I took some time off from triathlon in 2008, largely due to my cycling focus in preparation for and in the wake of our mondo Lewis & Clark bike ride. But this year I’m back, and today was my first race of the summer. It was a gorgeous day for a race! Punch line: I had a very good race, which gives me lots of insight into my training.
[Note: ranks are out of the 2544 total participants]
More details below the break …
Saturday night there were noisy guys in our alley at 2:00 AM. Great, just when I had to get up at 4:15 to get to a race … in went the earplugs, but the brain fell into only a fitful sleep. Why am I doing this? For some reason, races always provoke night-before doubts in my mind — it’s a hassle, it’s time consuming, maybe it would be a better use of my time just to focus on my cycling instead of doing triathlons.
Plus my training over the past year has been … erratic. Last summer was full of cycling, but then in September I sustained a foot injury and a shoulder injury that brought my training to a halt for the end of 2008, especially swimming and running. A couple of months of physical therapy and a spiffy set of custom orthotics later, I was back in a routine, of a sort, but not exactly what I would call high-volume training until we started outdoor cycling again in late March. Then in April I had 4 days of cycling in Colorado, and in mid-June we rode 196 miles in 2 days at the Tour of the Mississippi River Valley ride. So my hill climbing and distance endurance had developed … but those aren’t necessarily the skills needed for a sprint triathlon in flat southern Wisconsin. I have been swimming, including open water in Lake Michigan, and running, but cycling is what I love and cycling is what I do most. Always will be. So my performance in this race was an open question, other than the bike leg, which I knew would be good.
Despite all of these psychological hurdles, when the alarm went off we got up (the KP Spouse was an excellent companion on this, as in all of my other sporting ventures) and hit the road for the idyically-named Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin for the Trek Women’s Triathlon. This race, with its new sponsors and the personnel from the previous Danskin Triathlon series, is well-known for being a fun welcoming way for women who have never done a triathlon to do so. The distances are standard except that the bike is a little short (which is too bad for me): 750 meter swim in a very nice spring-fed lake, 12 mile bike on fairly flat roads, and a flat, fast 5k run course around the lake. I enjoy women’s races like this one, largely because I think it’s inspiring to see people challenge their physical and mental boundaries, and I am always inspired by seeing women in their 70s and 80s continue to compete. That’s the woman I want to be when I’m that age.
Triathlon swims are always a bit surreal, because open water is so different from pool swimming — the visibility difference, the kicking, having to sight your course. And then there’s the water temperature; but today the water was a delightful 72F, so I went without my wetsuit, and actually had a good, consistent swim. My open water swim time was about 1.75 times the time for the same yardage in the pool (and I think that the swim was actually longer than 750m!), but it was a good swim. But the fact that my swim rank was so much lower than my bike rank, and so close to my run rank, tells me that I have to shift some focus to doing more open-water swims. Good thing I live near a large body of water!
I don’t have much to say about the bike, other than I could have just stayed on it all day! It was a gorgeous day, perfect for a long bike ride. I had a Clif Shot at mile 9 to give me some fuel for the run.
The run is always the beast for me; I’m not a natural runner, and as a short person with short legs I am sloooooow. But I’ve focused on my run training, and run some 5Ks to work on my speed and consistency. I can now consistently run a 5K in 28-29 minutes, but the question was whether I could sustain that pace in a triathlon. Thus my 28:30 result is precisely what I had hoped for from this race.
I’ve got an Olympic distance race on August 9, so between now and then the focus is on open water swim and on maintaining my 5K pace on a 10K run. That’s plenty of challenges for the next three weeks!