Marquee (Sprint) Triathlon

I completed my second tri this weekend! I had a lot of “if…then” scenarios in my head, and on Saturday when I picked up my packet and dropped off my bike, I had to make my decision and I dropped from the olympic distance to the sprint and it was a fantastic choice for me!

I had lost some sleep in the week leading up to the race with nerves and whatnot and I actually woke up on Sunday morning not sure if I wanted to do it, but 100% sure that I was going to do it and that I was going to race it and rock it.

The sprint waves didn’t start until 9am, so I had a leisurely morning to pack, drive down to Tempe Town Lake and set up my area, this time at least having a little better idea what the hell I was doing (note: all my clothes were waiting for me right-side out).

Before I knew it, I was wetsuited up and jumping in the lake. As much as I hate the suit, for warmth and buoyancy during the mid-lake tread start, I was sooo glad to be wearing it.

When the buzzer buzzed, off I went, no panic, just swimming and focusing on one, two, three, breathe. Besides crashing straight into two very large and very stationary men from the earlier waves, it was fine. Better than that, actually, it was great!

Swim – 750 meters – 15:46 (4th in my age group and pretty much my bragging point for the whole race)!

The wetsuit strippers were pretty fantastic, but I wasn’t feeling great when I got out of the water, so I took my time transitioning (3:55).

After I caught my breath, I felt I was doing well on the bike (for me), but it was frustrating because I knew with the same amount of effort on a legit road bike I’d be cruising even faster. I clocked mostly sub-4 miles on the fairly flat course, which was my goal and I felt good about it.

Bike – 12.3 miles – 51:42

T2 was just a bike drop, exchanging my helmet for my hat, exiting on the complete opposite side of transition, and I was off (1:26).

When I started the run, I felt like I wasn’t moving at all because I was used to the bike speed, but my Garmin said I was going at a 7-pace, aka way too fast! I slowed to about 9:30 and did mile two and three (the beginning of which had back-to-back steep hills!) about 10. I cranked it up to a sprint finish, wondering if I should have the power to do so and at the same time thinking my legs were going to give out!

Run – 5K – 30:30

My mom caught me at the finish line and asked how I felt while I was grabbing animal crackers and oranges and my response was, “like I just ran a triathlon!” And I did, but it was a great feeling!

The high dropped a little when I checked the results and didn’t do as well as I felt I had (in case you’re not sitting there with a calculator, it was 1:43:22 total for 9th place out of 18 in my division), but I quickly decided to not let a (non-PR) number determine my worth because what mattered is that I felt great and I was happy with how I had done.



That Time I Won a Wetsuit

Go ahead and ask me what the most ridiculous piece of clothing I own is.

Oh, thanks for asking, it’s this…

I was going to rent a wetsuit for my upcoming tri and then swear off any events that would require one because swimming in the warm September water was so much better, but then the universe gave me this one.

Red Rock, the tri event company, and Durapulse, a local multisport training company, put on an open water swim clinic this weekend at Saguaro Lake in Mesa, open to any athletes competing in next week’s tri, but limited to 100 registrations.  Then, out of those registrations they picked a winner for a free wetsuit and it was me!

Lucky me..last week I also won a book from The Chick Lit Bee!

So, they gave me the suit and helped me figure it out and then at the clinic I learned a few things about swimming in a wetsuit and swimming in crowded open water.  Mostly, though, I learned that I’m not good at either of them.

Don’t get me wrong, as I cut the last corner of the first practice lap, panicking for shore or at least waist-deep water, I gave myself a pep talk about being a good swimmer and even a good open water swimmer, but not a great crowded open water wetsuit swimmer and that’s okay.

I commiserated with a few other women, each having her own unique panic issue – mine was the neck constriction of the suit affecting my breathing + being kicked – listened to the rest of the instruction, but kept my swimming to parallel to the shore, ate my pancake breakfast and went home.  And had a pity party for a few hours before I took that damn wetsuit to the gym, put it on (with the help of two very nice foreign girls) and swam the distance in the pool.  Hated it, looked ridiculous, but did it!

My Not So Glorious Return to Biking

Remember when I got a bike and was in love?

Well, since then, I’ve stopped riding for fun and worked up in my mind that I don’t like cycling, that it’s hard, that I’m not good and that it’s just something I put up with for the glory of being a triathlete. (But, I’m *fingers crossed* doing another kind of triathlon this summer that doesn’t include biking, it includes awesome!)

Red Rock released the course map for my upcoming triathlon, and while it has the same start location as my last one (we lack for water a bit here in the desert, in case you hadn’t heard), the run and bike portions are different, which I’m excited about because I didn’t want to just do two loops of the same course, but the bike course looks intimidating!

I started considering dropping to the sprint distance. I wondered who I could convince to do the bike part for me relay-style. Then someone’s who pretty good with the harsh truths said something to the effect of, “why don’t you just start riding your bike more? You’re a good swimmer, so skip some of those workouts and take your bike out and actually ride.”

I’ve been trainering and spinning it up and the bike hasn’t seen natural sunlight in quite some time.

Unfortunately, it had flat tires. Not for lack of trying, I have NO IDEA how to fill my tires. I got all the right equipment, but couldn’t make the adapter and the pump and the tire work together. So, and I have no problem admitting this, I put on my best cute, but helpless girl act and took my tire into a bike shop to learn. To learn…I wasn’t just expecting someone to do it for me!

They showed me the front tire and told me how much to pump it up and told me to check the pressure before each ride, especially as it’s getting warmer…oh, so you mean, the fact that this is the first time I’ve filled them in a year is not a good thing?

Once I did the back tire on my own, I took it out for my first ride on Thursday and I rode very slowly up hills and I have no clue about the gears and at one point my chain fell off. It was not pretty, but I got it done.

I reminded myself that it was training and I was preparing my body for wonderful things (because if I had considered it a workout, it would have just been torture). It took me about 52 minutes to do 10 miles, so at that pace I realize I’m going to be on the bike for way too damn long during the race, but I’m building up my mileage for the next two weeks and I know I’ll at least get it done, regardless if it’s pretty or fast or whatever else.

And now I never have to leave the house again.

You know how people are always like, “OMG, I’d workout ALL the time and be SO skinny if I had a treadmill/elliptical/spin bike/insert medieval torture device here in my living room”?

Well, time to test that theory! Santa brought me a Bell Motivator bike trainer for Christmas because I was so good all year…or more like, my upcoming training plans scared me because I hate am not a huge fan of the bike and need Julia Roberts with me to help me forget I’m on it, so I told my mom about the wonders of the trainer.  Yeah, that was more like what happened.

I avoided the set up – super easy for people who know anything about bikes and relatively easy but intimidating for people who don’t – for the last few weeks, but now I’m ready to go.

No more bottom-glued-to-couch TV watching, bring on the sweat. I’m really excited about it and definitely think it will be  more of a welcomed addition to my house instead of taunting me as I walk by it and eventually turn it into a storage rack as seems to be the fate of many in-home fitness pieces.

Let’s see how long the “no trashy reality TV unless you’re on the trainer” rule lasts!

I took my first spin on it the other night and it was a little louder than I expected and I was kind of concerned I set it up wrong, but I read some reviews and found that’s just how it goes unless I want to get a specific bald trainer tire.  The little boy was very intrigued by it, so he came to investigate, but eventually got bored of his game of hitting my foot everytime it came around and took up post to watch from the office (which has clearly been taken over by puppy toys).

Another great fitness gift I got? Legit hiking shoes, so now I can run all over the beautiful trails in Phoenix and Scottsdale without slipping around!  This is another two-fer because hiking can be being social AND getting exercise!

If you could combine a fitness activity with something else what would you pick? If someone could invent a way for me to swim and read and the same time, I’d be overly thrilled.  I suppose I could do waterproof MP3 player + audiobook, but talk about losing count of my laps!

Training Brain

In the past month, I signed up for – in event order – a half-marathon, an olympic tri (holy hell!), Pat’s Run 2012 and a sprint tri.  Because of that, I have training on the brain.

I’ve revised my plan about five times, but now it’s time to SOGOTP because as much as I want to pretend I could do just an eight weeks to half plan, I know I need a slower build because running has all but fallen off my radar since my tri, so I’m doing 12 weeks, which means starting this week!

I started at the end and worked my way back to the beginning, so while the 12-miler I planned sounds scary, I keep reminding myself that the first few weeks are short runs and I can give myself those 30-60 minutes each day – still sticking to my three days a week plan to fit in yoga and swimming and, you know, sleep – and by the time I get to the 12, I’ll be ready!

Training for the olympic tri is going to overlap with the last month of half-training and Pat’s Run is for fun a week after that.  It’s going to be a busy winter and early spring!

My Tri Takeaways

In the last two weeks since my triathlon, I’ve had time to reflect on my experience and what I learned from it.  Here are a few “when you know better, you do better” tips I picked up:

What went not so great:  I cut it pretty close to transition being closed.
What I’ll do next time:  Give myself way more time than I think I need and pay attention to road closures!

What went not so great:  My arms were tired before the swim even started.
What I’ll do next time:  If it’s a mid-lake start, train a little for treading.

What went not so great:  My tank top and socks were inside out when I got to transition!
What I’ll do next time:  Take time BEFORE the race to make sure everything is right-side out.

What went not so great:  I took too much time fixing my hair at each transition (yes, I know, I’m a total girl).
What I’ll do next time:  Braids.

What went not so great:  Once on my bike, I noticed my wheel lock had popped open.
What I’ll do next time:  If it was left overnight, check the bike when I get there in the morning (with all the extra time I give myself!) and again before leaving T1.

What went not so great:  I was thirsty!
What I’ll do next time:  Have water at transition and get a bottle holder on my bike.

What went not so great:  I have no clue how to work my bike gears.
What I’ll do next time:  Figure them out and spend more time training on my bike than on a spin bike.

What went not so great:  I took walk breaks (and I’m pretty disappointed in that since it was just a 5K).
What I’ll do next time:  Pace myself better and most importantly (for ALL legs), prepare myself mentally for race day just as much as physically.

A lot of the other stuff I learned during the race just needed to be experienced so I can know what to expect next time

I think that’s about the last of what I have to say about my first triathlon experience, but I am so excited for my next opportunity to improve my time and/or tackle a longer distance!

My Race Calendar

I indulge in a few race superstitions.  I don’t wear the race shirt during the race because the shirt is to show that you’ve completed the race and wearing it before you actually have completed the race is like asking to trip and break your ankle on the course.  At the UMOM walk, I was nervous putting on the shirt, even though it literally was a walk.

I only sign up for one race at a time because if I have more than that coming up, I will no doubt injure myself in the first one and be unable to run the next.  This actually is more based on my experience.  In the past, race day has taken me out of training for at least a few weeks, although, since I’ve started yoga, it’s less of an issue.

Even so, that doesn’t stop me from getting excited about building my race calendar.  I don’t want to burn out on training or the races, but as of right now, I’m planning on:

Volunteering at the Women’s Half on November 5th
PRing at the Phoenix 10K on November 6th
Volunteering at Ironman on November 20th (and then watching the – from what I hear – amazing 11pm to midnight finishers)
Cheering on my GOTR team at the Fiesta Bowl 5K on December 5th
Dominating the IronGirl 5K Scottsdale on December 11th
PRing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half on January 15th
Volunteering and/or participating at one or both of Red Rock’s spring tris on April 15th and May 5th

I know that my motivation may change and I’m staying open to any opportunities that are not yet on my radar – races in different states? countries? sure! – and that’s there’ a sizeable gap in the spring, but I certainly like the looks of it right now.

My First Triathlon: What I Wore

One of my preoccupations leading up to the race was what the heck I was going to wear!  I read blogs of other triathletes, asked people I know who had done them and asked at a local tri store, but it kind of all came down to “whatever you want to wear.”

So…here’s what I wanted to wear and it worked for me.  I’m not a fan of reposting the same pictures over and over, so check out my outfits on my tri recap post.

My two-piece TYR suit was perfect for a warmish lake swim, provided a nice base and let’s be honest, it was cute!  I felt much better in that than I would have in a one-piece or tri suit and feeling good is the first step to being great! 

There is usually one big issue that women dressing for tris face.  Well, two.  That’s where I’m lucky.  I don’t bounce or flop or have any fear of poppage.  There were plenty of women doubling up with bras under their suits, but my little top stayed in place and kept the girls in place throughout all three phases.

I also wore the race-provided swim cap – pink for my wave, but a pink that totally didn’t match my suit! – and my Speedo Vanquisher “competition” mirrored goggles (competition-schmompetition, I wore them all during training too).  I couldn’t see a darn thing in the lake, but they were mostly comfortable and stayed put.

At transition one, I threw on medium-length bike shorts and a yellow tank.  The medium-length (okay medium being like, 1.5 inches maybe) was so that my thighs wouldn’t rub on my seat and the yellow top was so my mom would be able to easily spot me!  Neither were moisture-wicking fabrics so they definitely picked up the wetness from my suit and I was a little concerned about chafing, but not enough to apply body glide at transition because as a spectator sign I saw said, “Chafe now, brag later!”

I DID wear moisture-wicking, cushioned arch-compression socks.  I also wore my regular old running shoes for both the bike and the run.

Of course, on the bike I wore my helmet and on the run I wore the swag bag Headsweats visor.

So, there you have it.  As I said, it worked for me.  One wonderful thing about tris is that all the sports are pretty basic and yes, you could go all out with a tri suit and a wetsuit and a fancy bike and clip-in shoes and Vibrams, but you could also go very basic with regular training clothes and a second-hand hybrid bike and get just as much of a rush!

My First Triathlon!

At certain points in my three months of training for the Nathan Tempe Triathlon, I was convinced race day would never actually come!  But on Saturday, I found myself dropping my bike off at the Tempe Town Lake and on Sunday morning, my excitement for the race woke me up 4!  I stayed in bed for a bit, but then got moving so that I wouldn’t feel rushed.  Famous last words.

I left for my parents’ house to pick up my cheerleader (my mom) and ate my PB and banana tortilla before heading out with a good amount of time…until navigating the road closures left us cutting it kind of close!  When I arrived at the lake, they were announcing the transition area was closing in 10 minutes!

This is where I’m so glad I volunteered at a tri put on by Red Rock last spring because I knew exactly what I needed to do.  Almost.  I ran into the transition area and stopped by body marking and dropped my gear, pulling my bike stuff out for easy access.  I grabbed my cap and goggles and ran out of transition.

Then I started looking around and seeing something on everyone else’s ankles that I seemed to be missing – a timing chip!  Numbers and the swim cap were provided in the swag bags the day before, but they don’t distribute those until the morning of the race.  Since I kind of wanted a time for the day, I decided to go get mine!

Totally freaked out!

Back into transition for my bib (because the numbers on my arms just wouldn’t do), picked up my chip, back into transition to drop off my bib and out of transition!  It wasn’t really THAT close because they closed the area early and I still had about 10 minutes to wait for the start and almost 20 to wait for my start as part of the third wave. It was enough time to chat with the women around me and find out that a handful of them were first-timers as well.

The swim start was a ways out in the lake, so we had to swim there, then tread until it was our wave’s time.  My arms were getting tired, I was convinced I was going to lose that anklet chip and my breathing was getting a little short because my nerves were overwhelming me.

Finally, with the buzzer, my group was off and there was no turning back!  There were arms and legs everywhere!  With it being my first lake swim, not being able to see anything + the idea that there’s no bottom or walls freaked me out.  I’d read that after the first 200 meters, it gets better, so I kept moving with a bit of an ugly combo stroke, tried to calm my breathing and waited for that whole better thing. 

I eventually found some room and reminded myself it was a race and yes, I wanted to finish, but I wanted to finish well, so I started the freestyle I had trained for, breathing every three stroke until I ran into someone, repositioning and starting again.  It’s actually a very calming rhythm and I settled down pretty quickly.  Soon enough I was at the turn-around and then before I knew it, I was being helped out of the water and running into transition.

750-meter swim time: 17:41 (6/22 for my age group and 33/182 overall female!)

Let’s just say now that transition #1 is NOT the time to realize your shirt and socks are inside out or to care.

T1 time: 4:08 Eek!

Biking is not my strong suit and I know it.  Let’s be honest, I’m not even entirely sure how the gears work.  Eventually, I got the hang of it and caught a little groove. I had stashed a pack of pre-opened Shot Blocks in my suit strap and had two about 3/4 of the way through the ride.  I was concerned about riding in a group, but everyone was pretty well spaced out and followed the “pass loudly on the left” rule very well, myself included once I got the nerve to start passing.

12.3-mile bike time: 48:42

Transition #2 was much better!  I just swapped my helmet and Shot Blocks for my visor and Garmin and stopped for some water before exiting.  My legs didn’t really know how to react from the transition from bike to run, but by the time I officially started (my bike rack was on the complete opposite side from the run out), they were okay.

T2 time: 1:54

My goal for the run was a 10-minute pace, but I started off at 8:30!  Unfortunately I couldn’t maintain that (although I’m not entirely sure why and think it was largely mental) and ended up with some walk intervals.  Finally, I reminded myself that I wasn’t bleeding, puking or dying, so I was going to run.  The end of the route was a bridge over the lake park and then a turn back into the park to the finish line.  When I got to a certain part of the bridge and could hear the announcer welcoming athletes in, I turned on the turbo power! Finish hard, finish strong! 

I swear I'm just doing the Rocky, not throwing up white girl gang signs.

5K run time:  29:30 (still got my goal pace!)

Total time: 1:41:58 (14/22 for my age group and 101/182 overall female)

Before this was taken I said, "do I look as bad as I feel?!"

For my first triathlon ever, I am so happy with that!  I was a little shaky and sweaty, but was quickly handed water and Powerade and practically tackled by a guy trying to take off my timing chip (gotta love those volunteers)!  I grabbed some food before exiting the athlete finish area to recoup with my cheerleader.  I picked up some Muscle Milk – Cafe Latte, yum – chowed on some fruit, a breadstick and animal crackers and was good as new. 

My first goal was to finish. My second goal was to finish in under two hours.  My third goal was to finish in under 1:40.  Check. Check. So damn close.

I’m so happy I tackled this monster because I realized it wasn’t really a monster at all, it was just a really great experience! I learned a lot about the tri experience, about my strengths and opportunities for improvement and have a mental list of training adjustments and race day tips for next time!  Oh yes, there will be a next time!

I’m a triathlete…and that’s pretty badass if I do say so myself!

The Tri Bug

As I await pictures from my personal race photographer (ahem, MOM…she was a great cheerleader too!) for my official Nathan Tempe Triathlon race recap, I wanted to post a quick update…I did it and I loved it!

Two days later, my adductors are a little sore and, as seems to happen during all of my races, I tweaked a joint – my ankle this time – so there’s a little tenderness there. 

I also feel a little dehydrated.  After hydrating a ton in the days leading up to the race for fear of it being really warm, I haven’t been taking in enough water since.  Race day was warm, but not noticeably during any part of the race and it even started raining a bit while I was running.

My other big fear was ice-cold lake water.  I’m not really sure why seeing as how I live in Arizona and it’s been at least 105 degrees for the past, oh, four months and Tempe Town Lake isn’t all that big.  The temps were not even wetsuit legal (78 degrees) – not that I had planned on wearing one anyway – and it was actually warmer than the pool I train in!

I also didn’t get kicked in the face or cause a huge bike pile-up (my other concerns), but those details are coming soon!

I rested yesterday and plan to get back to yoga this afternoon and back on the road and in the pool in the next few days. I not only caught the tri bug, I re-caught the race bug and have an exciting race calendar in the works for the upcoming season!