|Any day on the block is a good day :)|
My second tri of the year was Saturday. This is my second time back at Salem Spring, I did it last year just two weeks after IMTX. I knew that I had done it last year on a body that was still recovering from Ironman, so I went into it tired, mentally exhausted and expecting nothing from it at the time. I somehow managed to land on the podium in that state. Fast forward to this year!
I had talked with Ben just two nights before the race, and he really encouraged me to push this as hard as I could. I know I am in so much better shape and have made progress across all three disciplines and this was attempt #2 to qualify for Nationals.
I wrote down last year's times and stared at them all week on my fridge knowing I could probably beat everyone of them, except maybe those transition times, those were pretty dang good!
Just like last year, we had a million things going on this day, and Ken wasn't able to come with me. He took Janae and Joshua came down with me. I thoroughly enjoy having Joshua along. He is a kick in the pants, a total blast to hang with. Plus, he has become quite the efficient race sherpa! He carries stuff, remembers things I might otherwise forget, and takes pictures! Bonus! We got up super early and made the hour and half drive down since I wanted to be there right when transition opened, and I still hadn't picked up my packet either. Thank heaven for preferred racking for SLTC members, I was able to get a good spot to rack Belle and set everything up.
This is a small race so there were only four swim waves. Pro/Elite, Men 0-40, Men 41-100, and Women. Women were the last wave to go. It was pretty chilly and overcast out so I was in my wetsuit early for warmth, and I couldn't wait to get in the water since I knew it was probably warmer than air temp. When the gun went off for our wave to go, I immediately started off way too fast and felt it. My heart rate was crazy high, I was having hard time breathing, and people were hitting, kicking, and all over each other. I just tried to reign it in some, but I almost panicked it was so crazy. For a split second I actually considered rolling onto my back for a minute to chill. What the hell? That is SO not like me! I was relieved to hit the first buoy and it seemed to immediately thin out and I was up with all the men from the previous waves. It seemed like it calmed down and suddenly I was just fine. I felt like I was going fast, but not panicked and I was where I wanted to be. I got into my rhythm of counting strokes and sighting and stayed right in the buoy line. This was good since I got off course last year. This swim went extremely fast, and it seemed like I was at the swim exit very quickly. I immediately started peeling off my wetsuit and a volunteer offered to strip it. I was excited for this, but it was like she was scared of the wetsuit itself as she barely tugged it. I told her JUST YANK IT and she did and it was off. However, I lost time here for sure trying to get the dumb thing off. FINAL SWIM TIME :15:00. Beat last year's time by one second. However, this wasn't just the swim, this was the wetsuit struggle, the run across the grass and the parking lot to the timing mat that starts the T1 time. I would be really curious as to the actual swim time, but guess who forgot to start her Garmin?
I really wanted fast transition times, so tossed my swim crap down, and went to get in my bike shoes, helmet, and sun glasses. In and out. One of these days I will be cool enough to try the whole flying mount thing, but not yet. FINAL T1 time was 1:11, a twelve second improvement from last year!
Man, did I want a good bike time. Ben had told me to push it as hard as I thought I could, and this would be an experiment to see how hard I could push it without it affecting my run. Challenge accepted! This course starts out fast as you round the bottom of the pond, take one quick turn, then it goes up THE HILL. Anyone that has done this course knows which hill I am talking about. It is not very long but it is very steep. If you don't know it's coming and don't gear accordingly, it catches you off guard and many people end up walking it. Today was no exception. Both loops of the course I saw people walking it. Not me though! Belle seemed to struggle with the gearing, and she kept slipping and clicking. I just prayed we would make it to the top. We did, but that hill takes a lot out of you! It took me a bit to get my breath back and get my HR manageable again. Luckily it is followed by a slight downhill and I could setting into aero and regroup for a bit. I started to think I was taking it too easy and immediately got my head back in the game and started to push harder. The weather started to get worse during the bike, it became cloudier and it started to lightly drizzle. There was a few times I wished my sunglasses had windshield wipers. Then there is a few gradual hills and false flats until the turn around back to the pond where it is a downhill and you can fly. It was awesome! I so wish I could have seen my speed at these different times, but noooooooo! Stupid, stupid, stupid for not starting the Garmin. I passed many people on the bike, mainly men, but a few women as well. It was cool! I felt very strong 98% of the bike, with the exception of right after the hill. Final bike time was 41:59, a 36 second improvement from last year. I'll take it, though I had hoped for more of one.
I ran in, racked my bike, and tossed my shoes, slipped into my running shoes (I don't use socks for short course) and grabbed my race belt and visor to put on on my way out of transition. In and out once again and I tied for last year's time with a :57 T2 time. Sweet! I love it when I am under a minute!
The first part of this run sucked, I honestly felt like I had giraffe legs and wondered when my legs would show up. I just kept pushing knowing I didn't want to lose any time and they would show up eventually. The first mile was really a struggle. I just couldn't find a rhythm and it was frustrating. I felt like I was going so slow, but I have learned that when I feel this way, I am usually going faster than I think, so JUST KEEP PUSHING. There are two hills on this run and they suck, plain and simple. However, going up the first hill, I realized I hadn't been passed by anyone in my division. That thought really encouraged me as I realized I could very well be in the lead for my division for the time being. But wouldn't you know it...I got to the bottom of the second hill and some gal comes and blows me and the hill out of the water. And, she was in my division. (How many races has this been the case? That I get passed in the last portion of the run? So many I've lost count) Well, there goes first place. I really tried to catch her, but I just didn't have it in me. I was still pushing hard enough I had to suppress my gag reflex, but she was crazy fast. I was glad to hit the down hill, and just push hard to the finish. Final run time was 28:50, an average pace of 9:19, and with the hilly course, I am pretty happy with that. It is also an improvement of almost 2 minutes from the previous year :)
I quickly realized I was in second place. I was thrilled with this! Unfortunately, with only 10 people in my division, this wasn't good enough for a qualification. I would have had to be in first for that, and I missed first place by 42 seconds. Ugggghhhhhh! Final time for this race was 1:27:58. I'll take it, though it was frustrating to be so close! However, I am thrilled to have beat or tied every single time from last year, so that shows definite improvement.
I stayed for the awards and then Joshua and I quickly left since we were freezing. I seriously think Utah races are cursed this year. Every race I've done or been part of the weather has sucked. Hopefully this trend changes quick! I have also come to the conclusion that I do better in heat. Or at least I prefer it to the cold.
I only have two weeks until Daybreak. I am excited to return to that race, it was my first open water triathlon 4 years ago and I loved it at the time. It is also a flat run course, which will be a good thing, and though there is an uphill on the bike, you immediately go right back down it. If the weather holds out, it could be a very good race for me :)
In the meantime, Happy Training and Racing!