Sunday, June 23rd was Olympic Day, which celebrates getting active and living the Olympic values…we work, we play, we dream, of a better self, or a better world. And in realizing that it also kicked off National Triathlon Week, it was a fitting day for me to race the Pleasant Prairie Olympic Triathlon.
Being the 2nd triathlon of my 2019 outdoor season, there was a mix of excitement, nervousness, and wonder about feeling ready for the Olympic distance race. Though with years of racing sprint and indoor triathlons, this was only my 5th Olympic triathlon (in the last 3 years 2 were altered/shortened due to weather). Having just done one 2 weeks prior, I felt a little more at ease even without having had the opportunity to do any open swim practice or much outdoor biking.
As I got closer to the hours and minutes prior to the race, I often have reservations about the swim because mainly its a longer open water distance that takes me out of my comfort zone. Another factor is that without wearing a wetsuit, the water temperature is a factor that can have me second guessing.
The water temperature was a tolerable 68 degrees, so by the time I hit the water, I wasn’t thinking much about that. I’m often trying to focus on my approach and with the first 400 meters of my last race being one that I had to get on my back a few times to relax, my race plan was to go out taking it nice and easy. I stayed toward the back of my wave and started with relaxed and steady strokes. I had a nice fluidity as I rounded the first turn buoy of the triangle of our swim route. Shortly after turning though, I felt alone as I didn’t really see swimmers around me. It’s funny how I like to not have a whole lot of people around close to me, but I also want to have people in a relative vicinity so I still feel like I’m swimming with people.
But need not fear, because no sooner than as I was starting to get in my own head having a ‘Jaws’ replay moment, the following wave of men had caught up to me. By the time I got around the 2nd turn buoy, I felt another wave had caught up to me. Then there was a mix of the Olympic distance triathletes combined with the sprint distance ones and all of a sudden the once calm Lake Andreas seemed a bit choppy. However, by this point, there was only a nice straight-away to the finish, so at that point, I was picking up speed so I could get to the swim finish.
By the time I approach the beach to step out, I was actually a little dis-oriented from the waves as well as the rush of compacted swimmers all exiting the water. But it was a matter of focusing, transitioning, and then on to the bike.
Starting on the bike, I had a rush of energy where I was spinning 17-20 mph, however, who knew how windy it was to be that day. There was quite a bit of head wind throughout the route. And for a good middle portion of the route, the hills/elevation was no joke. Still early in the season, this race definitely was motivation for more hill work.
With a smooth transition from the bike, I often have a ‘its time to go to work’ attitude, when it’s on to the run. I typically hoan in on my run, because I often see it as an opportunity to make up for being a slower swimmer. Having not had as much consistency in my training runs this season, I focused on an initial good pace but relaxed a bit so I could maintain.
Overall, the race felt good. Typically, I think of myself as a turtle in the water, but I’ve been working on my swim and am feeling more like a seal..lol. I’m pleased that I’ve broken to getting under a 3 minute pace per 100 yards for my open water swimming. Getting that in a pool is one thing, but to be get to a 2:40/100yd is something I’m very happy about. I have a bit of work to do on the bike and even my run to match goals I have set, but to have a PR for this race is definitely encouraging and motivating.