Towne Lake Olympic Triathlon - a Race Report
I shouldn't wait over a week to write a race report but you know, kids and life. Oh and training. All the training.
I discussed before how I felt about the swim portion of this distance in my previous post . As a refresher, the Olympic distance triathlon consists of an open water 1500M swim, 24 mile bike and 6.2 mile run.
I was in such a good place mentally after my "test" open water swim that I somehow, miraculously, left all the anxiety and tension at the lake. So much so that I was slightly oblivious to the weather warnings popping up. To add (and maybe a blessing), my phone was acting up and would NOT refresh the weather app before I went to bed. I read the email sent my race administrators that mentioned the possibility of cancelling the swim and turning the race into a duathlon or even the race turning into just a plain 'ol run.
I remember having a fleeting thought on that "that'd suck". Which was indication to me that I was READY for the swim!
I went to bed late (waiting for a teenager to get home) and woke up before my alarm but the jitters I was expecting was not there. The morning email update said that the race was on, skies had cleared (see? wasn't I glad I didn't worry). Crazy peace washing over me while I loaded my bike was so very unusual given that a week prior, thinking about this race made me sick to my stomach.
Set Up at Transition:
Pretty uneventful really. When you are at it alone, you have time to people watch and admire some of the amazing gear racers have. I am definitely under geared riding a road bike that I've had now for almost 10 years. And, unlike many other previous times, I have not obsessed the data. My old Garmin is gathering dust and I ventured into this race with nothing but my Apple Watch to see how it functions. I took a quick photo of my transition area and as a shock to myself, it is the ONLY photo I took pre race. No selfie, no race set up, no social media post or anything...I guess I was just in the zone. Also, there weather was clear as clear could be. The temperature was warm but not suffocating as is the norm in Houston humidity.
When I started walking around the perimeter of the lake to the start, I realized how muddy and brown the water was. The heeby jeebies crept in but there was no one directly next to me for me to talk about It too so I had to discard the thought as quickly as it came. I also saw from the corner of my eye, a small alligator warning type sign. I did NOT stop to read the whole thing but remembered the lovely photo my brother sent me the day before. Alligators were the least of my worries amongst the visuals swirling in my brain (thanks bro):
I didn't have much time to think of anything except to shove my ear plugs in and find a place for my flip flops. Very quickly after the anthem, the first group was in the water and off to start! It was a beach entry into the lake and it was sandy/muddy. The water was a comfortable temperature which is great considering I have not gone down the path of even trying on a wetsuit yet!
I remember our group kept going out further and further waiting for the start to the point where I felt like I was treading water for much longer than I'd like.
I did all the things I did in my practice swim...I thought about my kids, the transition, what I was going to eat on the bike and after the race. I was confused a few times about the direction of the buoys but looking up for a second was enough to see where the crowd was going. I got hit only twice and I also swam over someone once and hit another, whoops. Sorry!
In all honesty, I did my best to just swim calmly to finish. Racing was the last thing I was doing out there. I can't remember my heart rate getting elevated much until probably the last turn when I saw the dock. That was pure adrenalin though because I kept telling myself "holy, shit you did it!" "fuck yea, you did it!" If you can picture me punching my fist in the air while saying that, you would be pretty accurate in how that went down. Haha.
Swim Finish Time: 31:43 - 2:07 pace (next time, actually race! Lol Also, get better ear plugs...I have never raced with them before and they are game changing...no head knocking the whole race trying to get the water out!)
I climbed up the pool ladder on the dock and made my way to my bike and pushed the button on my watch. I don't know why, but I didn't run. I walked swiftly to my bike which was kind of far away. It was fairly easy to dry my feet and put my socks and shoes on, my helmet and glasses and take a swig of my water. Walking again swiftly to the bike start which seemed so far away, especially in cleats.
T1 3:02 (next time, chop chop, run!)
Getting on the bike when you are wet is always a thrill. The air blowing through you feels so cool on a warm day. The weather was still dry and I was still pretty much floating from making it through the swim. I thought about the swim so much that I forgot to turn on my watch again. D'oh! I drank a little and was riding along and suddenly the sky opened up and started dumping BUCKETS of water on us. I think we were 2 miles in and it just kept coming.
After that, drinking and eating was incredibly difficult as I was SO scared to fall. I was kicking myself that I didn't eat something at the very beginning of the ride to fuel me the rest of the way.
The course was two loops on basically to big squares so you could anticipate a series of right turns. Right turns where I pretty much came close to a stop to get through. It was definitely a first time for me to ride in the rain but this rain was torrential rain. I felt for the volunteers and the officers on the course who were directing traffic. I wondered what the drivers were thinking watching us riding in that downpour. I was glad I had my sunglasses on because they shielded the water from going directly into my eyes. As it was, it still dripped in there and I was concerned that a contact would get irritated. Now THAT would have really sucked.
It was also the first time for me to ride in aero bars outside of my neighborhood. That too was scary on wet roads. I had the death grip on them and white knuckled for awhile until I started to pay attention to what that was doing to my back and shoulders. The rain never really stopped but there were breaks in the intensity. After the second loop and the first turn, I had to slow down to let a firetruck cross in front of me. There was an ambulance that had just arrived on the scene and I was frozen to pass the bike accident in front of me. I thought about that person and hoped that it wasn't a severe injury. To say that I was on even higher alert after that would be an understatement.
I tried to get my water in but eating was very minimal. Losing my balance was just not a risk that I was willing to take. Luckily, I had bought a bottle of Endurance Liquid Shot on the recommendation of Coach Jen Rulon (she’s awesome, check her out or on the gram @coachjenrulon). It was a life saver. I just had to squeeze it in my mouth and not have to deal with tearing open packages and squeezing or getting gel all over my hands (which happens every time).
I felt so strong on the bike though. I found myself passing a lot of folks and the very few times I tapped my watch, my speed was faster than I anticipated. My bike computer battery went dead so I pretty much rode blindly. I had no clue how I was doing.
As I approached the 3/4 point, I could see the run course and the runners and that thought "oh shit I still have to run" came through. My butt started to hurt and I was ready to be done with the bike. I had to remind myself constantly to not tense too hard as it would only hurt my back and shoulders and make it harder to maneuver my bike. The goal at this point was to finish without getting hurt.
I was thrilled to enter the last turn into T2.
Bike Time: 1:17:11 - 18.7mph pace (next time, if there is no rain, push harder, I still had gas in the tank and could have gone faster. Also, get nutrition in early and consistently.)
This was a mess. Everything was sitting in a pool of water. Obviously, I didn't change out my socks. Haha. I put on my shoes, my visor and popped my glasses on top and clipped in my race belt. My delay here came from eating. I didn't think and I took a bite out of a health nut ball. I SHOULD have taken a GU or the rest of the liquid shot. By taking that bite, I had to finish chewing it to wash it down before heading out to the run. That was a dumb move.
T2 time: 3:59 (next time, have the GU before getting off the bike and don't get tempted by after race goodies!!)
This is the part of the race that I usually despise and start second guessing my sanity. I mean, I could be happy just going home at this point. LOL. The fact is that this is the part that holds me back from ever considering a full Ironman. Anyway, the first mile is usually for telling your legs to shut up and coercing your quads to stay attached to your knees. Once the pain of running fades away, about a mile or less in, then you can start thinking about how far you have left to go. Seriously though, the rain was still coming and averting puddles was at this point, totally optional. My squishy shoes weren't all that bad, really. What was bugging me was the my wet braids thumping onto my chest. I think I tucked them into my top at one point.
The course was 2 loops through a residential neighborhood. It was nice but after a few up and down around turns, I was totally turned around. I couldn't tell how far I was going if it weren't for the signs. The race directors really did a great job of putting up signage and getting volunteers in all the right spots. Some of the water spots were so lively that they felt like the finish line!! They were awesome!
Again, I didn't obsess with time. My watch notified me at the end of each mile and I was pleasantly surprised at my pace. I kept worrying that I would run out of gas and would not be able to maintain it for the entire 10k. I guess I underestimated myself. I did a body check and nothing hurt or was sore (rare). I did a heart and breathing check....I wasn't terribly winded.
I came up to a man, 41 (thanks to the sharpie on his leg), and was about to pass him. He saw me coming around him and sped up just far enough that I was right on his tail. I didn't think I had enough to pass him proper so we ended up just running together for a bit. I don't remember what we talked about but I think it may have been about how lively the water stop on the hill was. Oh, yea...I think he asked if we had passed the 5 mile mark. As we approached mile 6, I kicked it into gear. He looked at me and said "go get it". Ha! I hauled my butt for almost half a mile to the finish. It. Was. Awesome.
Run Finish: 58:27 - 9:26 pace (next time, don't doubt my ability. Push harder, run faster sooner!)
I knew I had more in me because I ran into the chute, got my medal and walked around like nothing. I didn't feel desperate to stop like I normally do. I looked around, hopeful to seeing my family but understanding that with this rain, it was highly unlikely.
I walked around to see if I saw any familiar faces and to get a banana and water. I headed over to transition to get my phone to send a few texts to let everyone know I was done and a call to my mom. She was much relieved that I was not eaten by an alligator (or similar lake monster). Haha.
When I didn't get a text back from the fam, I made a quick call to let them know I was done and on my way home. Come to find out that they had just arrived and were in the parking lot. Ha! They couldn't believe I was done so quickly, but I think they just left the house late (their secret is safe with me teehee) Either way, I was over the moon that ALL of them were there. Talk about icing on the cake!! I was one happy lady!
As far as my Apple Watch went, if I remember to hit the button when I am supposed to, I think it's pretty awesome!!
Check out the details it provided below:
Needless to say, this race was epic for me. I mentioned a lot of firsts so here's a list:
1st Olympic Triathlon,
1st 1500M OWS (longest ever)
1st time to use ear plugs in OW (great idea)
1st time to not panic int the swim in a race
1st time to ride in rain
1st time to ride in torrential down pour
1st time to not live up to my accident prone/clumsy self (no injuries!!)
1st time to not get bike grease all over my legs (I don’t know how this always happens!)
1st time to race without a Garmin
1st time to run with shoes other than Asics
1st time to finish SUPER strong
1st time to consider adding FULL Ironman to my goals (yea, you heard it here first).
I've said enough...til next time friends!!
Happy training, happy racing!