Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Backloading the Season

After St. Anthony's I didn't have any races on the schedule and just figured I'd jump into a few local sprints throughout the summer. A hard interval run on a June morning was immediately followed by all day training/testing as we implemented a new financial system at work. When I got up at the end of the day, my right hip was super tight. I figured I needed to stretch and roll and it would be fine. It wasn't. It gradually got worse every week until I had to shut down running for most of July. I was very cautious coming back and did a lot of walk/jogging (and dry needling/stretching/yoga/standing more at work).

Marty and I decided to do a few late season races after it hopefully cooled down a bit and I could get my hip better. First up was the Outer Banks Triathlon which we had never done. Actually, all of the races we signed up for we had never done. Outer Banks was also an excuse for us to do a mini vacay at the beach since we could both race on separate days. No babysitter needed for Junior Awesome.

Outer Banks Sprint Triathlon
We had some friends also join us for this and stay at the beach house we rented in Nags Head. It was a fun and relaxing weekend. Unfortunately, all swims were cancelled for the races because of high bacteria in the water leftover from the hurricane that came through the week before. This was a bummer but I was honestly glad they were able to pull off any race that weekend. They started us in 4 different 'waves' where we self seeded in the wave and ran into transition to our bikes. Old ladies last, of course :/ They started with two waves of men, then two waves of women. I ended up 3rd in line for my wave but was first out of transition. The bike was crowded with cars, something I hope the organizers can work on for next year. It was down right dangerous leaving the first transition area since they allowed spectators to leave before everyone was out on the bike (there were two transitions). I went super hard on the bike since I knew the run was going to be hard for me either way - I just wasn't in good run shape yet. I was able to catch everyone in the wave ahead of me except for my friend Sarah. It was a very hot and humid day so the run felt pretty brutal. I knew it was going to be a tough one when after 5min into the run I thought I wasn't going to be able to finish :) I was definitely on the struggle bus out there - running is so freaking hard when you're not in shape! I did manage to win overall for females with Sarah not too far behind me.

Sandling Beach Formula 1 Sprint
This race was a crazy format and just down the road from us. It was also 3 weeks after the Outer Banks and I was starting to feel a bit more fit. Bike-Run-Swim-Bike-Run-Swim-Bike-Run
All the bikes were 5miles and the runs were 2K. The two swims were 500 yards.The format made this very fun with zero pressure as it's so different than most other races you'll ever do. The competition was great, but it was very disappointing how low the overall turnout was. The course itself - really challenging! The bikes were two loops with lots of turns and one moderate hill. I never felt like I could really get going on the bike. The run was out and back (uphill/downhill and then reverse it). The swim was calm and a perfect temperature. When I first signed up for this race my biggest concern was the water being cold (since I'm a total cold water wuss) but it felt great. I knew from doing the Old School Aquathons years ago that swimming after running is super hard, so concentrated on long, relaxed strokes. I ended up finishing second to a young super stud and had a really fun day.

The Dam Triathlon
6 days later was our last triathlon for the year: The Dam Triathlon in Lexington, SC, part of the South Carolina Triathlon Series. My sister moved to Columbia a few years ago and then bought a house a year after moving there. I discovered that their house was only 10min from the transition area of this race and it was a fun distance (they called it a 'sprinternational' since it is in between a sprint and international distance: 1000 meter swim, 21 mile bike, 4 mile run). Last year we couldn't make it because Marty had signed up for the NC 70.3 on the same day (which ended up getting cancelled) but we penciled the race in for this year.

I had taken a peek at the participant list and saw there looked to be a good number of open/masters open competitors which I was very pumped about. I didn't know any of them (except for Katie Malone) but was glad to see a healthy amount that would definitely mean good competition. Justin had also told me the prior week that the points were real tight for the series so it was going to be a good one. I mistakenly signed up for Masters Open instead of the Open division - I had remembered that back in the day for the North Carolina Triathlon Series that once you were 40 you were in Masters Open, no exceptions. But this was not the case down here - anyone could be in the Open division, and this is where all the fast girls were categorized. Luckily we all went in the same wave so it ended up not being a big deal.

The swim was barely wetsuit legal (yay!) and had some chop since it was a bit windy out. I seem to do better in these type of conditions and ended up coming out with the first girl (although I didn't know it at the time). We got on the bike at the same time but I was able to ride away pretty quick. The bike course was open to traffic but luckily I only had one close call (a car pulling out of a gas station right after I had a made a left turn onto the road). I was almost completely by myself on the bike except for a few slower male swimmers who passed me. The second lap had a few more people since I was now overlapping the later waves but overall it was very spread out. I thought I was in first but really wasn't sure until I got on the run where a spectator finally said something.

On the run I put it in a comfortable hard pace - I'm finally feeling better fitness-wise but didn't have the confidence that I could run all that fast for 4 miles. I knew I had a few more gears in me and was feeling good but wanted to see how far the other girls were at the turn around before deciding if I needed to drop the pace. I could see Marty not too far ahead but it seemed like I wasn't gaining much ground on him at all. After the turn, it looked like I had a pretty solid lead so no need to go to the well. Almost to the finish line and Marty was just a handful of seconds in front of me - he took a quick look back and because he's a nice hubby he slowed a bit so we could cross together, which I don't think we have ever done before! Jeremy, the race director (who we knew from the NCTS) said some real nice things about us when we crossed. First overall female with a course record to boot! Super fun.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

St. Anthony's Triathlon 2019

A race report? Why not. Maybe I’ll do just one a year from now on 😉

St. Anthony’s Triathlon is an iconic Olympic distance that was celebrating it’s 36th year in 2019. I had done the youth triathlon 5 or 6 times when I was young, and then the Olympic distance a handful of times post college. We hadn’t been back down there for this race for quite some time – maybe 2010? I could look it up but I’m feeling lazy.

My training was pretty good this winter in prep for this race. It was nothing crazy, and nothing terribly hard. It was training for fitness and to continue my cake/ice cream habit.
*REAL TIME CHECKING MY TRAINING HOURS*  Uhhhhh, so I actually thought I trained more than I did. Since my watch automatically uploads everything into training peaks, I can check this stuff (easier than old race results, apparently). My swim/bike/run average hours for the last 90 days was a whopping 6hrs 40min a week. This was typically 2 swims a week, 3 runs and 2 bikes (1 mountain bike on the bridle trails for ~1hr and one outside weekend ride for ~1.5 – 2hrs). That’s a far cry from the training hours this time last year when I was gearing up for IM Texas, but this was what I wanted to do this year. And I loved it. There wasn’t any pressure, it was just getting out when I could and enjoying it.

Let’s get on with this race report already. I decided to race age group (I had raced open several times in the past at this race) but was not feeling particularly speedy and frankly didn’t want to be racing 25 year old’s. The bad thing about racing age group is that my wave was one of the last to go. The pro’s went off at 6:50 and my wave went at 8:08 (two waves were behind me, women 35-39, so hey, I was 5 min ahead of my real age, and then novice). Going late sucks for many reasons: you sit around for a long time so have to make sure you are eating and drinking enough, there are lots of bodies to swim through, and it doesn’t get any cooler.

I made my way out into the water with my age group where we started in chest deep water (Sadness. We used to run in from the beach which adds a whole different element to the start of the race, and I was looking forward to it since that’s not a start you see much of anymore). It seemed like not many were interested in lining up front and center so don’t mind if I do. The cannon sounded and I went pretty hard for the first 50 yards with one another girl and we separated from the rest of the group quickly. The first part of the swim was fairly uneventful, except for the jet ski that went right in front of me to get to a distressed swimmer. That made it quite bumpy for half a minute or so. I started catching the wave ahead of me but was able to navigate pretty good through them until we made the left turn out to sea, into the sun. This is also where the waves got much bigger, which, not gonna lie, I was super pumped about.  It certainly slows me down but I’m also very comfortable in it so it doesn’t bother me as much as it seems to bother others. Plus, coming from our normal calm lake swims in NC, I was happy to have an honest swim. My time was right around 25min which is, I think, my slowest ever 1500 meter swims, but was 2nd in my age group. It was a slow day across the board (not just in the swim).

The bike had some wind, and the course has a lot of turns, but it’s totally flat. Starting so late meant that all I did was pass people. Literally, no one passed me the entire bike. I was that person yelling ‘on your left’ maybe like a jerk sometimes, but people, come on, stay to the right out there. I don’t actually have anything else to say about the bike. It was fine. My 5 mile splits were: 13:38, 13:22, 13:26, 13:30 so yay for riding even (12:30ish for the last bit which is less than 5). 1st off the bike for my age group.

The run, ugh it was hot. I started off comfy and felt fine and it was literally just a slow burn. I slowed down each mile and started walking through the aid stations after half way (yeah, I walked, whatevs). I even walked at mile 5 where there wasn’t an aid station but I really felt like there should’ve been! I didn’t walk for long and somehow still managed to have the fastest run split in my age group, which is a testament to how hard this race is, even though you think it shouldn’t be.

Super fun race. Everyone should do St. Anthony’s at least once! We had a great time with our friends from Raleigh (also Florida transplants and St. Anthony’s veterans) and am so glad we got to go back there this year.