Race day started in a flash when my eyes flew open, 90 minutes after the alarm was supposed to sound. Nick and I scrambled out of bed, each of us on autopilot making PB + jelly toast, brewing espresso, packing up last minute gear. In 17 minutes flat, bikes were loaded, and we were en route to Lake Nokomis for the Life Time Triathlon.
First up upon arrival: body marking. Yeah, 608 and 1362 (I slacked on taking Nick’s picture)!
My first official body mark!
After finding our respective spots in transition and organizing our gear, we milled around a bit, enjoying the race day energy and admiring sweet tri bikes + race wheels (next year’s purchase!). We then headed to the beach to visit with Nick’s mom, Mary, and pal, Sonia, and for a quick swim warm-up.
The morning had been such a rush that the nerves didn’t really set in until we were standing on the beach, looking at the swim course. And, it looked far. I had never actually swam 1.5K continuously (well, with a rest or two between laps at the pool, but that doesn’t really count), so it was daunting to say the least.
P2 teammates and pals, Sam and Nick.
SWIM // 36:03.3, 2:24/100m, 20th AG
Before I knew it, it was 7:29a, and my age group, women 30-34, was up. Rather than a mass start like most triathlons, this was a time trial start, meaning a swimmer started every three seconds. Given this was my first serious race, I was quite happy about this, as mass starts make me a bit nervous. Being tackled while diving into the water just doesn’t sound that enjoyable. The race also wasn’t wetsuit legal, as the water temp was above 80 degrees… a-ok with me since I don’t have one (yet) and have trained without one.
For most of the 1.5K swim, I stayed to the left and away from the majority of swimmers. I was scared enough about open water swimming and didn’t need being kicked in the face to make it worse :)
Because my current goggles dig into my face a bit too much for comfort and are straight up clear, I borrowed a polarized pair from a teammate (the first third of the swim was directly into the sun). Not the brightest idea, as they were a bit too wide and fogged repeatedly, so I had to stop every 50 yards or so to wipe them clear. Other than that, the swim felt pretty good. I got a little tired about two-thirds through, but seeing the swim out banner on the beach every time I sighted was motivating. Also, there were so many lifeguards in the water and on kayaks that I never worried about my safety.
When I came out of the water, I was completely floored when I saw my time! Thirty-six minutes! I was certain it would be closer to 45.
Race lesson number one: Wear the gear you practiced in. Two or three minutes probably could have been shaved off my swim time if I’d worn a familiar pair.
T1 // 3:14
T1 went pretty well… or, at least I thought so until I saw my time (3:14). This is definitely one area where I can shave a minute or two.
Race lesson number two: Hussle through T1!
BIKE // 1:15:52.9, 20.2 mph, 7th AG
The bike couldn’t have been any better or more fun. My bike goal: to average 20 mph. Lofty, perhaps, but my cycling legs are strong, and I felt confident I could do it. As my Garmin registered the first two five-mile splits – 15:16 and 14:54 – I knew it was within reach.
Bike nutrition: Ten miles in, I had about a half-pack of Honey Stingers energy chews; opening the pack at 20 mph was a bit cumbersome… need to work on that. I tried eating a couple more at about mile 20, but was a bit out of breath, which made it tough to chew :) Other bike (and transition) hydration: Skratch Labs raspberries hydration mix. Love this stuff!
I passed quite a few women on the bike and was thrilled that only one passed me (she was a Birchie, so it was fine… kinda ;) I used to bike with them). I thought about trying to catch her, but she was on a tri bike, and I knew I likely couldn’t hold her pace on my trusty Madone.
T2 // 2:49
T2 was faster than T1 (2:49), but still has plenty of room for improvement.
Race lesson number three: Wear a visor. I brought two headbands instead and ended up trying on both before I stuck with the turquoise one.
RUN // 54:25.7, 8:47 pace, 15th AG
Three things on the run.
- My upper hamstring / lower glute was crazy sore from the bike (in all my years of cycling, I’ve never biked that hard, ever) and made the first mile of the run excruciating. About a mile in I had to stop and attempt to stretch. I’m glad I saw Coach Matt here; he encouraged me to breathe and power through the pain. And, sure enough, after I took a few deep breaths and relaxed, the muscles loosened, and I felt better.
- It was hot. Temps hovered around 90 for most of the 10K and only about half the route around Nokomis was shaded. I alternated water and Gatorade (not my first electrolyte drink of choice; it’s too fake sweet and doesn’t agree with my stomach very well) at every water stop to stay hydrated. Seeing the mile five marker and rounding the finish was much welcomed – as were the ice cold towels after the finish line.
- Overall, the run felt pretty solid, though I had hoped to run a bit faster than 8:47s. Nonetheless, it was a pretty awesome feeling to run down the chute at the finish. The fans were awesome!
Race day favorites:
- The spectators. The day’s most inspiring cheer was from a young girl (she sounded like she was maybe 10): “Go racers! You should be proud of yourself!” It was just two-tenths of a mile from the finish, and it made me tear up. Also, my awesome friends and family… Mary, Sonia, Kerstin, all my P2 teammates, Larry. Your smiles and cheers of encouragement at points all along the course were exactly what I needed to power through to the finish. Thank you!
- The bike. Gosh, there are no words to describe just how much I love cycling… the whoosh of wheels, the feeling of freedom, seeing the sights (despite a few potholes).
- Running out of the water after finishing the swim was an incredible feeling… mostly because open water swimming completely terrified me, and I conquered it!
- Hearing Nick’s name announced as he crossed the finish line and giving him a big hug. It’s been so fun to train and share these moments together :) He finished in 2:29:44, a minute faster than last year, and placed 13th in his age group. Awesome, love!
A few other thoughts…
- Set two alarms because you never know when one won’t go off.
- Chaffing happens in unexpected places. I won’t race again without wearing body butter.
- Again, my SOAS Racing kit is fantastic. Pretty sure I won’t race in anything else from here on out.
- Remember to turn on the Garmin immediately after entering T1. It didn’t start recording my distance until about a quarter-mile in.
OFFICIAL RESULTS // 2:52:25.2, 13th AG, 62nd OA
There will definitely be another Olympic distance tri this summer… perhaps the Saint Paul Tri on August 19? Anyone else racing that one?
But, first up: Chisago 70.3 on Sunday! My legs are still recovering – I cannot believe how sore I am! – and tonight’s six-mile run in the 90-degree heat + humidity may not have been the best idea, but I’m really excited for it!