Pre-race: Forecast: sun & clouds, high of 74
Racing has started to feel routine. I picked up my packet early and everything was in the car early the night before. I ate a carboholic’s supper and was sound asleep by 9:30. After a great night’s sleep, I woke 5 minutes before my alarm and was wheels up at 5:20, right on time. My Dunkin’s raisin bagel and large tea hit the spot. I had no issues getting to the venue or parking. I inflated my wheels, filled my water bottles, threw my pack on my back and rolled to transition. It was 57 degrees, just right.
The venue & transition set-up was like a peaceful homecoming.
I got to rack my bike near my swim peeps. That was pretty awesome. There was that waking/organizing/social buzz – mixed with dew and birdsong – which just feels like race morning. The racks were crowded, but people moved equipment around to make sure everyone had room. I stayed on plan with my food and water. I was in my wetsuit and headed to the water to warm up, with a new tri-friend, Dianne from Connecticut.
On the beach:
I got in a good, unhurried warm-up swim. The water was 76°. I was concerned that I’d be too warm in my full wetsuit, but moved on, knowing I’d been fine in the past. Post warm-up, I clamored up the wet granite steps, making a note to proceed safely and slowly post swim. I found my fellow white caps. New this year was the time-trial start. 2 swimmers entered the water every 5 seconds.
In the water: Red caps, shallow water, a bop on the nose, and thanks.
It was a clear day, so sighting off the buoys was fairly easy. Without the space between waves, I was quickly swimming in red caps. There was a lot of splashing and maneuvering for most of the swim. I felt rested and strong. Early into the swim I pictured myself swimming the return of our morning open water swims and tried to keep the same level of exertion throughout. It wasn’t enough to think about and I couldn’t come up with a badass mantra – I came up with “thank you”. I swam thinking “thank you” for almost every stroke. That’s it. My thankful thoughts got distracted by the incredibly shallow spots (hands on rocks, belly almost dragging). I did get clocked square in the nose – which rung my bell, for sure, but none of it was worth thinking about for long.
T1: Not dizzy
Happily, I got out of the water without any dizziness. ‘Thank you’ to the volunteers who reminded us to un-wetsuit after we safely climbed up the wet, granite stairs. I definitely felt like I was more on autopilot through transition than previous years. I took 53 seconds off my T1 from last year.
In the saddle: Crafting a plan B from the saddle.
The ride starts with several turns through a neighborhood before reaching nice long stretches of great roads. I really love this bike course. I got my pace up where I wanted it as we turned out of the neighborhood. On the first rolling incline, my left hip flexor got angry. Absolutely no prior hints or warnings, just tight and painful. I tried stretching, massage, adjusting my position, but it was just angry. Instantly, my mood sunk and I pictured my goal pace evaporating. Ugh! And then my training mantra – “Give my best for this day, whatever it is.” I was able to regroup quickly and make a new plan which included a lot of spinning up hills and 15 seconds of total rest on each downhill. I felt pretty confident in the plan – both for my body and my goals.
The ride was beautiful, volunteers were terrific. (note: I do have a new quest – to understand why most (not all) men don’t call “left” in a race – a mystery.) I was in a small pack of riders that encountered interference when a church let out onto the route. This led to just over a half mile of nervous cars riding in the breakdown lane at speeds far slower than the cyclists. Not great for my bike leg goal, but the drivers were so clearly nervous that it was impossible to be angry. As I came along side the cars, I explained that they’re just fine staying near the middle line – and we can pass by without any issue – one driver gave me a thumbs up – one never let go of their white-knuckle hold of the wheel.
Once that was over I returned to a good strong pace. The graded pavement section wasn’t fun and ended in the base of an uphill, not ideal. But my climb felt decent.
What I’m really psyched about this leg was “staying in my own race”. Somewhere in the last 1/3 of the ride, my rock-star tri idol came by – complimenting my bike, (which is the same as hers, by the way). She told me I looked strong. I told she looked awesome and told her I’d see her after the race. I was thrilled it took so long for her to catch me this year. Mentally, I fell into my place behind her. Quickly, I realized I was no longer racing my race. I had slowed to stay in my place behind her, but this wasn’t my pace. If I returned to my own race, I’d have to call “on your left” and pass by her. I felt chaos in the universe. I imagined she’d just pass me again, but I never heard her again on the bike. This was awesome – I wasn’t competing with her, at all – just racing my race. This felt like major growth – awesome!
I finished the 26.4 mile course with a 19.8 mph average – this was delightful!
T2: Right turn, Clyde!
Another bike racked on my spot – and a friend’s to boot! but still pretty fast heading transition. I heard a volunteer yelling “right”. Sometimes my left/right dyslexia is pretty annoying – I was running right with all my heart, it was just to the left. Jason’s version: “I heard them yelling ‘right, right!’ to you and watched you running ‘left, left!’ and thought ‘Oh, there she goes, she thinks she’s running right. That’s my wife.”
The Run: On pace, when practical.
I saw Lori just in front of me. (Clearly she had no issues with right turns.) The run’s nice. There weren’t crazy uphills, thankfully. On the flat spots and the gentle downhills I felt strong. The little uphills taunted my hip flexor. I had moments where I got angry at it, and my spirits sank when I started mentally accepting defeat. I really didn’t want to race this way. I wanted a good Cranberry. I didn’t want to feel disappointed later that I gave up too early. New plan B – run my goal pace whenever I could (on the flats and downhills) and don’t even look at the Garmin on any inclines – just do as much as I can given my strong desire to avoid injury and race Title 9 in 2 weeks. I popped an extra shotblok, for some sugar to keep my brain happy. And got on with plan B. Smiling and thanking every volunteer. Strong. Racing in a way that I enjoy and would protect me from regret. Setting myself up for a victory, regardless of time, pace, or placement. I decided not to let an injury overshadow the experience or become the central theme of the race. It was just one of the many details that defined what “this day” meant, today.
The longish run on the grass to the finish didn’t feel great on my hip, and I gave whatever it was I had – right on that edge of fast and healthy.
I was so happy to see Jason and the kids with Jes and baby, Sam on the other side of the finish arch. Yeeha!
I didn’t look at the finish time on my Garmin. I celebrated how I raced – not my results. Results are important to me. But I just wanted to celebrate – and not over-think and analyze, yet. For this reason, I think I had my best race experience ever.
Jes eventually went and looked at the results and shared the good news –like she had done 2 years early at the end of my only half iron man – I had broken 2:40 – by close to 14 seconds. Icing on the cake! Sweet!
Swim: 26:22/164ov T1: 2:20 Bike: 1:20:34/193ov T2:1:39 Run: 48:52 /139ov Total: 2:39:46- PR!!! AG: 9/56 G: 34/296
By the letters:
ABC’s for Cranberry TriFest Olympic
A is for Audacious
My first sub 2:40 Olympic!!! Woohoo!!! Very happy with 19.8 & 7:53 pace.
B is for Brave & Balanced
I’m a changed, more confident woman on the tri bike. My core is strong- I enjoy each rotation on the swim and feel re-energized when I’m aware of (or return to) my good form on the run.
C is for Connected
I feel like I’m part of the event – with the other athletes, my rockstar tri idol, my club, my new friends, the volunteers, as a spectator at the sprint the day before. I’m part of the Cranberry Trifest.
It was such a great race – it was a week before I even looked at the stats and started analyzing. It was what I wanted. I am so psyched to be part of this!