Tag Archives: open water

Race Recap: Steamboat Springs Olympic Triathlon

29 Aug

I did it! The race went GREAT and I had an awesome time in Steamboat. But let me start from the beginning…

Friday

I found out from the vet that nothing is seriously wrong with our dogs. They don’t have giardia or parasites. Most likely, they ate something that upset their stomachs (I’m guessing mushrooms from our backyard). So they just need to be on a bland diet for a few days, and Charlie probably needs to switch to a new regular food to help with her soft stool. After the vet, I took a nap, ordered sushi :), packed, walked the dogs, stretched, and went to bed.

Saturday

I went for a swim at the Rec in the morning. I had tried to go Friday morning but the Rec was closed. It felt good to be moving again. That is one thing that I don’t like about taper week – not having that “I just did a great workout” feeling.

Then I talked to my mom for a bit, packed the car, and took the pooches over to my friend D’s house. I chatted with her over coffee and cinnamon rolls (yum!) and left around 11 am to go back home, load my bike on the Focus, and hit the road.

Everything was going according to plan — I didn’t forget anything, the sun was shining, traffic wasn’t bad, I was belting out my favorite tunes. And then I started to feel like the Focus was struggling a little more than usual up the big mountain grades. Like a precursor to it running out of gas and dying on the side of the highway. But I had plenty of gas. It wasn’t overheating. There had been a puddle on the driveway underneath the car though. And the Check Engine light was on (even though it has been for a while). Hmmmm…

I called Travis. “Um, the Focus is kind of lurching up the steep grades. Could it be low on oil or something?”

He had checked the oil not too long ago so he didn’t think it was that. He was at a loss as well, since he was 300 miles away and trying to diagnose the car via my very non-technical description. Eisenhower Tunnel was getting closer… visions of my car dying right in the middle of it flashed through my head. That would be very bad. Not to mention that I had only driven 45 minutes of a 3.5 hour drive — if the car was struggling already, would it even make it?

“So do you think I should turn around and go home to get the truck?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s probably the smartest thing to do.”

Blast it!

So I turned around at the Loveland Pass exit and headed all the way back to Denver, transferred my luggage and bike to the truck, and took off again… for real. Travis very kindly met me in Vail instead of just staying in Steamboat, so at least I had a companion for the last part of my trip.

The clock was ticking… at 4:15, I saw a sign that said 40 miles to Steamboat. Packet pickup ended at 5. No! We can’t be late! I floored it, doing 80 in a 65 (shhh… don’t tell the po-po) and we arrived in Steamboat at 4:30 — plenty of time! After looking for packet pickup in two wrong places, I finally found it and got all my race stuff and swag. Whew!

We headed to the hotel to unload all of my stuff and put my bike in our room. After watching TV for a bit, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant across the street called Rex’s American Bar & Grill. I had looked up restaurants online the week before and heard rave reviews about this place. And I loved that it was within walking distance!

We opted to sit outside on the patio, where we enjoyed some live music and a gorgeous view of the Steamboat ski slopes, now lush and green. I wanted a glass of wine so badly but knew I had to behave myself. I ordered Napa pizza with apples, bacon, onions and bleu cheese. It was amazing. I have discovered that I love, love, love bleu cheese on pizza. Mmmm… Travis ordered a beer and “Stuffed Bird Boob” with mashed potatoes. I couldn’t figure out what kind of meat that was until the waiter described it as chicken breast. Ahhh… now I get it. His food was also delicious.

Right before we got our food, it started to rain. Since there were plenty of umbrellas on the patio and it wasn’t raining very hard, we stuck it out. Our waiter was nice enough to bring me a fleece blanket — much appreciated!

As we finished, it started raining harder and my very chivalrous husband agreed to go get the car to come pick me up. I decided that since I couldn’t have wine, I at least needed some ice cream. So we drove over to DQ and I got a mini Brownie Batter Blizzard. It hit the spot.

By then, it was about 7:30 and we decided that since it was raining and the rodeo had ended the weekend before 😦 , the best option was just to go back to the hotel and bum. So that’s what we did.

Around 9:00, I decided it was time to sleep. And as far as nights before races go, I slept very well. I woke up a few times to panic and wonder what the heck I was thinking doing an Oly tri but was able to get back to sleep fairly quickly (I guess that’s one nice side effect of your dogs making you sleep-deprived).

Pre-Race

Race morning, I actually hit the snooze button. I finally got up at 5:30. We left the hotel by 6:05, stopped and got coffee for Travis, and got to the race site around 6:20. I thought transition opened at 6:30 but it had really opened at 6:00. It wasn’t a big deal because there were plenty of spots left. I got body marked and then set my stuff up. I chose a rack on the inside aisle, about ¼ of the way down from the swim in.

After getting my area set up, I picked up my timing chip and heard that the water wouldn’t be open for warming up until 7:15. Since it was only 6:45, I went on a little jog for a warm up, went to the bathroom, put on sunscreen (which apparently all washed off during the swim), and then headed down to the water. The temperature was announced — 68 degrees. Woohoo!

At 7:40, I got in the water. It wasn’t bad at all. I could totally do the swim without a wetsuit. I mean, the water hardly even took my breath away. It was like swimming in Minnesota! I was feeling great and doing a little swim warm up when all of a sudden, I hit a giant patch of seaweed. I hate seaweed. I refuse to swim in seaweed. EEEWWW! I panicked and swam back to shore as fast as I possibly could. As I got out, I told Travis, “Well, the water is nice but that seaweed is going to kill me.” After I stood there for a bit commiserating with a fellow athlete about how gross the seaweed was, I decided to go back in and purposefully swim through the seaweed, reminding myself they’re only plants. No little creature is going to attach itself to me or eat me. I will survive. So I swam through the seaweed and I was fine.

I got back out and we stood around for another 35 minutes, listening to the pre-race briefing and watching the four waves before me go off. I just about froze. My teeth were chattering, my legs were shaking. I couldn’t help but think, I’d probably be warm if I was wearing a wetsuit.

Finally, my wave was up. I got back in the water, positioned myself at the back of my wave, got my face used to the water and then treaded water to warm my body up while I waited.

Swim

Before I knew it, the foghorn went off and we were off! Almost immediately, my whole wave had left me in their wake. But I was just pumped that I was swimming! And feeling great! I wasn’t panicking! I kept thinking, I totally have this.

The little toe on my right foot felt weird and I thought that some of the muck from the bottom of the lake must have magically bonded to my foot. Then I wondered if it was a leech. So I reached down to feel. Nothing, not even muck, was there. I realized that my toe was frozen. So were my fingers. You know that feeling when your fingers and toes feel like they’re hollow? That’s how I felt.

By the time I reached the first sighting buoy, athletes from the last wave were passing me. I kept my pace and let them go around me. Just keep watching the buoy get closer, I reminded myself. Take it one buoy at a time. The swim will end sometime.

After I rounded the third turning buoy, I started feeling like I had to pee. I tried to pee while swimming a couple of times but that proved to be more complex than I could handle. But I knew that biking on a full bladder was absolutely miserable so I stopped swimming momentarily to pee. All better.

Finally, I passed the last sighting buoy and could see the swim exit. A couple hundred yards more and I could stand. I ran out of the swim. Yay!! I did it! The hardest part is over! Travis snapped a picture of me as I ran to transition.

Official Swim Time: 46:34

T1

While it was nice to not have a wetsuit to get off, I fumbled with my socks and shoes, and took what seemed like forever to get my helmet on. Usually, I run from the swim into transition and then out with my bike, effectively leaving me breathless between each leg. This time, I said, Screw it — I’m going to walk and catch my breath. So I did.

Official T1 Time: 2:27

Bike

For the first two or three miles of the bike, I felt like I hadn’t ridden a bike in forever. Everything felt foreign. My legs felt really weird. I realized then that I was still frozen. No wonder why my legs felt weird – they were practically numb! It took me about 5 miles to warm up.

While I was still warming up, I encountered The Bumpy Road. Some construction-working genius had decided that gravel with a thin layer of asphalt over it was just as good as an actually paved road. I beg to differ. It was miserable. And I had to pee again, which was magnified 1,000 times with each bump. I started wondering, Can I really survive 20 miles on this horrible-ness?

The course took a left turn and Hallelujah! The road was actually paved again. Oh wonderful, gentle smoothness. By about mile 9, I really had to pee. I started hoping they’d have a porta-potty at the turnaround, all the while knowing that they almost certainly didn’t. But lo and behold, the turnaround was at a baseball field. I asked the volunteer at the turnaround if there were restrooms and he said there were, but he didn’t know if they were open. I had to at least try. So I laid my bike down and ran to the door. They were open! Praise the Lord!

I was so happy on my way back — it’s so much more enjoyable to ride a bike when you don’t have to pee!

{Side note: WHY did I have to pee so much? I went twice before the race started, then during the swim, then again on the bike. I purposely didn’t drink much before the race to avoid this very problem. Argh!}

I followed my fueling strategy by eating my first 3 Shotbloks right after the turnaround (11.5 miles because of the dog leg) and 3 more right before the dog leg (22 miles). There were 4-5 steep-ish hills on the way back, the longest one being the dog leg — 1 mile of 2% grade. Lucky for me, that’s nothing compared to the crap hills on my bike to work. I cruised up the hill (being mindful to not push it too hard), back down and hit the home stretch.

Official Bike Time: 1:31:29 (16.3 mph)

T2

Once again, I walked with my bike back to my rack. I took off my helmet and grabbed my hat, race belt, and Shotbloks. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t grab my piece of bread with peanut butter. And I was off.

Official T2 Time: 1:34

Run

I started running soon out of transition and my legs felt typical – heavy and foreign. I made the decision to walk 1 minute at every aid station (there was one every mile). By the time I got to the first aid station, drank some water, and started running after my minute was up, I had my running legs and settled into a nice pace. By mile 2, I found that I was running an 11:07 pace. Decent.

Mile 3 felt long. My left knee started to hurt with a very familiar feeling caused by a tight IT band. Because I knew what it was, though, I just ran through it. I can stretch later. Finally, there was the aid station: it was a Hawaiian luau. That picked up my spirits and I made it up the hill to the turnaround. On the way back, I grabbed some water and ate my last 3 Shotbloks. On to mile marker 4.

My stomach had started sloshing around so I stopped drinking water. By mile 5, it was getting into the 80s. My knee still hurt. I had the slightest stomach cramp. But I could see the aid station and just kept running.

Finally, it was the last mile. I ran past the lot where we parked, which they said was .5 mile away from transition. There were a lot of athletes and spectators already making their way down to their cars, so I got a lot of cheering on this last stretch. That was fun.

I crested the last hill and picked up the pace. I was SO HAPPY. I couldn’t help but smile and throw my arms up. I totally made it! And…

I ENJOYED IT!

I had pushed myself so hard during the sprint tris I did back in June that I didn’t even enjoy them. The bike was hard and the run was ruined. Why did I do that to myself? I really enjoyed this race.

I crossed the finish line, all smiles, and was handed some water and my finisher’s medal.

Official Run Time: 1:13:06 (11:48/mile)

Official Race Time: 3:35:08

Sure, I didn’t make my “goal” but I am totally excited about my performance. For me, it was huge that I didn’t panic once during the swim, I enjoyed the bike instead of going balls to the wall, and I did the whole run at a very comfortable pace.

As far as the event itself, I think Without Limits Productions puts on a very good race. My goodie bag had a lot of cool stuff in it (hello Luna bars and free socks in Travis’ size!) and the shirts were cute and great quality. I’m not thrilled about the dogtag-style finisher’s medals, but oh well. Their website was kept up-to-date with all the important information and they had plenty of bike course marshals directing us where to go and holding back traffic. My only real complaint is that there wasn’t much cold water at the finish line (or maybe they ran out before I got there?). But overall, it was a great race.

Post-Race

After the race, Travis and I stuck around because my name had been called for a raffle. After I got some more free socks (that I can wear), we grabbed my stuff and loaded up the car. Since it was about 85 by then and just an absolutely gorgeous day, we decided to tube down the Yampa River. Colorado doesn’t have a big selection of “lazy” rivers that are mild enough to tube down, so we seized the opportunity.

When we were finally changed into our suits and everything was stowed in our truck, we grabbed our tubes and river shoes (pretty sweeto) from Backdoor Sports and took off down the river. It wasn’t so much a lazy river as an always-watch-where-you’re-going-so-you-don’t-fall-off-in-the-rapids river, but it was still a blast. I love mild rapids like that! Every once in a while, we’d hit the current and rapids just right that a giant splash of cool water landed on our laps. Refreshing. The ride took about 45 minutes and we waited for the shuttle back for about 10 minutes.

We changed back into our clothes at Backdoor Sports and went to lunch at Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. Travis had a tuna melt (with REAL tuna meat, not the canned stuff) and I had a Reuben. Both were delicious. We made a quick stop at the gas station and then headed back to Denver.

What a great weekend! I’m pumped that the race went so well and I loved being able to do something fun and out of the ordinary with my very supportive and loving husband. I’m very lucky that he comes to cheer me on at my races, even if he gets insanely bored and takes pictures of random things, like pontoon boats and buildings. 😉

Now it’s back to work, laundry and grocery shopping.

Weekly Recap: 8/08 – 8/14

15 Aug

Somehow, even with the impressive workout shuffling I did last week, I managed to log 5 hours and 45 minutes of training, burning 2,825 calories. Not too shabby.

Obstacles to Sleep #1 and #2

Monday: 19.8 mile bike (1:12:24)

Tuesday: 3.91 mile run (47:45), abs + upper body

I took the dogs on a 1.5 mile run, then went to the Rec and did a treadmill workout for the rest, which involved alternating a fast walk (4.5 mph) on an incline (4.5) with a run (6.0) on less of an incline (2.0). It’s a good workout! I ended with a 1-minute sprint at 7.5 mph – an 8:00 min mile pace! Fast for me! AND I finished it all off with 30 man push-ups (3 sets of 10). I was a good sore the next day.

Wednesday: 2 mile walk with pooches

Thursday: 13.5 mile bike (58:20)

This was my bike home from work and I finally didn’t take any wrong turns! I did, however, have a close encounter with the bike police. (Eep.) This was also my fastest pace on my bike to/from work route: 13.9 mph. Hey, there’s a LOT of hills. I think my getting up to 40 mph down Simms helped my overall speed a bit.

Friday: 14.4 mile bike (1:15:13)

This was more on par with my normal speed (11.5) going to/from work – distance was longer because I missed my turn (again!) and speed was slower because of those blasted hills! But the hills are precisely why this route is good preparation for the Steamboat Springs Oly Tri. I fear the bike course is going to be all downhill on the way out and all uphill on the way back.

Saturday: 7 hours of moving, 2 mile walk with pooches

We helped our friends, James and Cathy, move from their 3rd floor apartment to a house. I was exhausted by the end of the day (and sweating like a man-beast) and ran out of time for any workout because I went to church for a ladies’ night of Bunko!

Sunday: 1,750 yd open water swim (47:52), 4 mile run (45:33)

I was very sore from moving on Saturday – specifically my quads (from making 40 trips up and down those stairs!) and my biceps (from all that man-handling). I had pushed this open water swim from Thursday to Friday to Saturday to Sunday. And I still debated skipping it. But I’m glad I went.

I discovered the real reason why I don’t like doing the breaststroke in a full-body wetsuit: it’s hard to bend my knees. As the knees are crucial in forward propulsion, it’s no wonder why I always felt like I was flailing like I did in the Boulder Sunrise. Even though I still don’t like swimming the breaststroke in a wetsuit, I think it’s a better option than braving water with temperatures in the upper 60s sans-wetsuit. (I am hoping to get up to Steamboat in time to do a test run on Saturday without a wetsuit, to see if I can handle it. Then I’ll make a game time.)

The 4 mile run afterward was done at a comfortable pace. I think my goal pace for the Oly run will be 11:00 min/mile (though really, I’ll be shooting for 10:00s).

Weekly Total:

Swim: 1,750 yards

Bike: 49.7 miles (woot!)

Run: 7.91 miles

Walk: 4 miles

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My decision to train at night and get in the Word in the morning has, so far, worked out very well for me. I keep telling myself, Only 2 more weeks! Then I can drop down to 3-4 workouts a week. Even though I have been training since the end of March, it wasn’t until the week before I went to Minnesota (4 weeks ago now!) that I started feeling very drained emotionally/mentally. I am actually impressed that I made it this long without feeling burnt out. But now, I just want some time to relax already!

Anyway, I’ve been doing good about spending time with God during the week and yesterday, I was looking forward to getting in the Word and reading a lot. Twenty minutes in, though, I knew it was useless and took a nap instead. That is going to be one of my main focuses (foci? 🙂 ) for this week and especially next week (taper time!): SLEEP. I’m hoping to go to bed at 8 and get up at 6. Mmmm… sleep. I’m going to need to do something about our dogs – they like to wake up at 4 am to pee and then again at 5:30  to eat everyday. Maybe I should tranquilize them? (Just kidding.) But seriously, I will have no qualms about locking them in the laundry room so that I can sleep more next week. It’s just for a week. And they’re really annoying.

But oh, so adorable.

Oh, swimming…

10 Jun

Should we get in?

As you may remember from my Boulder Sunrise race recap, the open water swim portion of the triathlon is my most daunting opponent. I’ve had a hard time with it ever since I did my first triathlon in 2009. That first race, I wore my wetsuit but lucked out with the swim course having been measured incorrectly so instead of swimming 500 meters, it was more like 300. I got out of the water in record time! 😉

Between that race and the next, I discovered that when doing the breaststroke, wetsuits are not your friend. With the breaststroke, you want to move up and down in the water. That’s how the stroke works. The buoyancy of wetsuits work great for the front crawl because they make you float on the surface. Not so great for the breaststroke (IMO). So you can see in the picture above, I did not wear my wetsuit for the second tri I did. (It helped that the race was in September.)

This year, I am doing races a couple months earlier than those others (and we’ve had a freakishly cold spring), so the water hasn’t had a chance to warm up. The water at the tri last weekend was 60 (though I could have sworn it was colder!) but luckily, the water this Sunday is supposed to be 68-70 degrees. Woohoo! I think that will make a huge difference.

I did do an open water swim with D (pictured) on Tuesday night after work. We calculated the swim area was 3 swimming pools long (75 yards) and what do you know, we were close. I measured on Google Maps and it’s 80 meters long – slightly longer than 3 pools.

As we got in, the water was pretty cold (the website said 62 degrees) but we got used to it within a few minutes. Then the worst part: putting your face in. Ugh, I hate that. But I did it and then we were off swimming our first length. I got to the end, sighting every 6-7 strokes, and had to move to where I could touch the bottom to rest because once again, I couldn’t catch my breath. I don’t know if it’s wearing the wetsuit that makes it harder or if I’m just going out too fast because I can’t judge my speed or if it’s the thought of “I can’t make it that far!” but I definitely get out of breath WAY faster in open water than I do in a pool.

I also think that swimming in a wetsuit feels a lot like swimming with a pull buoy. Your legs float so much! Not only is kicking them almost completely unnecessary, I feel like I don’t have much control over my torso rotation. I end up swimming “flat” except for rolling to breathe; otherwise I feel like I can’t turn back around fast enough for another breath. Just like with the breaststroke, you lose some of the control you have in the pool. (Maybe that’s just my inexperience talking.)

I caught my breath, though, and made my way back. The second time down and back, I took a 30 second break before turning around, more because my goggles were all fogged up and I couldn’t see a thing (which I discovered this morning can be cured by licking my goggles – thank you Nesties!). D decided she was good after that second lap but I still wasn’t feeling the most confident so I did one more lap – during which I discovered every time I looked up that I was swimming completely diagonally. Which wouldn’t have been that big of an issue but there were like 8 other swimmers out there and I felt bad for going off course so much. Luckily, I didn’t run into anyone.

An unfortunate side effect of my diagonal swimming was that every time I looked up to see that I was 10 feet to the right of where I had expected to be, I did the breaststroke to move back over into my “lane.” As I got out of the water, I realized that because my inner thighs were so sore from the thrashing swim of the Sunrise and hadn’t been stretching, doing the breaststroke just then made it felt like I had torn my groin muscle. I couldn’t walk without it hurting. Great, just what I need. {BUT I am happy to report that it was just very sore, not a pulled muscle. It hasn’t completely recovered so I probably won’t be breaking any speed records on Sunday, but it has healed enough for me to run.}

The end result of the open water swim was that it helped, but left me in a quandry of WHY couldn’t I swim straight at all? So this morning, I headed to the pool with the intention of swimming with my eyes closed. After thinking a lot about why open water swimming is so hard for me, especially doing freestyle, I realized it’s 1) not being able to see where I’m going and 2) seeing the entire distance stretched out before me with no pool walls to grab on to.

Swimming in a pool with your eyes closed is a little freaky – you can’t see where you’re going. Just like open water swimming! I ended up running into the lane divider a couple of times (I’m sure the lifeguards were wondering what was wrong with me) but I got a lot of practice with sighting (every 4 strokes or so) and discovered that my going diagonal is caused by not rotating enough to the opposite side of my breathing (I breathe on the right, so I’m not rotating enough to the left.) To simulate open water conditions even more, I swam 300 yards or so with a pull buoy AND my eyes closed. It takes a little getting used to but it is possible to rotate your torso even when your lower body is floating on the surface.

I ended my swim session feeling like I have a much better feel for what it’s like to swim without seeing where you’re going, as well as handling body rotation in a wetsuit. I think that if I can remember to rotate my torso both ways, I’ll be able to swim straight and if I count my strokes to sight every 4-5, I’ll have something to think about instead of “It’s so far! I can’t swim this far! I’m going to run out of breath!”

I am doing another open water swim tomorrow, during which I plan on putting my two tactics described above into practice. We’ll see if they help!

{Note: If my tactics don’t help, at least with the torso rotation thing, I am contemplating leaving the wetsuit at home again. The water will be fairly warm, I’ll have more control over my stroke, and it saves me that time in T1. I think I would prefer to wear my wetsuit but maybe I’m just not a wetsuit person?}

Race Recap: Boulder Sunrise Tri

6 Jun

My pre-race fuel (minus the banana)

Packet pickup on Friday night went well – it was fun being back with the gang in that atmosphere but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to leave right when it was over instead of staying to pack and load stuff up. I didn’t really get to eat dinner, which was a downside to volunteering. I ate a PB&J while I was at packet pickup, then an apple on the way home. Once I got home, I had a bowl of cornflakes and went to bed.

I actually slept very well that night until about 4 am, when I woke up and remembered “Crap! I’m doing a triathlon today!” Between random thoughts about rack markers (“Maybe I should’ve bought a balloon…”) and hairstyles (“I have to make sure my ponytail will fit with my helmet and my hat”), I slept a little until I got up at 5:00. Because I had gotten everything ready Thursday night, I just had to get dressed, wet my hair down and put it up into a messy bun, put on lotion (so my wetsuit would come off easier), and eat breakfast.

My breakfast was two pieces of peanut butter toast. I brought the banana along but ended up giving it to Travis because I didn’t need it. Over the course of the 2 hours before the race, I also drank 16 oz of H2O. I was worried that I’d have to pee during the race but I didn’t.

Then I made the first mistake of my triathlon career: arriving to the race site too late. We left a little later than I had been planning because Travis has a really hard time getting up in the morning but really, I should have planned to get there when the transition area opened at 6 am. Instead, we got there at 6:45 and transition closed at 7:10. It would have been fine if I could have chosen where to rack my bike. But the racks were assigned by race number and of course, my rack happened to be one of the fullest. Me and another girl got there at the same time and squeezed our bikes onto the rack between two other girls’. I had to move some of the other girl’s stuff around and ended up being able to stack my bag and wetsuit (after the swim) on the end. So it worked out. But it took quite a bit longer to set up my transition area than I had planned.

The result of that was:

1) I didn’t get to check and recheck everything.

2) I didn’t get to take a picture of my transition setup.

3) I didn’t end up getting to do a jog around the parking lot like I had planned. Instead, I settled for a couple of small laps in a grassy area. I probably looked like a fool but oh well.

4) I forgot to tape my Shotbloks to my bike, which I remembered just as I was leaving transition for the bike.

5) I felt very hurried.

So I will never show up late to transition again! If you know me at all, you know that I HATE being rushed and I hate being late. Boo!

[Note: I just realized that after all that, I went down to the beach where the race was delayed for 30 minutes because the paramedics hadn’t arrived yet. So I didn’t need to be that rushed after all! Aargh!]

Now for the race details:

Swim

I had been somewhat nervous about the swim but I’ve done open water swims before… how bad could it be? Surely I was exaggerating…

Gulp.

My wave was the 3rd sprint to leave, 5th wave including the Olympic athletes. Once both Olympic waves went off, I got into the water to warm up. It was pretty cold. But I was actually pleasantly surprised by how warm my wetsuit kept me. Too bad I didn’t have a wetsuit for my face. For some reason, putting my face in cold water like that just sucks the air right out of my lungs. I got sort of used to the water during warmup but there was probably a good 5 minutes before that and the time I actually started swimming… or should I say “swimming.”

They blew the horn for my wave. I walked out behind the swimmers in front of me until it was deep enough to start swimming. I started doing the front crawl with my head out of the water but then realized it probably wouldn’t be very good to get winded swimming that way so I put my head down in the water. Like I said earlier, it sucks the air right out of me. I was instantly out of breath, cold, and panicked. “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this. Crap! I hate this. Why am I doing this?” was running through my head. I seriously considered taking my cap off to wave it around (I had kept swimming so was farther from shore by that point.) I saw about 10 other pink caps around me struggling – doing the side stroke, the backstroke, floating on their backs. One even said they just wanted to survive. Another waved her cap and was picked up by a jetski to be brought in.

But no. I can’t quit. How many people have I told about me doing this race? How long have I trained? If I get out, I will be defeated. I am not a quitter. I will finish this swim, if it takes me an hour.

So I kept swimming, doing something that resembled the breaststroke, keeping my head above water, and trying to calm my breath as much as I possibly could (I was only somewhat successful). I will say that that swim was one of the painful, tiring, emotionally trying things I have ever done. Everything in my head and body screamed NO! I finished out of sheer willpower. For that, I am very proud of this race. I persevered against overwhelming odds.

I got in sight of the red flags marking the Swim In. It seemed like I would never get there. But then I saw a swimmer in front of me stand up. Hallelujah!! I made it to the shore!

Out of the Water Time: 24:12

Official Time: 25:12

T1

As soon as I got out of the water, I started taking off my wetsuit – partly because that was how I had practiced my transition but mostly because I was sick of not being able to breath. I walked up the beach with my wetsuit down to my waist, then jogged into transition, and as I neared my spot, started pulling my wetsuit down my legs. I couldn’t quite get it off by stepping on it (I think because the legs end so far up on my calves) so I had to reach down and pull each leg off. Then I washed my feet off, dried them a bit, put on my socks and shoes, took off my goggles and swim caps (I wore too because of the cold), put on my race number, then my helmet and sunglasses. I grabbed my bike and after getting encouragement from my friend D (who was also the race director), I was off to the bike mount.

I figured the transition had taken me more like 3:30 but since my goal was 2:00 and I wasn’t in my best form after that swim, I feel pretty good about this time.

Official Time: 2:27

Bike

The worst thing about riding a bike when you’re wet, IMO, is that your socks get all wet. I hate that feeling. I had the thought during the bike that I should get some wool racing socks. Right now, I just wear Nike DriFit ones and while they work (they don’t give me blisters), I just wonder if wool ones would work better.

The bike was actually the best leg of the race for me. I felt really strong and passed quite a few women (I guess that’s what happens when your swim takes so long!) I only got passed by the front runner Olympic athletes (their bike course was only 5 miles longer than ours) so I felt pretty good about my bike performance. Like I mentioned earlier, I forgot to tape my fuel onto my bike so at the first aid station (around mile 6), I grabbed a HammerGel. Even though I know it’s a faux pas to try something new on race day, I figured it was better than nothing. And it didn’t give me any issues for the most part. I still only averaged 16 mph but I made my goal time.

Official Time: 1:04:07 (16 mph average)

T2

T2 consisted of me racking my bike, removing my helmet, and grabbing my hat to put on as I ran to the Run Out. Travis tried to take a couple of pictures of me as I came back but instead, managed to shoot 2 seconds of me and 20 seconds of himself walking (he had left the camera on video mode from the swim so he thought he had taken a picture of me dismounting but had really just started to record. It’s actually pretty funny.)

Official Time: 0:52

Run

I started jogging but had to stop and walk a bit to catch my breath or else I knew the run would be a battle like the swim. I started running again when my heart rate got down to 145 and settled into a nice, comfortable pace. I didn’t have the energy or desire to push myself by either running faster or doing intervals. Even if I had had the energy, my needing to go #2 for the last half of the run would have probably prevented me from doing so. My pace ended up being right on my training pace so I can’t be too disappointed.

Coming in to the finish

Official Time: 34:43

Overall Official Time: 2:07:20

Age Group Placement: 27/37

Gender Placement: 98/147

So I missed my goal time by 7:20 but I finished!

I can tell that I haven’t trained as intensely for this race as I have for the other ones I’ve done. So my take-aways from this experience are:

1. Never underestimate the value of open water swim practice.

I credit this for my swimming FAIL. I didn’t get into the open water once to practice before this race. I am going to remedy this for the coming weekend by swimming tomorrow and Saturday in open water. I might also have to revert back to the breaststroke – I think part of my problem was the thought of not being able to see where I was going. I don’t like that thought.

2. Never underestimate the value of intense brick workouts.

I had done about 3 bricks in training but none of them were intense ones. I did a wimpy bike ride followed by a wimpy run. I need to do an all-out, hard as I can go shorter bike ride so that my legs can really get used to what they feel like during the race.

3. Never underestimate the value of getting to the race with plenty of time.

In addition to being able to fit in a warmup and finding a better spot on the rack, this is a mental thing. Being late to a race is the stuff of nightmares.

Race bib and Finisher's medal

So I am still planning on doing the Greeley Sprint Tri this coming Sunday. Like I said, I am going to get in some open water swims this week (plus one run and one bike). The water is also expected to be 70 degrees (a good 10 degrees warmer than the Boulder Reservoir!) and it’s only 500 meters. But I think those open water swims are going to be clutch.

So that’s my triathlon recap.

 

I have had some really good thoughts about God and trials lately that I’ve been hoping to share… in the next day or two.