My triathlon season officially started last Sunday at Monticelloman in beautiful Lake Monticello, Virginia.
As I said in my preview post for this race, I really wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of my performance, particularly since I haven’t done an olympic distance tri since 2013. My last tri of any distance was in September, which feels like forever ago. I’ve also had some nagging physical issues and those three things combined left lots of question marks for me leading into the race. I had no idea what to expect in terms of my times.
I got down to Charlottesville on Saturday, picked up my packet, and talked to Alyssa about my race plan. Before I knew it, it was Sunday morning and I was on my way to the start.
With the water temperature in Lake Monticello being 64-65 degrees, Alyssa kindly let me borrow her sleeved wetsuit for the swim. The suit – a ROKA Sports Maverick Pro – fit me perfectly. If I ever take the plunge and buy a sleeved wetsuit, this is definitely the suit I will get. It was amazing.
If you have read my blog before you know that I have a lot of open water swim anxiety and that’s something I was really concerned about going into this race (that’s right – I had anxiety about anxiety). The long story short is that, with coaching advice from Alyssa, I was able to do much better this time. I still stopped and did the good ‘ol “tread water and think about quitting” routine, but it was a much shorter stop than normal and I never felt like my chest was tightening and I couldn’t breathe. That’s a huge step in the right direction for me with my open water swimming. The wetsuit kept me warm and wasn’t constricting, which I think helped a lot, too. I’m 100% on the ROKA bandwagon after this experience!
I finally got going and tried to just get into a rhythm with my stroke. Almost immediately, I realized my first mistake of the day. I knew I was going to forget something with this being my first triathlon in so many months, and sure enough I did! I forgot to use Body Glide on my neck to prevent the wetsuit from rubbing. That’s an omission I have been paying for every day since. Ouch!
Once I got going, I caught back up with the back of the pack and I was able to stick with them and even pass some people. The swim felt long, but I made it to the beach and knew the hardest part of my day was over.
As I ran in to T1, I saw Alyssa and she cheered and told me I had a great swim.
Running into T1. Alyssa gets the photo credit for all of these pics.
Total swim time: 33:17, 10th in age group
(I think the swim time included the run into transition because my Garmin showed me at 32 and seconds coming out of the water.)
I fumbled around in transition for a bit, which was kind of frustrating, but I did finally get my stuff together and get out on the bike course.
Getting ready for the bike.
I would characterize this is a challenging course. While there weren’t any super steep sections that I can recall, there were lots (lots!) of rolling hills and this required me to be on top of my shifting throughout the ride. I am still working to improve my shifting skills and this was definitely good practice.
As is the case at most (all?) triathlons, the bike course was a bit congested at points, particularly at the beginning of the ride, but once things spread out, it was generally okay. There were only a couple of times where I felt I was being held up by folks in front of me, and in one of the cases, the culprit was actually a car (the bike course was not closed to traffic). I did a lot of passing, especially in the beginning of the bike. Not being a super strong swimmer, I’m fairly used to that routine.
The course was quite scenic and the road quality was very good. I would also note that the bike course was well marked. Portions of the half and oly courses overlapped, but it was clear when they split and reconnected.
Overall, I was happy with my bike and that I was able to push myself to really work throughout the whole ride. I didn’t force myself to hold back and “save” something for the run.
Total bike time: 1:19:23 (18.1 mph pace), 4th in age group
I saw Alyssa again running in to T2 and she said something about me having a great ride, which made me very happy.
My transitions were definitely slow at this race. I had been fumbling around in transition with my Garmin, so I ended up just putting the face of my Garmin in the pocket of my shorts for the run. I got my belt and visor on, and off I went for the run.
As I noted above, I had really pushed myself throughout the bike and didn’t hold anything back for the run. I think with all of the running races I did this spring (one ten miler and two half marathons), I wasn’t worried about cranking out just 6 miles. However, somehow I missed the description of the run course on the race website as “a roller coaster run,” and that was certainly an accurate description! It was a tough one, and it had started getting warm.
I had gotten a sports massage the day before the race and I was a bit sore from that as I started the run, but otherwise felt okay. I felt like I was moving along fairly well for the first two miles or so.
Then, I gradually started feeling more tired and I definitely slowed down at points, particularly some of the uphills. I tried to keep focused. I took a gel and actually started to feel a bit better – at least momentarily – around mile 4. As I mentioned, it had started getting warm, so I took water or Gatorade at each aid station and tried to make sure I really took it in, as opposed to just spilling on myself (although I unintentionally did some of that, too).
Luckily, the hamstring issue I’ve been dealing with for many months now held off until about the last mile. I saw Alyssa near the finish and she was cheering, but I couldn’t really respond because I was just focusing on getting to the finish line at that point. There were some spectators cheering for me and I tried to acknowledge them with a little wave. The last quarter mile or so was not pretty, but I was able to cross the line in a time I am happy with, particularly in light of the difficulty of the run course and my effort on the bike.
Total run time: 57:47 (9:19 pace), 6th in age group
My prior 10k PR (granted, from 2011, which is the most recent 10k I have run, but still…) was a 58:07.
In the end, I finished 7th in my age group of 20, in 2:54:34. That beats my prior Olympic PR of 3:07:40 by over 13 minutes. I was very pleasantly surprised with this result.
I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow #50WomentoKona supporter (and #TriEqual board member), Kent, at the race.
I have lots of positives to take from this race and I’m looking forward to building on them in Atlantic City on June 28th.
I want to thank Alyssa, for her awesome coaching and cheering on race day – it was such a treat to have her there! I also want to thank MooMotion for my beautiful and comfortable kit. I even got a compliment on it out on the bike course from another competitor during the race. And, last but not least, my hubs for his continued support of my passion for triathlon.