Happy Hump Day friends! I’m pretty pumped because tonight Chloe and I are headed to Surfside with several of our triathlete blogging buddies. Stay tuned for some pics!
As you all probably know, last week and into the weekend it was HOT. The weather report for Sunday (race day) was in the 90s, with a predicted heat index in the 100s. Knowing that it was going to be extremely hot while I was racing, I made a conscious decision to play it safe on the course, and not over exert myself. I wanted to cross the finish line, not be checked into the ER.
On Sunday morning my roommate Steph and I woke up at 4:30am so we could eat breakfast and head down to the course to be there when transition opened at 5:30am. As we were getting ready, Steph told me that the race director had sent out an email to all the athletes at 10pm (after we were already asleep) reporting that the river was 91°, and they were making swim caps optional. I’ve NEVER been in a race where the water was so warm that swim caps were optional. With my head of hair, a swim cap really isn’t optional…after seeing this email before the race, I was legitimately uncomfortable and a little scared. Overheating was a real possibility here. I definitely needed to listen CAREFULLY to my body.
We arrived at transition at about 5:15 so we had to wait around for a few minutes until it opened up. I like getting to transition right as it opens, so I can snag a good spot on the rack, and get all my gear set up. I noted that there were already a handful of volunteers checked in wearing bright orange shirts. I was definitely hoping that they would be stationed on the bike course!
I racked my bike, and made sure all my gear was set up the way I wanted it. I was pretty excited about my location in transition; I was in the very last row of transition area, close to bike out.
Then, I walked down to the swim exit to see what 91° felt like. Now, to get to the swim exit, I left transition, walked a little ways on the blacktop, and then walked down 35 stairs, then followed some skinny carpet laid over gravel and rocks to another set of steps (maybe 15) that led to the dock where I’d exit the water. I didn’t realize that this triathlon had a fourth discipline, stair climbing.
When I finally reached the water, I dipped my foot in. WOW. That’s warmer than my bath tub. It was disgusting.
A little after 7, it was time for the 4th wave, women 35 and under, to start. The gun went off, and so did we.
For the first time ever in a tri, I didn’t push myself too hard on the swim. It’s my strength and usually I try to go out hard and stay strong, but considering these conditions, I decided not to over exert myself. I got out in front of the mass, and could see 3-4 pink caps out in front of me, within catching distance. By the turn around, I had caught one, and I stayed right on her feet, drafting, the entire way to the dock. We hopped onto the dock at the same time, and I’m pretty sure she glared at me. I’m sure she didn’t like pulling me for 500 meters. Oh well, saved me some energy. :-)
Rank: 4/39 (in Age Group)
As I hopped out of the water, I didn’t want to slip on the dock, or down the stairs, so I walked up them. I jogged to the next set of steps and walked those too, again, trying to be safe. I threw on my shoes, sunglasses, and helmet, and I was off!
Rank : 11/39
This was definitely my favorite part of the race. There were a few small climbs, and a lot of flats and down hills. I felt pretty fast on the bike, but its definitely my weakest leg. I was constantly getting passed by other athletes, which is so frustrating, especially when you know they’ve started after you! (There were some stinkin’ fast women who were 35+)
The last few miles of the bike seemed to drag on, and so I began to mentally prepare myself for the run. I knew that the run had little shade, stairs (YES, AGAIN!), and the temperature was rising. I made a conscious decision to walk the stairs when I came to them. Better to be safe than sorry.
I definitely thanked all the volunteers I saw on the bike course, especially the ones at all the turns! I made it safely back to transition area, without tacking on any extra miles!
This transition was pretty uneventful. I switched my gear, grabbed a swig of Gatorade and was off.
This was definitely not my favorite run course. It would have been great for a training run, or just a run by itself. But, as I mentioned, there were stairs. Multiple times. Was this some kind of Mud Run? Would I need to do some pushups, or run under a barbed wire fence too?
OK, so it wasn’t really THAT bad. Actually, this was the first Olympic tri I’ve done where I actually still felt strong during the run portion. (Maybe because I’ve never paced myself properly before?) I did walk all of the stairs, and the steep incline right before the turnaround, but other than that, I actually felt pretty good on the run. I grabbed water and Gatorade at every aid station, and dipped my hat in icy water each time it was available. I was NOT going to let this heat get to me!
Pace: 9:02 minutes/mile
So I didn’t meet my goal for the run time-wise, but I didn’t die! It was a technical run, probably the most challenging one I’ve had in a tri. I’m definitely going to mix in some hill and speed workouts as I continue to train.
Overall time: 2:41:24
Rank: 12/39 (age group)
179 overall (I think?)
All things considered, I’m happy with my race. It wasn’t my best time, but I knew going into the day that it wouldn’t be, when I made a decision to race safe. Some people may think that I played it too safe, because it definitely wasn’t as hot as it could have been. But, I’m glad that I raced the way I did, and can enjoy the rest of my season. I’m optimistic about my remaining races (one more sprint and one more Olympic, as of now), and know the areas where I want to improve.
I had a great weekend racing and hanging out with the DC Tri peeps. What more could I ask for?
Question of the day: Have you ever had to stop a workout or hold back because of heat? How did you feel after? Were you glad you did it, or did you wish you had gone a little harder?