Want to get some insight into the inside of my head and my latest journey, well keep reading…
So, if you’ve been following my 2016 or have relatively been in the loop with what’s been going on with me, you are probably aware that this year I’ve set out on taking my triathlons to a new level. Doing varying indoor tris, sprint or mini tris since 2007 have been fun, however, this year I’ve set new goals of increase intensity and focus in training, working with groups and coaches, decreasing times, bumping up in age-group and overall placement, and moving up to Olympic/International distance triathlons. You may or may not know that the swim portion, particularly OWS (open water swimming) has been somewhat of a nemesis to overcome, which can make doing any distance, but particularly a 1500 meter (almost 1 mile) swim a true mental challenge.
Now that you have some context, I can delve into this past race week. To be completely open & honest, 5 days beforehand I started sensing a little anxiety, but to address that, I drove up to the race location, Pleasant Prairie, WI, to do a swim clinic so I could get comfortable in Lake Andreas. Having a 1/2 mile course laid out at the clinic, even that course looked long. But I did one loop pretty calmly and then another. I needed to do the full distance because if I could do it then, 5 days later I could remind myself that I got this. Despite the 2 people that touched my toes while they were swimming, I was clam and consistent with my swim. I felt good about it and felt ready.
As the next few days came, I was thinking about the race in my sleep and still felt some increasing nervousness. Having thoughts about the 2-year-old snatched by the alligator in Florida didn’t help. And I also recalled a posting about a guy who attempted his first OWS triathlon, who drowned, and I found myself really having to do some self-talk about what I would do if I found myself in trouble (triathletes can always get on their back & float to calm down). Another challenge of OWS is having people around you, some people may swim into you, accidently touch or hit you while they are swimming, which can be a distraction when you are really trying to focus. My game plan has been to try and stay in the path of least swimmers so I can stay focused even if it means I swim a longer length away from the quickest route. All this game planning, self-talk, focus, preparation was fine, but I found myself hard to sleep on Friday night (2 days before) and actually had some tears in my eyes at like 2am lying thinking about this race. “This is ridiculous, that I’m reacting like this” I told myself. So I started talking to God, thinking about my two angels, my dad and my brother watching over me and I finally got some sleep.
So, Saturday, the day before the race, I drove up to pick up my race packet where the course talk reviewed the coming race and got to drop off my bike in transition. Then after checking into the hotel, I got my gear all set, and went to dinner (carbs of course) with my goddaughter & niece. Afterwards, I was able to go to sleep relatively soon, but before most races, I tend to wake up because of the excitement about an hour or so before the alarm and just try to rest until it’s time to get to it.
Race Day: With a race start of 6:30a and 6:15a transition close, it was up and out by 4:30a so I could be in and setting up my gear between 5:15a-5:45a.
Though the weather report had been forecasting rain/thunderstorms, I had hoped it would past to the north of us. As I was wrapped up with setting up by 6:00a, clouds had been rolling in. I covered my belongings with a few towels (Note to self: with rain predictions always carry plastic bags.) By 6:10a, it was announced for all athletes to come into the RecPlex facility as lightening and rain was within 5-10 miles and the race was to be delayed.
Needless to say, this was not the greatest news, as by this time I was all set and ready and just wanted to get the swim over with and let’s go! A downpour came while everyone was inside and we waited until it lightened up. After over an hour, they finally announced the race would commence, however, because of lightening still potentially in the area, they didn’t want to risk having athletes in the lake. So, instead of a swim-bike-run, the race would be a run-bike run.
This probably should have been good news as I am a strong runner, then biker, but, I was kind of indifferent. I was in a way looking forward to the challenge of the swim. But anyway….
8:00am (An hour and a half late) the race began. Being in wave 7 (great number, right?), I started around 8:30a. A 2.3 mile run now replaced the .9 mile swim, went quick and easy for me coming into transition 5th out of my wave.
Transition was quick, but in getting out on the bike with wet roads, I was mindful of being careful and plus this is twice the distance of a sprint triathlon. There was also occasional rain drizzling at various areas on the bike course. I still wanted to challenge myself to maintain a similar pace. I completed the bike in my last race 2 weeks prior, the Esprit De She tri, in 45 minutes, so my goal was to bike this in about an hour and a half. (Well, with the results posted..did it in 1:32:27.)
By the time I was back in transition to put up the bike and on to the 6.2 mile run, the sun was coming out. Keeping in mind a 1.5 hour delay, the weather was hotter and muggier, but there was still some overcast. I really didn’t know how I would run in the 3rd portion of the race at this distance. I wanted to save some my legs on the bike to ensure I could do a strong run.
On to the run, I felt like that first mile zipped by, but I knew I had 5 more miles to go. Having that earlier 2.3 miles, I knew I would be ending with a total or 8.5 miles, but I just ran how I felt and I felt good. Portions of the race in the direct sun did feel like I hit a sauna, but as long as I was passing folks, I just thought, just finish this. In the last mile, I steadily built my speed and was still able to sprint in the last .2 mile to finish.
In 2:46:31….Mission Accomplished.
I still have one other Olympic triathlon planned. The Chicago Triathlon which is known for being quite competitive, so part of me is thinking to find another beforehand to do (without a swim change), but we’ll see.
I really want to say thank you to everyone who has been supporting and cheering me on in my journey!!
My Pleasant Prairie Olympic Triathlon 2016 Race Photos