13 weeks in the making, 8+ months advance registration, 1 race.
This race has been my focus for 3 of the past 4 seasons. I live for this race, and I even registered early (December 2009) for the race on August 29, 2010. Training begins roughly 13 weeks prior with 12 of those weeks training with a group. This race is my mecca, blood, sweat and tears (fortunately there hasn't been any blood, but more than enough sweat, and a handful of tears).
I won't go on and on about the weekend leading up to it, other than with a reminder of my love for race expos, and the Chicago Triathlon Multisport Expo is one not to miss. (Un)forutnately, the only thing I walked away with was a new Spinervals DVD that I can use while trianing indoors on my bike trainer. AWESOME, things were starting off the right way.
I wasn't sure how the race would go, as my training has been less than ideal for me this season. My past two races have been stellar for me with regards to time, but I've walked away feeling sort of sluggish. Mentally, I was 100% there, and even got all my gear in a smaller bag (see post below). Typically, I carry a large triathlon bag, which can hold everything including the kitchen sink, and I'm trying to be a minamilst, so said bag wasn't going to cut it this year.
3:30am rolls around Sunday morning, I'm up, brushing my teeth, eating toast, and we're off to the race site (big shout out to my family and Kevin for getting up with me and driving me, thank you). We arrive a bit later than I would have liked, but there are still tons of people arriving, so I am not as concerned. Leigh Ann and I get there, find a transition area where we can place our bikes next to each other, and set up. I'm feeling calm, collected, and excited.
6:15-6:20am begins the 1/2 mile trek to the starting line. I meet up with my family, and it's time to line up with the other F25-29 and M25-29 participants. With 60 athletes/wave and a wave every 4 minutes, the line up starts early. We creep closer and closer to the gates, nerves have kicked in a bit, and I'm pumped. I'm ready to go. I hop into the water, tred for a moment, and that's that!
Wave 13: 6:54am, I'M OFF. Something came over me and I swam smoothly for a 1/2 mile. The water was roughly 73 degrees, which is cool initially, but it was a life saver once my body warmed up. I managed to breath every 2-3 strokes, and I pushed forward. I felt great. My arms got a bit tired, but the few times I stopped were to dodge feet and other bodies. 19 minutes later, I'm out of the water. This was very exciting because I realized it was 3 minutes faster than 2009 (fact: the water was about 62 degrees last year).
The run to transition was less than ideal, but I kept moving (fact: the time from leaving the water to arriving at transition is included in the swim time; don't ask, I don't get it either). It's hard to run with the wetsuit half on. Argh. I was moving a bit slowly in transition, but I had less gear to deal with, so I was happy (yes folks, I left the Garmin 305 at home).
The beginning of the bike wasn't too bad, a little bit of athlete traffic, but it eventually evened out and I was able to find my pace. My hips and butt were screaming a bit, but my pace wasn't all too slow, and I knew I was going to beat my previous time of 56 minutes. I arrived back at transition around 52 minutes and that in itself was another pround moment.
Transition 2 was a bit easier than the first, but I just knew my legs were so mad at me. I couldn't get going, and I was hurting. Little did I know that the heat index would reach 101 degrees, so I would be running in mid-80 temperatures at around 8:30am.
The run started off very very tough, and I imagined how the remaining 3.1 miles would feel. I saw my family around 1/4 mile, and Kevin ran with me for a few minutes. I could barely speak! I just asked him to stay with me for a little while as a distraction. Unfortunately, it didn't work. After Kevin stayed behind, I resorted to Plan B: iPod (shhh don't tell the race organizers). I know that the first few minutes of the bike-to-run portion are tough, but my legs wouldn't have anything to do with this run. It took me about 12 mintues to get to the first mile, and it just knocked me down. I resorted to Plan C: walk-run-shuffle. This became the theme of the 5k. I had bursts of energy, then I'd have to walk/shuffle. Energy for 20-45 seconds, then a shuffle. It kept me going, and overall my pace was 12:55. This was discouraging, but I made it to the finish line and the annoucer saw how excited I was to finish that I got three shoutouts!
I did it! I really did it! It was a mental challenge that I wasn't expecting, but I got through it with no injuries and with excellent times. Here's the comparison:
(note: the swim time reflects the time it took from exiting the water to arriving at transition. I compared my stop watch time of 19:00 to the 2009 course I tracked from my Garmin, and it read roughly 22:00.)
|Swim - .5mi||22:55||25:14|
|Bike - 13.67 mi||52:42||56:04|
|Run - 3.1 mi||40:16||38:26|
As you can see, this is a difference of -06:14. Even with my run, I managed to smash my 2009 time.
As I was journaling last night (I do this after every race, it's a must!) I realized what I had accomplished and how excited I was. 6 minutes. Earlier in the year I posted faster times for the Trek Triathlon (4 minutes faster than 2009) and the Glenview Triathlon (6 minutes faster than 2009). That adds up to 16 minutes faster than 2009 for the identical races. The little changes have helped tremendously and I'm estatic to be ending my season this way. Even though this finishing time isn't spectacular, I improved and I finished with a smile on my face.
To quote Kevin from yesterday, "So another 364 more days until we do this again." You betcha, and I can't wait.
I'm No Ironman but I Still Tri
P.S. Congrats to all my Together We Tri friends, including Kim Morgan, Mark Morgan, Coach Mary Bradbury and Dr. Bruce Noxon for their stellar races. I train amongst the best and they inspire me! For more links and footage, please visit Dave Wallach's blog. He completed the triple challenge (the Super Sprint on Saturday, AND the sprint and olympic races on Sunday) so a big round of applause to him.