I had two goals for the Commit to be Fit Olympic Triathlon: have fun and break three hours. Mission accomplished on both counts!
Work and other commitments interfered with my weekend. I had three hours of sleep Friday night, a restless nap on Saturday, and about five hours of sleep Saturday night. When my alarm sounded at 3:30am Sunday morning, I was dragging.
Fortunately, I’d prepared everything to go before turning in for the night. I dressed, fueled with a Mud/Banana smoothie, and made my way to McPherson Commons. After dropping my run bag off at T2, I joined several familiar faces waiting for the shuttle to Alum. The air was chilly which gave hope for pleasant racing conditions. I had been nervous about leaving my bike at T1 overnight. My first order of business after arriving at Alum was to give my bike a checkup, then body marking, timing chip, and wetsuit. A half hour before the pro start, I was ready to go.
I made my way to the water for a swim warmup. I was pleased to find the water warmer than the still cool air and questioned whether I should rid myself of the wetsuit altogether. My thought was that the time I would gain by wearing a wetsuit would be negated by the time it would take to strip and bag my wetsuit during T1. The decision was a virtual coin toss. As I was already in the water, I decided to keep the wetsuit on. However, in retrospect, I will forgo the wetsuit in the future under similar circumstances. I was comfortable in the water and ready for the race start.
My attack surprised me. I took to the water like this was my moment- fearless. I was not the fastest, but I had the confidence I needed. The mood was set. I kept with the pack for the first loop. We spread out by the second loop. A few aggressive swimmers tried to swim over top of me. I pushed them out of the way and kept swimming. My throat felt raw from breathing. Halfway through the second loop, I swallowed a mouthful of water and had to tread in place while my body wretched. I lost valuable time. My hope was to finish the swim midpack, but hope faded. However, on retrospect, I am very happy with my swim performance.
T1 was slow. I stripped, packed my wetsuit into the swim bag, dried my feet, put on socks, and reopened my swim bag several times as I realized yet another item that needed to be packed. I grabbed my bike and headed out of transition. Once on the bike, I took a good portion of nutrition and water to keep the muscles fueled as well as dilute any lake water I had swallowed.
The bike course was fun. There were just enough climbs to make it challenging without making you regret life. Several turns through familiar streets kept the route interesting. I hammered. I passed and was passed. I had roughly 900 calories in my nutrition bottle and consumed every bit of it; I also consumed a full 24oz of water. On High Street, several athletes who were clearly not familiar with the rules of passing were causing a backup and preventing anybody from passing. I asserted myself to a final average speed of 19.6. In my life, I have never held such an average for that distance.
T2 started with my legs giving way after the dismount. My bike held me up as I headed into the corral. I heard my name shouted by several familiar voices. This just kept me energized. T2 was much faster than T1.
Once on the run course, it was clear that my legs were not fresh. I expected as much after my experience with Tri Tech. However, I had not expected my feet to have that pins and needles feeling. I suspect this was due in part to the fact that I had forgotten to pack chamois cream. I afforded myself the time I needed to warm up to the run.
I ran conservatively at first with a view to run a negative split while keeping my cadence high. My left knee was already bothering me from dropping the hammer on the bike course. Then I spent the last half of the run in the hurt locker due to some side cramps. My lungs wanted more, but my body said, “yeah, right”.
Gatorade does not settle well with me, so I declined any offered on the run course. I had my own nutrition on hand which I took about every mile. I also took water twice. Given the conditions, I am satisfied that I had enough nutrition and hydration for the run. My dinner from two nights prior was still with me, and at this point in the race, I just could not consume anything further. I was about two miles from the finish line.
With a mile to go, I focused on my elbows. Whenever my form falls apart, I know I need to focus on my elbows. I had nothing to lose and laid it all out. Again, familiar voices shouted my name as I made the final turn toward the finish line.
The best part of the day was all of the support from my friends on the course, at the water stations, and on the sidelines cheering. Thank you all for being a part of this experience!