Last year this was my first triathlon ever, and I flailed in the swim. Totally flailed such that I doggie-paddled the entire race. The venue is a quarry, 1/4 of which is too shallow to swim, and 1/2 of which is 15 ft deep and murky. This year, after what I believe to be improving my swim greatly, I was hoping for a much better time, and a great opening race.
The morning was fairly chilly, and a bunch of us met up in transition, after putting everything in it's place. My transition area was far far from the bike in/out, meaning I had to carry my cleats, or run in them- neither one of which was a desirable option. Before the race, I stood watching all of my friends go before me, and anxiously awaiting getting into the warm water. I chose not to wear my wetsuit for 2 reasons- the water was supposed to be mid-upper 70s, and I didn't bring it. Turns out I maybe could have used it for some comfort.
The coach suggested that I start in the middle of the pack, towards the left side. The reasoning here was that I am definitely not as slow as the slowest people, but I didn't want to get trampled, but I wanted to stay on the outside edge. So, I took her advice, and felt really confident leading up to the start. But, when they announcer yelled GO! the panic set in.
Last year, in the 2 races I did after Naperville, I waited a good 5 seconds before starting- both to catch my breath and to leave some space between me and the masses. This year, I decided I should give it a go battling it out. We had practiced mass starts in the pool, so theoretically, I was ok with this. However, I could not find my rhythm, and I could not catch my breath. I turned over to my back for a little bit, and would try and try again to swim freestyle, failing each time. I breaststroked a bit with my head out of the water, thinking, no this is NOT happening again this year. I have worked so hard and improved so much. I continued to do some combination of flailing, breaststroking and backstroking until I reached the area where I could stand. Ok, I told myself. Get it together. You KNOW you can swim this distance. So, after this regroup and talking to, I went back at it, and lo and behold, swam confidently. I started catching up to people, turned the buoy, and came back again. The last lap followed similarly, until I got to the end, where a mass of people started walking, prohibiting me from swimming to the finish. Done! I was disappointed in the swim start, but I was really proud of how I recovered from it this year, and successfully swam 2/3 of the course, instead of none of it last year. And, I dropped two minutes off my time, coming in around 17:07. One success!
Transition times were a little slower this year than last year. Last year, I was super speedy. I attribute this to being so disgruntled about the swim, and not having bike shoes. This year, I carried my bike shoes to the bike out, awkwardly tried to put them on, and hopped on to go. The bike course is fairly flat, and not too bad. I felt like I was doing great, passing many people, and zooming along. My speedometer had me going up to 20-21 mph at some points, which I thought was exciting! I felt really good during the bike, and had hoped to see a few minute drop in my time from last year, where I was riding on my slower older bike. However, my time was 1 second slower. How's that for consistency! However, I was expecting to do much better, just based on my new bike, using cleats, and having worked really hard throughout the winter. It is possible the course was windier this year. But, excuses aside, I maybe need to figure out how to push myself a little harder during the race. Lesson learned for next time! Final bike time 46:24.
All in all, the race was a success. I now know the things I need to work on for the upcoming olympic and other races (including relaxing at the swim start, pushing harder on the bike, speeding through the transitions, and remembering to remove my helmet before the run). Plus, as an added bonus, I had a fantastic time with a great group of women I have had the pleasure of training with for 2 seasons now. :)
|All the girls after the race|