The “A” race is over but I’m not ready for tri season to be over. At the last minute I decided to pick up a local sprint. Why not? Just go have fun and see what I could do in a pool for 400 yards. My swim goal of the year is an 8 min 400 yard time trial (which is 2:00/100 yards). I didn’t expect to really be 100% by this race but would just focus on having fun and racing with my mom. It’s her first tri in about THREE years! She did awesome and has a new base line moving forward. This was also my very first triathlon I ever did back in 2012! We’ll see how it compares
This sprint is a 400 yard pool swim, 8.5 flat bike, and 3 mile flat run with the last 1/4 mile around a track.
Luckily transition didn’t open until 6:30. Adding in an hour drive meant a normal race wake up of about 5 am. I arrived at Tulare Western High School at about 6:15 with both my mom’s and my bike in tow. Athletes were already being let into transition and the ideal spots were being scooped up. I quickly scouted out the best option still available. I like to optimize the shortest distance overall while being closest to bike in/out in order to reduce running time in cleats (no flying mount for me any time soon). I ended up racking our bikes right next to swim in and then picked up my packet. I found my mom while walking back to transition. She apparently got there before me and had laid out towels and her transition already in my first pick: an end rack between bike in and bike out (hmm I think I may have learned this from her!). We shuffled our bikes over and got our gear organized. Especially when it comes to sprints, simplicity is key to a fast transition. Here’s my practice set up from Friday morning
I organize from toe to head with left row cycling and right row running. Left: Socks, cycling shoes, helmet with attached glasses Right: running shoes with no-tie laces, visor, bib with race number. We whipped on some tri tats before the athlete meeting. No new information but it’s always good to attend just in case. I popped a few honey stingers and sport legs before shuffling to the pool with everyone.
The men’s wave started at 8:00 and the women started after all the men finished at 8:15. While we were waiting I chatted with the ladies that congregated at the fast end of the pool. The last time I did a pool tri I was in the VERY last lane, I was that slow. I really wanted to be near steps but wasn’t sure if I belonged in the fastest lane. Lucky there was enough room that we did 2 per lane. The first first girl I talked to was expecting to be 7 or less minutes and was going in the first lane. If no one else was determined to be in the first I hoped to split lanes with her. Michele found us chatting and asked what our speeds were. I offered to go in the second lane to let the faster girl, Michelle, go in the first lane. I expressed I mostly wanted to be near the stairs and hoped to finish in 8 minutes. With a smile Michelle said getting out of the second wouldn’t be a problem. I absolutely love how this community embraces and lifts each other up. These women knew I felt out of place but welcomed me with open arms.
Michelle was first out of the water in just 5:20! WOW. My swim coach had been working on wall technique on Wednesday and it made a huge difference. I knew my lane partner would be faster than me but I was pleased to only be lapped once. I finished 400 yards in 7:43, I got my sub 8 min swim!! What ever happened for the rest of the race would just be bonus now. By counting bikes later I found out I was 6th out of the water.
Transition was pretty close to the pool. I hoisted myself out of the pool and made a mad dash to transition. When I got to transition I was shocked how many bikes were still there! I exclaimed, maybe a little too load, “Oh my goodness! There’s never this many bike in transition after I swim!” The other girls in transition chuckled because this was normal for them. I made quick work of throwing my gear on and hitting the mount line. I went past and to the right because I knew there were about 5 women in transition and didn’t want to cause a bottle neck. First transition ended up being 1:24.
I passed 4 women on the first 2-3 miles of the bike course. I only saw 1 triathlete ahead of me just before hitting the turn around. I tried to catch her but couldn’t quite do it with such a short bike. If it was even 10 miles I might have been able to do it. All in all it was a fast and flat bike. There were a lot of turns in just 8 miles plus a u-turn which slowed us down. The first and last 2 miles were very smooth, nice pavement but the next 4 were extremely bumpy. I averaged 19.5 mph which is less than I was expecting.
I was second to transition and saw the first place woman still there. I racked my bike, changed gear, and flew out of transition as fast as possible. Second transition was 38 seconds.
Wait a minute. I’m first onto the run….HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!!! I have never been first on to any segment of a tri before. But I was the lead runner at this point. Surreal doesn’t even begin to explain in. I knew some real runners would be catching up any time, especially Michelle who was first off the bike. Michelle and I high fived and gave some encouraging words as she went by. I decided to try to hold on to a podium spot at least to the turn around! “Run your heart out at least to there.” I only walked the aid stations, other than that, I was running the best 5k pace I could muster (which is still slow). I was in third place as I rounded the turn around and was passed again.
I haven’t been able to do any speed work this year due to recovering from a foot injury. I was ok with being passed but with each speedy woman flying by I became more and more excited with putting in the hard work to get faster. I passed a few guys in the last mile (they started 15 minutes before us). As we rounded the corner to go back into Tulare High School and pass transition I knew we had a little over 1/4 mile left. At this point I was thankful for the little track experience I had. Just 1 strong lap on the track left! My run average was 10:44 min/mile. That was a rock start run for me!
This was an exciting race for me. I learned a lot about myself and about what I need to work on. Obviously my running needs a serious kick in the pants but my foot is finally healthy enough for speed work. I think I should have pushed my bike a little bit harder. I’m still learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and am happy to be a work in progress. Half the girls who passed me on the run remarked on my cycling which was a nice boost. When I could muster to talk, I said something about their running. After the race I ran into the first women in our age group. She heard my exclamation in transition and we figured out we got on our bikes at the same time. It was a fun morning and I met some great women.
Did I also mention this was a 25 min PR since the first time around? There’s still time to shave off and work to be done but I’m pretty proud of this race coming off of my peak race just a few weeks ago.
Place: 2/5 Age Group, 7/29 Women, 23/63 Overall
Swim: 7:43 (400 yards pool)
Bike: 25:39 (8.5 miles)
Run: 32:38 (3 miles)
25 min PR since 2012