A few weeks back I decided to sign up for a May triathlon to start my season and jump start my tri training… light a fire so to speak. Wellfit had a large contingent going to the Terre Haute Triathlon, so I decided to sign up for that one.
I went down there with my friend Bernie the day before, with the goal of picking up our packet and then heading to dinner before retiring for the night. Friday afternoon/evening seemed like a comedy of errors as we realized the time zone change mid-drive, got a speeding ticket, got to the race site late (thank you for setting aside out packets!), and then me having a late dinner of precisely what they tell you not to eat: salad and fried onion rings. It tasted so good and hit my cravings, even if I was risking my GI system on the sprint race the next day. Oh and then we got to the hotel, which unfortunately was one of those bad decisions that I’m so glad nothing worse happened there that night. We got in, no one stole the bikes out of the car, and we left the next morning with no bedbugs. Thank goodness!
Race wise, I was feeling maybe at 80% for this race. I have been having some shoulder issues when swimming, so that hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like. Cycling I made big improvements in fitness over the winter and had at least improved over last year in getting outside on my racing bike more than just the day before the first race. I got out a week beforehand for a skills clinic (thanks Coach Ted!) 😀. Running, I’d made big improvements on – PRing in my 8k and half marathon distances this spring.
So we got our transitions set up for the race just fine, and headed over for the race start. I had a major “do as I say, not as I do” with this race where I had decided last minute to go with my sleeveless wetsuit I’d never worn before (as in, not tried on!) rather than my full sleeve I had at least practiced in the week before. But I knew they were same brand, model (except the sleeves) and size, and I am a comfortable swimmer, so I was ok with this risk and also the worst case scenario, which would be me racing sans wetsuit if it was too bad. Thankfully no bad situations here!
The swim was fine for me. It was a rolling start entering in from the beach, and there was the race director manually entering your # when you entered the water (instead of the normal timing mat to record your entry). Rolling start means it’s not crowded, and I quickly passed the two people in front of me. Lots of pond muck/seaweed right in the first 25 feet or so, and then it cleared out. I’m accustomed that I won’t get much visibility from the water in smaller natural lakes, and this was no different. I swam aggressive and tried to see how much my shoulder could take. It felt good during the swim and if anything it was my lower swim fitness/endurance that held me back.
Out of the water and they offered wetsuit strippers before you ran up a short distance (400 m?) to get to transition. Most of it was carpeted, until you crossed the road into the transition parking lot. One downside of me not having practiced with this wetsuit was I was not aware of how hard it was to get the ankles off at the end. My transition was definitely slow because of this. I tried standing up, and ultimately sat down and then stood up again to get the wetsuit off!!
This is my seventh year doing Triathlon and I have come to love the bike. It’s so calming and very straightforward in terms of how you push yourself based on your distance. (Yes there are nuances and every course is different, but I love the metrics I get and assessing how hard I should push). I got out of transition and started getting going. I had a minor issue with my bike computer and once that was settled I focused on getting my legs up to speed and hammering the bike as best I could. I felt good during the bike. While my watts show that I could have pushed harder to my potential, I wanted to make sure I left something for the run, and that I was practicing my smarter bike handling and turning skills I’d just learned the weekend before. I played chase with a few ladies, and ended up just behind a woman who I thought was in my age group until the very end when I realized it was a 39 and not a 34 on her calf.
A 5k run should be easy peasy, until I realized that I hadn’t done ANY brick runs. Oops- I figured that out a minute too late on the run, too late to fix up my training but something that’s changing a lot as I look toward my next event. I tried to hold on around my goal pace (8:30) for as long as I could. Here’s how it shaked out:
Mile 1: 8:19, legs feel like bricks and I’m just waiting for them to shake out
Mine 2: 8:35, legs feeling better now, but this is hard. How long can I hold on?
Mile 3: 9:47, uh the answer to the question in mile 2 is not long enough! This mile also had about half/.75 mile on trail, and I’m glad I was close behind someone when running through the grass. Then on trail I passed her (!) and pushed thru to the finish.
Thank you to Coach Keith for helping get me ready for my racing season and for all of the good mojo out on the run course!!
Terre Haute Triathlon is a well-run race and the weather this year was good, so it felt perfect to me apart from some opportunities to tweak my training. Terre Haute is 3.5 hours from Chicago, so a bit far for a sprint race but I had a blast with the Wellfit team (we had probably 20 athletes racing). The price was right, as I paid $60 about two weeks before the event. The shirt had a nice design, and there was a lot of pizza, water and other recovery snacks at the finish.
There was one item of note which did not affect me at all, but someone had sabotaged the run course after it had been marked and changed the arrows so that the first 10-15 Olympic distance athletes ran basically straight to the finish line and bypassed 5 miles on the course. This didn’t impact me at all, but I know that those who were impacted ended up running about 7.5 miles (instead of the 6.2 miles expected). The race did a good job of “cleaning up the results” to help equalize the results. But that sucks that it happened at all, and given that it did happen, I’m a bit surprised that there wasn’t volunteers there by the time I got to that spot. The arrows were in the correct direction but all I saw in terms of people were two spectators who were clearly focused on the runners coming back.
Would I do it again? Yes. I’d plan on the Olympic and I would also book a hotel sooner to hold “just in case”.
Next Race: Leon’s Triathlon, June 4!
Linking up with Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home, who is guest-hosting the Weekend Wrap this week!