forward. I could probably get away with this during an olympic, but I can’t make this mistake at the 70.3!
I started the bike with no one ahead of me in sight. The plan was to work the bike hard – really relying on my leg strength to go fast. About 10 minutes in, I saw Medena up ahead of me. I was gaining on her, and in about 5 minutes, I caught and passed her. It seemed that I passed her pretty easily, but she definitely picked it up after that (or I let up a bit!), and about 5 minutes later, she passed me back. I knew I needed to try to stay with her on the bike – the girl can run! Tim was in my head, reminding me that my legs were strong and I needed to use them to push this bike harder. My heart rate was dropping a bit, trying to stay a legal distance behind her, and I knew this was when I had to make my move. I passed her back, and put the pedal to the metal, trying to put as much distance on her as possible. She definitely stuck with me for a while, but the gap was widening. The course was rolling hills, nothing too dramatic, but it gave me the opportunity to really push the speed. Around 30 minutes in, doubts started creeping in – this pace HURT, how could I possibly keep it up for another 30? But I just kept repeating “strong legs”, and thinking back to all those really tough interval rides I did this year where I managed to stay tough and push past where I thought I could go. 20 miles came, and I caught a glimpse behind me – no one in sight! Just had to hold on for the last 6.2 miles, to keep a good cushion going into the run. Bike split: 1:07:47 (23.3 mph)
I got into T2 and got out of there as quickly as possible. There were lots of spectators near the transition area (compared to the very few people out on the course) so it got me going and excited to start the run (not that I wasn’t already pumped to be running!) You start running on some grass, then head out down the main street and into some neighborhoods. My legs were tired, and didn’t want to turnover at the pace I wanted to be running at. We had set a first mile goal pace of 6:10, then I was free to go as fast as I could. I started around 6:20 pace, and managed to bring it down to about a 6:15 first mile. I knew if I could hold 6:15s, I should be able to maintain the lead. I hit the 2nd mile in another 6:15, and then finally, my legs decided to join the party. I could feel myself getting stronger around mile 3, and my pace showed it – I got faster each mile, and managed to run a 5:55 in mile 6. Run split: 37:34 (6:04 min/mile pace, only about 30 seconds off my fastest standalone 10k!)
I crossed the finish line in 2:06:12, 1st female, and 6th overall. For the women, I had the 2nd fastest swim and fastest run time, but more impressively for me, the fastest bike time. This made me very happy – seeing all the hard work paying off! I know I still have a long ways to go, but I’m thrilled with the progress I’ve made on the bike this year. It helps to have a kick-ass bike – my Quintana Roo CD0.1 is an awesome ride. Gotta give a big thanks to Coach Tim for making me spend hours upon hours on the bike, getting out of my comfort zone (through group rides, mountain climbs, tough Z3 intervals), and giving me the confidence I need to make all that hard work come out on race day. And somehow, still allowing me to run well off the bike!
This was my first Sun Multisport race, and they did a great job making it an fun & safe race! The volunteers were great out on the course, the course was well-marked and patrolled at all the intersections, and there was a fun post-race party with tons of food and a band! Besides a couple sketchy parts of the bike course and the one section of the run course that crossed over the bike course, the course was smooth and easy to follow. It was a great local race!