To view the results from the entire race: https://my.raceresult.com/173274/#1_715931
Here’s what the numbers above mean: I placed 10/14 in my age group (at this point in my triathlon journey, this is the most important to me). I placed 62/~130 total females in the race.
Total time: 1:58:14
1/2 mile swim 19:26:9
Transition between swim and bike 1:47
17.3 mile bike 1:03:12:2
Transition between bike and run 2:22
3.2 mile run 31:25
In my limited experience I have decided that a triathlon consists of 5 parts. swim, transition 1, bike, transition 2, and run. There’s a lot of focus and mental sequences taking place for the entirety of the race. So far, I’ve found there are portions in the middle of each sport where I feel like I’m really in that specific sport, and then soon after, my mind starts shifting to thinking about the next portion of the race. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time!
Competing in a triathlon is a complex experience. A lot of things need to be dialed in to performance your best. Yesterday’s race was full of success and also some disappointment. Here’s my wrap up of the race and my analysis of my performance!
Leading up the race the forecast was predicting 25 degree drop in weather and a multi-day forecast of rain was showing on my weather app. My first triathlon was at the end of September last year and there was a sharp drop in temperature the night before which I was unprepared for. Upon seeing the forecast last week, I was immediately reminded of my experience last year where I was cold the entire time on the bike going into the run and how it was quite unpleasant. I was worried that this would be the same and to be real- that made my experience so miserable I wasn’t sure I wanted to do another race. I found myself feeling angry and frustrated that the weather had been so hot and now it was looking like it was going to be 55 degrees for the race. It did upset me and I felt like I had bad luck. Turns out, the weather was almost perfect on Sunday. I was more prepared this time and brought my cycling windbreaker just in case.
Waiting around for the race to start is always nerve racking, and the couple of days beforehand is a lot of management of my mental state. I focus on preparation, visualization and nutrition. While tapering, it’s common to feel a little bored because the time I usually spend training is now open and being used to those endorphins can be disorienting.
The drive up to Boulder was fun, I was blasting all sorts of music to get my energy and motivation higher and we arrived with plenty of time to get checked in and pick up my race packet. I was grateful I had taken the time a couple of weeks ago to travel to the race site to familiarize myself with the route to get there as well as the bike route. I noticed a definite advantage during the cycling portion that I was familiar with where I was going.. similar to home court advantage, it’s always beneficial to have some comfort in your environment because you have been there before.
I started the race feeling awesome, the swim route was shaped like a “U”. There were 2 large floating buoys on the way out, and then we were to turn at the 2nd bouy, swim straight to a 3rd buoy and take another turn there. First buoy was orange, the second and third were both green. Part of swimming in open water is a skill known as “sighting” which is where you bring your eyes up in front of you to make sure you are headed towards the correct destination. The swimming portion I think is kind of intimidating because the water is full of unknowns and you might get hit or kicked while swimming. The swim start consists of a wave of competitors, usually in an age group and either male or female… all just heading out into the water at once. Definitely a recipe for anxiety, if one was to have any. Yesterday the water was a pleasant 73 degrees, I have been foregoing the wetsuit.. as I feel more free… but because of all the racers in the water, it was choppy and turbulent. Somewhere in between the 1st and 2nd buoy I decided to ignore my coaching and take the priority of sighting down, I started just burying my head and digging with my arms– just really trying to power through. Well in doing this, I became oriented on the 3rd buoy instead of the 2nd and almost missed going around the 2nd buoy (which would have resulted in a DQ!). Luckily I figured it out, but I ended up swimming longer than necessary because I had to swim back and around the 2nd bouy. My usual time for a 1/2 mile swim is 14 minutes and yesterday’s swim took me 19 minutes. I felt embarrassed and that I had screwed up my results and my race. But I have been training really hard and there was no use giving up. So I tried to make up some of my lost time.
My transition from the swim to bike was fast and I was happy about that! I am really satisfied with my performance on the bike, especially considering that is the area I am least experienced in. I was disappointed that the racers simply had to stay on the shoulder of the road and that it was still open to traffic. The bike route is on busy freeway type roads in Boulder and I am used to event organizers having the permits to have roads closed for their races. I am not privy to the reasoning behind the road not being closed for this race, and I presume the organizers probably have legitimate reasons for that not being the case, but its not my preference and I will aim to be in more races where the roads are closed. Perhaps my expectations aren’t realistic, I don’t know at this stage of the game.. and will learn as I go. I chose not to put on my jacket for the bike, the course was a little windy and if the air temperature was any cooler, I probably would have been pretty uncomfortable. I got a PR on the bike course which I was very happy about, despite that there were many factors of that portion of the race that weren’t my preference. The bike course distance was also not standard, it was 17 miles instead of the normal 12, so I wasn’t able to get a relevant PR for a standard sprint triathlon time. I missed this detail upon registering for the race, so my positive outlook on that is that I raced a longer distance bike route than I usually will… so just making me stronger and more prepared for future races.
Anyways, onto the run and we are just about wrapped up here! I got back after the bike, skidded to a stop at the dismount area and ran my bike into the transition area (where the bike racks and all your gear is) and there were 10 rows of probably 5 bike racks. I had counted the number of rows from the swim to bike entry but not from the bike to run entry.. so I wandered around for a full minute looking for my stuff. It is really exhilarating when you dismount the bike and try to start running after sitting on a bike seat for an hour! After finally locating my belongings, I took my bike helmet and shoes off, put on my running shoes and jacket and headed out. This is when I saw my best friend jumping up and down and screaming and that gave me a boost! I enjoyed the run route out the reservoir dam and back and my boyfriend and some friends and family were there to meet me at the finish line! It was so much fun. I felt strong during the run and just continue to keep in mind that running 3.2 miles after a swim and a long bike is a much different scenario than simply going out for a run. The first mile I slowed down to a walk a few times to just get my legs moving properly and I knew that if I could acclimate in the first mile I would get in my stride for the remainder of the race. I found a solid 10 min/mile pace for the 2nd mile and beyond and was pleased with my commitment to finish the race strong! It was a lot of work and I know I can run much faster than this, but it’s a unique combination of circumstances. Also, my run is weakest right now because I’ve been overcoming a lot of pain in regards to running while getting strong again. So it’s been a little slower of a start than I desired and I don’t have as much mileage under my belt at this point in the season as I had planned. My next race is on 7/25 and I intend to be focusing on running and bike/run training in terms of improvement. While practicing sighting during swimming and keeping my performance consistent at a minimum.
If I had done a good job in the swim, I could have easily taken the 7th place spot in my age group and I would have felt a lot better about that. But that’s not what is most important. I’ve been training really hard and it made a big difference yesterday. I did so well and it’s because I invested the time into multiple aspects of endurance, strength, flexibility, exercises specific to each sport, exercises I learned in physical therapy to help overcome my injuries, low carb whole food nutrition, and a lot of love and support in my life! It is the day after the race and I feel great today! I am fatigued but do not feel any significant amount of irritation or inflammation. I may treat myself to a professional deep tissue massage later this week as a reset before I pick up the intensity of my training later this week. I have less than 4 weeks until the next event and I am super pleased with the foundation I have to build on and start finding some gains! It’s important that I stay focused and dialed in to take things to the next level.
We reach plateaus and have difficulty overcoming them for various reasons. Sometimes in our own beliefs we don’t think we are capable of going beyond a certain level. But the good news is that physical training has the ability to help us break through those barriers and I’m at a point now where in many ways, doing the physical work is squashing the nonsense my mind might come up with. So, just do it.