This past weekend we headed up to Pleasant Prairie, WI, for a race at one of my favorite tri venues. It's not just that the swim is in a small, almost-always-calm, inland lake or that the bike course is fairly flat and the run course even flatter. Sure, the course itself is nice and it's a well organized race. But even better than that? The hotel we stay at is adjacent to the premium outlet malls....SHOPPING! And since this spring/summer has been all about Ironman training and I literally haven't had one free hour to go shopping for actual work clothes (no, not work out clothes....I'm talking about clothes I can be seen in in the office), this trip couldn't have come at a better time. But since this is a triathlon blog, let me tell you a little bit about the race and not just the cute wrap dress I bought at Banana Republic. I was actually really, really looking forward to this race since I've been training in earnest since February and this would be a good test of my fitness. It was a gorgeous day for racing...bright blue skies and about 70 degrees. After about a 1.5 mile walk from our hotel to transition, a quick set-up in a VERY crowded transition area (more on that later), and a delightful warm-up swim where I just kind of hung out in the lake and talked with the lifeguards, it was time to RACE!
Swim = 32:32, 1500 meters
Let me start with the positive....this was an olympic swim PR for me (yes, I'm THAT slow). I was very happy with this time....especially considering the mini freak out that I had. I decided to place myself in the middle of the scrum at the start because I need to start getting used to more contact in the water. It was fine....I was actually really proud of myself for taking some good kicks to the stomach and chest. But I think being in the middle of everything caused me to go out a little too fast and I suddenly found myself about 3/4 of the way to the first (far) buoy and gasping for air, unable to get in a rhythm. For the first time in a long time in a tri swim, I popped up and looked around considering my options. I even looked at the lifeguard platform and considered swimming over there. But I did a few strokes of breastroke to calm myself down and put my head down and started swimming a little more slowly. I eventually settled down. But wow is that a bad feeling to have in the water! Other that that, I didn't do the best at sighting either (as usual). For some reason I just had a tough time following the course and it seemed to take FOREVER. Since I was in one of the last olympic waves, we also had the pleasure of running into the sprint folks which was a whole other mess. If nothing else, I got some good practice swimming around other people. And I must have done something better because I was a good five minutes faster than any of my swims last year!
Bike = 1:20:59, 25.8 miles
Gorgeous morning for the bike, with little wind. This is a nice course with just a couple of big bumps by way of overpasses. Me and my bike both felt a little rough for the first 20-30 minutes, but after I got some nutrition in me I started feeling a little better. My legs just didn't have much pep though (par for the course this summer). There were some nice areas where I could get going 20mph+ though so that helped the spirit. I slow down SO much when taking my nutrition....must get much faster at that! Still overall pleased with this time though, since I haven't been doing much fast riding at all this summer!
Run = 59:51, 6.2 miles
Oh the run. I got SMOKED on the run. I was literally passed by 4-5 women from my age group within a half mile of the start of the run. I didn't feel good from the get-go. The legs were just heavy. Then I started to overheat and didn't get enough to drink on the course. And my left quad was screaming. I wanted to slow down and walk so bad. SO bad, But I was chasing my PR and sub-three hours and I knew I'd be pissed if I quit on myself. So I just kept playing the mind games to get me through it. "Two minutes to the 4 mile mark...you can do anything for two minutes. Now just slow it down and catch your breath, then you can pick it up again. Just keep going. Try to get that lady in front of you. Just two more minutes to the five mile marker and you can do anything for two minutes...." I didn't quit. I didn't walk once. And that makes me proud. It's still a nice sub-10 pace, I guess there were just a lot of good runners out there. I need to not be training for an Ironman to get any speed back in these legs!
All in all, I walked away with a 5:07 olympic tri PR and FINALLY broke that elusive 3 hour barrier. I beat all of the goals that I sent to my coach and am really proud of sticking it out on what wasn't my best day on the course. It's funny the mind games that happen to me with races though. I was so proud of myself until I got home and saw all of the results and was reminded just how slow I am. I know, I know....it's about getting out there and doing it, and I hit my goals and got a HUGE PR, but it's still tough to almost always be lower MOP or BOP. Everyone else is talking about AG placement and winning, and I'm just happy to get under three hours which seems silly. I wish I didn't struggle with that comparative thinking and could really just be proud of myself for all I've accomplished, but in some ways I think it's the competitiveness that makes me want to keep getting better. Anyway, it was a fun weekend with my hubby, who is the absolute BEST (his race report to follow soon!). A couple of light days of workouts through mid-week and then back at it with a BIG weekend planned for the 4th!
T1 = 2:07
T2 = 1:45 (seriously long enough for a picnic, but someone was illegally racked by me and put her bike back in my place so I had nowhere to put my bike after I returned!...I was not careful when I thoughtfully moved it over for her)