The Silicon Valley International Triathlon, or as I like to call tri number two, is in the books and it ended up being more than I could have expected. Not necessarily because of my time, but because of a few special people. My husband, mom, dad, sister, future brother-in-law (sorry, Nate!) and aunt all woke-up at 4:30 in the morning to hit the road and watch me race. Now that’s love.
Now let’s talk recap, shall we?
For some reason, I’ve become very peculiar about this breakfast. It must be Safeway Open Nature whole wheat English muffins, Trader Joe’s preserve and all natural peanut butter. They must also be toasted. I don’t know why, but I’m sticking with it for now.
Chicken Face, being the amazing Sherpa that he is, drove down while I tried to sleep some more. But after two weeks of only getting in one swim a week and the thought of my entire family watching and waiting for me, I was extremely nervous – I was almost confident that a panic attack would ensue. But the good news was that I had familiarity on my side. Because of the course change, we would be swimming at the same reservoir as the Morgan Hill Sprint Tri.
We got to the start, fussed around with the necessary body marking, laying out my stuff, and photo ops.
I knew that unlike my last race, I wanted to get in the water and do a bit of swimming before the actual start and just get my heart rate steady as I think I’ve figured out what’s happening. I start swimming, my heart rate spikes and my brain goes into this fight or flight mode causing these mental games and panic attacks. Thus, I sucked down my Gu, said goodbye to my family, into the water I went.
After I did my pre-race warm-up, I found my way into the pack of pink caps for the deep water start. The sun was glaring and we all giggled as you could barely see any of the buoys. Instead, I just knew what direction to swim and would sight the buoys as soon as I could see. 3-2-1…we’re off!
I’m the one in the pink cap.
Let’s be real: swimming is not my strong suit. Instead of sprinting like I am even half a decent swimming, I told myself to just take it slow and steady. I’d rather save myself the extra elevated heart rate and come to T1 relaxed and ready for the bike than shave an extra minute off my swim time. So that’s exactly what I did: slow, steady, stay calm, talk to myself, and in turn, I was free on any panic attacks.
In order to break up the swim distance, I broke it up into mini-goals. Get to the buoy, sight, see the next buoy, focus on nothing but getting to that next yellow triangle. These mini goals were extremely calming and kept my focused on that task at hand. I did experience a few first by getting kicked and my goggles slightly knocked off, a bit more “motion” in the water, and seeing some of the gals from the wave behind me starting pass me, but nothing that I couldn’t handle. Just keep swimming.
As I rounded the last buoy, sighted, saw the finish as my next mini goal I was ecstatic. I know I hadn’t gone fast, but I had stayed calm and had fun the entire time. The scary part was done.
I swam until I felt my hands touch the ground three time (thanks for the tip, Jeff!) and then got out and walked. Last time I ran and I felt discombobulated. What would the extra 10 seconds really do if I just walked until I regained my composure. Nada.
Walking up the ramp.
Swim Time: 29:11 / 1:47/100 yard pace
Transition 1 Time: 1:55
After I felt normal, I ran to my bike and stripped off my wetsuit and got ready to ride. Because of the course change, I had to stuff all of my swim stuff into a white bag and the race folks would pick it up and take it to the finish. I eyed my arm warmers and decided to forgo them as I didn’t want to waste anymore time.
I hopped on the bike, shouted out to my family and was on my way.
As Coach Paul advised me, I didn’t eat or drink anything for the first 15 minutes. You need to let your body acclimate from being horizontal to now being vertical again. I dropped into aero and felt really good to be there.
SURPISE! The course wasn’t as flat as I thought. There were a few little hills and some rollers along the way that kept you in check. The other thing that kept me in check? This 27-year-old female who I kept playing leap frog with (your age is written on the back of your left calf). Whenever she passed me I would grumble a silent, “WTF!” She didn’t do anything wrong, but that was positioning me one spot further from placing in my AG.
Furthermore, with the course change I got a little bored by the end. They squeezed us into narrow lanes on poorly paved streets. As I turned into the park (T2) I heard, “PAGE!” and saw my family again – LOVE!
I dismounted, called out my number, and volunteers helped point me in the direction of the new bike racks that we’d never seen (thank you, volunteers!). Frustratingly, they had tied my T2 bag so I had to sit down and waste time untying it and getting into my run gear.
Open, damn bag! OPEN!
Bike Time: 01:20:28 / 18.5 mph pace
Transition 2 Time:1:57
The thing about me and triathlons is that I know the run is my time. It’s my time to make up for my sub-par swimming and cycling skills, and it was time to pick off the other age groupers that had passed me.
I shoved ClifBloks in my top (they’re easier for me to access there) and was ready to execute the game plan I had made on the bike. Keep it at low 7 minute miles for the first three miles, then kick it up picking off any age groupers that I saw. Translation: look at legs, looks for age groupers, go after them one at a time.
Throughout the six mile run, I was able to pass three gals that had passed me on the bike. Nothing against these girls, they are great athletes, but it was an incredible confidence boost to know that my running mojo is a great advantage for me.
The run course was a little dull itself, but I met another woman on the run, we chatted and encouraged each other along – hi Shawn!
Given that this is the sport of how long you can talk to yourself, I continued to do so until I saw the finish and kicked it in.
Run Time: 42:44 / 6:53 pace
Finish Time: 2:36:15
5th in my age group, 17th female overall
I had told Chicken Face that if I was on my A-game, I’d come in under 2:40. When I found out that I came in below my goal time, I was stoked! I was also secretly basing my goal time around what might earn me an age group place compared to last year’s age group finishers. Needless to say, this year’s competitors were crazy fast!
I probably could have picked up some speed during the swim and my walk up to T1, but I’d rather be anxiety-free than shave a minute off my time. Overall, I had an amazing time and felt great. After crossing the finish line, I didn’t feel exhausted at all, indicating that I probably could have pushed it some more out there. But the best part of it all? These folks.
Thank you everyone for all of your continual support – it means the world to me. And a big congrats too all of the CDA Ironman and half IM finishers this weekend!
P.S. I still feel extremely awkward about posting so many photos of myself with these race recaps…