Getting back into racing after the last three years has been rough. I raced in a half-distance triathlon back in May. It was worse than my first time because I actually thought I knew what I was doing. I was wrong. The good news - this was a practice race and served its intended purpose. I worked out out the kinks and learned some lessons before the big race in August. I’ll lay out all the pain points, and I do mean pain, right here:
Transition was a hot mess – I arrived way too late thinking it wouldn’t take me that long to get ready and I was very wrong. I forgot about body number marking where they write your race number and age (41 now for me!) in marker on your arms and legs. I put my way-too-tight wetsuit on backwards at first, forgot to apply any anti-chafe body glide to known friction points, and didn’t remember what time the gun was supposed to go off. I made it to the starting line just in time and was lucky that a spectator asked if I’d like to zip up my wet suit – of course I did … I was just waiting for the right time ...
Survived the Swim – Luckily, once I was in the water things got a little better. I could feel the chafing begin around my neck and arms pretty soon after getting started and I got significant resistance in the shoulders when I extended my arms. This was probably because I hadn’t pulled my suit up high enough, or my body was a bit bigger than the last time I raced … one of the two. But, I had been training and so it was probably one of my faster 1.2 mile swims. Elise and I are prepping for an August Ironman so we’ve been putting in some pretty long swims lately.
The Wheels Fall Off – There’s no other way to put it. Partly because I decided to ride my road bike and wear triathlon shorts that were about 5 years old and pretty worn out, and partly because I underestimated the distance, the bike was mega painful. At about 20 miles in, I truly considered calling it, but that’s not my style so I kept riding. I developed a pretty sharp pain, kinda nerve like, where the seat meets my legs, so I ended up standing and pedaling a good ways and coasting down the hills way more than I should have. I got passed a ton on the bike and saw a great race slip away. But, I finished and that wasn’t a given.
A Disciplined Run – Of all the legs, the run went the most smoothly. It wasn’t as hot as it could have been, and I was able to keep a good and even pace up until the last two miles when I kicked it up a notch because I had something left in the tank. The discipline to monitor my heart rate and keep it within a set range served me well. I always tell myself the first couple miles are the easiest and the real race comes at the end when I’m hot and tired, helping me to keep my pace in check, stay hydrated, eat some nutrition, and keep a steady power output, which means slowing down on the ups and giving it a little more on the downs. I could also feel a teammate nipping at my heels, so that made it even harder to keep my pace under control.
All in all, it was an amazing day and I’m so lucky to be able to race. I survived on account of the training that Elise and I have put in – we’ve been consistent which is the key to success in triathlon. I was reminded of some important race prep lessons that I’ll definitely remember, might even make a list!