Race Report: Courage To Tri

26 08 2013

My alarm buzzed at 4:30 am. I rolled over to turn it off, groaning. Is it really time to get up? I had not gotten a good night’s sleep- I woke up just about every hour from 9:30pm to 12:30am. I just couldn’t get my brain to shut down. That and my obnoxious kitties running all over my apartment made it difficult to fall asleep.


IMG_8276(But they’re cute, so I forgave them).

I had prepped most of my gear the night before, I just needed to fill up my water bottles. Since the race was only a sprint, I figured I’d only need some electrolyte enhanced Skratch on the bike, and then I’d bring an extra water bottle just in case.  I filled one more water bottle for the drive, grabbed my overnight oats and hit the road.

I arrived at Sand Key Park around 5:30am, right when transition was opening. Parking was a breeze, but the meters we had been reminded to pay numerous times didn’t accept payments until 7:00am. Doh. I was an honest chickadee and paid my meter when I finished the race, but I’m sure I could have snuck out of the park without paying the $5 fee.

I had picked up my packet on Thursday, so I just needed to grab my timing chip and get body marked. Once in transition, I found my rack and started getting set up. My biggest complaint was that the parking lot where we were set up was gravelly. It HURT my bare feet, and definitely made it difficult to run. I probably sounded like a monkey as I hobbled in from the swim- ei ah ah oh!

I wasn’t early enough to grab the end spot on the rack, so I set up in the second space. I happened to be on the same rack as Maria, a fellow Tampa triathlete, and Beth was on the next rack over.

After I set up, I went for a short jog. One of my thoughts from the night before was to bring a mini flashlight or my head lamp because it would be dark. Did I remember that in the morning? No. So, I ran in the dark, careful not to trip on anything, or step in one of the puddles from the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve been getting.

I made it back just before transition closed, dropped my shoes, and then headed to the start.

I really wanted to get in a good swim warm up because I know I’m not really warm until I’ve done at least 400  yards or so, but it was still quite dark out, which freaked me out. So, I held off for as long as I could before saying screw in and diving in. I’d say I swam about 200 meters or so before getting out for the national anthem.


I’m pretty sure this picture was taken after the first wave went off (at 6:50am!)- the sun is still rising!

As the wave in front of mine started, we spotted some dolphins out in the water. They were swimming right along side the mass of white caps! They were probably within several feet of some of the swimmers. We joked that someone might get really lucky and catch the draft of a lifetime. How cool/freaky would it have been to be swimming that close to dolphins?

The dolphins started heading back towards the first buoy right before the horn sounded for my wave. I’m not sure if they swam with my wave too, but I was kinda sad I didn’t turn my head for a breath and see a fin. Anyhow, I was one of the first few swimmers to the first buoy- I spotted two guys (relay swimmers) and then I couldn’t tell if anyone else was nearby. I hopped onto the draft of one of the guys, but not for very long. He quickly faded, and I passed him, eyeing the next guy, who was at least three body lengths ahead of me. I didn’t spot any other yellow caps nearby, so I just kept gunning for the male swimmer ahead of me. I felt really strong, and by the last turn buoy, I had nearly caught him. On the way in, the water got shallow, then deep again and then shallow again. I should have started dolphin diving the first time it got shallow, but my hand didn’t touch bottom so I kept swimming. When I finally did start to dolphin, I was right next to the male swimmer. A few feet from the beach I stood up for the last time and ran right passed him. He got chicked. 🙂

1/3 mile swim: 5:53

T1 was LOOONG. We had to run the length of the beach to the parking lot, and then follow the path of the parking lot to the Swim In part of transition. My feet HURT by the time I got to my bike. So. Much. Gravel.  My shoes were already on the bike and everything I need for the ride is in my helmet (nutrition, sunglasses, watch) which ideally makes my transition pretty speedy. Unfortunately my transition time was a little slower than I would have liked because I struggled to get my watch on. Oh well.

T1: 3:31 (still fast enough to be 2nd in my age group though!)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the bike- I knew I had run the course before, but running and biking a course are two different things. I turned out of the park and immediately was between a bus on my right and a car on my left. Uh what? I don’t really know why there was so much traffic right there, but it seemed like the cops were dealing with it, so I kept moving. I really hoped the rest of the course would be less traffic-y! I’m glad I didn’t get too disoriented because I needed to keep my pace up for bridge number 1, which was right in front of me. I was feeling pretty strong and kept my goal in mind:  hold off Maria as long as I could. I knew she was a super speedy cyclist, so it was going to be tough.

I got to the bottom of the bridge and took a sip of my Skratch. As soon as it hit my tongue I had to spit it out. I can not tell you how gross it was. When I prepared the Skratch, I decided to mix pineapple and raspberry. I also decided to try out this electrolyte powder I had purchased to help with my headaches.


When preparing it, I read the instructions, which said to use 1-3 scoops per hour in a water bottle. Ok, but what size scoop? I shook the container and didn’t hear anything that sounded like a scoop, so I decided to just guess. I used a normal cereal spoon and put almost a full spoonful in my water bottle. When I looked at the nutritional information, I noticed that there were 150 servings in the container. Hm. I think I might have used too much. I didn’t bother to taste the Skratch until that moment on the bike. BAD IDEA. Lesson learned. I hoped I could choke down a few more sips along the ride, but worried I would run out of gas because I didn’t have proper hydration.

Anyhow, we wound around the touristy part of Clearwater beach and then headed out the long stretch to the big Causeway bridge. I got a little uneasy when I saw the flashing lights of a police car and three cyclists on the ground off to the side of the road. As I passed, it appeared that the man was unconscious and the other two were his concerned teammates. I said a little prayer for them and kept moving.

Bridge number 2 was a tough climb up, but very fun on the way down. I wanted to yell “WHEEE!” 🙂 We wound through Bellair Bluffs, and I kept passing people from the earlier waves. Before I knew it, we were on the last bridge of the day. There was a slight downhill right before the bridge, so I was able to get my speed up before switching to a lower gear. It was kind of fun to see one of those “Your Speed: XX” signs on the side of the road and to see what it was picking up. 30mph was the speed limit, and it flashed  30 as someone’s speed as a group flew by 🙂

Just as I began my descent, I was passed by Maria. Aw man, I was hoping I could have held her off for the entire bike ride! I tried to keep her in my line of sight for as long as I could, but I eventually lost her somewhere on those last few miles. The last few miles were a straightaway on Gulf Blvd and I could feel myself getting tired. I really wanted some Gatorade or water at this point! Gah!

I had a terrible ending to my bike leg- I usually try to get out of my shoes and ride barefoot on top of my shoes until I get to the dismount line, but I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention because I was only out of my right shoe when I spotted the volunteers telling us to slow down for the dismount. EEK! I somehow quickly got out of my left shoe and immediately hopped off the bike and ran into transition.

13 mile bike: 38:18, 20.4mph

I spotted Maria in transition and realized I wasn’t too far behind her. Maybe an age group place was in my future! I racked my bike and put down my helmet on the handle bars, which then proceeded to fall on the ground. I felt obligated to pick it up so I jogged around to the other side of the rack to grab it. While on the ground, I grabbed my water bottled and gulped down some water. I was so thankful I had left a water bottle in transition (except I would have been happier if it had been on the bike with me!).

Out I went, 1:16 later.

I had been looking forward to the run all day. I knew I had gotten in some good track and tempo runs over the past few weeks, so I was hopeful I’d see the fruits of my labor today. The run course was mostly on the asphalt parking lot, but a portion of it, right at the beginning, was on the hard sand of the beach. The toughest part was right when you first got on the beach and right when you left the beach- that’s where the sand got soft and my legs wondered what I was doing to them. My goal had been to run sub 5:00 kilometers (I’ve been starting to make the transition to training in the metric system), but when I looked at my watch I noticed I was slightly over 5:00. And I wasn’t getting any faster. My legs were heavy and they were not listening to me when I told them to go faster! As I was coming off of the beach, I was passed by a girl in my age group. She was MOVING. There was no way I was catching her. There was still hope for an age group award, as long as no one else in my division passed me.

I just kept reminding myself that this was only a 5K. Put one foot in front of the other. I was really starting to feel the humidity, so I grabbed water at each water stop and threw it on myself. After what seemed like forever, I could see the finish line. I tried to turn it up and sprint to the end, but my legs just didn’t have it in them. I was just happy to be done.

3.1 mile run: 24:38

Final time: 1:13:46, 3rd place Age Group


All in all, I was happy with my race. I had a great swim and bike, and my run really wasn’t all that bad. For an inaugural race, I was quite pleased with the logistics and organization. Outspokin put on a great race- I can’t wait to do it again next year!



3 responses

26 08 2013

Congrats again lady! I’m SO glad you said your feet hurt too. I thought I was the only one. Mine were KILLING in T1. Lol!

26 08 2013

Way to go!! If your legs didn’t have anything left that means you left it on the course!!! I always get a little disappointed when I’m able to really kick it down during the end, it means I didn’t push myself enough in the middle.

18 09 2013
Tri – AC | 321delish

[…] my runs through tempo runs and track practice. I was really hoping to see the fruits of my labor at Courage to Tri, but the heat and course weren’t working in my favor. I decided that today was going to be my […]

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