Last Sunday I did the intermediate distance tri at the Cayuga Lake Triathlon for the second year.
Last year was my first time doing a tri of this distance (~1 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 6 mile run) and after doing it last year, my plan was to train more this year and improve my time now that I knew what to expect. But, I didn't really train any different or more. I still spent way more time on my bike than I did swimming or running. I actually didn't even do any real lake swims this year -- I swam in the pool when I could make it there, and I swam in the swim lane at Taughannock a few Saturdays -- but no long swims where I could go for a while without turning around. I only ran 6 miles once this year before the race, and that was maybe 10 days before the race...
I could easily improve my times if I trained differently. I could make a training plan and do certain activities on certain days, no matter what. But, I didn't do that. For the most part I just did whatever workouts I felt like doing each day - if I felt like swimming and the pool was open, I went. If I it was super hot out and I didn't want to bike, I didn't. This explains why I never ran! All through the spring and summer I kept thinking "I've got time..." to swim and run, and before I knew it, it was the beginning of August. Whoops.
About a week or two before the race I was considering dropping back to the sprint distance since at this point I hadn't run a 10k this year. In the end I decided not to be a wuss and just stuck to the intermediate distance -- I knew I could finish it, but I wanted to do well and I didn't train to do well. But, that's my own fault. I decided my goal would be to beat my time from last year, and just enjoy the day. I'm happy to report that I accomplished both of those goals!
I headed to Taughannock by myself and I actually got there ON TIME! I'm usually running late in the morning so it was really nice to not be late for once. I had picked up my packet the night before so there wasn't much I had to do. I got body marked and put my stuff in transition, and..that was it. After a little while Nick got there and we just hung around for a bit. As I was putting my wetsuit on my mom arrived. I talked with her and Nick for a few then headed into the water to warm up before my wave started at 8:30.
The water was very warm and pretty calm - WAY better than last year! I felt calm. I was thinking about all the things I've learned from Shane (as I'm sure lots of people are during the swim), and thinking about being grateful that I am able to do these kind of activities. I didn't play any sports in high school or college - I was not athletic at all. So it's still surprising to me that I can even do these things. A few years ago I couldn't swim one length of a pool without gasping for air. I never went for runs until after I graduated from college. I was happy to be there, in this beautiful area of the finger lakes, with great weather and conditions, with lots of my friends competing and volunteering.
I swam around in the warm-up area to get used to the water and get my wet suit situated. Lesley and I were in the same wave so we chatted for a bit then got in the corral for our wave to start. I lined up kind of in the middle of my group. I was still surprisingly calm for the start of a race. I was in a good mental place this race day.
We got the horn to start and as usual everyone took off and it was a bit chaotic. I swam with my head above water for a few minutes so I could see what was going on and avoid getting kicked or swimming over someone. Pretty quickly I was able to find a space to myself and get into a good grove. Somehow I managed to maintain that through the entire swim - I was never bunched up with anyone, I didn't stop at all or panic about anything, and I didn't get hit at all - not even at the start. It was really nice. I wasn't very fast, but I felt very relaxed and felt like I could have gone for a lot longer.
This year I tried not to stay right next to the buoy line. Usually I swim right next to it, but then I end up running into it sometimes, and I think you also end up swimming a longer distance if you stay right along it because the buoy line curves in the wind. Usually I like being close to it for a comfort factor - so I know I could grab onto something if I need to. This year I didn't need that comfort though, and I was fine being 10-20 feet away from it. I don't know if it helped me in terms of swimming more or less though. I don't use a watch so I don't have the exact distance that I swam...but I feel like I zig-zag all over the place. I periodically lift my head up to see where I'm going but it's just really hard to tell. My swim wave had pink caps, which at a glance from the water, looked very similar to the small buoys and that threw me off a few times.
I ended up with a time of 0:38:50...about five minutes faster than last year's swim. I think I had the slowest swim time in my wave this year, but, as I said, I felt very calm and relaxed the whole time. I could definitely push harder on swimming -- I will try to work on that over the winter.
As I ran from the beach to transition I saw my mom and Nick and surprisingly one of my coworkers. I got my wetsuit down to my waist by the time I reached my bike. I had some trouble getting it off of my ankles - my legs were pretty shaky and I just generally felt a little unstable. Eventually I got out of it and got my bike gear on and was on my way.
I had trouble catching my breath going up the hill right out of the park. I think I was a bit worked up from finishing the swim and transition. I passed a few people but didn't
really feel great. I was dripping wet and my hands were slippery on the bars. Eventually after thinking about my
breathing and cadence I got into a groove. A 13 year old boy was crushing it up the hill and passed me. He had a pretty nice bike and an orange tri suit on. I was impressed.
I was by myself for most of the bike. That part of triathlons is weird -- it's really hard to judge how you are doing. I'm totally alone - is it because I'm ahead of people? Am I the last person on the course?? I don't know! When I made the turn to get off of 89 and go down by the lake, there were no other bikes around me. There were lots of people sitting outside and cheering on the stretch of road that goes along the lake and by Sheldrake. That was really cool. Since I was the only one around, I knew they were cheering for me. Not someone behind me, or for a group of people -- just for me. That was definitely motivating and made me smile.
I passed another person from my age group on the hill heading back up to 89. Nothing really interesting happened for a while. It got pretty bunched up once I got back to where the sprint turn-around was. After that, there was lots of passing. It was hard to tell who was in which race (sprint or intermediate) since a lot of people's marking had worn off their legs.
I was so thirsty and had already drank one of my water bottles, but I also had to pee. I had this trouble in the race last year too -- I want to keep drinking but my bladder feels so full! I knew it was only going to feel worse on the run...but I was daydreaming about drinking gatorade. I also started to get some slight pain in my left knee towards the end of the bike but tried to ignore it and push the thoughts out that kept creeping into my head saying "this is going to hurt when you run!"
My bike time was very close to last year's time, about 1hour 23 minutes with an average speed of 17.5 mph.
I saw my mom during T2 and gave her a thumbs up. Switched my shoes, grabbed my little water bottle and race belt, and was on my way.
Definitely the hardest part for me. I felt pretty good out to the waterfall (if you want to call it that - there actually was no water falling because of the drought). I wore my watch, which isn't a fancy sports watch and doesn't show mileage, but that way I could at least have an idea of how long it was taking me. I think I was averaging just under a 9 minute mile for the first part of the race. I started to get really hot, especially once I got back to the grassy area near the lake -- I HATE that part!! I hate running under the bridge in the gravel, I feel like I stop moving. It's so hot in the grassy area, and it's lumpy and hard to run in. The water in my bottle was really hot so I stopped a few times throughout the run to get cold water and gatorate. The gatorade tasted SO good! I wanted to guzzle cups and cups of it...but I didn't. I was still preoccupied with really needing to pee and every time I stopped for water or gatorade I thought "how am I going to fit this in!"
I was feeling very sluggish coming back to the transition area after finishing my first lap. My mom and Nick were right along the edge and reached out to high five me when I went by. I told them I was so hot! I'm sure my face
looked like a ripe tomato. I trudged back out through the awful grassy area again and headed back out to the falls. Finally after reaching the falls turn around area I could tell myself that this was it, I was heading back to the finish! My knee was starting to hurt more but if I ignored it it wasn't that terrible.
Right when I got back to the grassy area just under the bridge, I noticed a girl who was in my age group (from the markings on her leg) coming up behind me. I thought to myself "NO you won't pass me!" and picked up the pace. I stayed just in front of her, which was hard, because I was tired. I tried to find a little bit of extra energy and pick it up for the very last part, rounding the corner and down to the finish line!
The usual - chatted with some friends to see how their races went, ate free food, etc. Several women who ride in the Women's Road Rides on Wednesday nights with me also did the tri and lots of them placed in their age group. It was a good day for WRR! I ended up placing 4/8 in my age group and 37/78 for females...so pretty much right in the middle, and I beat my time from last year...so, it was a good day.
Later in the week
My left knee and both my feet hurt really bad for a few days. I think I need new running shoes. I had lots of blisters on my feet and my toenails weren't in great shape after the run. Luckily the knee and feet both felt better after a few days.
I've been thinking about getting a massage since...probably November of last year, so after this race I was feeling kind of sore and decided to finally get one. I splurged and went to Rasa Spa - a really nice one in Ithaca. It was my first time there. I got a 30 minute facial and a 60 minute massage. The facial was really relaxing and nice. The massage was nice too but sometimes painful, particularly on the sides of my neck, my hamstrings, and butt. I guess that means those areas really needed the work...right?!