Here we go! My second 70.3 ever: Liberty Triathlon. I had butterflies all week leading up to Saturday’s race, but was excited to test my fitness and all the hard training the past four months.
The alarm sounded at 4a, and we were up, chowing down on the usual pre-race breakfast: gluten-free toast + espresso. Because my car is still in the shop after my accident, we had to use the old trunk bike rack, which really didn’t work well with race wheels, so after some rearranging, my Argon went in the back seat and Nick’s Felt stayed on the rack. We watched the sunrise on the 45-minute drive to Lake Rebecca Park Reserve… what a beautiful sunny day for a 70.3!
We arrived shortly after transition opened at 5:30a, and Nick found his coach, Andy Schiesl, we all set up at the best spot: at bike in and out. After a quick change in the mini bif (I highly recommend changing prior to arriving) and eating a banana, Nick, friend Chris and I went for a quick warm-up run. My legs felt good, and it calmed my pre-race nerves a bit. Friend Jen was just a row over, so we chatted about the race and our lack of open water swimming so far this season.
Swim // 40:24
Given this was my first open water swim of the season (and my first time ever swimming in a wetsuit), I started near the back to avoid the chaos. Once the gun sounded, it took a good 10 minutes to calm down and finally get comfortable in the calm, clear, relatively weed-free water (Lake Rebecca is gorgeous if you haven’t swam there). I found a good rhythm about a quarter in and kept it until the turnaround, where I once again had to calm myself down by repeating: you’re in the home stretch, halfway! The second half went fairly quickly, and before I knew it, I stood up, a little disoriented, and was running up the beach and what seemed like a bazillion concrete steps to transition (time includes this, which added about a minute). Pretty sure my heart rate spiked around 200 here (at least it felt like it).
TI // 2:48
I had such a time getting my wetsuit off. And, for someone who’s a bit claustrophobic… yikes. It came off easy until my ankles, when I had to sit down in the wet grass to pull and fidget with it. I got the right leg pretty quickly, but the left was stuck on my ankle timing chip, and it took probably close to a minute to finally get it off. After that, helmet and cycling shoes on and a quick drink of water from the extra bottle I had at transition, and I was off.
Bike // 2:51:05, 19.6 mph average
Oh, the bike. There really wasn’t anything fun about the bike today, which is strange because I LOVE biking more than anything. My legs were really heavy from the get-go, and I told myself to just go with it and let them warm-up the first 10 miles or so (and, disregard the few girls who passed me). They felt a bit better by then, but by mile 25, all I wanted to do was get off the bike and run. My hamstrings burned, my seat was painfully awful and my neck ached. And, for pretty much the rest of the bike, that’s all I could think about. And, then the hills. With 2,008 feet of climbing (per the Garmin 910XT; my Garmin Edge said 1,703… HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?!), there were a lot of them. There really was no chance to settle into a good pace and cadence; it was either 27 mph or 14. As soon as I’d find a rhythm, it was up another hill and then down, shifting gears into and out of the big chain ring. With 10 miles to go, I started talking to myself – only 10 miles to go! single digits! embrace the suck! you can do this! – and did the mental math of how many more excruciating minutes I had left in the saddle. What saved me the last seven miles: A tailwind + flat road. Even with it, though, my hammies and crotch protested loudly; I stood up a couple times, and it was tough to sit back down and start peddling again. But, if it would have been as hilly as the rest of the course… ugh. I normally love hills, but today was just not my day on the bike.
So, needless to say when I rolled into transition, I was pretty pumped to get off my bike. Even better: My sister Ami, cousin Margaret and niece Finley greeted me with the best signs and cheers of encouragement as I dismounted. I was SO happy to see them! Nick’s mom, Mary, was there cheering, too, and came over to transition and gave me some much needed words of encouragement.
Bike nutrition: I wasn’t hungry at all on the bike, but made myself eat: Two bottles of raspberries Skratch (with two servings each for 320 calories), Honey Stinger energy chews (180 calories), half a Bonk Breaker bar (~120 calories). And, yes, I know this isn’t enough.
T2 // 2:33
Nothing exciting here, just a quick change of shoes while trying not to fall over and putting on my visor and race belt. Not sure how it was nearly two minutes because it felt really fast, but I did walk through transition to run out because my hammies weren’t too happy.
Laughing at Margaret’s sign: Smile if you peed in Lake Rebecca! Ummm… yes, yes, I did :)
Run // 1:48:24, 8:17 pace
After such a horrendous bike, I was so thankful to be running. The first mile was the slowest (9:25), but as I warmed up and adjusted to running, the miles ticked by, and I felt awesome. The out-and-back course was one of the most beautiful courses ever… we ran under a canopy of vivid green trees (shade!) the entire time, and I high-fived Nick and friends Jared (nice to finally meet you!), Deion, Chris, Jeremy and Sonia… such a great energy boost to see them!
Again, there were so many hills (1,148 feet of climbing), and I walked up some of them so I didn’t burn myself out. Despite the terrain, I managed to keep my heart rate pretty steady; it averaged 154 bpm. Between miles five and six, I passed a bunch of girls who passed me either on the bike or early on during the run, so that was fun. And, between miles six and seven, the course mileage got all fancy and skipped about a half mile. Around mile nine until the end of the race, the balls of my feet burned. Not sure what that was about because in all my years of running, that’s never happened. But, I powered through and kicked it into high gear the last 1.5 miles (mile 12 averaged 8:10, the last 0.44 miles averaged 7:21), chicking two guys at the finish line who passed me around mile 11.
As I crossed the finish line, overcome by emotion and not overly happy about my day, I started to hyperventilate. The weirdest thing… that’s never happened before. It took a solid five minutes of ujjayi breathing to calm down.
The run was all about being present, enjoying each step and focusing on what I could do. To get over my terrible bike, I cheered on my fellow triathletes and did a lot of positive self talk. I knew if I didn’t, that awful time in the saddle was going to wreck my day, and I didn’t want that to happen. This is a work in progress, still. My mantra now and always: Comparison is the thief of joy.
Run nutrition: I carried a couple Honey Stinger gels in my tri top, but never ate them. I drank water at every aid station and HEED at a couple of them. Again, not enough, but never once did I feel like I needed any calories. My normally wonky stomach felt settled and good the entire run.
Official results // 5:25:11, 3rd AG, 21st OA female
After getting over the disappointment of my bike, I’m pretty happy about my race. I mean, who wouldn’t be pumped about a 39-minute PR?!! There’s lots of room for improvement, and I’m excited to hit training hard in the next two months leading up to Ironman Canada. It’s gonna be a busy, fun couple months of swimbikerunning!
BIG congrats to my partner in crime for crushing his 70.3 time by 24 minutes! He raced an amazing 4:33! So, so proud of him!
And, props to my friends and teammates, Sonia, Jen, Jared, Jeremy, Deion and Chris as well as Coach Joe of Moyerland Coaching for fantastic races and rockin’ PRs, too! An amazing day all around.
Thanks to SOAS Racing, I was decked out in the best and most comfortable kit around! I got a ton of compliments on it from the ladies on the course. And, surprisingly, I didn’t see anyone else wearing it.
And, kudos to Final Stretch for putting on such a stellar race! It was well organized, and the post-race food was tasty (fresh strawberries!). My only complaint: The bike course was a bit tough to navigate. It was two loops, and the signs directing Olympic and half iron racers were small and difficult to read, even with race officials directing. When you’re biking 20 mph into a corner, signs need to be BIG.
My awesome sista and cuz Margaret! Thrilled to have them there cheering me on!
My favorite cheerleader today: Finley Kathleen. Pretty sure she’s gonna grow up to be a triathlete like her auntie :)
Me + my partner in crime. Love this guy so much and am so grateful he gave me the little push to get over my triathlon fear last year.
My teammate Sonia and coach Joe. Stellar race days for both!