Training had been so so for swimming. I started back in May swimming in the pool and then switched to the lake right before the 4th of July. I anticipated many lovely swim practice afternoons after a quick trip to NYC with Scott and Elizabeth. On our trip we learned that the lake had dangerous algae. We lost two weeks of potential swim time while they were testing the algae blooms. A lot of people swam anyway, but the area we swim near my friend Kathey’s house was bad with the algae. I texted her saying, “how’s our swim lane?” and her reply, “the worst I have ever seen it” was enough to dissuade me from hopping in.
Even so I managed many lake swim practices. Most were challenging, and one was my first ever unsupported swim. Elizabeth wasn’t as free as in other years to be my kayaker and Xander is afraid of spiders in the kayak so if I wanted to swim I needed to be braver and use my buoy. I was very proud of my last training swim; 1 mile with the buoy. Two half mile out and backs from Kathey’s dock.
The morning of the race the water was 77.7 degrees – just barely wetsuit legal. I popped my wetsuit on and used the swim lane to adjust goggles. They were holding water (something they hadn’t been doing regularly doing training) so I kept them on my face locked on as I stood to wait for the swim. I was feeling very good about the swim. It was calm and I wasn’t actually that scared. The water was warm and I had such a bad swim time last year (I wrote it on my hand – 49:01) that I said to Elizabeth and friend Christina that all I had to do was beat last year’s time. I said this not to pressure myself but because I thought there was no way in the world that I wouldn’t beat that time. I did feel confident.
Then the swim started. Less than 100 meters into the 1500 my left goggle started leaking. I had swam through that on a couple of training swims – just switched to breathing only on the right. In hindsight I probably should have done that, but it was so early I thought I’d adjust on a kayak and then be ok. I reached out to a nearby kayak and adjusted my googles. Then, the right side was gushing. I have to be able to see on the right for the buoy line sighting. Time for kayak hang number two. I sorted them out and looked ahead at my swim wave – now far in the distance. How was I going to do this? Would my googles stay put? Time to stop thinking and swim. The googles were never optimal and leaked enough to bug my contacts but not enough to make it so I would lose one so I kept swimming along. Shortly before the turnaround I had to call out for a kayak and wait awhile for it to come to me to fix them one last time.
On this swim I counted; 1, 2, 1, 2 a lot and thought about inspirational things. I thought about a student from my first year of teaching that really struggled with math. Instead of quitting or failing he stayed after school every day to work to understand better. I channeled that thinking that yes I had lost my ok swim opportunity, but I had the choice to blow the actual rest of it by getting stuck in my head or I could do my best and keep on going. I admit I was so frustrated that I just wanted to just get pulled in and call it a day. It had been a really hard week and that seemed like an easy choice in the moment. Eventually I got out of the water and looked at my watch. 49 and change. Man, I would have had an ok time if it weren’t for the goggles. I was at least grateful that it wasn’t worse. I ran defeatedly and slowly toward my bike.
Next year’s goals:
- Swim unassisted with my little orange buoy a few more times.
- Stop saying that I can’t swim. It is self-defeating and I can swim. I am just not fast.
- Sort out the goggle leaking. I’m very sad about this because if it hadn’t happened I would have had a solid overall race PR.
- Work on speed. My average HR was only 109 for this (if the watch was actually recording my hr properly – it seems extremely low). I can clearly swim harder without exhausting energy.
This was a slow start and it felt like a slow transition, but actually rather typical for me. I got on the bike and started up the hill. I was struggling with getting going, but I wasn’t cold. Usually I’m freezing after the swim, but the bonus of the warm water was that I was totally comfortable. I’ve biked this course enough to know exactly what to expect. My parents had said they may get up and come watch us from a hotdog stand a couple of miles up the road. I would look for them. My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer this year and she wasn’t able to come last year so it meant a lot that they were considering coming. Sure enough they were at the top of the hill. I waved and shouted to them and they cheered for me. A little boost. I saw the Knapp family out in full force along with the MacCarricks. It is fun to know a few of the spectators.
In the past two weeks a couple of good things have happened on the bike for me. The first is that I have finally become comfortable in the aero bars. They sat on my bike so long unused that I considered just taking them off. I have no idea why but two weeks ago I got the courage to use them for more than just a minute. I have practiced a few times since then and they are very helpful. I also got a new bike seat. My friend Brenda got a new bike and gave her old seat to my friend Christina. Christina loved having a new seat and I have not enjoyed my seat. I said to Scott, “I’m buying a new seat” and ordered one from Terry. It arrived and it was ok on my first 25 mile ride. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. I figured I would get used to it. However before my 2nd ride I asked Scott to adjust it so it didn’t tilt up so much. He did but I still thought it was not comfortable. I had a little temper fit and said I just wanted to go back to my old seat. He and Elizabeth laughed at me but then he noticed my legs were hyperextended. My seat was too high. No wonder I didn’t like it. Since he hadn’t adjusted the height of anything when he put the new seat on we reasoned that my seat has been too high for awhile. No wonder I absolutely cannot get any power on the bike. We adjusted the seat and my bike rides have been MUCH better since. I look forward to the biking that remains for the season to continue getting better. I feel like I can get a full circle pedal rotation instead of just a forward stilted motion.
The bike was good. I passed a few people, got passed by a few and generally tried to push myself as hard as I could. I wish the first half had been a little faster but it was a lot better than last year’s ride so I was pleased.
This was a very solid bike ride for me. It is the portion of the tri that I am most pleased with. Still for next year I have some goals:
- Get more comfortable with the push/pull motion for biking.
- Work on hills to improve the ascent out of the park.
- Lofty goal is to hit 17 mph.
A little tired with a bit of a sore stomach is how I started this run. Big score: I remembered to take my bike helmet off! The transition wasn’t too quick. After all, how quick can one be when they have to tie and velcro trail shoes? I stopped for Gatorade at the first water stop. I was hoping the energy from the drink would help me and that my stomach would settle quickly. The first part of this course is on grass. I ran along, looking forward to hitting the trail. The deal I made with myself this year was no cheering for other people. I didn’t plan to be rude but couldn’t really spend the energy talking and encouraging. Water stop #2 was upon me in a jiffy and I grabbed water and Gatorade as I walked through. Soon I was at the 3rd stop and I did the same thing. The way they have the stops set up you hit stops 2 and 3 on your way into the gorge and again on the way out. You wouldn’t think a person would drink on the way into stop 3 and then again on the way out because it is literally like having water 2x in 100 yards, but yup I chose to do that. I ran at a fine clip in between stops but I acted like I was running the last 6 miles of a marathon, not a 10K as part of a tri. However, as I said to my friend Christina, “It seemed perfectly logical and necessary at the time.”
On my 2nd loop I was coming up on a guy with 61 and S on his leg. That means he is 61 and he’s doing the sprint distance. I love looking at the numbers on legs because it is something to focus on. I started to pass him and he said, “Hurry up and get it over with. Just pass me.” I was surprised when he said this and looked at him saying, “You are doing great – almost done.” His reply, “That’s easy for an intermediate to say to a sprinter.” I had already been thinking this at various points in the race but I reminded myself, “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” This guy was struggling with the mix of intermediate and sprint being out there and feeling defeated by being passed. I know the feeling as I’ve been there myself.
For the last bit of the run I thought about that. I recently read a blog by a really good triathlete who gets to the podium in races yet in her blog she was discussing the things that hadn’t gone well in her race. I thought about how my friends and family would feel about our respective efforts and what troubles we would focus on. Our effort that feels good enough in the moment but would it be once we saw results?
Soon I was nearing the finish to the cheering crowd. My parents had managed to get to the end of the race too. I didn’t expect that. Because the parking area is closed for the race, they had parked near the Taughannock Farms Inn across the street and walked down on a path. It is a long walk for them yet it was something my mom had to do. She was “in the picture” at the tri for many many years and last year she wasn’t well enough to come down. After the diagnosis we thought she would never be able to see it again. She said she wanted to be “in the picture” this year because she wouldn’t be able to be next year. I’m focused about the now and I’m so grateful that she made it for this one. It meant a great deal to me that she was there to see me finish.
This run doesn’t represent my best effort. It represents my best effort while staying very comfortable. It should have felt harder. After all it is a race. I was 2 minutes over my best time for the overall race. Even with the rough swim I could have gained back those two minutes if I had pushed harder on this run. Goals for next year:
- Run the course to get a baseline.
- Do some brick workouts. I didn’t do any this year and I wasn’t prepared for the start of the run.
- Check in on tech during the run. I decided I didn’t want to know my pace – I wasn’t feeling mentally strong to know it this year. I should have made myself look.
- Pre-decide to only hit one or two water stops. 9 is ridiculous unless it is insanely hot which it was not.
The post race is usually my favorite part. It wasn’t quite as fun as usual this year though. Scott and the kids were in a local show and Scott was called at 1 pm. I felt like we just had to eat quickly and get home and I knew we would have none of the fun of sharing about our race and laying around together feeling accomplished. Additionally I was so late to finish that they were out of my favorite Julie Jordan veggie wrap. This wrap is one of my top reasons for doing this race. I settled for roast beef but I was really sad. We did have a small amount of time to enjoy lunch before I headed home to an afternoon of baking followed by a lot of clean-up and laundry from the race. My friend Brenda hit the age group podium and Christina went to watch awards with her. As we ate I looked at the water. It was calmer than when we raced. I suddenly wanted a redo. If only. And that’s what next year is for!
- Swim 49:11, T1 2:19
- Bike 1:29:04, T2 2:15
- Run 57:43
- Overall 3:20:32
- 6/9 age group 32/48 gender 116/146 overall Intermediate.