This is exciting—I finally get to write about a triathlon again! :D Somehow, little running races just aren’t the same ;)
On Friday, we headed to Spokane (well, Cheney…) for the Troika triathlon. I was doing the Long Distance course (70.3), Allen was doing the Olympic, and my mom was doing the Sprint! It was the first triathlon for both my mom and Allen, so that made it extra fun and special! And I was looking forward to doing another half, kind of see where I was, and remember how to do a triathlon. It’s always a little nerve-wracking, like wait, do I know what to do? Do I even like it? Why am I doing this?
Let’s back up a second: the only other 70.3 I’ve done was Cabo, last October. It was a good race. I won my age group, and got the WC slot. I had a good bike, considering the course profile, and I’m proud of a lot of what I did in the race. But, I’m a slow swimmer, and I totally fell apart on the run. My time was “slow” (5:37 is nothing to sneeze at, I know, but it also isn’t what you would generally considering “winning” time, either). Yeah, yeah, I know you’re supposed to “pick your races” and all that, but I definitely felt like I had a little more to prove—if nothing else, to myself! I knew I was capable of being faster, at least I certainly hoped so (specifically the run), but Troika was my first chance to really find out.
I had a great offseason, and a great 4.5+ months of building back up. I’ve gotten strong on the bike again, and I’ve seen some huge improvements with running in general. I knew I was a faster runner (in theory) now, but still, you never know until you actually race (plus, we all know running off the bike is a little different than going for a record on the track).
That being said, Troika was definitely a race, but still more “training;” we’re doing CDA 70.3 next month, which is the big(ger) race, prior to Australia in September which is the real Big Race of the year. It helped that it was a small, local race, so slightly less intimidating than an Ironman-branded event, but of course I was still feeling some pressure.
ANYWAY! After a huge week (relatively) two weeks prior, the week before the race was..less, but I never really felt rested. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about that. I had a hard run on Wednesday, which I didn’t quite complete to the letter (supposed to be 40:00 @ 7:00/mile, 1.5%, but instead had to keep the belt flat). I skipped my bike that day. I spent all Thursday with super sore/tired legs. I was feeling better by Friday, as we drove across the state, but I wasn’t exactly feeing super refreshed and raring to go, either.
Nevertheless, we got our packets, checked out the park where the race was located, and drove the bike course. I’m glad we did that—it was a nice course, nothing ever flat but no real “climbs” either. It was nice to know what the different sections of the course looked like, so that on race day it didn’t just feel like we were out in the middle of nowhere forever. I left thinking it would be a fast course.
Dinner, gear prep, and time to sleep!
My race started first, at 8am, which is pretty “late” for a triathlon, but was nice because we only had to get up at 5am—a pretty standard wake-up time for me. After forcing down some coffee, we loaded everything into the truck (latest check-out we could get was 2pm, and with a late race start, it was going to be basically impossible to get back to the hotel, showered, and out before 2pm), and headed to the park.
Allen and I racked next to each other, which was pretty cool! I got a spot on the end, and he was next to me. I didn’t get why he wanted to be next to me at first, but then he pointed out that with our two races, it basically meant that there would be lots of space for him, since I would be on the bike already by the time he got to T1, and still on the bike when he got back for T2. It was kind of nice too, because when I got back to T2 and saw his stuff, I knew he had at least gotten that far! ;)
Anyway, back to the morning. After setting up, checking on my mom, getting some photos, and twenty thousand bathroom stops (of course), time really started to speed up. Suddenly, it was 7:30am and I knew it was time to start getting serious. There was this race that was about to start, and I needed to focus! Mac was up (in Hawaii) and texting me, which did help me calm down a bit :) I managed to get my wetsuit on with little incident, although the sun was starting to come out, and I freaked out knowing I had my pink lenses in my sunglasses, and what if it’s sunny, then I want the dark lenses! I made Allen go back into transition to change my lenses, and he made it back just a few minutes before I got in the water.
Ok, so I wasn’t chill at all. Up until this point, I was relatively calm; nervous, but not really thinking about it. By the time I got my wetsuit on, it hit me what I was doing and that initial fear of “wait I haven’t done this in a while, am I ready to do this, what am I doing, ahhhhh!” hit and it was apparently so obvious that a nice volunteer lady saw me and smiled and very sweetly told me “you know what, I just know you’re going to have a great day, you can do it!” Yes, I appreciated it and it helped, but it just shows how profoundly NOT relaxed I was.
The men were off at exactly 8:00am, and we had 5 minutes before the female start. I waded in to feel the water, dunked my head, and then situated myself middle-ish and side-ish of the pack. Garmin is ready. Get it together, Rosanne, you’ll be fine once you start. And we were off!
Swim – 32:35 (15/55 female)
After a few running strides, I dove in, and tried to remember how to swim. I’m so glad we did a couple open water swims, and I just reminded myself to elongate my stroke the ENTIRE time. I literally imagined Kyle on the paddleboard next to me saying, “pause more, you need to let yourself glide more and flail less” to which I would reply in my head “I know, that’s what I’m doing!!” and then again, in my head, he would reply “no, you aren’t, you can do better.” So I just kept trying to do better.
Nevertheless, I was NOT calm in the water. The first few minutes felt like an eternity, and I was teetering on the edge of a full-out freak-out. I probably spent as much energy trying to keep my brain under control as I did swimming. I veered to the outside a bit more than intended, I kinda hit some people a few times, once I was totally boxed in and I had a very quick heart-to-heart with myself where I had to tell myself VERY sternly NOT TO FREAK OUT. By the time we hit the Olympic distance buoy, things had settled out a bit more, and I was happy to realize that I had also settled out—my swimming was pretty consistent even while trying to freak out, so I was really happy that I was able to just kinda keep swimming on autopilot, while my brain was busy messing with me.
Ok, see, if I were Allen, I would get to turn now! That really didn’t feel very far, actually. And our next buoy must be coming up soon! Of course, our buoy was actually out a ways more, but it was really nice to break up the swim like that. I finally got to the first turn buoy and rounded it nicely. And, hey, is that a white cap? Am I PASSING GUYS?! These guys had a 5 minute head start! Who am I?! I then promptely swam a bit off course out to the middle of the lake, but caught myself pretty quick. We were now crossing to the other side of the lake and couldn’t see much (for the first part, we were parallel to the shore and pretty close, so could almost always see “something” down below). I started thinking about the bike a little, now that I was halfway.
It was cold.
It was a bit cold when we started, but I figured I would warm up once I started moving. Well, here I was, halfway through, and I really hadn’t warmed up…at all. I was still unsure what I would wear on the bike (jacket? Vest? Just my tri top? Is it going to get sunny? Is it going to rain? What am I going to do?!), so I spent the rest of the swim kind of debating it in the back of my head. Overall, I just felt COLD and had pretty much decided I was going to put my jacket on—after all, if was already cold coming out of the swim, then I’d probably just get colder, right?!
Swim, swim, swim. We rounded the next buoy, and it was a long push back to shore. I passed more guys. This is so weird!! Not that they were going super slow, and not that I was going super-fast, but it still amazed me. I am NOT usually one to EVER pass people swimming. Much less people that had a head start! My leg got caught on a buoy line once, and that kind of freaked me out, and I wondered how accurate the course was (data shows is was pretty short, so maybe if all the buoys were pushed inside, everyone kinda of went short. Oh well.)
Other than that, I just focused on getting back to shore. I could tell I was getting a bit tired, because my strokes were getting shorter, so I tried really hard to go back to the long, relaxed swim I was doing at the beginning. It helped, but you can still see from my data that I was definitely taking more strokes by the end… oh well.
There was actually one little turn back to the swim exit, but I knew it wasn’t far, and by now I could hear the crowd and the announcer. That’s always exciting! It was neat that the Olympic and Sprint were starting right after us because everyone was out there watching.
Finally, I saw the bottom; finally, I saw the ground was close enough I could touch it. I jumped up, and jogged out of the water. WHEW what time is it?! I was a little out of it; not quite dizzy, but not totally stable. I usually hustle a tad more out of the water, but I had to settle for a few long slow steps, and then remembered I should start figuring out getting my wetsuit off. Some guy with his daughter were by the exit, and he was clapping and saying “well done, ladies!” which I distinctly remember, and I started wondering if that meant we were fast, or slow. As I carefully got the sleeve off my right arm and over my garmin, I finally glanced down and saw the time—32 minutes?!?!?! My goal was 40 minutes, and even that seemed like a stretch. I knew that it was likely the course was a bit short, but I was still shocked and thrilled. (Consequent data shows my garmin only measured 1867 yards but even so, that puts me at a 1:44/100 yard moving average which is still a huuuuuge improvement for me, and faster than I could have possibly hoped for! So, happy either way.)
T1 – 1:30 (10/55 female)
I still felt out of it, but now I knew it was because I swam well. Even if the course was short, I knew it was a really good swim time (for me). I made a conscious decision to let myself take a few extra seconds in T1 to really sort myself out, and not worry about being fast. I felt like I was taking FOREVER, but I guess Kyle is right, and “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” I didn’t feel very smooth at all, but I had the fastest T1 time so WOOHOO, I made up 5 spots in T1 alone! ;)
And now that I was out of the water, I felt…ok. It wasn’t warm, but I wasn’t cold. I glanced around at the other people in transition. A couple were pulling on jackets or sleeves, but most were just sticking with their tri top. There were clouds, but there were signs of sunshine, too. So for all my mid-swim debate, I decided to not put on the jacket and just go. Still, I was fumbling around. I moved my jacket, didn't want it to be in Allen’s way. Then didn’t want it to get too dirty. Moved it again. Suddenly I realized what was happening. What are you doing Rosanne, why are you carefully rearranging your stuff, just get out of here! Move!”
Running towards the mount line, I fumbled with one of my fruit sticks (which is always my “treat”) and it fell out of my pocket. The other must have fallen out somewhere else. The guy running with his bike behind me called out to me, grabbed it, and ran it up to me—so nice! So that was pretty cool. :)
Overall, really funny that I distinctly remember feeling like I was taking my time, and still came out with the fastest T1 time.
Bike – 2:44:57 (5/55 female)
I got moving, and realized I was still a little out of it from the swim. Man, I swam harder than i thought! I tried to settle down. I was breathing hard, and could feel the adrenaline. Chill out Rosanne. You’ve got a long bike ride to do. Relaaaax. I started passing some guys right away, which was kind of nice. Not too hard, not too easy, just steady and RIDE.
My legs were cold. I briefly wondered if I should have put on the jacket, but I don’t think it would have helped—it was just my muscles in my legs were cold, from the cold water. It really took about an hour before they really felt like they warmed up. So, that was kind of a bummer (but let’s be honest, that’ll probably happen in Coeur d’Alene, so suck it up, Rosanne!).
It was definitely a lot different than Cabo, that’s for sure. And in so many ways!
First, it was loud. Seriously, that’s what I was thinking of for most of the bike. It was just a noisy ride. Mostly, it was so WINDY! Luckily, it wasn’t gusty wind which I had worried about, and I never felt unsteady or like the wind was moving me—but it was just kind of constant annoyance. And it was loud. The entire time, wind rushing over my helmet and over my ears. I couldn’t hear a thing, other than the wind! I didn’t even really tell people when I was passing (sorry) because I could barely hear MYSELF over the wind, and I’m sure they couldn’t hear me either. I could hear a faint noise from my bike – maybe – but couldn’t really hear so I eventually gave up and figured if there was something wrong, I’d figure it out eventually.
It was also loud because the roads were rough, which made my wheels loud, which of course echoed and reverberated on my already-noisy carbon wheels. Aside from the sound, though, the road surface was just a pain! It really made you feel like you were going a lot slower—I kept wondering why I was going so slow, sure I was going 16mph, only to look down and see I was holding it steady at 20+mph. I mean, at least I was actually moving faster than I thought, but it really is draining to feel like you’re hardly moving. My back and neck hurt SO bad by the end, and while that’s pretty normal for me, I think it was even more so because I was so tense and rigid holding on over the rough surface. (Funnily enough, the road itself was fine—no potholes, nothing torn up or bad.. it was just a rough surface)
Finally, I was alone. In Cabo, I had Kyle around, and that helped so much! I knew that I wouldn’t have that again, and was prepared, but it was still a noticeable difference.
Anyway, a few miles in, once I had passed the first few groups and things seemed to kind of string out a bit, I got passed by a couple girls. First of all, I hate being passed by girls :P But even worse, this chick cut RIGHT in front of me as soon as she got past me. We’re talking inches from my wheel. Um, excuse me?? I saw her do it to a few guys later, as well. Even worse, there was another girl right behind her. I figured she was passing both of us, but nope—as soon as they passed, she just stayed there. Right on the other girls wheel. If that’s not MAJOR drafting, I don’t know what is!
Those things annoy me in general, but for some reason it just made me SOOOO MAD at the time!! Partially because she was wearing a team kit, and I KNOW that she knew better. I spent half the ride thinking about how the brand would never want to be associated with such blatant cheating. Seriously, I was worked up like crazy. I tried to just let it go, but it bothered me to no end! Eventually, she did pass the girl, but she definitely got a good portion of the ride done with that shelter from the wind :P
Other than that, things were mostly uneventful. As the halfway grew nearer, I started getting restless. I started realizing I was tired. This was a problem. By the turnaround, I counted maybe 5 or 6 girls ahead of me, although it was hard to tell.
The way back got harder. I caught myself slacking off, I just didn’t really want to go any harder and I was losing my pep. I was maintaining about the same speed, but it DEFINITELY felt harder and I still felt like I was going 2 miles per hour.
One bit of excitement came around mile 30ish. We were out between fields, and suddenly I saw a gigantic deer (buck) heading straight towards the road, from the left. Luckily, I was going uphill so not super fast, but I knew he was running and would be crossing right as I was. I started yelling and waving as another guy came down the hill the opposite direction, to make sure he saw him, and the deer burst into the road RIGHT in front of him. I eased up, not sure what exactly this enormous animal was going to do, and just hoped he would keep running straight across the road (although he was kind of kicking). He ran in front of me just a few feet ahead of me, before tearing into the other field. THAT was kind of crazy!
Otherwise, the way back got harder. Same old, same old. I was tired, my neck HURT, my quad was hurting which is something I’ve noticed now more than once, when I’m doing something hard, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s actually something being sore/imbalanced/pulled, not just a sore muscle. I was being pretty good about having my EFS, and finished my bottle of Skratch, but my stomach wasn’t 100% happy. Finally, FINALLY we met back up with the Sprint course, so there were suddenly more people on the road which was kind of nice, because it got really, really lonely, but at the same time, I wasn’t feeling great I didn’t really want to be around anyone!
Oh well, got it done, garmin said 0.7 miles extra but hey, if that made up for the swim, I’m fine with it ;) Rolled into transition and very happily (and somewhat shakily) got off my bike.
T2 – 1:30 (5/55 female)
Coming into transition again was like a breath of life! I was OFF the bike, and now it was time to be a runner! Plus, the other two races were in full swing, so there were tons of people running, and people everywhere, and the finish line was right there…it was great!
I racked my bike, saw Allen’s bike was there, and was happy knowing he was out there running! (now if only I could catch him..haha) I fumbled around, sitting down and putting on socks, etc. I lost a sock momentarily, and almost panicked, before finding it again. Nice, Rosanne. Again, I felt SO SO slow, but I still had one of the fastest times.
BUT: I didn’t have the xtenex laces on my shoes, and it DEFINITELY showed. It drove me absolutely NUTS, sitting there TYING MY SHOES. It seriously felt like the longest few seconds, EVER (plus then I was worried if I tied them right). Before CDA, I definitely need to find some longer xtenex that will work with the Clayton’s. In the long run, it didn’t really affect any results, but it seriously drove me crazy in transition!
I saw the drafting girl, plus another girl (the first girl she had been drafting off of), running out of transition while I was tying my shoes. I knew that meant that they were at least within reach, depending on how well they could run.
Run – 1:47:38 (4/55 female)
Starting the run, I felt pretty good, and right off the bat I saw my dad there, taking photos and cheering!! That made me smile. I wanted to move fast, but I didn’t want to burn out too quick. Honestly, the biggest worry about this entire race was how I would run off the bike. After blowing up pretty epically in Cabo, I really wanted to have a better run off the bike. I’m not convinced that going too hard off the bat in Cabo is what did me in, but I’m sure it didn’t help..and I just wanted to stay steady. I found myself settling into about 7:20 which felt about perfect—I wasn’t working too hard, but it was still moving. Now, to see how long I could hold it….
I passed a bunch of people pretty quickly. Of course, at this point you couldn’t tell who was doing which race (or what loop they were on), but it really did help to have so many people around! It just gave me something else to think about. I would pick people off, and sure enough, my first mile was in the 7:20s. The course was three loops around the lake (with each loop including an extra little out-and-back at the northern end of the lake, which only the long course people did), and I tried to break it up accordingly.
The first out and back, I started looking for girls. Finally, I saw the first girl. And a few more. Looked like I was in 4th or 5th? But I was closing in. I passed one girl pretty quickly (the girl that cut in front of me on the bike, who was being drafted off of), but she was so nice every time I saw her (smiling and saying “good job!” and I’d smile back and say “thanks, you too!”) that she didn’t bother me much anymore and I forgave her for her awful passing skills. I did not, however, forgive the drafting girl, who was running surprisingly strong and had already moved up a place or two. She was glaring, and wouldn’t smile or look at or acknowledge anyone. I get that it’s a race, and I’m not super outgoing when I’m racing either, but at least I’m not rude! Hmph.
Anyway, once we got back to the “main” area of the course again, it was a quick cross over a little bridge and onto a little trail wrapping around the other side of the lake. Of course, this meant it was no longer flat—annoying! Nothing steep or too awful but ughhhh seriously?! Luckily, this was also a short little section, and I was happy that each section was short enough that it was never awful, but long enough that you could get into it (vs Cabo, where you were just changing directions every tenth of a mile). First little turn around the bottom of the lake; straight flat run on the road; wiggly little out and back with only the long course sufferers; nice easy downhill curve to the other side of the lake; rolling trail to the end of the lap.
Starting the 2nd lap, I saw my parents and Allen. I was SO EXCITED but they seemed even more excited!! I was more excited for Allen and my mom for finishing their races (I could see their medals, and saw my mom had two, which meant she must have placed) and I tried to give Allen a “good job, congrats!” high five but he ignored it, and kept clapping and yelling at me to keep running. I was happy knowing I would see them again once more and get a boost for the last lap.
Mentally, I told myself the 2nd lap would be the hardest, knowing I still had one to go. I also told myself I had to stay strong and could not start hitting paces above 8:00/mi until the last lap. I almost did it, but it was more like the last third of the second lap that my times started slipping. I had maintained steadily slower, but still decent paces of 7:20, 7:33, 7:43, 7:48, 7:49, 7:51, 7:53…then 8:26.
It was also halfway through the second lap that my stomach started to hurt. A lot. I wanted to use the bathroom, but there wasn’t any super handy, and at the out-and-back turnaround I was startled to see one girl right on my tail. I knew that if I stopped, she would pass me. So now the question was: how important is it I stop? Am I just uncomfortable, or do I really need to stop? I passed one porta-potty on the rolling trail back to the end of the 2nd lap, thinking I would be ok and would rather try to hold her off vs lose a spot, but I knew it was getting worse. Not only that, but my running just was starting to suck. My stomach was cramping, which made me tense up and I couldn’t get a good stride. There were bathrooms right by transition, so right at the end of the second lap, I ducked into the restroom.
As I came out and started the last lap, I knew I felt better (could at least run a bit better), and once again saw everyone yelling and cheering. Time to get this thing done! Shortly thereafter, I saw my mile split was 9:21 (including the bathroom stop). Ouch, but that means I lost less than 2 minutes (probably more like 1 minute) which wasn’t too bad… but I knew if I was less that that much time behind the girl that passed me, I’d be bummed.
Mile 10 was better, back to 8:10. Only a 5k to go! I was pumped. Anyone can do a 5k! Just keep it up!
Famous last words. I started to struggle. The out and back was tough. I was smiling less at people. I actually talked to myself out loud a few times, coming back towards the lake. “Ok…come ON!!” I think I was mostly trying to tell the course to hurry up and be done, but maybe I was telling myself to hurry up, too ;)
Miles 11, 12 and 13 were a struggle. 8:24, 8:34: 8:40. Really, the only thing I kept focusing on was that at least my falling apart was less of a disaster than in Cabo! And it waited until the very end. I switched my watch to just show total time for the last mile-ish, rather than pace, which was both good and bad. Didn’t have to see how slow was, but I kept seeing the time get bigger! After the first run lap, I figured if I could maintain, I’d hit ~5:05. I only increased it by a couple minutes, but still! Knowing I would have been done if I had stuck to the pace was kind of sad.
Fiiiiiinally I saw transition. Finally ran up the little hill. FINALLY got to turn and run into the short little finish chute! Allen was at one end, my dad was at th other, and my mom was on the other side of the finish line.
Total – 5:08:12 (4/55 female)
It was reallllly hard to breathe once I stopped. I laid down. I sat down. I walked. Everything was just so hard. I had NO energy. Allen put the tailgate down so I could sit, and I couldn’t get myself up at ALL. But, hey, I guess that means I raced.
Overall, I’m really pleased with this race! I did fall apart in the last 5k, but it was overall much better executed. Some things to work on are definitely staying with it mentally on the bike, and pushing through and just not getting tired :P and still working on running off the bike. The one girl went on to win it, with a crazy fast run. I need to get better. I always need to work on swimming—SUPER happy with my swim, but always lots of room for improvement :) And, again, the xtenex! (and maybe remembering Imodium before the race, which I totally forgot about. Yeah, triathlon is super pretty :P)
We’ll see how CDA goes in a month. I know the swim will be..different. And probably closer to the right distance. But I’ve also done the swim before. We’ll see how cold the lake is. The bike course is harder, for sure, with like 1000ft more of climbing…but it’s also MUCH smoother roads, and it’s a sold-out race so I won’t be nearly as lonely. There will be people to chase. I’m hoping I can still ride it strong. Maybe not quite as fast, but it really should be close. The run..well, the run is probably pretty equivalent. Little sections, no big hills or anything, so it’ll really be a matter of having a good run off the bike. Hopefully I can do even better.
So, that’s that! We’ll be spectating at Victoria in 3 weeks (yay!) then racing in CDA two weeks after that! The race season is in full swing, and I am SO EXCITED!