August 5, 2018
This year was my first year doing the intermediate distance that I wasn’t training for something long for running. Last year I was getting prepped for Green Lakes 50K, 2016 was Wineglass and New York City marathons, and 2015 was Wineglass. As I drove down to the lake with Elizabeth I said, “I think this may be taxing on my body. I’ve trained all these things separately and done a couple of brick workouts, but I haven’t been routinely working out for over 3 hours at a time.”
This week I hurt my left calf/Achilles tendon in a run. I stopped early and took two full days off, happy to see I had a regularly scheduled acupuncture appointment on the calendar two days before the race. At that appointment, Abby worked on my calves and said she thought I’d be good. It is an ongoing thing actually that I will probably need to see a doctor about. I overtrained on a sore Achilles tendon last year and have done enough reading about what I’m feeling to know that it isn’t a great thing that I did that. The tendon itself is mostly fine now, but bone has accumulated that is apparently the result of training through the pain (this from the internet … so I’m hoping maybe to get better news from a real live doctor when I finally cave and make an appointment).
Other training was business as usual. A fair amount of pool swimming this year with two lake swims. There was blue/green algae in the lake and I just opted for the pool most of the time. The gem of my training was receiving a mass email from my swim instructor, Shane the week before the race. He put out there that he would hold a swim tune-up for the CLT and for Women Swimmin’. I sent Scott a note, “date night?” “Heck yes,” he replied. Sold! The best $20 I’ve ever spent (more on that later in the report).
Bike training went fairly well with one exception. I got saddle sores for the first time ever. I didn’t even know what they were until I mentioned it to my friend Lynn while riding a week prior to the race. After doing some online reading I realized my early season choices to ride sans bike shorts were rather stupid. I have no idea why I refused to wear them, opting for running shorts instead but I won’t be doing that again next year. I decided to take the last week off from indoor cycling classes and outdoor riding.
This is our new tradition! It is only our 2nd year working race registration but it is something we all really look forward to now. Our family sets up the t-shirts and Wegmans bags and then greet people and give them these shirts and bags when they come to pick up their race materials. Scott moved over to give out the race bracelets after helping with our set-up and had a blast talking to everyone!
This helps us get prepped for the fun race day ahead and really just makes it feel like a destination race even though we live 4 miles down the road from the start!
Some small choices
Choice 1 – Go to bed early
The evening before, Scott and I went to the concert at the park. The kids stayed home to play Monopoly together and we enjoyed great music and got to see the transition area set up, look at the swim and get our heads wrapped around the next day. As we left at 8:30 I said, “I really want to watch a good TV show” and started to reminisce about good shows we’ve watched in the past. We have made it through the first episode of a few things but haven’t found a show that we enjoy in a long while. Anyway, we got home and started getting our stuff prepped and then I did my 45 sit-ups, 45 push-ups, 5 cat/cows, 5 minute downward dog, 2 minute plank and finally 5 minute savasana. I brushed my teeth and then Scott said, “Hey are you coming upstairs?” “No. I think I should go to sleep.” He agreed and we were lights out a bit before 9:30. I was grateful for that choice when I woke up in the morning well rested just a few minutes before our usual time of 5 a.m.
We enjoyed a bagel spread with Once Again Almond Butter and honey. Soon we were heading out the door. The kids had their bagels packed (their relay team would go off later in the morning) and we drove our two cars down to the lake (in order to hold 3 bikes).
Choice 2 – Race tech-free
My Tom Tom stopped working in the water a few weeks before the race. I planned to race with the watch for the bike and run, but would have no timing device for the swim. I stood on shore talking to my friend Simon and his daughter Jessica before the event. Jess is the swimmer for the kids’ team and she’s super fast. We were bantering about how it takes her forever to get her wetsuit on but her swim is quick and I get my suit on quick but it takes me forever to actually swim. I mentioned the watch situation to Simon. He said that some of his best triathlons have been tech-free. Hmmm.
I had spent part of my week at a work conference talking about formative assessments vs summative assessments. A formative assessment is anything you have the chance to improve on, do again etc. A summative is kind of like the autopsy. There’s no chance – it is the end, like a final exam, unit exam etc (the autopsy is the comparison our teachers used – I can’t take credit for it but it is pretty apt). The tri was basically a summative assessment of my summer training.
“I’m going to ditch the watch,” I said. What will it do for me anyway I thought? On the bike I’m going to look at it a bunch and think “you should be faster.” If the average pace is too slow I’ll yell at myself and if it is too fast I’ll congratulate myself, but I won’t really be able to change it much in the moment. I’m still dealing with a sore calf and have no idea how the run will go. It will be smart to run that fully by feel anyway. If I get way off pace I’ll be much more likely to slow way way down and say “screw it” if I have tech vs continuing along with a positive mindset without the numbers. A new experience!
The Swim (49:01)
It is important to say that I was genuinely pleased with my swim BEFORE the results came out. After I saw the results I ended up crying for much of the evening. So here’s how this went down.
- Last year I thought I was ready to start in the fray, and lost my googles twice when I was kicked in the face. I held onto kayaks and I struggled to re-seal the goggles. This year the water was choppy and I decided to start after everyone else like I did when I first started doing triathlons. I knew that I wouldn’t be in a position to be in the fray, and also knew I’d be last in the pack, but thought maybe I could pass a few people?
- The buoy line was blowing in like crazy! I usually hug it and that was not going to be a great choice today. The goal would be to swim moderately straight to the end. I so wish I had an open water swim device to know how far I actually swam in this race.
- The swim was peaceful, fun and I truly loved very minute of it. Thanks to Shane I enjoyed it, was able to breathe bilaterally and I didn’t suck in any water at all. The refresher class helped remind me to focus on different things and stay grateful.
I still got passed by my usual two waves of people and mostly had a positive outlook on this. “I’m swimming as fast as I can while not losing my breath or freaking out,” I thought. Thank to my father-in-law, Ed Dawson for the pictures below.
Results are in
My outlook totally changed once I saw the results. I was one minute slower than last year. Last year’s time was pitiful and it included kayak hang time. However, the water was less rough and I started in the fray. The trouble is that I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be SLOWER than last year. In my mind that was the worst swim I could have. I counted results and realized I beat only 4 people in my entire heat (that’s all females 35 and older).
In my crying to my husband about how terrible I am at swimming I was saying, “If I could just be in the range of normal humans that aren’t that great but aren’t that terrible I could have a reasonably ok tri time,” followed by, “If I ever want to do an ironman I won’t be able to do it because I won’t hit the swim cut-off.” For anyone who has watched Harry Met Sally, it was rather like Sally’s meltdown in the movie. After my pity party I reminded myself to be grateful. I CAN do this. I may be practically the slowest swimmer out there, but I could have done another mile or more if I needed to. I remembered how a few years ago I used to gasp for breath after a 25 yard distance and freak out if I was asked to swim a 200 without a break.
Help I lost my bike! (Bike – 1:34:20)
Since I was coming out of the water with pink and blue caps from the waves behind me, I pulled off my green cap as fast as I could when I exited the water and raced toward my bike. However, I ran right past my bank of bikes and stood there lost thinking my bike was gone. “oh no, someone took my bike,” I thought. The next thought, “yay. I don’t have to bike!” Finally I came to my senses and looked at my hand. #731 – “oh you are in the wrong yellow section.” I headed back to my bike spot and there was my bike. I’d have to complete this event after all.
I dried off, grabbed my bike and headed out of the park. I know this course well and have practiced it several times this summer. When I hit mile 3, my friend Kathey and her family were out cheering like crazy for me. That was a great boost. Right after them I saw the MacCarrick and Knapp clan and got another energy bump. I focused on quick turnover. Soon I was at the sprint turnaround and I saw Scott coming back. I start to get stuck in my head, “I have 17 miles to go and he has 7 miles to go. He started 10 minutes before me. If I manage 4 min miles I have 68 minutes left. He is probably doing 3 min miles – he has 21 minutes left. He is going to PR. I wonder what time it is? How long was I in the water? I know the sprint was about to start. They start at 9. Were they lined up on the beach yet when I left?” I convinced myself that they weren’t (now that I know my swim time I know they were seconds away from blasting the start horn) and reasoned that I probably had a fine time in the swim.
As I cruised down into Sheldrake I had a pang of sadness about being tech-free. I wouldn’t know my top speed. It would probably be on this descent too. I hit the beach area and everyone was out with their cowbells. I love that you feel like a rockstar when you are biking along by yourself on a lake road. The crowd down here is great! My friend Vera who owns Busy Bee Market was out cheering. I picked up my pace as I passed by her and prepared for the hill to come.
I climbed the hill as quickly as I was able and then leapfrogged with a few people as I headed back toward the sprint turnaround. Soon I was folded into the throngs of sprint distance racers and it felt like a race again. I started to look for my daughter Elizabeth. She was the team’s biker and she should be coming through soon. I saw her and screamed, “Go LIZE.R.D.!” at the top of my lungs. I started thinking about time again, “What time did she make it out here? They went off at 9:40. Jessica is fast. Maybe she was on the bike before 10. She’s 4 miles in. It is probably 10:40 or 10:45. I have 4 miles to go. Yikes. I’m going to finish after 12. The transition area closes at 12:30. What if I have a bad run? Will I finish before they kick me off the course?” Luckily I got out of my head quickly as I saw the MacQueens again and I started my final descent into the park. I love this descent when the road is closed. It is a nice way to finish!
When results came in I was really happy about the bike. I was 2 minutes faster than last year. I had hoped to best 16 mph but came in at 15 and change so that’s not too bad.
I was most afraid about the run. We’re heading on vacation where our focus is hiking. I didn’t want to do anything on the run that will make it so I can’t hike. Abby had said to get a massage after the race or go see her again to work out the calf and I couldn’t do either of those things. I’d have to settle for self-massage.
I got ready quick and grabbed a gu in case I needed it. I started the run and went by the first people offering water, gatorade and ice. I took gatorade. The start to the run was fun but my body was really on the edge of cooperation. I wasn’t comfortable from the start. As I started the first bit I saw my friends Joan and Kasia volunteering on the course for Tburg Robotics. They cheered me on and I felt energized!
A bit before mile 1 my whole body was just HOT and I felt weak. I stopped and walked about 100 yards and slowly consumed my gu. Then I hit the water stop and got water and came back through the same water stop and grabbed gatorade, water and dumped ice down my tri suit. Soon the ice started to cool me off and I felt better. I started to pick up my pace and get into a groove. I saw my friend Tonya as we were heading into the last mile of loop one. She was doing a sprint relay. “Come on Amy, less than a mile to go,” she said as she passed me. “I have to do a 2nd lap. Good luck!” I said. The bridge was fun as I received encouragement from my friend Brenda before each pass! The volunteers for this race are so awesome, and it is especially fun to see people you know out there.
Soon I was back at the start and my friend Joel was directing me to start my 2nd lap. Gatorade, water, ice. Run. I typically wave and encourage everyone on the run, but I found that I didn’t have the energy to do anything but run. It took all I had to encourage the few people I knew out there. It was hot so I focused on gratitude for the shade. This course is beautiful and it is shady. My left calf and foot were hurting so I focused on keeping balance and not overdriving with my right. I focused on keeping my shoulders back to have a more open airway to breathe. I thanked the volunteers. My friend Laura told me my family was lined up waiting for me. I felt bad. They were probably hot and tired and hungry and they’d been waiting forever. I tried to speed up.
I ran into the finish, grabbed my water bottle and walked a bit. I ended up 2 minutes slower than last year. I wasn’t a bit surprised about this. This was the most challenging run I’ve had in awhile. I’ve never dealt with overheating like that and my foot and calf were hurting the entire race. All things considered this was the best I could expect of myself today.
Post Race – Overall Result (3:26:35)
This race is AMAZING. After clearing the transition area, I got my favorite Wings of Life veggie wrap, and my Ithaca beer and went over with my family and friend Christina to sit at a picnic table. The lake was dead calm. It is amazing how much it changes during the day. We all talked about our races (Christina was the sweeper for the youth bike course because she wasn’t able to race this year) and the vibe was just happy and fun.
We finished up our morning with Purity Ice-Cream and talked to a few more people before driving home. When we got home we sat outside with iced coffee and Scott and I talked about how grateful we are to have this race essentially in our backyard. We both shared how glad we were to have attended the swim clinic and imagined doing the run if it weren’t shaded. More thanks for shaded trail instead of open road.
Final Thoughts for 2018
- I think I’d like to be training for a longer event again next year. It would make the day feel easier. I felt the stress on my body without being used to 4 hour workouts.
- I am going to continue to work on loosening my upper body so I can improve swimming. After a year of PT and acupuncture my acupuncturist actually noticed that my posture was better when I came in this week. I can tell that there is more mobility in my shoulders. I hope that I can translate this into better swimming as the year goes on.
- I may take one of Shane’s bike classes this year. I’d like to improve there.
- I’m definitely doing the intermediate again next year. I was telling Elizabeth that the sprint just seems too short after doing the intermediate 3 years in a row. It is tempting to do that distance to have more time to hang out and see people but I really do feel really proud to complete the distance.
- A tech-free race brought me to within 30 seconds of last year’s time. It was a good experience to not be checking the watch a bunch of the time. I also enjoyed the few hours before results came out.
- “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is really hard not to compare myself to Scott. He is a strong swimmer, solid biker and amazing runner. He had a PR race and he was only in the water 2x prior. I was super happy for him but felt jealous and sad for myself. I sometimes wish you could opt out of results.
155/195 Overall; 41/65 Gender, 5/7 Age group 45-49