Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Grand Rapids Tri 2017

The swim (or should o say struggle...)

I had been putting in some good work in the pool and was swimming very well lately, so I was expecting a really strong swim, if nothing else on Sunday.  Well, that didn't happen, unfortunately.  I get more nervous when I have to wear a wetsuit.  I hate swimming with it on, because it's just not comfortable.  But everyone else was so I better wear it because I wanted to swim as fast as I could and the wetsuit does help.

In the beginning of any triathlon I have ever done, people always start out wayyyy wayyy way too fast.  There's a lot of thrashing and kicking going on.  I've been swam over before.  Well this time, during the first 500m I ended up turning my head to breathe, and swallowed a huge gulp of someone's kicked splash.  The heart rate was high in the beginning and I was gasping for air- I had to stop swimming.  I panicked a bit- I have never felt this panicked in the water before- I couldn't breathe and thought I might be experiencing a drowning-like feeling.  I almost waved my arms for help, but told myself to calm the heck down and try to breathe normally.  I was gasping for air for awhile.  I tried to swim, but still was having a hard time getting my breath.  I grabbed at my wetsuit collar to undo the Velcro, but I couldn't grab it.  So I stopped again.  At this point I had let most of the females pass me it seemed, and there was nothing I could really do about it until I felt safe enough to try swimming again.  Thankfully I calmed down enough, and was able to undo my Velcro at the neck so I could breathe better.  I no longer cared if the long zipper strap was flapping in the water behind me, I needed to breathe better.  That helped, and on I went!  I ended up passing most of the people who passed me when I started struggling.  Phew!  I was out on my own, away from all those people.  Unfortunately I had lost some time there, seemed like 40-50sec or more who knows.  I was just glad to get into a nice rhythm and relax.  I breathed almost every stroke after that incident and that's ok.  I have decided to start out at the very end from now on to avoid getting kicked at and splashed around.  Wow that was the scariest moment ever in a triathlon swim for me.  Thankfully I was only off the top females time by 50 seconds, not too bad considering things, just frustrated I wasn't up there with them.  

T1:  a note about this- I got my wetsuit off and was ready to go, however the GR triathlon has a very strange transition set up to me- it's one longggg line.  The 70.3 distance is at the front and run out, Olympic is in the middle, and the sprint is in the back.  I had to wait in this long line to get out of transition and there was nothing I could do about it :(. So my T1 was 3 min long.  Racers were coming in from the bike one way, and us racers trying to get out of transition were in a line the opposite direction.  There was no me running around these people because I simply couldn't or else I'd run right into a racer coming from the opposite direction.  For this reason, I definitely do NOT like the GR triathlon transition set up.  But that's probably the only way they can fit it in.  I guess....

The bike:  I felt pretty strong at first.  You know, I was going 24-30mph at any given time in my watt zone.  Of course we had a Tailwind.  The course was out and back.  I focused on drinking early and often, and took in some honey stinger chews to supplement my calorie intake.  Worked well.  Probably drank about 30-35oz on the bike.  

Now on the way back to transition....the wind hit pretty hard.  So I let my power drop.  Yep-couldn't even maintain correct wattage and then I decided that was probably for the best.  I wasn't going to fight it because I knew if I did, I would just have an awful run.  So I just did what I could in the wind.  1:07-pretty slow for myself, my average wattage was only 5 lower than usual so who knows.  Or maybe I'm just not as strong this year.....yet!

The run:

I actually felt really good.  Coming off the bike though I was a bit sore, so I took it easier the first mile.  I also noticed I wasn't too hot, considering it was supposed to get up to the 90s later that day- it wasn't humid yet.  I must have gotten my nutrition and hydration right!  I ran quickly, but it felt easier than it normally does for me.  I ended up passing a girl who was in 3rd on the run. This never happens on the run haha.  I stayed pretty consistent with my pace- around a 7:30ish pace until the last mile.  I thought I had seen another girl up ahead.  So I picked up the pace to see if I could catch her, and at that point- some guy was running next to me and said he would pace off me since he was doing the half.  That mile I did start to notice the heat.  I started to slow but that person kept motivating me which really helped.  At the second to last aid station I drank 2 cups of water- it was hot and I was getting a bit dehydrated.  I probably should have just drank 1 because my stomach started to feel odd right after that.  Ah the finish line!  I ran as fast as I could to the finish!  My last mile ended up being 7:15.  I actually negative split the last 3 miles too which never happens.  It wasn't a PR probably because of the heat but it was close and I'm proud of that run!  Probably could have ran faster, oh well.

I didn't know what place I had come in, but when I found out I came in 3rd which meant I won some prize $ I was a bit shocked because I really struggled and lost time on the swim!  

Now a long break from racing.  I'm going to focus on everything really.  My upper body is starting to get stronger for the swim, I need to work on getting in some 3-4hr rides, and work on some off the bike runs.  I think not racing as much as I did the past years will really help me focus on my weaknesses and get faster for the goal race.  I just hope I can swim strong and show it from now on- never want to experience this again!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Believe in Yourself, and Never Give Up No Matter How Bad You Feel

My Experience at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga.  What a tough race!

The swim:

It wouldn't be a triathlon for me without some blonde moments.  The day before I ended up forgetting my timing chip after I had already checked in, listened to the athlete briefing, and drove back to the place we were staying.  Glad my friend Daisy mentioned it or I would have been struggling around race morning trying to get it.  On race morning after setting up transition, we headed on the bus at 6:05.  Found porta potties, waited in this dumb line until 6:35.  Race start at 6:50 and I had to put on my wetsuit yet so we ran towards the front.  Get there, get the darn wetsuit on, then realize I had plenty of time because the pros started first.  Like an extra half hour.  I could relax some!  

The swim was supposed to be upstream at first, turn, then head mostly downstream with a nice current.  Well the current was too strong for us age groupers I guess( the pros got to swim it though so I was disappointed because that left me at a disadvantage, with my swim being pretty strong).  Everyone swam about a 1500m, and with the current I ended up swimming a 16:33.  I hope at Worlds they make us swim the whole thing.  Other than that it felt like a decent swim, no real complaints.

The bike:  I felt strong maybe the first 5 miles then fatigue set in.  I just tried to stay within a 10- watt range but that was sometimes hard on hills when trying to pass people.  I also forgot to calibrate my power meter so who knows what I was doing!  The hills I think took their toll on me today.  I think I also tapered too much.  Usually for races I'm not this low for form (a training Peaks terms- how well rested you are).  I was only at it for Cozumel last year, I think at Delaware 70.3 I was at 15 (if anyone knows what that means). An article I had read said some athletes do better with 5-10 (I think I'm in that range).  I'm not going to taper down to 25+ anymore.  I did not feel like I was in that "flow" state that I feel in when I race well.  It's hard self coaching yourself but I enjoy the learning experience and challenge and pressure of it all.  

So in triathlon you must remain 6 bike lengths away from the person in front of you and if someone passes you, you must drop back for them.  So I was obeying this rule, and was extremely irritated at the amount of drafting I saw.  I even said to someone, "hey it looks like a group ride up there!".  Lol.  Mainly the men.  Huge groups.  No one would drop back.  I wish the officials were around.  I've never seen that amount of drafting in any of my other races.  Frustrating.  

The bike course was beautiful, and hilly.  It had 2400 feet of gain.  Nothing too steep but a bunch of little rollers that killed me today.  

The run:

When I got off the bike my first mile was under 8:00 and I felt great.  I had planned to stay around an 8:00 pace.  After that I couldn't hold it because I became pretty hot.  Also, my hips didn't feel right and wouldn't let me fully extend for running.  So I did my best.  About halfway through I wanted to give up.  I knew I wasn't going to have a good run split at all!  But I did not come down here to give it all away.  I had wanted to qualify.  So I sucked it up and jogged and walked when I had to up some hills but it was a constant struggle.  And I slowed down.  But I knew I had to keep going to do my best just in case there was a slim chance I could still qualify.  I didn't see any but one girl in my age group pass me yet.  I wasn't giving up.  Sometimes it's ok to slow down and do what your body is capable of at that given moment.  I was going to finish the race.  I was actually shocked I came in 5th.  I thought it would be much worse with my slow run.  Even though I didn't race well I was ecstatic to have qualified for the 70.3 World Championship this year in Chattanooga!  And what's great is I will already know what to expect on the course!  

A huge congrats to my friend Daisy Brey who won her 25-29 age group!  She smoked it, and killed the run.  Amazing! 

My goal for Worlds now is to work a bit more on my run and not worry about placing anywhere at Worlds.  My goal is just to improve my own personal time on that course and worry about myself.  There are a lot of really fast people at Worlds so I'm not going to get caught up in thinking I can place high because that just makes me even more nervous.  I'm just going to enjoy the experience and race the best I possibly can because I took USAT Worlds way too seriously the last 2 years.