Today is my 8th triathlon of all time (third season) and I’m feeling like I’m getting much more comfortable with being prepared on race day. Had one cup of coffee and brought a large bottle of water to drink throughout the morning. I had my usual pre race meal. Overnight I soaked ½ cup rolled oats in water and added that in the morning to a mixture of vanilla yogurt, plus one scoop of isalean vanilla shake and ½ cup of granola. It’s super satisfying and should hold me over for the race. I ate at 5:30 and my race start is 8:30. I used the shuttle service at the Hilton where the expo was to get me to the race. The shuttle pick up was right across the street from the Churchill where we were staying. No waiting, and got to transition by 5:50.
Found Richard and Jimmy and made sure they were organized and didn’t need anything from me then I went to my rack to set up. I don’t like my placement at all and think my transition time is going to be at least a minute longer than I had planned for. I was really organized this time and had very little to do in the morning to set up. Some new things for me are that I’m using the never reach water system and I filled it half way with water the day before. I have one extra bottle of water filled with want more energy sports drink. I’m using my bento box to hold gels and a bar. I opened up three gels and opened up the bar so it would be faster for the ride. I’m also using my new Garmin 310xt and will talk more about that later.
We had to leave transition at 7am, at the time of the first swim wave. Jimmy goes in at 7:36, I’m in at 8:21 and Richard starts at 8:27. They had us move just outside transition to a holding area where you could see people after the swim entering the bike transition and the beginning of the bike leg, but you could not see the swim start or course itself at all. I had an idea of the course but wish that I could have seen the swim entry and full course before arriving at the start. I couldn’t find Jimmy or Richard. Spent a bit of time stretching and making sure I was comfortable in my wetsuit. As well I went through 2 different trial sessions with my Garmin because I had not used the Auto multi sport mode before. This mode is designed for races. Once you hit start it will log your swim data, you press lap to finish that sport and it moves on to T1 and records you transition time and so forth. Everything was working just fine. I’m relaxed except I decide to go to the bathroom one more time. The line for my wave starts as I’m wiggling back into my wetsuit and I jockey for a position in the middle of the corral.
As we approach the swim start we have only 3 minutes to jump in and find a position. I wanted to be on the inside toward the front but there was no room and found myself more to the middle and a couple of rows back. At the start I started my Garmen, or so I thought and found a comfortable race pace quite quickly. Problem during the first ¼ was that I got stuck behind a wall of people who were spending too much time sighting and not enough time swimming and that slowed me down. At the turn around the current was a bit heavier and then when we headed back we were swimming with the current and had the sun coming up in front of us. There were no buoys to help keep us straight and I feel I swam too far to the outside. Found a good clearing at this point and was in a grove but with no people around and the sun in my face it was hard to tell if I was swimming in a straight line. I was getting a little flustered because I felt my swim time was going to be way behind my goal. A couple of people in the wave after us started to pass about ¾ of the way through and I didn’t like that at all. Finished the last ¼ strong and exited the water using the railing on the ramp. As I crossed the first timing mat I hit lap on my Garmin and noticed that the swim didn’t get recorded at all and I had no idea what my swim time was.
T1 went OK. Got my wetsuit off better than ever. Sat down to do this and stayed seated to put on my shoes. Now I spent about 2 minutes resetting the Garmin and getting it to the T1 menu. I didn’t really know what to look for and messed this up as well but as I mounted my bike I thought all was figured out.
The start of the bike is flat and fast. I look at my Garmin and it’s not showing my speed. What’s up? It’s now in T2 mode and I fuss with it again while riding quite slowly and start the timer all over again. So once again I wasted some time getting this device to work for me. Unlike most races the first ¼ was pretty open so was easy to get into a comfortable pace. I was not able to drive the course before the race but was told it was pretty flat and it met my expectations. There were only about 3 parts in the race where I was blocked from passing but didn’t let it bother me. I did well in taking advantage of speed on the down hill portions and keeping a steady fast pace following with the little bit of climbing that was involved. I monitored my Garmin focusing mostly on one screen that indicated my average speed, average cadence and average HR. Due to the slow start I was a little behind on my speed goal. The last 3 miles were a breeze and I picked up my cadence to make for an easier transition to the run. During the bike I had one gel about 10 minutes in and another about 40 min later. I drank a lot of water, which was one of my goals, to not go into the run thirsty, but didn’t drink any of the want more energy.
T2 went really well. I found my spot easily and there were a lot of bikes in my division still on the course so I felt really good about that. Sat down again to switch shoes, much more efficient than standing which was a new realization for me. I pulled off a piece of the Pure bar still on my bike and ate that as I ran out of T2. I still have 2 gels on me for the run if I need them but don’t think it will be needed.
I started the run maybe too fast. At 7:00 m/mile I was way above my goal but my HR was good so I only slowed down a little. There were aid stations at every mile and I took advantage of all of them. I grabbed two cups at each, drank a little from one and poured the excess on my head. The run was feeling fantastic. My face was a little hot though as the sun was bright and I wished that I had a visor. I was passing a lot of people, but all in age groups other than mine. Most were age groups that started before me so I felt like I was doing quite well. Again if my Garmin had worked from the beginning I would have had a better idea. I had taken a piece of masking tape and written the goal times for each leg on it. I affixed this to one of the gels in my shirt pocket. That way during the run I could see if I was on target. All I knew at this point was that the run was faster than planned and the bike a little slower. During the last two miles of the run I visualized the last two miles of my favorite training run. I imagined it as all downhill, from the top of the Brooklyn bridge all the way to my front door, which is all either downhill or flat. I finished fast and completely under control unlike the guy who decided to go from a 10mm to a 6mm for the last 400 meters and fell down and almost caused a chain reaction. Idiot!
I didn’t take any time to enjoy the finish moment. There really wasn’t a big after party. They offered us water, sports drink and a medal. No food. There were lines forming to pick up check in bags and to get back into transition so I got my ass in gear and headed back to my bike. Once there I called David from my cell and he met me at transition so we could walk everything back to the car. I spoke to Jimmy and he did great for his first tri and Richard was still on the course when I left. I wanted to make a quick departure because check out for my hotel was in just over an hour and I wanted desperately to get in a shower before eating a meal and driving 4 ½ hours back to NYC. I deducted from the finish time on the clock minus my planned start time that I finished in about 2:50, which was about 15 minutes behind my goal.
I did get in that much needed shower and had a nice lunch, not too much food, at a French restaurant. I had been eying this ice cream shop all weekend so we stopped there after lunch to enjoy some creamy comfort food. On the drive home I received the email that the results were in. I was surprised. Often they are not posted until the next day. So here are the results.
There were 3933 finishers and 176 women in my age group division. I finished in 2:43:27 (goal was 2:33-2:43), which placed me at 20 out of the 176. My swim was 35:12 65 out of 176 (goal was 33:00). My T1 was 4:25 and should have been about 2:25 without Garmin troubles. My bike was 1:15 at 19.7mph finishing 24 out of 176 (my goal was 1:13 or 20mph which I would have definitely hit had I not had equipment problems). My T2 was 2:41 about 30 sec slower than I planned but my rack position sucked. My run was 45:43 at a 7:23 pace finishing 4 out of 176 (on target with my goal). Overall was really happy with my race aside from the problems with my Garmin. I’m unsure of my HR and cadence data as that got erased on accident when I synched it at home but I think for the bike I was at an average of 160bpm and cadence of 76. On the run I’m pretty sure my HR was at 180 average.
Looks to me like I should compete in more duathlons if I want to place. But really, the swim has always been the hardest for me. In my first triathlon, which was a sprint, I came in second to last place on the swim, so I really have come a long way. I know that there is no off-season for me and swimming. I need to continue swimming one day a week in the off-season even if I am training for a marathon. I have one more race left this year and I now know I will have to pick up the pace in the bike in order to make up for the swim. I went into this run feeling really strong so feel I could have pushed the bike harder. The next race is much smaller and I hope I will have less competitor traffic to deal with and will be able to maintain a higher speed on yet another flat course. I would do this race again if I had a place to stay in DC and could avoid the hotel expenses. I liked that it is a fairly flat course, well organized, and nice temperatures. Now that I am familiar with the swim I know I could train better for an out and back. Brighton Beach would be perfect for it.