If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen that I just completed my fourth 70.3, and you’re probably expecting that race report. Well, I actually raced on back to back weekends, doing a Sprint on June 11th and then the Wisconsin Milkman on the 19th. I had my sprint race report nearly complete later that evening, but didn’t get around to posting it because, well, the whole Orlando thing happened and I just couldn’t bring myself to post a mundane race report rather than something a bit more sensitive. And then I ended up posting nothing because I just didn’t have the words. Nothing I could say would bring back the lives of those innocent men and women who were just out having a good time. I didn’t know anyone personally, but I know people who did. Maybe because of Orlando’s proximity or maybe because of the friends-of-friends thing- but this attack just felt more real to me than some of the other recent events of similar nature. I don’t want this to be a downer post, so before I shift to the original topic of this post, I’ll leave you with a little video clip.
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
❤ ❤ ❤
My first triathlon in Florida was a Crystal River Sprint tri. Every year since then, with the exception of 2014, I’ve raced up in Crystal River. It’s always a great race- DRC sports does a fantastic job- and it’s really nice to return to a race year after year where you know the course and know exactly what to expect on race day (barring some unforeseen circumstances).
This race is actually part of a series of three races. This year, I actually took advantage of early bird registration and signed up for the whole series. Unfortunately, I missed the first race because I was on vacation. Whoops. Oh well, if I get in two, I will have definitely gotten my money’s worth!
Racing in Florida in June-July-August, it’s going to be hot and humid. Saturday was no exception. It was well into the 80s when the sun came up, and it was sticky.
I arrived at the race site, picked up my packet and got set up in transition with plenty of time to spare.
I had been on a work trip just about all week and I hadn’t been able to swim since Sunday, so I made sure to get in a decent warm up in the Gulf to try to regain a feel for the water. On my warm up, I noticed that the current was pulling to the south- stronger than I had remembered from other years of racing. I noted this and planned to adjust my starting position.
There were 6 waves, and I was in the third, which was the first women’s wave. Our wave was small- some girls were actually joking that our ages might have been spread around enough so that everyone got an award (this was a legit possibility, since DRC does age group awards 5 deep!). I lined up as far to the right as I could, and then the race director told everyone that it was pulling to the south pretty good, so some girls moved even more to my right. I held the position I wanted and took off when the gun went off.
After 2-3 dolphin dives I started swimming. I immediately noticed that my right goggle was not snug on my face and water was leaking in- quickly. Do I roll over on my back and fix it? I’m out in front…how close is the next female behind me? How much time will it take to fix? This is a sprint Steph, you can’t stop! It’s like swimming a 400- you can do that with one eye open and the other tightly shut.
So, I kept swimming.
At the first buoy, I started catching the men from the previous wave. When I turned the second buoy to head in, the sun was directly in my eye(s) when I would spot, but I was somehow able to make out the “Swim In” sign on the beach. As I got close to the shore, I started to get a little nervous that my contact would fall out, and then what would I do? Would I need to throw in the towel? I closed my eye a little tighter and hoped it stayed put. Soon, my hand grazed the ground and I promptly stood up and took off my goggles. Phew! I can see out of both eyes!
I ran in to transition, grabbed my sunglasses and helmet and I was off!
I mounted my bike and tried to start my Garmin. First, it wanted me to calibrate (to which I said no) and then I just could not get it to start. I had set it up for “Race,” which I had never done before and when I couldn’t get it to work, I just let it be. It was still showing power and speed, and I figured that would be good enough. My heart rate was high, as it usually is, and I figured it would take me a few miles to settle in. The course is a straight out and back, but unfortunately my Garmin wasn’t showing miles, so I couldn’t really tell where I was on course (I did recognize some landmarks though, so that was helpful. And, being that it was my 4th time on this course, I wasn’t too lost). My speed was kind of all over the place, ranging from 19-22ish mph and I was getting frustrated every time it went below 20, knowing that I had averaged over 21 at St. A’s. My stomach also felt a little off for the first half of the bike, and I was starting to get in my head. You should just back off Steph. You’ve had a busy week at work. You’re exhausted.
This is a sprint Steph, it’s supposed to hurt!
When I made the turnaround, I made the decision to stop making excuses and get my head back in this and keep working hard. After all, I was pretty sure I was in the lead. But I knew that Celia (the woman who’s won this race every other time I’ve been here) would be on my tail soon- so I made it my goal to hold her off as long as I could. Sure enough, I spotted her on my way back, not far behind me. I was positive she’d catch me before we made it to transition.
I put my head down and kept pedaling. I was passed by a 73 year old guy riding my exact bike, and was thoroughly impressed/embarrassed/humbled. If he’s passing me, Celia can’t be far behind!
Soon, I was slowing for the dismount. Am I really still in the lead?
I ran to my bike and as I was putting on my socks/shoes, I saw Celia at the next rack over, quickly putting on her shoes. Dang it. I knew she had already made up a three minute deficit (she was in the wave behind me), so the only way I could actually win would be to kill it on the run.
We exited transition together, and in my head I thought, Well, maybe I can stick with her. After 50 yards I knew that wasn’t going to happen. She was going faster than I felt I could maintain. It was hot, and if I wanted to not end up in medical, I’d have to run my own race.
I have a love-hate relationship with this run. I love it because it’s “only” 3 miles. It’s definitely mental, but 3 miles sounds better than a 5K. I hate this run because it’s totally exposed- there is ZERO shade unless there’s some cloud cover. And today, there were no clouds.
My legs felt heavy and I knew that I would not be holding a pace in the 7:XX. I reassured myself that was okay. No one would be judging me if my splits began with an 8! I told myself to focus on form and try to run strong. When I got to the aid station, I walked through to bring my heart rate down and to try and cool off. One foot in front of the other- it’s only 3 miles Steph!
At the turnaround, I was pleasantly surprised that there didn’t seem to be another female in striking distance. I wasn’t going to cruise for the remainder of the race, but it was nice to feel I didn’t need to kill myself in this heat to maintain my position. I kept my focus for the last 1.5miles and was relieved when I saw the finish chute. No other females had passed me, so as long as no females from the wave behind me made up the 3:00 lead I had on them, I’d be 2nd OA female. Not too shabby.
After I crossed the line, I immediately grabbed a water and then stood in the outdoor shower to cool off. Ah. Best part of the day!
I stuck around for awards and got my 1st AG medal before heading home. I’m looking forward to the next one in September- maybe I’ll be able to take on Celia again!
[Side note: I realized after the race that user error was causing my bike computer issue…I was so in the zone that I forgot how to properly operate my Garmin. Whoops.]