Yes, before you ask, I decided to do an Xterra Triathlon 7 weeks out from Ironman Texas. It may seem a little crazy to some, but to be very honest, anyone who knows me would not have been surprised I decided to throw this little gem into my training mix. You see I love to race and well technically I actually didn’t even sign myself up for this race. Someone who shall remain unnamed (Travis Beam) signed me up! Who needs enemies when you have friends who sign you up for an Xterra when you’ve only been on a mountain bike once in 9(ish) years. He knew I wasn’t lying either when I pulled out my mountain biking shoes and they looked like something that could go in a cycling museum.
So maybe luckily for me 2 days out from the race start the weather had not played in our favour and the ride was changed to a mountain bike on the road. This took away a little of the worry over mountain biking in a race format, but I was still going to have to work hard on the road on a mountain bike.
Race morning started with a light drizzle, but luckily slightly warmer temps. The water though was still pretty chilly and to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to it. However I knew it was only for about 10mins so just got over myself and got in for a little warm up. After a short race briefing it was 1,2,3 GO! and we were off. I felt ok for the first 50 meters then got stuck between two guys who were trying to turn me into a wetsuit sandwich. I had to navigate around the side of them and by that time I started to feel a bit rough…Like freaking out, I don’t wanna do this, rough. I just kept telling myself, it’s only 800m just do it. After going a little further to the right on my second lap than I expected I saw that red muddy bottom on was on my way into T1.
So this is when the frezzingness (I know it’s not a word!) hit me. My feet were totally numb, my hands weren’t much better, and this made for one of my worst exits from a wetsuit ever. I just couldn’t get the thing off, it was like it was literally stuck to me. Finally after some wiggling and pulling and grunting I got it off, grabbed the bike and was on my way. The bike leg was relatively uneventful other than a marker on who was in front of me and who was behind me. There was one group of about 5 men who were lucky enough to get in a draft, but the rest of us just hammered it out solo. I was in 2nd at this stage and I made a decision that I was not going to be 3rd. I put my head down and went for it, just like I would in a road tri. It paid off and I had the fastest bike split of the women. Not quite enough for me to catch 1st place, but enough for me to get a lead on 3rd going into the run.
Back into T2, fastest transition this time and up the hill for about a 1 mile run to the start of the trail. I knew I had to take advantage of the road as I would be slower on the trails so pushed pretty hard on this section. The trail was nice, very loopy, not too many long straight sections, and a pretty slippery muddy section at the back side. It was 2 loops and that made it great to be able to see some other athletes on the run. Best part was other athletes coming across me as they were exiting the trail and giving me a heads-up on how close 3rd place female was to me. This was the motivation I needed to dig a bit deeper to make sure I didn’t get overtaken.
It definitely wasn’t a race for the faint hearted, I’m so glad I did it though and already looking forward to the next one.
Swim 800m: 10.55
Ride 26.5km: 5835
Run 8Km: 46.40
2nd Place overall Female!
So – now I need to get back to training for Ironman Texas…less than 7 weeks away..
Mentally I had prepared myself for the possibility of a hot race at the inaugural Challenge Dubai. What I had not prepared for or expected was the extremely windy conditions which I woke up to Friday morning. As I walked to the transition area the wind was unbelievable, flags and signs where blowing in all directions and I felt a sense foreboding – dreading to imagine what the sea would be like.
There was a lot of tension and anxiety at transition, high winds can send you a bit mad as everything was blowing every where and I could hardly hear myself think. A short walk to the beach confirmed my suspicions that the seas would be rough. The swim course had already been changed to account for the rough seas and was now a 2 loop course. There wasn’t the normal excitement on the beach, this had been replacement for most people by shear terror at getting into the salt water washing machine that awaited. As usual before I knew it I was somehow in my wetsuit and standing on the beach looking out to the first buoy that all of a sudden seemed so far away – contemplating my race.
Bang – next minute I was diving into, under and over waves. I imagined that this would only be like this for a few 100 meters and then calm down. I was wrong. The swell and waves continued to beat against my head and left side for the 350 meters till the first buoy. At times I would sight and couldn’t even see the buoy due to the swell. I just tried to keep swimming, and to keep the saltwater out of my mouth. I’m not going to lie, I had a few moments where I was starting to get a bit freaked out – mostly as I started to feel a slightly sea sick. This passed though and before I knew it I had reached the first turn and the waves were not quite as bad heading horizontal to the shoreline and on the way back in, for the most part they were not quite as rough. I did have to do it all again though – it was actually quite hard to come out of the ocean and then get back in to conditions like that. The second loop was no different to the first, and I was more than relieved when I started to head back in to shore. Happy to have finished the swim in 37 mins considering the conditions, but already wondering what the bike leg was going to be like.
Transition was quick and I was on my bike in no time. I felt pretty good and settled in to the bike straight away. I could immediately feel the tail wind, and decided to go as hard as I could while it was behind me – I knew it wouldn’t last. The first 50km’s (31mi) were reasonably nice and I was averaging between 36/38kmph (22/23mph). There were a few turns that took us into the head wind which got me a bit worried about the 40kms (25mi) back into transition. I reached the turn around and was feeling very solid, and happy with the time I had made up on the bike. Then BOOM – the headwind hit me like a freight train. I wasn’t expecting it to be quite that strong. My average pace dropped significantly – I felt like I was pushing up hill and struggled to find the right gear to not be grinding but still be moving. The gusts of wind were hitting the bike so hard I had to come up out of aero at times just to stay upright. I heard later that the winds were combing through at up to 50kmph (31mph). It was like this with no break for about 40kms (25mi). At this stage I didn’t know it but I was in 3rd and had been following 2nd place for quite some time. She seemed to have a lot more power and endurance for the headwind section and pulled away out of sight. I managed to pass a few other people and not get passed again – with about 20kms (12.5mi) to go I started to mentally come undone. I was getting frustrated with the constant wind, and sand in my face. I felt awful and grumpy and just wanted to get off the bike. It took a lot of strength to keep pushing those last km’s and I really wondered what I had left in me for the run leg.
Another quick transition thanks to some great local girls in the changing tent to got my shoes on for me, cap on my head, drink and off I went. Legs felt pretty good and I decided to try and hold a just above a 5min/km pace (8min/mi). I was determined to break the 1hour50min mark for my run time, and I felt like given the time I lost on the other 2 legs today I was gonna just go for it. I had nothing to loose. I settled into about a 5.05min/km pace and just held it there. 5km down, pace still on, 10km down, pace still on, 15km down pace still on, time to pick it up a bit. I dug a bit deeper and tried my hardest to get a sub 5min/km pace going. I had a guy on my tail who I could hear running about the same pace as me and as he passed me with 2km to go I decided to go with him – it worked and I was able to hold on, sprint out the finish and get a flat 1hour45min run. I had unfortunately dropped from 3rd to 5th place on the run when 2 women in my age group flew past me – I couldn’t have been happier with my run time and truly couldn’t have given it any more. The swim and bike were another story and I wonder if I had not lost the mental edge on the bike maybe I would have had a bigger lead on these girls and held my spot – who knows. That’s racing right?
The next best part after crossing the finish line is then getting to be there when my friends and teammates come through the finish line. It’s always a celebration and a special moment to share, especially with the first timers! Great to be there with some amazing FitChicks who amaze and inspire me with their dedication and hard work!
Will I be back for Challenge Dubai 2016 – heck yeah, it was a great race in an awesome city.. and I want to do this race without the wind!
I want to thank my coach who has taken me from “an ok ” triathlete to someone who now believes anything is possible. Liam Bromilow www.t3coaching.com.au you rock and I couldn’t do this without you! Amanda Borlotti – seriously I can see us as old ladies and still doing this together, the races mean so much more when you’re there! Luis Quiñones – thanks for creating team OnEndurance – seriously meeting you guys changed my life!
Now on to Ironman Texas – 9 weeks to go!
So I had a bit of a hiatus from writing/rambling about my TriLife. I’m back now and hopefully you’ll be hearing from me a whole lot more as I make my journey to my first full Ironman in Texas on the 16th May 2015! I’m going to kick of my return to blogging with my top 5 “Yep – I’m a triathlete” moments.
Triathlon is the weirdest sport ever. I mean why on earth would you swim, then in your wet clothes get on a bike and ride in a circle back to where you swam, then after that run in another circle back to where you swam in the first place! Not too mention the countless hours of training that you did, just so that you could do that! And all for what, a medal and a t-shirt (do not kid yourself that the t-shirt was free by the way).
But we still do it right? For me, I don’t really care about the medal, or the shirt, or even sometimes my race time…I just love the feeling of accomplishment when I cross that line. When the realization of what I have achieved and conquered hits me – it gets me every time.
Along the way though there are so many things that happen to test out your commitment to this sport.
Below are my top 5 moments where you’ll really find out just how committed you are to triathlon and your training:
1. Good hair days:You wake up and your hair is just awesome, then you see your coach has scheduled a swim session – you do it anyway.
2. Water Bottles that are out to ruin your life: We all have that one water bottle that constantly leaks, and it always seems to be the one that you grab when you’re rushing out the door to train, only to find later that it has leaked all over your dry clothes and you end up having to drive home in wet undies.
3. Getting Dirty: There always comes a point where the amount of training you are doing is more than the amount of training clothes you have. You can do the math on how that works out.
4. You’re really gonna eat that?: Some days things get desperate on the nutrition side. I’m not gonna lie I have eaten some things out of the bottom of my gym bag or out of the back of my cycle top that where probably no longer fit for human consumption.
5. Please don’t stop the music: Weather is bad, you jump on the treadmill to start that killer 1 hour tempo work out. Water bottle, towel, and of course some good tunes ready to get you through the dreadmill. 5 minutes in, battery goes dead on the iPod… that means you have 55minutes of listening to yourself breath (puff, gasp, etc) and that awful gym background music.
The things we go through for triathlon……
Stick around..I’m off to Dubai next week in preparation for Challenge Dubai 70.3. Once thats done, I start my big training block for Ironman Texas on the 16th May!
I’m sitting here wondering where 5 months have gone between my last race report after Eagleman Ironman 70.3! How is it possible that 5 months could have passed so quickly – and what on earth have I been doing?
Well, it wasn’t on my plan but not long after Eagleman I got an itch to do another 70.3 race before the end of the year. I felt like I had a great race in Maryland (a 5hour20min 70.3 isn’t anything to be upset about) – but felt that I didn’t go in to that race as fit and as prepared as I could have. I wanted to see what I could achieve if I truly focused on my training, worked hard and pushed outside my comfort zone a bit. To do that, as I’m sure most of you know, somethings have to give. For me, I decided that to go into this race in the right “place” I had to be quiet for a while – virtually I mean (cause anyone that knows me personally knows that I am not often quiet). So to some extent I played this race down, didn’t make a big deal about it. In reality I was placing my whole heart in to this one to get a slot to the World Champs. Did I get that slot – No. Did I get damn close – Yes. Here’s how my race went.
Anyone who’s been to Miami knows it’s a pretty crazy city, for me it was like going home. So familiar to Dubai and Abu Dhabi – I was right in my comfort zone there. This was my first major race without my Tri Bestie Amanda so there was definitely something missing in terms of having someone to bounce concerns off and go through the pre-race motions with.
Race Morning arrived, I was strangely calm, with a 8.25am wave start I knew I had plenty of time to hang out and get ready before the race. So I headed to transition about 6.15am to have time to get everything in order. Luckily I have inherited a buffer for the unexpected in all my timings (thank’s Dad) and after getting everyting set up at the front of my bike, I leaned through the packed racks to check my rear tire. It was totally flat, my heart stopped, then when it started again it was through the roof. F#@K! It was now 6.40am and I have a completely flat rear tire and I started to feel that this could make me come unstuck…I had to dig really deep to just take a breath and do what I needed to do. Just change the tire it’s not a big deal, happens to a lot of people -right?
I start fumbling in the dark to get the rear wheel off, get my crappy bike repair kit off from the back of my seat post. I realize that the spare tube I have doesn’t have a long enough extender on it..WTF. I started to panic, they are starting to call for closing the transition and I have my shit spread out everywhere. This is not a good start. I ask a girl who is next to me “you don’t have a spare tube do you”, she says no. F#@K. Luckily this crazy accent of mine has a tendency of getting me out of trouble (it also gets me in to trouble as well but that’s another story). I then feel a tap on my shoulder and there standing before me is a tall, hot, lycra clad frenchman. “Euhh, you need some help” – he says. “Ah yeah” I say back. Next minute I have 3 french dudes working on my bike, getting me a spare tube and just all round getting me out of the crap situation I was in. Volia – my bike is fixed and the french dude tells me “we love Australia – and Australians – and with a wink he says “have a good race” and walks off. Oh being Australian is seriously great sometimes (ok – all the time). So my heart rate is through the roof, not sure if it is due to the french dudes or just all the excitement in general. I am literally getting kicked out of transition – to hurry up and wait for an hour and 25 mins till my swim wave start!
The Long Wait
I needed to find somewhere quiet to recover from my ordeal. I found a place on the rock wall a short distance from the swim start and just started working on getting re-focused. This is when I realize I don’t have any water with me, and nothing to eat. I left it all in transition. F#@K!….After about 5 minutes a guy comes and takes a spot next to me. I get the impression he’s feeling about as good as I am. We don’t talk for about 20 minutes – just sit there in silence waiting for the pro’s to start. That’s a long time for me to not talk, I couldn’t stand it. So I struck up a conversation and the next 50 mins flew by as we talked about his native South Africa, his life in Holland and his 6 Ironman Races that he’s completed this year! Luckily he was too wearing a HUUB skin suit, and so as the time got closer we both prepared to go through the 10 minutes it takes to get those things on – and thankfully we both had someone to close those zippers without putting our back’s out. Right. Finally lets get this thing started!
The crazy swim
I had been watching the swim waves go before me and I was feeling pretty happy with the way the water was looking and also pretty comfortable with the navigation. We jumped in and swam over the the bouys for the deep water start. Next minute the bouys where moving one way and we were moving another, even the swim marshals where having trouble. I hear a guy hell out, “I think the current has picked up”. Seriously. Bang, and we’re off. I immediately felt the benefit of the swim suit, I felt very streamlined and great with the added bouncy of the salt water. I could tell already that I was out the front, maybe 2 girls in front of me, I called on my training with Rich Allen and went over for the draft and managed to hold in a pretty good tight position until we hit the first batch of slow men from the previous wave. After that it was pretty usual swim and dodge. I could feel I was really moving through the water well, I was passing so many people. I made the turn that would bring me back down to the rock wall for the last 600 meters stretch in. I could see the bouy, but it just wasn’t getting any closer. I felt good – why was I not moving. Oh – there’s the current! I finally reach the stairs and look down. 40minutes..are you kidding. I had that terrible thought that my race was over. How could I possibly be competitive with a 40 minute swim. It’s funny how in the heat of a race you forget that everyone else is facing the same conditions as you – maybe everyone else’s swim would be slow as well – I hoped.
What head wind
I got on the bike (tire was still ok thank goodness) and started to feel a bit better as I realized there were a hell of a lot of bikes still in transition. Time to see if all that riding around Lake Norman was going to pay off. First 20kms were great, I could feel a slight tail wind advantage and average pace was about 33km/hr. Awesome. We were finally out of the city center and heading towards the everglades, and came to a slight turn in the road. Bam – hit with a pretty strong headwind – and I knew there were no more curves in this road so I had to settle in and deal with it until the turn around. It was like riding uphill for about 45 mins. So many people were
cheating drafting and it was making my blood boil. I told about 3 guys to “get the fuck of my tail”…not sure if they understood my Australian but I think the look on my face was enough. Finally reached the turn around and got to feel how strong that head wind really was. Speed went up to almost 40km/hr and I felt great knowing that I was going to make the time I had lost up. I got as aero as I could and just went for it! No more drafting was to seen after that!
No-one mentioned there was a bridge!
I arrived in T2 feeling pretty fresh to be honest. Temperature wasn’t too bad and I didn’t feel overly fatigued. I did have trouble getting my nutrition in – I just couldn’t get it down and although I got my liquid calories done I was a little short on the solids as I tried to stomach some chomps and they weren’t going down well and then did my usual dry retch with a Gu Gel! Off I went on what was to be the most chaotic half ironman run I have done to date. At the race briefing it was explained quiet a few times that it was a left side run. Do you think that people followed this – nope. There were quite a few turns and blind corners on the run and I again dropped the F-bomb at a few people and one poor guy got a push in the chest as he came at me around a blind corner on the wrong side. I hit the bridge feeling pretty good – it was starting to get pretty hot though and there was no escaping the sun over the bridge. Half -way over – still feeling good, and then I starting feeling like some-one was deflating my tires. Man – I was struggling, got to the top, got the heart rate down and attempted to recover as much as I could on the down hill. All I could think is, “I have to do this another 3 times” – try to not freak out. The run wasn’t my most pleasant and I knew that I wasn’t going to have my best half marathon time, but I was also determined to not give in to my “internal voice” that was starting to say things like “why are you doing this”, “let’s stop”, “you haven’t got a a place anyway so just take it easy”. I got to about 1 mile out and I decided lets just go and empty the tank. I picked up my pace and I pushed as hard as I could to recover some time and at least get my half time under 1.55. It worked and I pulled off a 1.53 – but I was certain it just wasn’t enough for today to be “that race”.
I crossed the finish line at 5.25 in to further post race chaos and waited for my parents and son to find me! It was over and as usual I felt a huge wave of relief, followed very quickly with a tiny pang of disappointment. My time was 5mins slower than Eagleman, no PB, no place, and no world champ slot.
Through the madness I see my Dad I give him a big sweaty hug and he tells me I was 5th out of the water. Wait, what? Well if I was 5th out of the water, only 2 girls passed me on the bike and then I passed 2 girls on the run. So could I be 5th?
We packed up and headed back to our hotel – on the way there we checked the results again. I was now 4th. Ok, I started to think that maybe, just maybe I could get a roll down slot. Quick shower and back down to the race finish for the event ceremony. Age group winners were announced before the roll down and we reach my age group. Third is called out and goes up on stage, then there is some chatting and paper shuffling and then I hear “is there a Leyla Porteous here” – hell yeah I’m here. “you’re 3rd honey get up here, there is a male by mistake in your age group”. Holy crap! I can’t even begin to tell you what it felt like to get up on that stage. Third – so now that slot seemed even more real. If one of these girls beside doesn’t take her slot then I’m there – Austria 2015. The dream becoming reality. My heart was racing. Roll down started and 1st place already took her slot, they call out for 2nd and….she takes it..heart sinks. I had one last chance, if another female age group has a slot that is not taken then it will go back to the next largest age group. We reach the 50-55, no-one claims the slot. It’s going to be reallocated – heart is pumping – as they flick through papers and chat and discuss I seriously thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. This is it. Seriously I’m going to the world champs…and then they announce the slot is going to age group….40-45. Oh….that’s it. My Mum gives me a huge hug. So close, yet still so far.
So my journey continues. I’m not sure when or even if I will get that close to my dream again. But I can tell you this much – I’m going to keep working my arse off in the meantime. I still have a lot to learn, and develop and I’m excited to see what my triathlon journey is going to throw at me in 2015!
Stay tuned to follow the “fitchicks” journey to Ironman Texas in May.
Eagleman Ironman 70.3 – pretty much a perfect race!
Swim 1.9kms, Bike 90kms, Run 21.1kms
I’ve been trying to reflect on the days leading up to, and including race day to try and find some kind of interesting story, or drama to entertain you with. But I really can’t. It was just completely drama and incident free and a great race. I’ll take you through my race day anyway – as there is always something to learn and reflect on (and laugh at) – and it may help those of you out there who are looking at doing this race.
So Eagleman is held in Cambridge Maryland – about an hour and 40mins drive out of Washington DC (depending on traffic of course). It’s an absolutely stunning location on the Choptank River. By the time we (that’s me and my partner in TriCrime Amanda aka CaveGirlTri’s) signed up for this race all the cheaper accommodation in town was sold out – so we were (luckily) forced to stay at the Hyatt which was just stunning. Anyway back to the race…
Eagleman is quite a popular race as it has 30 slots for Kona along with 40 slots for the 70.3 World Championships. It is also a very flat bike and run course which appeals to a lot of people. So this race sells out pretty quick every year, and this year was no different with around 2100 competing on the day. Race morning was a crazy sea of activity – with everyone setting up their stuff next to their bikes – and then the blind panic from some competitors when it was announced that it was NOT a wetsuit swim. Apparently it can vary year from year – and this year the river was very shallow so the temperature was in the “no wetsuit” zone. You could see some people getting very anxious at this stage – for me it was a relief.
I actually hate swimming with a wetsuit on. I feel like it’s slowly trying to squeeze the life out of me and it makes my arms feel like they are made of lead for about the first 500 meters (yes I know I should practice open water swimming with a wetsuit on more – got it.). So I was relieved to be honest, but not overly excited about having to do a shallow water start in what I still considered cold water (such a baby I know). Anyway the adrenaline kicked in and I hardly remember the cold water. We were off and I felt like I was having a pretty good swim, rhythm was good, breathing was good, no-one passing me, I was passing a few people. All seemed good. I reached to the last bouy with 100 meters to go and realised that people where standing up next to me and running to the swim exit. Was the water really that shallow – wow. I kept swimming as I think it takes more energy to try and run through water than continue to swim, but at about 25meters this was impossible so I had to run with everyone else. This is where I looked down and saw 36 minutes. What!? Crap…why so slow? Anyway I got myself on to dry land and just headed for the bike – I hope there was some kind of weird current to explain my swim time (there wasn’t – I was just slow). Then to add insult to injury on my swim time, I apparently somehow picked up an after five shadow of river scum on my face – which made for some interesting finisherpix shots – great!.
On the bike and off – no issues. It was pretty much like that for 90kms. Flat – yes, windy – kind of. I felt really good on the bike – probably cause I took it so easy on the swim. So I passed a few other women in my age group on the bike in the beginning, then as the ride went on a few caught me. Everytime a chick would go past me in my age group (oh in case you’re wondering they write your age on the back of your calf) I would be like – damn it. I think about 5 chicks passed me, but I must of passed about 7 as I went down in my category position. There was one nice chick who caught me at about the 80km mark. As she went passed she spoke to me – she said “are we there yet?”..it made me giggle – then she turned and she said “you’ll catch me on the run – see ya then”.
As usual – ouch – when those legs hit the ground coming off the bike. I kind of fumbled around in transition, trying to get stuff in my pocket, put on some sunscreen and of course most importantly my shoes and hat. Off I went and I was surprisingly able to to hold a nice sub 5min pace for the first 2 kms. This seemed to get the legs sorted out and I settled in to a more comfortable pace at around 5mins to 5.15mins. All felt good – just needed to keep my head strong, I was technically done and I had some chicks to catch that passed me on the bike. I caught a few of them and that felt good – but I hadn’t seen my chatty friend yet. The run at Eagleman is an out and back – the reality of this hit me just before the turn around – crap I have to run all the way back now. I looked down and of course, my pace was slowing. My mind was getting lazy and straight away everything slows down. Then who should I run up next to – yep, my chatty friend. She asked me “what’s our pace” of course I only know metric so I said I had no idea what we were doing in miles – luckily she had lived in London for a few years so knew the metric system. I told her we were holding a 5.20 pace. She said “cool – we are going to finish in 5hours 25min if we can keep it up”. Wow – really. I hadn’t done the math, so if I could just keep this pace for another 10kms I will come in under 5hours 30mins. This was awesome news – kind of. Anyway we chatted about where we were from, other races, etc etc….but for the most part it was a great mental distraction and I knew we had to keep that pace up. After chatting for a while, we ran side by side for a long time in silence. It was comforting in a strange way. We hit an aid station about 3kms out from the finish and she had to stop, she told me to go – that I should have my moment on the finish line alone. What an amazing person, and to add to it, she had told me just before the aid station that she suffers from Lupus. Geez this sport attracts some amazing people. Anyway with the hard part over I focused on the finish and pushed my pace as much as I could. 2kms out my legs, knees and hamstrings where screaming at me – I didn’t listen. After almost tripping over some random dude who cramped up 10 meters from the finish line (that’s got to suck) I finished in 5hours and 20mins. 41 minutes faster than Phuket only 6 months earlier.
I was so happy to see Kaden and William waiting in the crowd. The first thing William asked me was – so could you do that all again (i.e. do double the distance for a full Ironman) I said “no F%@ing way – I’m never doing an Ironman”. We then waited for Amanda to come through – she did an amazing job and shaved almost and hour of her last time. Wow. I went to give her a big hug – guess what was the first thing she told me? She said “that’s it Hon, I’m not doing this again”. I laughed!
Funny…….it’s now been just over a week since the race…and we have both already picked our next races……how quickly you forget the pain and agony, but you can not forget that amazing feeling of personal accomplishment that comes with long course triathlon racing. It’s addictive – and I love it.
Swim 1.9kms :37.02 (PACE 1.55/100m)
Bike 90kms: 2.47.33 (PACE: 32.2kmh/20.05mph)
run 21kms: 1:50.33 (PACE: 5.15/k, 8.23/m)
Transitions: T1: 2.23 T2: 2.45
Finish Time: 5.20.16
Age Group Place 23rd/165
Geez, life has been crazy since I got to the US of A. I don’t know if it’s my own lack of time management or all the cleaning I now have to do…but the days just seem to be flying by. So that’s my excuse for not posting in a while and being so slow to post about my 2 most recent races, the Tomahawk Triathlon in South Charlotte, NC, and Eagleman Ironman 70.3 in Cambridge, Maryland. So get comfortable and ready..here we go for the 1st of 2 race reports!
Tomahawk Triathlon 31st May 2014.
Ok so 2 days before this race I realised how absolutely ridiculous it was that I was doing a race 1 week out from a 70.3 and 2 days before I was to make a solo 650km trip to the Nations Capital on my own. It was one of those late night spontaneous registrations and the medal looked so cool.
Never mind, I would have my TriSherpa (hubby) with me to help me drive there and provide moral support…mmmm..except the night before he informs me he has to work..oh great! Then it started raining. Awesome. I was so close to pulling out, but I didn’t. These are the moments where I know the sport is going to teach me something, or give me a new opportunity. So I packed up the car, set the alarm for 4:15am and went to bed. Up I got the next morning, it was still raining and only relying on my car navigation off I headed in to the darkness for Cane Creek Park, Waxhaw, North Carolina!
It actually was pretty easy to find – however I was feeling a little dubious as I pulled in to the carpark through a thick layer of fog and light drizzle. No-one else seemed to worried so I just did my thing and got ready to register and rack my bike. I felt unusually calm…With only the obligatory toilet stop left I went to line up for the time trial swim start. Thankful to see a few familiar faces as well – it was a relatively calm start.
The time trial fashion meant for pretty easy swimming – and before I knew it the 1km was over and I was finished and running up towards my bike. There was still a light drizzle, but by this stage of a triathlon I’m usually not concerned by things anymore – just focused. I jumped on the bike and my legs felt like lead, seriously they were so damn heavy, it took about 10kms for them to relax, the next 20kms where pretty good and the rolling hills were great. Off the bike, and I start running – same feeling, heavy legs. I knew it was a trail run, but didn’t realise it was going to be a slightly hilly, and wet trail run. Ouch – the legs where still a bit heavy but I ran on. It really was a beautiful run along the lake and I made sure I took the time to take in the scenery. Few more turns and there was the finish line..always a pleasant sight no matter how long the race is.
Due to the time trial start I had no idea where I had placed, only one woman passed me on the bike (she had her name on her tri suit – a sure sign of being good!)…they had an awesome electronic timing system set up which allowed you to type in your number and get a ticket with your splits and place as soon as you finished. My time wasn’t great compared to my previous race of this distance – but the conditions where very different. At that stage I was first in my age group – but I thought I would give it another 20mins or so before getting too excited in case someone came in behind me but with a faster time. I packed everything up and came back for the awards ceremony – still 1st in my age group and tied for 4th overall. Wow – this was very reassuring and a great feeling. I was still improving even after all the drama of the last 3 months.
I have to thank a lot of people who got me through these last 3 months. Firstly my Mum and Dad for helping me out when I first got here and running around town with me to the pool, and gyms, then the crew at Precision Fitness for putting me back together when I almost broke (twice), my coach Liam Bromilow for constantly adapting my training program to address my new surroundings, timings and dramas, and always making me laugh when I usually wanted to cry, to a lucky chance meeting at the Lowes YMCA Pool with the Triathlon Godess Tonya Allen, who took me riding, picked me up when I fell down (literally – twice) and is inspiring me towards reaching my Ironman dreams – and lastly to my Hubby who doesn’t really get why I am doing this, but still puts up with all this stuff, and believes in me!
My 1st place also got me qualification to the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee on the 9th of August – now to decide whether I go or not (really matter of budget and logistics). Seems like something I should do – who would have thought I would be qualified for USAT National championships??!!
I thoroughly enjoyed this race and yes – the medal was totally worth it. So glad I went – sometimes the things that seem hard, turn out to be amazing opportunities and experiences…
So what the heck am I talking about. Well it kind of goes like this.
Girls decides to do a triathlon, doesn’t do particularly well but feels the coolest she has in years. Girl gets addicted to triathlon, buys all the gear along with a ridiculously expensive bike and colour coordinating kit and helmet. Girl signs up for a 70.3 after only doing 2 sprint triathlons. Girl does well. Girl gets an online coach and goes to Australia for 2 months – trains like a beast. Girl starts doing some races and gets on the podium twice. Girl gets cocky – thinks she’s awesome. Girl moves to the USA. Girl falls apart, gets injuries, falls off bike while stationary – and then has the biggest crash for absolutely no good reason – breaking favourite (and expensive) Fluro Pink Rudy Project Helmet and obtaining a concussion.
So is that the end of the story – no way.
After “the crash” I had to take 2 full days off training and maintain a pretty low heart rate for about a week to ensure that I was fully recovered from my mild concussion. I think this was the rest I was needing and I bounced back in to my training with enthusiasm and energy for the last 12 days. I have had some of the best session so far and am feeling quite good (considering). Wish I didn’t need to bang my head to get this outcome – oh well.
I now have just under 3 weeks till Eagleman 70.3. Realistically the likelihood of me showing up to that race as well conditioned and prepared as I was for Abu Dhabi International in March aren’t great. But I have luckily been able to test my mental toughness over the last 8 weeks, and with a few ups and downs I have managed to keep going and keep trying and to stay strong.
It’s not the fall that defines you, it’s how well you recover and get back up from the falls and set-backs that we all face from time to time. I think this has been a great lesson that will only make my triathlon racing better. Hopefully next time I don’t need to hit my head quite that hard to realise when I need some rest and recovery time.
Keeping Tri’ing Chicks x
Yes – I found this out the hard way. Luckily I also found Precision Fitness so I am sure they will sort me out in no time.
This weeks Endurance athlete post is an all too common subject for those that train at Precision Fitness “It’s All in the Hips.” An article in Runners Times recently came out talking about the importance of strength and stability in the hips/glute and how it can have an effect down the kinetic chain. David McHenry, physical therapist and strength coach for Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project. “The foot is really just the end of a big kinetic whip–the leg Core and hips are where every runner should be starting if they are really concerned with optimizing their form, maximizing their speed and minimizing injury potential.”
The exercises in the article are in no way a complete hip/ glute strengthening program, but nonetheless work to some extent.
I thought that things where going too good to be true. After 8 weeks of pretty full-on training in Australia – I came back to Abu Dhabi feeling strong and fit ready to take on the Yas Olympic Distance Tri and the Short Distance (kind of a 70.3) at Abu Dhabi International. After 2 great races – I was still feeling amazing. After arriving in my new home in North Carolina (which was bloody freezing by the way) I took a full week off from training then started on my next training phase preparing for Eagleman Ironman 70.3 in Cambridge Maryland on the 8th of June.
2 weeks in to my new training in the US I headed out for what was supposed to be a pretty light 30mins run. Around 20 mins in to the run I felt a popping sensation come out of no where in my left calf. I hoped it was a cramp, but I knew it wasn’t because I have never cramped before and it just felt different – something wasn’t right. I managed to hobble home – and by that night my calf was quite painful and I was having trouble walking. I hoped that by the next day it would be gone, and just decided to ice and rest myself and see how it went. After a week I attempted another light run on the treadmill, but again about 15mins in to the run my calf started to tighten and felt like it was about to pop again – bummer.
It was time for a bit more serious help – and I called up a place I had seen on the internet here call Precision Fitness (if you live in the Charlotte, North Carolina Area I highly recommend them). Luckily I was able to get in to see Donna the Bodywork Therapist (how cool does that sound) there who worked pretty hard on my calf, pushing out the adhesions and giving me some pretty intense icing sessions. With rest, ice and massage after 3 weeks my calf seems to be back at about 95% – next week will be the test when I add some runs back in to my training plan. I was feeling pretty good about my calf’s fairly fast recovery, and really ready to get back in to training when all of sudden I started to get pain through my left shoulder, which radiated down in to the palm of my hand causing a tingling sensation – really, I am seriously starting to fall apart. Luckily I was already scheduled to see Bill who is the Founder and a Corrective Exercise and Human Performance Specialist (again – how cool!) at Precision Fitness, who was going to work on my apparently non-functioning glute muscles (the possible reason why my calf muscle gave out) and he was able to do some magic on my shoulder and send me off strapped up with K-tape like a CrossFitter.
I was starting to feel a bit sorry for myself, with just a little bit of the “why me’s” sneaking in, and then I thought – you know what – all of this stuff can be fixed. After a year of pretty intense training in triathlon, some things are taking their toll, but it’s all fixable. What these little injuries have done have allowed me to re-connect with my body, to start to focus more on maintaining a good core, and the importance of strength training and alignment in order to perform well in swim, bike run. So in a way, although breaking a little bit is annoying, I think it is going to make me stronger in the long run. What it also has done is given me a greater appreciation of what my body is capable of, and appreciating how lucky I am to have this opportunity right now to focus on something I absolutely love – Triathlon.
With only 6 weeks to go till Eagleman I now know that it will be a learning race – with the few little injuries combined with so much change happening recently in my life I am listening more to my body and my head to ensure that I simply make it to race day and enjoy the experience with my fellow Fit Chick Amanda. I have plenty more time and races to see just how good and how far I can go with Tri, and of course there is the “big one” (full Ironman) still hanging in the (not so) distant future.
So yeah – right now I am a little bit broken, but it all can be fixed – it’s all part of the journey.