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..
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 I have recently realised that not everyone actually knows what is involved in a Triathlon, or much about the sport in general. It’s easy to forget when you are “in” to something that not EVERYONE knows what’s involved. I thought I would write a series of posts that gives a general background on the sport and my take on why so many people are starting to take up triathlon and also include some of my personal tips and hints for newbies (i.e. all the things I learnt in my first 12 months in the sport)
Definition of a Triathlete (i.e.: one who competes in Triathlons)
So if you like the sounds of the above definition then read on! No seriously triathlon is basically a race that involves a swim leg, followed by a bike leg, followed by a run leg. The point between the swim and the bike is call Transition 1 or T1, and from the bike to the run its called Transition 2 or T2. So it goes SWIM-T1-BIKE-T2-RUN. Triathlons come in varying distances but the traditional ones are:
1.SUPER SPRINT DISTANCE TRIATHLON:
350swim, 10km bike, 2.5 km swim – this distance is great for kids and nervous/just returning or starting fitness adults
2. SPRINT DISTANCE TRIATHLON:
750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run – great beginners distance triathlon (worth getting out of bed for)
3. STANDARD/OLYMPIC /5150 DISTANCE TRIATHLON:
1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run – Great for starting to push the limits, perhaps after a few sprints. This is the standard distance of Triathlons at the Olympic games
4. HALF IRONMAN/70.3/HALF CHALLENGE DISTANCE TRIATHLON
1900M swim, 90km bike ride, 21.12km run(half marathon) – so now we are getting serious. This is the start of long course/endurance triathlons (and were the fun starts if you ask me). You need a minimum of 4 months really to train for this, less if you have a good level of fitness already and well skilled in each of the disciplines required.
5. IRONMAN/CHALLENGE TRIATHLON
3800M swim, 180km bike ride, 42.2km run (full marathon) – so this the big one. This is what most people have on their bucket list due to the challenge and effort required to complete this distance. you are looking at least 4-6 months of pretty intense and focused training before you should attempt this distance.
Triathlon has a distance for all levels of fitness and I highly recommend if you are remotely curious to give one a go. They really are quite fun and give you a sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line. You don’t need anything particularly fancy for your first one, and many items can be hired (i.e. a wetsuit if required and even the bike). Once you have tried it you can then decided if you want to make the invest in these items (and many others that are nice to haves).
To get started visit the following website that give you more information on the sport of triathlon :
Watch out though – if you like it prepare to become ADDICTED.
PART II – What do I need to get started?