First race back after the pandemic. I'm an experienced triathlete, what can go wrong?
Lousville Triathlon June 6, 2021
This is a flat fast course and it's very well run. Very compact and easy parking and access for races and volunteers and spectators. I'd recommend it to anyone as a great training race. They had Sprint, OLY, individual, and relay plus two duathlon distance options. Awards included Athena, Clydesdale, Masters, Beginner, and Age group awards plus Overall winners in each distance.
I dithered for several weeks about whether to sign up, what distance to do, etc. I finally pulled the trigger in early June and paid the premium price for a late signup. My concern was whether I should do this race so near to my half iron race and if it would work into my training plan, and what distance to do.
I finally decided I needed to do the OLY so it would be a demanding race and give me some indication of my readiness for the half Des Moines 70.3 on June 20. I think it was a good decision but it didn't go as well as I planned but there is reason to celebrate anyway.
We were requested, but not required, to rack our bikes on Saturday for the race on Sunday. They promised to have security all night. I chose to rack on Saturday. I admit I was still ambiguous about the race event on Saturday but feeling confident in my training. I had some trouble getting to sleep that night, not because of the race, but because I couldn't find my wallet that afternoon. Fortunately, I had my USAT card and they accepted that for check-in.
Got home and started setting up the tri bag, got my tri tattoos on and the bib on the race belt collected my favorite goggles and a red silicone swim cap to use instead of the latex one they gave me. (I'm allergic to latex). I used my AFC Team to End AIDS cap.
I spent a couple hours hunting for my wallet instead of packing my tri bag that evening and still didn't find it. I was worried I had dropped it somewhere and was struggling to recall the last time I saw it, imagining all the horrible things that could happen to my identity and finances if I had lost it...etc etc etc. Finally, I decided to focus on the race and trust my intuition that I hadn't lost it. In visualizing my race, I thought about putting my nutrition into my little cooler bag in the morning and suddenly realized that was where my wallet was. I had put it into the side pocket of the cooler when I went for a bird hike with dad on Friday morning. So at 11:15 PM I walked to the pantry, pulled out the cooler, and found my wallet. Then I went to bed and slept until 5:10 AM.
I had packed my bag and set up all nutrition so my morning was just to make coffee, grab a small breakfast bar and head out. I can never eat much that early or before a race. I've been training a lot without eating in the mornings to try to drop a bit of weight so I'm used to not eating until after my workouts. I did put on my HR strap but it was loose so I tightened it a bit that morning. This would prove to be a problem later.
I got myself into the car with all my gear by 5:30 AM and drove to the race site. I parked at the marina and walked the .2 miles rather than look for a closer parking slot. I might've been able to park closer but that walk wasn't a big deal. I wore my flip-flops that morning because the temp was at 70F already. No need for a jacket. Water temps were cool enough for wetsuit legal.
Got my transition set up in about 10 minutes (experience helps). I had stuffed my hat, water bottle, race belt, and sunglasses into my running shoes, with laces loosened. I had stuffed my riding gloves, socks, and spray sunscreen into my lace loosened bike shoes as well. So all I had to do was put my glasses in the case into the helmet on the handlebars.
Got my nutrition onto the bike (One bottle of Base Rocket Fuel and one bottle of water with ice) and an extra water bottle plus my bottle of iced tea on the transition towel.
Stuffed the cooler with my phone and car key into the tri bag behind my shoes. (Glad I did because it rained so this kept them dry) Didn't have plastic bags for my shoes so the rain meant I had wet shoes for the ride and run, but socks and bandaids helped prevent blisters.
Normally I don't wear socks but I had worn some new shoes that week and had a huge blister on my right heel. I was a bit worried about this but had put a bandaid on it and the one toe that always seems to get a blister the night before and I had extra bandaids in my running shoes.
I grabbed my helmet sack, wet suit, goggles, coffee, and swim cap and walked to the Louisville Landshark tent. The Landsharks offered to take flip-flops, and other stuff at swim entry so I planned to use the helmet bag to put my stuff in to make it easy to identify and grab later. This worked well. No extra bags needed!
At the tent, we hung out, took morning photos, and ate nutrition. I still had my coffee with me so I drank my coffee. I set up my Garmin for the multisport function. I haven't used this in a long time so was worried I'd mess it up. I did later but not the way I normally do.
We walked the .2 mi to the swim-in and waited for the start. As we stood around, it began to rain. Not storm, just rain. So we began the race with light rain. I had been seeded near the front of the race but it was a time trial start so the swim began as a fairly non-challenging process. We had to slide off the dock into the shallow water and walk in the muck to begin the swim. I hit the start on the Garmin and started my swim. I wasn't expecting the swim to be challenging at all. I'd swum in the river several times the last few weeks so was used to swimming in the river and the current was a nice boost. However, I immediately was experiencing what felt like constriction on my chest. I later realized this was due to the HR strap I had tightened. I had to swim breaststroke many times to get through that swim. I loosened my wet suit, loosened the tri top, but it would have been tough to fix the HR strap so had to just tough it out. It was tough. It took me 35 mins to swim .9 miles. This is NOT what I expected and I was annoyed at myself in a huge way. I wasn't panicked, just breathless often on the swim. DAMN! The current did help a lot so I got a nice kick to reduce the effect of this problem, fortunately.
But I hustled out of the water once I got to the ramp, hit the lap button on the Garmin to advance to transition and got help to get my wetsuit off from a couple of volunteers, and jogged to my bike. I was still out of the water faster than many as the majority of bikes were still there. I think a lot of folks did the sprint which started later.
I took my time in transition because I was still breathing heavy and frustrated. I moved my Garmin from my wrist to the bike holder and in doing so hit the lap button twice advancing to the run phase. DAMN! I had to change to the bike so I had a speed measure as I rode and lost my timing for transitions this way. I was able to estimate my time pretty closely though, despite that. I talked to myself and said "shake it off, do your best bike, not trying to catch up, but doing a speed you planned" so I set out easy, caught my breath, and did the four laps, increasing my speed with each loop. It's a flat course except for 6th street hill. On the return down 6th street, I gradually got faster on the downhill, knowing I could make the turn safely with higher speeds. In the last loop, I hit speeds of 20-23 MPH several times. I was happy with how I did on the bike. 1:25 for the ride.
I got into transition and saw that many bikes were already back, but didn't let that upset me. I switched to running shoes, got my cap and race belt. It was cloudy so didn't need sunglasses or more sunscreen. I knew that many were doing the sprint so likely they were the bulk of these. The run is along the river so fairly flat, a few long rises to navigate and one area that is quite tilted which my knees did not like at all. Two loops for the 6 miles. I switched the Garmin back to my wrist and set it up for the run as I exited the transition area. I had set up the run for a 5 min run and 1 min walk. I think I need to use 2.5 min run and 1 min walk instead because I was doing that essentially. This resulted in about 14 min miles for the 6.2 miles. I was actually happy with this. My HR was staying pretty low, under 150 for much of the run which I wanted so I mimicked the half iron run plan. I let it rise to 160+ the last couple of miles to get a negative split. I got a 13 min mile on a couple of those. Run time was 1:27. Almost the same as bike! The blister on my right foot did not trouble me at all fortunately.
My plan for the race was to mimic my plan for the half for the race. I wasn't worried about placing or racing anyone in this race. I just wanted to check my current condition and shake off the dust of not racing for over a year. I think I accomplished my goal. The final official race time was 3:37. I think my best Chicago OLY has been 3:40 so I am in as good a condition as I have been when I was doing 2-3 70.3 races per summer so I'm happy. I'm glad I decided to do the race. It helped to work out any kinks.
The result was that I got third place in my age group so that was a very nice outcome. I wasn't too tired the rest of the day and swam the next morning but I think I didn't get enough post-race hydration and Tuesday had a migraine that took all day to let go. I took it as a rest day and will switch to run tomorrow so I feel like I'm still on track for the race. Maybe better than in the past.
I have two weeks before my A race. Hoping this will help me focus and get ready. First and second place ladies had times of 2:40. On my best day, I'd never get close to this. Their swims were about what I predicted I'd do with any issues which I am confident I can do and their bikes were only slightly faster than mine. However, their runs were much faster, like 9 min miles which I've never been able to get close to. Still, I'm happy about my results.
I'd love to drop some weight to look better in photos and reduce the weight I have to drag around, but this has proved tough to do despite my efforts. Age is a factor for sure.