Playing Tourist in Sydney

28 11 2016

(plus a little surprise at the end)

At 3:30am, Bill and I woke up. Hello jet lag! Thankfully, we were still exhausted from the past two days, and falling back asleep for a few hours wasn’t terribly difficult. Around 6, I woke up again, and decided to go for a run around the harbor. It was a beautiful, brisk spring morning- perfect runner’s weather.

I ran around the Opera House, stopping to take the obligatory selfie in front of the impressive structure. img_6456Then, I made my way into the Royal Botanical Gardens where I spotted a kookaburra and stopped again to take a photo.

img_6459

I made my way to Mrs. Macquarie’s point, took even more photos, before heading back to wake Bill and get our day started. #tourist

 

We decided that today we’d take it a bit easier than yesterday, and instead of doing a crazy amount of walking, we’d play tourist on the Sydney and Bondi Hop On Hop Off tour bus. The other priority we had for today: heal our still-feeling-cramped-from-a-14hour-flight bodies with a massage!

Apparently the bus was the thing to do, because we had to wait for the 3rd bus before we made it to the front of the line. However, this gave Bill time to find us a reputable spa and book a massage!

img_6473

It was turning out to be a stunning day- bright blue skies with not a cloud in sight. And, it was actually getting pretty warm out! We sat on the open top of the bus and started to get a feel for the layout of the city, the places we wanted to check out, and planned where we needed to get off to make our spa appointment.

img_6478The famous Coke sign at King’s Cross

img_6479

Beautiful public library!

Soon, my tummy was growling. I was dead set on grabbing lunch in Chinatown, so we hopped off at the Powerhouse museum stop, headed over a few blocks, and walked into the first noodle shop we saw. It was TINY, there were hardly any English signs, and a woman was hand-making noodles only several feet away. Perfect! We skooted our way into the last two seats, and soon a woman delivered our menus and some fresh hot tea. Bill and I didn’t have a ton of time to dawdle, since our spa appointment was rapidly approaching, so we spotted some vegetarian stir-fried noodles on the menu and ordered 2 of them.

img_6483

The steaming bowl of noodles arrived and I knew we had made a very, very good decision.

img_6547

OMG these were by far the most delicious noodles I had EVER eaten. No joke, I am still dreaming about them. I really, really wish I lived in a city with something remotely close to these. The slightly chewy texture, the sweet sauce, the crunchy vegetables. Ah-mazing.

We paid our bill and then hit it- we had about a mile or so to walk and 20 minutes until our  appointment.

As we walked through the city Bill asked me nonchalantly, “So, did you see the family of roaches living above the kitchen?”

Disgusted, I said “WHAT?  Gross. They were dead, right?”

“Nope.”

Now I was even more disgusted, but thankful that Bill didn’t tell me while were were there! We then proceeded to joke about our “roach soup” for the rest of the day and the remainder of the trip. And despite being really grossed out, we seriously considered going back at least once more before we left Sydney because the noodles were just that good!

img_6482

We made our way to the Ayurve spa for our massage and it was OH SO NICE. The spa was actually in the Westfield Sydney. Yes, that same Westfield brand that I’m sure many of you recognize from suburbia. It was a little weird to go to a spa in a department store at a mall, but hey, the massage was awesome!

Fully relaxed, we walked to the closest stop for our tour bus that would take us to Bondi Beach. I was so looking forward to this beach because I really, really wanted to go swim at the Icebergs Club.

As our bus made the final turn to head down the hill to the drop off stop, we caught our first glimpse of the beach. Not gonna lie, but I got a little giddy when I saw the beautiful beach below and the surf rolling in. img_6485Something about the ocean just makes my heart flutter! When the bus stopped, I’m pretty sure Bill and I were the first ones off. We high tailed it over to the beach and stood on the grassy area for a few minutes just watching the waves roll in, mesmerized. The surf was up and there were loads of surfers in the water. I could tell that Bill was excited too- he used to surf a lot when he lived in California and he’s a water person just like me. It made me happy to see him happy.

img_6491

We walked closer and made our way onto the beach. Of course I put my feet in the water, and man was it chilly! We walked to the north end of the beach, and along our walk we saw a group of kids learning about water safety, and then a little further up there was a group of high-school aged girls with paddle boards, ready to tackle the open water. I’m pretty sure both of these groups were organized by one of the lifesaving clubs that calls this beach home. If I lived here, I can guarantee I would be part of one of those clubs.

 

We probably could have spent hours just staring at the ocean, but we didn’t have a ton of time before the last bus picked up and I really wanted to check out the Icebergs.

img_6500

We walked to the south end of the beach, and to my dismay, the lap pool was closed. It was too rough:(

img_6510

I was a little bummed (but maybe a little relieved too, because man, it would have been one cold swim!!), but hopeful I might get another chance later in the week if time allowed.

The other thing I had wanted to do while at Bondi was the Bondi to Coogee walk, which is this beautiful 4k walk along the shore/cliffs from Bondi down to the “suburb” of Coogee. This week there was an added bonus: Sculptures by the Sea, where artists installed their works right along the path. What better background could you ask for?

img_6514

I checked my watch and knew we didn’t have a time to do the entire walk, so Bill and I found a big rock that overlooked the ocean and some of the path to sit and relax for a bit.

Shortly after we sat down, Bill gave me a present. It was a small rectangular box, wrapped in some polka dot tissue paper. I tore open a little piece of it and saw a familiar red box. Um, this is the box for my pearl necklace. A little confused as to why I was being gifted something I already owned, Bill told me to put them on. Then he gave me a smaller, square box, also wrapped in the same polka dot tissue paper. Is this what I think it is?

Inside, there was a beautiful silver ring with a single pearl in the center of 6 sparkly white sapphires. He looked me in the eyes and expressed his love for me, and told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. ❤ Yes, me too!

As I put the ring on, Bill asked me if I knew how pearls were formed, and explained that when an irritant gets into a clam, it creates this protective coating, which eventually becomes the beautiful pearl. “So, if you put up with an irritant long enough…” he trailed off and we both started laughing.

After some kisses and some cuddling, we realized it was time to head back to the bus and back to Sydney.

img_6535

Back in town, we switched to the city hopper bus and snuggled up close to each other as we enjoyed the cooler evening air and some more of Sydney’s sights. I was still on cloud nine, and couldn’t stop looking at/touching my ring. It’s beautiful. Bill’s not the most traditional guy, so I was over the moon that he had gotten me a ring. (Yes, that’s very superficial of me, but I don’t care). We ended our night with a beautiful sunset at Darling Harbor where I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. What an absolutely perfect day.

(Side note: I didn’t actually take a ton of pictures of my ring; I wanted this to be our little secret, at least for a little while! And now, well, I guess the secret is officially out!)

Bondi will always have a special place in my heart!

img_6541

 

Advertisements




2016 Wisconsin Milkman Triathlon

27 06 2016

I’ve been making multiple trips to Wisconsin over the past 6 months, more so than I usually do. One of the reasons for all the trips is that I’ve been taking classes at the UW School of Business Center for Processional and Executive Development in addition to my monthly business trip. Man, it’s been exhausting! I didn’t realize how much stress/exhaustion/work it would take to make it through, but I can happily say I came out on the other side with a few extra letters behind my name to boot!

IMG_4844

 

This last trip was the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent in Madison. I arrived on a Wednesday for a Thursday-Friday class, spent the weekend, and then took my capstone class on Monday-Wednesday before flying home.

A few months ago, when I was looking into flights for this trip, I knew I’d have to decide to stay the weekend or make two trips because of when the classes were scheduled (depending on costs). For fun, I did a quick Google search to see if there was a running race or a triathlon in Madison that weekend, because why not? As it turned out, there was a new event in town- the Wisconsin Milkman Triathlon  which was scheduled to occur on June 19th! I reached out to my SOAS teammate Kathy to see if she knew anything about the race, and as it turned out, she was already registered! So, when it became clear that it was a bit cheaper to spend the weekend in Wisconsin rather than fly home, I decided to go ahead and register for my first triathlon in Wisconsin!

IMG_4825

PreRace: Logistics/Getting there:

I decided to ship my bike via Bikeflights.com because I actually had a work meeting in Tallahassee the first day of the trip, and didn’t want to have to pay to check my bike twice. This was the first time I’ve ever shipped my bike (I had only ever used TriBikeTransport previously) so I used the bike shops they recommended (Cycle Sports Concepts in Tampa and Endurance House in Madison).

In all honesty, I’m not sure I’ll use BikeFlights again, or if I do, I’ll do something differently. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. When my bike arrived in Madison, the rear pulley was broken! Thankfully the guys at Endurance House were able to fix it, but they said they’d never seen anything like it before and the box the bike arrived in wasn’t damaged!IMG_4759
  2. In theory, BikeFlights should be cheaper than checking a bike on a plane or just straight up shipping it. Since I’m clueless about disassembling and assembling my bike, I had the shops do it for me, which means I paid for that service in addition to the shipping costs. Disassembly and packing x2 and Reassembly x2 adds up. UGH!
  3. When my bike arrived back in Tampa, the bike shop noticed something else was amiss- the sheath for the bolt in my seat post was loose. The guys at CSC are still trying to figure out what to do about it, so my bike isn’t home yet :(.

I have no idea how/when any of these issues happened, so I really don’t know who’s  at fault. I really don’t want to shell out any money for this, so I’m hoping it will all be fixed and I’ll get my bike back really soon.

The other interesting thing that happened before the race even started was that I forgot my bike shoes. Yes, I know. It’s an OBVIOUS piece of gear, how did I forget it? Honestly, I don’t know. I remembered my recovery protein powder but forgot my shoes. Sheesh!

What makes this mistake even worse is that my Gramin pedals/powermeter require a special type of cleat. So no bike shoes = no Garmin cleat.

The guys at Endurance House were great and they helped me find a new pair of bike shoes. Unfortunately they were out of the Garmin cleat, and so were a few other shops they called. Thankfully, one of them learned that a Look Keo cleat would work just as well, but EH was all out of that too! By some miracle, another bike shop down the road had these cleats so Kathy and I drove there to pick them up and have them installed.

Phew- finally, I had my ducks in a row!

PreRace: Saturday

Saturday morning was race check in! Kathy and I met up at Olin Park for a swim in Lake Monona with a whole bunch of other athletes. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and the Lake was much warmer than usual- a perfect 72 degrees.

IMG_4774

After our swim, we grabbed our bikes for a 40 minute ride. Kathy took me on the first part of the course which was super helpful for me. I was clueless as to what to expect so this little preview was much appreciated. Kathy warned me about Wisconsin roads after a long winter, and sure enough I got a taste of some bumpy/rough roads. I also got to experience a few hills. It was definitely going to be an interesting bike.

We got back from our ride, dropped our bikes in the car and then ran the short kilometer to the check in/expo. Check in was a breeze- they were super organized and it wasn’t crowded at all. Then, we walked outside to the expo, where Kathy and I both questioned “Is this it?” The only thing that was worth our while was the Normatec tent, where we sat in the boots and relaxed for a bit. Gosh I love those things!

IMG_4778.JPG

Kathy and I parted ways for a few hours, but came back a little before three to check our bikes and attend the pre-race meeting. I recognized the man leading the meeting from when I spectated at IMWI last season. He had been bringing in the finishers when Mike Reilly needed a break. The team putting on this race was experienced! The meeting was a nice refresher of the information in the Athlete Guide, and we were assured that the streets were being swept and marked before the sun would rise. Oh, and he also confirmed that the last quarter mile of the run into the finish chute included the lovely hill right behind us. CRUEL!

IMG_4793

After an early dinner (pizza), I crawled into bed and watched some TV before lights out around 9:30. Kathy was picking me up at 5:15 and I wanted to get as much sleep as possible!

Race Day!

It was an absolutely beautiful morning for a race!

IMG_4796

I got up and was surprisingly not nervous for the day that lie ahead. My mindset was that this was a long training day. I had zero expectations. No time goal, no place goal (It helped that awards would be for women 30-39. Hello competitive age group!) – just get out and have fun and get in some miles.

Since our bikes were already racked, we had plenty of time to get through the usual morning routines of a triathlete. It was pretty warm (for Wisconsin) and I was actually kinda bummed- I was looking forward to a 70.3 in cooler temperatures, since all of my previous races have been in Florida and it’s crazy heat and humidity. Well, at least it wasn’t as humid as I’m used to.

IMG_4801

We made our way to the start where we waited for what seemed like forever before our heats. I didn’t start until 7:42- it was definitely going to be hot by the time I was running!

Since I’d never raced in WI before and I hadn’t done any tri-stalking of the local athletes, I really had no idea how this race would pan out. I’m generally a strong swimmer so I took my chances and lined up at the front of the pack. The gun went off, I did a few dolphin dives and started swimming. There was one girl who got out a little in front of me and was swimming at a nice strong pace.  I opted to stick to her heels for a little and save some energy. By the time we hit the 2nd buoy, we were starting to catch the wave in front of us. I was also gaining on her. I eventually overtook her, and I had no idea if she stayed on my feet the rest of the swim or not!

The first leg of the swim was directly towards the sun, and sighting was a bit difficult. But I hugged the buoys the best I could and just kept swimming. It got a little congested, and I swam over a few people. There was one point where someone in front of me suddenly stopped and I came to a grinding halt so that I didn’t totally crash into him/her. I was a little annoyed but quickly got back on track and kept swimming. I really had no clue how I was doing. I felt good, I was passing a lot of people, and I didn’t seem to be getting passed. I was hopeful today was going to be a good day!

Swim: 30:08

(I think I was 7th fastest female swim, including the elites)

IMG_4821

I got out of the water, pulled my wetsuit halfway, laid down and then the wetsuit strippers took it the rest of the way off. Gosh, wetsuit strippers rock. Thank you!!

I got up and then ran towards transition, which I believe was about a quarter mile away. I kept telling myself, This is not a sprint, you don’t need to kill this part of the race!

I grabbed my helmet, sunglasses, put on my bike shoes and sprayed myself with some sun screen (yes, I did take the time to do this!) before heading out.

T1: 3:41

IMG_4824

Oh the bike. This was the leg I was most apprehensive about. How “bad” were the roads actually going to be? Will I need to walk up any of the hills? Again I reminded myself I was there to have fun and get in a good workout, and that’s exactly what I did.

The bike course was really pretty- lots of farmland and some cute towns. And yes, it was hilly. I hadn’t swapped my cassette out to be my climbing one and there were a few times I regretted that. But, all in all, with the exception of Observatory Hill and then one more on the way home, I really didn’t find the course all that outrageous. The hills were rollers- and what goes up, must come down!

IMG_4817

I played leap frog with a few people on the course, but I also felt like I was constantly passing people and being passed. I guess that’s what happens when you’re in a later wave but you’re a speedy swimmer:-)

Garmin tells me I gained 2451 feet in elevation, averaged 18.3 mph and my max speed was 44mph.

Overall, I was quite pleased with my bike split!

Bike: 3:03.37

IMG_4823

Despite the fun on the bike, I was happy to get off. One of my new bike shoes was starting to rub on the top of my foot and I could tell I was getting a blister. I was really hoping it wouldn’t interfere with my run!

I got into transition, put on my shoes (no elastic laces, so I need to actually tie them), grabbed some nutrition and my hat, sprayed on sunscreen (again), and ran out while clipping on my race belt. I can’t believe I’m 2/3 of the way done!

T2: 2:40

IMG_4818

The run started off pretty good for me. It wasn’t super humid, and my legs felt surprisingly good. But, I knew there were a few hills in the early parts of the run so I didn’t want to go out too hard. I tried to focus on good form and not letting my heart rate get too outta control.

The night before I had read a handout from Marni about 70.3 race strategy and it said to think of the run in 3 intervals: warm up, pre-set, and main set – just like how regular workouts are structured. So I tried to keep that in mind as we ran through the neighborhoods of Monona.

There were already a lot of people walking, and it took a lot for me to stay mentally strong and not join them right away. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and told myself to run happy. This race was for fun after all!

Aid stations were every mile and a half. It was my plan to walk through every one and grab water and ice- I wanted to make sure I didn’t get overheated out there!

The first three miles seemed to drag on- maybe I just wanted to get through the warm up? I kept reminding myself that the half (and full for that matter) is about who can slow down the least. I was definitely slowing down some, but I was still having a solid run.

I allowed myself to walk when I needed it (and to be perfectly honest, I think there were a few times where I mentally gave in and walked just like every one else around me) and I was trying to stay up on my calorie intake, but my stomach was starting to feel sloshy. I had Osmo in my race belt, which I was good at drinking regularly, but the Shot blocks were not appealing to me at all. At one of the aid stations near the midpoint of the race, I started drinking coke and had a few small pretzels. Unfortunately Coke was only at every other aid station, so I didn’t get my fill of Coke as often as I wanted it, but I was still able to get enough to get me through.

Eventually, we were at the part of the course I recognized. The run course was a loop around Lake Monona, and on multiple occasions, I’ve run part of the way around the lake, but never done the whole thing. The end of the run was part of the loop where I had done a bunch of training runs in my time in Madison. I got a mental boost from the familiarity of my surroundings, and I knew I was almost home! I looked down at my watch and realized that I might be able to slip in right around 2:00 as well- bonus!

Eventually, I was at the dreaded uphill before the finish chute. I put my head down and chugged my way up and into the chute. I had done it!

Run: 2:04:48

IMG_4819

 

Overall time: 5:44.53

overall place: 200 out of 835
division place: 13 out of 99
gender place: 33 out of 290

Final thoughts:

Though this was my slowest HIM, I still think it was a solid day.

When I first saw my rankings I was a little annoyed. I grumbled to myself:

I would have done much better in ranking if I had only been in my real AG (30-34). 

Gosh, the elites were calculated into my AG too, how unfair!

But then I took a step back and realized that 13th place in an AG that included the 34-39 year olds AND the elites is nothin to shake a stick at! And, I was in the top 25% of the ENTIRE RACE- men and women! That’s nothing to be ashamed of!

This race was a great reminder that triathlon is fun- it’s not always about placing and podiums and fast times. It’s an amazing thing that I have a strong, healthy body that allows me to push it for 70.3 miles! I should appreciate that more often!

It’s all about where your mind is- if you’ve got a positive attitude, you’re already halfway to a great race.

Oh, and the race team put on a great event! The course was clearly marked, post race food was pretty good, and hello free photos! If I was local, I’d definitely do this one again!

 

 





St. Anthony’s Triathlon- Race Report

29 04 2016

Tap, tap, tap…Is this thing on?

Oh, hey, it’s Steph. Remember me? Sorry for the radio silence folks. Life/work just got busy, and when you sit all day staring at a computer, it’s difficult to want to spend even more time in front of the screen to write up a post. But alas, things seem to be a bit less hectic now and I miss blogging. So, I’m going to try to pop into this space a bit more frequently, especially now that it is race season!

I’ll start with what is most fresh in my mind- St. Anthony’s!- but I hope to write another post soon about some exciting swim/bike/run related things that I’ve done over the past few months. Stay tuned…

And with that, I’ll rewind to Sunday morning, bright and really, really early.

IMG_3657

My alarm went off about half past four and I slowly got out of bed. I didn’t get the best night’s sleep- it took me some time to fall asleep because I was a little stressed: I had forgotten to pick up my timing chip! As I was going through all my gear before bed, I read the instructions in the envelope with my numbers and it talked about the timing chip. I texted Beth to ask if she had gotten one, and she told me that we were supposed to have picked them up at the timing chip table. Whoops, I hadn’t seen that table. She assured me not to worry, they’d have them at the swim start in the morning. Phew.

Despite knowing I’d be able to get the chip in the morning, I didn’t like not having everything in order the night before. Lesson learned!

My friend Chris and I were carpooling over, so we met up just after 5 to head over to St. Pete. I wasn’t sure how the parking situation would be, but we were early enough that it wasn’t really a problem.  I had plenty of time to set up my gear in transition and get over to the starting area to pick up my chip. There was really no need to stress- picking up my chip was a breeze. (Interesting to note: the chips weren’t really chips- it was a foam ankle bracelet that had adhesive on it- no need for a velcro strap and no need to turn it in at the end!)

IMG_3662

Transition closed at 6:45, the pros went off at 6:50, and then my wave didn’t start until 8:06.  My goodness was this a lot of waiting around! As the sun rose higher in the sky, the temperature kept rising. I was getting a little nervous about how hot the run would be, but tried not to let it get to me- the weather is outside of my control, so there’s no need to stress about it; just do the best I can with the conditions I’ve got. And let’s be honest- today’s conditions were darn near perfect. It was wetsuit legal and the water was as flat as a pancake. There was minimal wind, and the sun was shining. It was a great day for a race- in fact, numerous people said these were the best conditions they’d ever had for this race!

Finally, it was go time!

IMG_3663

Swim: 1.5km, 23:35

The cannon fired and off we went! Off to my far right I saw one girl shoot out in front of the pack. She was moving! (Turns out she went a 21:53!) There was another girl immediately to my right who was in the perfect spot for me to catch a little bit of a draft, so I did until just after the first buoy, when I overtook her.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.43.40 PM

The course is an “L” shape- you swim parallel to the shoreline then make a 90 degree left hand turn, then a 90 degree right hand turn, and then one last 90 degree turn before swimming in to the ladder where you’ll get out. As I reached the second buoy, I started to catch the wave in front of me. And then I caught more swimmers- by the time I reached the first turn buoy, I was swimming through a rainbow of swim caps from all the different waves in front of me. Surprisingly, I didn’t actually feel like I was getting caught up in congestion; I was just swimming through a sea of minnows. Thanks to the wetsuit and salt water, I think I kicked maybe 10 times the entire 1.5K;  I just kept pulling my way past more and more swimmers. As I neared the exit, I started mentally preparing myself for the bike.

T1: 1:19

IMG_3648

I was racked on the outside lane almost at the very end of the rack, which was a primo location for a transition area as large as St. A’s. I arrived at my bike, and seconds later a girl on my rack (and therefore in my AG) also arrived. HURRY! I thought, and I threw on my sunglasses and helmet and was out in front of her.

Bike: 40km, 1:10.09 (21.2 mph)

(Side note: Isn’t it funny that the race distance is in km but my speed is reported in mph?)

When you leave transition at St. A’s you ride for about a block on a brick road (off to see the Wizard?). It makes for some teeth chattering good times to start the ride:-) Anyhow, I got past the cobbles and to the straightaway that runs along the water, which is where I planned to coast and get into my shoes (my shoes are on the bike when I leave transition, and after I hit a nice flat shortly after starting, that’s when I velcro in). For some reason, I had a terrible time getting into my shoes- I lost all my momentum and at one point, one shoe was dragging on the pavement as I struggled. It was awful! I almost opted to stop entirely to get into the shoes, but eventually I got in. I got back up to speed and found myself passing people from waves ahead. A few miles in, the girl from transition passed me. We’ve got a race! I thought to myself. I kept her in sight, maybe 25 yards or so ahead of me, and after one of the turnarounds, on a slight downhill, I made up ground and passed her. It didn’t take too long for her to pass me again, but I kept her in my sight, for probably the first 15 miles or so. I wavered back and forth between wanting to give it my all to try and stick with her/catch her, or holding back some for a smart ride, since I knew I had a hot 10K ahead of me. I opted to try to be smart about my race, and let her go.

The bike is a fun ride, with some straight sections where you can get up and go, but there are lots of other sections with turns and speed bumps (yes, speed bumps). I was really glad I had done the bike last year as part of a relay, so I had a much better sense of what to expect and where I was on the course.

Soon, I was back on those cobbles and headed into transition. It was time to get my run on!

T2: 1:36

I knew I wasn’t too far behind the girl from the bike, so I wanted to be quick. Because it was going to be so hot, I planned to wear my fuel belt, which unfortunately doesn’t have a place for my race number, which meant I had to put on a second belt with my number.  I also had my visor and watch for the run. I somehow managed to put on the fuel belt, grab the rest of what I needed, and started to run out of transition. I wish I could say that I easily clipped on my number, velcroed on my watch and popped on my visor, but that would be far from the truth. I dropped my watch just before exiting transition and for some reason was fiddling with my sunglasses, which got caught in my hair – to the extent I need to stop for a second and get myself together. Sheesh. Finally, I got onto the run course.

Run: 10K, 49:26

In the back of my head I had been thinking, Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I could break 50:00 on this run? My best 10k (off the bike) is actually 47:39 <- I didn’t actually realize that until I was writing this post; prior to now I thought I had never broken 50:00- whoops! So, I was gunning for what I thought (at the time) was a 10K PR (whoops).

Right after we left transition, a girl I presumed was in my age group passed me (they didn’t actually make us write our age on our calves, so it was hard to tell who was in what age group!). I tried to stay with her, but she was running really strong, and I knew I just needed to focus on my race.

The run was flat with the exception of a tiny bridge that you go over twice. It winds through the neighborhood, where the locals come out and cheer, spray you with their hoses, and offer fruit, water, and beer. It’s a fun atmosphere, and makes the miles go by pretty quickly. There’s a bit of shade once you’re in the neighborhood, but for the most part you’re totally exposed and it was hot! At each aid station, I tried to grab ice or ice water to pour down my top and in my shorts. I had my own fuel (osmo and Clif margarita shot block) so I was only using the aid stations to help me stay cool.

I was running pretty solidly for the first two miles, watching my pace hover just under or around 8:00/mile. As I approached the halfway, I noticed my pace had slowed and my heart rate was climbing, so I opted to take a walking break- 30 seconds only. Perhaps I’ll talk more about this on another post, but since working with Marni, I’ve learned that there is NO SHAME in taking short walk breaks- in fact, sometimes they help you run faster, as it allows your heart rate to drop down so you can get back to where you need to be. Anyhow, throughout the course of the run I took two more 30 second walk breaks. After the last one, two women passed me, but again I wasn’t sure what age group they were in. One of them I was pretty sure was older than me, but the other I wasn’t so sure.

In all honesty, I think I gave up a little at this point the run. It wasn’t like a “Screw it, I’m done.” it was more like, “I’m not going to try to kill myself to get to that finish; I’ll run strong, but no need to push to my limit.”  It was hot and I was tired, my right foot was tingly/numb from my elastic laces being too tight, and I was pretty sure I had slipped out of the top 5 by this point. Looking back, it was ridiculous to let my mind think that- I had a MILE or less left! And looking at the results, I probably could have eked out at 4th place if I had been a little mentally stronger. But, at the end of the day, I had a solid finish, and overall a really great day.

Overall time was 2:26.04, which was definitely an Olympic distance PR. I was hoping to come in under 2:30, and I crushed that by coming in nearly four minutes under that. (For an unfair comparison, in March I did the hilly Clermont Olympic triathlon at the end of a training camp, and went 2:43).

I actually ended up with a 5th place AG award, which was icing on the cake!

SCZL9015

I would certainly recommend this race to others- great venue, super organized, and overall fun race. It brings a great pro field (hello Rinny!) and it’s super cool to share the course with those tremendous athletes. Sure, it’s a huge race with lots of waiting around if you’re in a later wave, but it’s nice to mix in some large races every now and again. I’m a little curious about what it would be like to do this race in not so ideal conditions to see if I’d still feel the same way. Perhaps next year I’ll give it another go? Only time will tell!