I was awake before the alarm, although I was in bed early the night before and slept well. I was a little worried that I had overdone it the day before the race. It was really hot on Saturday, and I spent the whole day outside. I tried to sit and put my feet up when I could, but I was tired by 6 p.m. on Saturday. I made it a priority to get to the hotel, get off my feet, and get to sleep as quickly as I could.
I made my typical pre-race breakfast of a chocolate banana protein shake and an EFS Bar (I love these things) and began sipping on EFS drink right away. Kel and I were on our way to the race sight by 5:15, and I got to transition, got set up, and was ready to go with plenty of time for a photo op.
I was in the second to last swim wave, so after a quick warm-up in the warm lake, I waited with some of my Trakkers teammates. We were each worried about different things, so we had a collective pep talk with some positive affirmations. Mine was: "I love hills. I eat them for breakfast."
The swim was a beach start, and I started kind of in the middle of the pack. I went out strong and didn't have too much trouble with being crowded. I tried to draft, but I'm really not very good at that yet. I always seem to pick someone who is either going way too fast for me or way too slow for me, so I was happy just to swim my own swim. I felt very strong and very smooth. I started running into the slower swimmers of the waves before me, which is kind of a pain, because inevitably I get in the way of a man doing the breaststroke. I probably passed about 10 or 15 men this way. I also started getting passed by the super fast swimmers in the last wave. I was sighting really well, and after the last turn buoy I was able to hop on someone's feet for a short ride, which was nice. I did veer off course a little at the end, only because I was sighting on the swim finish arch and didn't realize there was a dock in the way...oops. I don't think it cost me too much time.
Although my swim felt comfortable and strong, I was a little disappointed with my time, but I try to not place too much emphasis on the swim time, because they can be so variable.
If you look really closely, you can see me smiling and finishing a wave to
Kel at the bottom of the big blue giant slide.
Long run up to transition, but I knew exactly where my bike was. I had a bit of trouble getting my wetsuit unzipped, but it finally gave, so all was well. I didn't rush because sometimes my adrenaline can really get the better of me. I was calm and smooth and very pleased with my T1. I actually gained one position here.
I felt super strong as I started on the bike. My plan was too take the bike a little slower than I felt I could go. The course was crazy hilly, and I knew that since Kel and I had driven it the night before. I tried to work the downhills as much as I could, then spin nice and easy up. This worked most of the time, but some of the hills were so long and steep, it was just a long haul to get up, so my cadence dropped at those points. I got passed by about 20 women on the bike, but I also passed a lot of the slower men with their tricked-out bikes, so that was fun.
I knew my Trakkers team was waiting for me at the mile 29 aid station which was at the end of a 4 mile climb. Boy was I glad to see them, and really appreciated the pick-me up!! Here is a pick of pro Amanda Lavato heading through the Trakkers station.
During the bike, I stayed on top of my nutrition with 2 bottles of EFS drink (about 400 calories), water and a flask of EFS Liquid Shot (another 400 calories). When I realized I was going to be out there for close to 3.5 hours, I added in a GU that I had brought just in case.
All in all, I feel like I executed my bike plan extremely well. I felt like I was in Zone 2 for most of the time. Maybe I could have pushed harder, but I knew what was coming on the run....HILLS, HILLS, HILLS.
Bike: 3:33:45 15.72 mph
Smooth and easy.
My initial plan for the run was to take it nice and easy during the first 5 miles with a 9:1 run walk strategy. The first 1.5 miles are downhill, so I felt great and decided to wait until the first aid station for my walk. I knew the hills were going to begin around mile 2.5, and I was prepared. Last year I did this run as part of a relay, so I knew what it was like, although the course was changed a bit this year, and I think it became a little harder.
As soon as I started hitting the hills, my plan changed. I was only at mile 3, I knew I had another 5 miles or so of hard hills, and if I ran up the hills I was totally redlined. I felt that probably wasn't the way to a strong finish, so I power walked (I mean, really fast walking) up the steepest part of the hills, and started running immediately after cresting each hill. I continued to walk the aid stations, taking water to drink and to pour over my head at each one. I was taking in a Clif Shot Block about every 1.5 miles or so.
This was where it became interesting because I started passing people while I was walking! I passed a lot of men at this point, and tried to encourage everyone around me all the while. I had the honor of getting to run with James Brown, not the singer, but a soldier in the US Army. I found out he's doing Lake Placid this year before heading back to the war, and this was his first real triathlon!! Amazing! Thanks, James, for the encouragement along the way.
James and I at the finish...he finished a bit before me and is going to be strong at Lake Placid for sure.
At mile 8 there was another long steep hill. For some reason, I did not see the mile 7 marker, so I was pleasantly surprised to be at mile 8. I declared, out loud, at that point that the hills were officially over. Everyone around me laughed, but I was actually serious. In my mind, the hard part was over...now it was time to head home.
The rest of my run was strong. I pushed on the downhills, held steady on the flats, and actually ran some of the more gently rolling hills. At mile ten I turned my Garmin to HR and decided I would try to stay in Zone 3 for all of my running if I could. At this point I started to catch quite a few women, including one woman who had passed me at the very beginning of the run. I did have to walk one last mean steep hill before the finish line, but I finished strong and was glad to be done.
Run: 2:13:03 10:09 min/mi
When I went to check my results, I was excited to find that I placed first in the Athena division. After going through the results, I realize that I would have been 21st out of 38 in my Age Group. I was 94th out of 172 among women. I was a little discouraged with that, but this was a big race that brought out a lot of tough competition. It also started a fire in my belly. I have work to do before Syracuse 70.3, and I am excited to get going on that work!
One of the things I am most proud of about this race is I stuck with my racing philosophy of encouraging the people around me and trying to have fun. Even on the hardest hills, I tried to have a smile on my face and keep my sense of humor. I know it helped me, and hopefully it helped some of the people around me. I may not ever win first place overall, but I think I might have a shot at friendliest racer overall!!
Kel and I headed home on Monday, and I think we look uber-cool with our bikes on top of the car.
When we got home, of course there was the aftermath of two races in one weekend:
Whew, this was almost as long as my race...if you are still here, thanks for sticking with it to the end! I'll have the winner from my TRISWIM giveaway tomorrow!!