I know, I know–enough with the races already! I’m feeling it, too. It tends to interrupt my training (there’s always a little rest/recover time you need, regardless of the distance) & I’m ready to make some actual progress endurance-wise. BUT, I must admit I had a great time, and although I couldn’t do this 3 part series every year–it’s got a fun “small town” vibe to it that I don’t see very often out here. I would expect “small town” competition, but man, there are some speed demons out on the course.
There were 2 options for the day–the “express” or the “championship.” I signed up for the championship series–which grows in length each race…this time: 1,000m swim, 25 mile bike, 5 mile run—walking to set my bike up, I thought, “hmm, express sounds much more my style.” I get this feeling whenever there is a shorter & longer course happening at the same time. The short course racers look so much more at ease. They look at the buoy AT THE OTHER END OF THE LAKE! and say, “who would ever want to swim that far? that’s torture” & laugh laugh laugh.
I knew I hadn’t really trained for the distance. Technically, your training is supposed to be much longer than the actual distance you’ll go–so when you put them all together, it doesn’t seem overwhelming. Instead, my maximum training distance for all 3 events was equal to the race distance itself. My long bike rides were 25-30 miles. My swims? Barely 1,000 meters (and that’s with breaks). My running is always OK. So I was sort of at ease thinking, “pace yourself.” Even when the announcer said that “yes, that swim course does look too long,” I did not get nervous. Even though one buoy was so far away we couldn’t see it from shore, I did not run back to my car and drive home. I just told myself to take it easy. (Not the best race advice, p.s….the races shouldn’t be THAT easy).
So, we started the swim & I pretended I was on summer vacation swimming across the lake (no, I don’t have a lake that I’ve ever swam in during summer vacation). I could tell other people were swimming fast, but I thought “slow and steady wins the race.” This was also bad advice I gave myself. There are some positives: I stayed completely calm throughout the swim, my technique was decent, my spirits were high…but for some reason, I didn’t feel like pushing it. I’m no good at pacing myself in swimming. I’m amazing at it on the run simply because I’ve been doing it for so long. I don’t know my limits in the water. And that will only come with experience. I didn’t really take myself seriously this race, so I kind of laughed off the fact that I was towards the back of the pack (and not even out of breath…oops!) when I hopped on my bike.
I’ve done this loop before–but now it was a little longer, and I was doing it 3 times. I love the loop because it has a little bit of everything–steep hills, slow inclines, some flats portions, a crazy fast downhill, lots of turns, and one area I called “cobblestone”–I started to get bored doing so many loops that I named every portion of the course…the road gets really bad for a little while–terribly bumpy, so I pretend I’m in the Tour de France…where they race on cobblestone FOREVER & it didn’t seem all that bad anymore. The first loop, I was passing lots of short course racers, etc–but by the time I got to the third loop, the course seemed empty. I passed about 5 ladies & some men, but it was getting a little lonely. I knew I had a solid time on the bike, though, and it’s felt easier than it has in the past.
Onto the run: short course racers are already finished & eating & drinking & making me feel a little bit depressed about just starting the run. But I was praying for that run to start the last 5 miles or so of the bike because when I’m running, even if I’m tired, I feel the most comfortable. I was able to right away start running after getting off my bike–no walking or being out of breath–so I just completely enjoyed the run. Was I running super fast? No. Could I have picked up the pace? Probably. But it’s tricky when you’re alone & there’s no one to chase (I ended up passing a dozen or so runners, but they were so spaced out on the course)…you just wanna enjoy the scenery. And it was an AMAZING trail run–we ran across a creek! and through the woods!–with just little yellow paper arrows to guide our way. It felt like such an adventure.
I pushed it the last couple of miles & finished in 2:52. I placed 7th in my division, which was better than I thought–considering I never saw that many people on the course. It was the best time I’ve had at that kind of long course–I felt like I actually had time to enjoy much more of the experience, as opposed to the short races where I’m scrambling all the time. It’s my goal to now work on actually getting faster at the long stuff, and I have about 4 months to make some improvements. For now, though–I’m back at this same course in 3 weeks & am ready to improve on my times & use my experience of the course to my advantage. I spoke of all the technical junk, but what I really want to say was= it was such a blast! And all the focus on training, my times, etc—none of it really matters…it’s mostly just about the GOOD time.
And I feel summer coming–with it, the urge to spend about 75% of my time outdoors. Family, friends, water, sun, food, drink—-yesssss! to all of that. And of course, a couple more triathlons thrown into the mix.