Olympic Triathlon.. check! My times were pretty close to what I estimated I would get, and I was very pleased that I was only a few minutes off of what I thought would be a really good time for me. From previous post “My goal is to finish the triathlon in 3 hours 40 mins. My very rough estimate for me: 45 mins swim, 1:45 bike, 60 min run, 10 mins for transitions. My ambitious goal is 3:30. Would be super happy with that.”
Actual results: Total time 3:33.45
Swim – 44:32, Bike – 1:41:07, Run – 62:06, Transition totals – 6:12
I wasn’t completed exhausted crossing the finish line like I imagined I would be and like I am used to when I ran shorter distances for track and cross country. Maybe it’s not supposed to be that way when you are racing for 3.5+ hours vs. 22 mins, or 1 minute. I had started to cramp up while running the first three miles, and was just trying to keep running and not walk. I also tried to pace myself, which resulted probably in biking slower than I was capable. I felt very proud when I was finished, proud of my time, proud I didn’t walk up the giant hill on the bike, and that I didn’t walk during the run portion. I was also surprised at how fast everyone was. I trained pretty hard, and even though this was my first one, and yes, I was racing myself and not others.. but I still thought I would do better in comparison to everyone else. About one hundred people were no shows, but of the roughly 500 people that raced it, I was only ahead of about 15 people for the swim. What the hell. Was I really that slow? Apparently. Did a lot better for the bike and the run though. There were a lot of things to improve on, and I will probably do another one next summer.
The five days before the race I was extra careful about my nutrition and my sleep patterns. I wanted to race without any stomach issues, and to be well rested. To just be able to do the best that I could. Knowing that being nervous makes it hard for me to sleep, and getting up at 5:00am is not an easy task for me, much less to be ready to race, I started waking up at 6:30am throughout the week and at 5:30am on friday just to be prepared. I also ate chicken and rice and salad for lunch and dinner and oatmeal for breakfast the entire week with few exceptions.
Race day nutrition: There were a lot of articles about this, the consensus seemed to be for an Olympic Triathlon that you want to minimize what you eat so that you don’t have any stomach issues, and also because it takes your body effort to be digesting food during the race. But you want to make sure you are properly fueled, and some of this takes experimentation about what works best for you. I liked this article
I ate a banana and a piece of toast with peanut butter. I couldn’t eat anymore than that because I felt sick with nerves. I had a protein shake ready, but just couldn’t do it. My racing partners had even less to eat than I did. For the longer races like Half Ironman, they have to eat more on the trail, but you can getaway with not eating much before an Olympic Tri.
The race – setting up:
Our racing numbers were also where we were assigned to rack the bikes. Having arrived quite early, I got a good rack spot within the assigned rack, and set up my things as planned, with bike shoes, socks, running shoes, towel, gel packet, helmet, sunglasses, water bottle for just water, water bottle with electrolytes, extra rubber band and bobby pins. I probably overdid it on the double water bottle, but I know after swimming I’m thirsty for regular water, but figured after the bike, I might need more electrolytes. I had a hard time sleeping the night before as predicted, but I think I had at least 4-5 hours of sleep. I got the most nervous right after we setup our things, and had about 45 minutes before the race started. At one point I had to go sit down on a bench and focus on the ground so that I wouldn’t throw up. The last time I was that nervous was before my first (and only) boxing match over 6 years ago.
The water was 77 degrees, so wetsuit legal. I didn’t want to buy a wetsuit for just one race, and was one of the few people who didn’t have one. I wore my biking shorts over my swimming suit, and was cold during the swim. I started near the back of the pack, and got so nervous that I started hyperventilating initially. I thought about quitting, and had to tell myself to calm down, focus, just keep swimming. I did breast stroke to calm my nervous so my head was above water and I could breathe better. At least the first 100m I did breast stroke, and every time I rounded a corner, or was overtaken by people hitting my leg I would switch strokes again. This substantially slowed my swim time, and from the times above it shows that my swimming in comparison to the other racers was my weakest link by far. I was also really nervous about cramping, as that had been so debilitating when it happened to me in the pool. About halfway through, my foot started twitching with the tell tail warning signs, and I tried to speed up to just hurry and get it over with. The longer I was in the lake, the more at risk I would be. I bet I could take off ten minutes if I trained more next summer. Things to work on: sighting, swimming longer distances and just being a stronger swimmer in general, and more open water swims. I was still proud of myself though. Going from 200m, to 1500m, and not haven’t swam in twenty years I thought I did good. I was also nervous about not being able to finish – not only just the swim, but for the whole race, and I held back a lot. I just had no idea how to pace myself and decided it would be better to push myself on the bike / run rather than to burn out on the swim.
I felt prepared for the bike, and the scenery was beautiful. I didn’t have two water bottle holders, and during training I was always on the brink with my 15oz water bottle of having not quite enough, but doable. So I got a a 20oz water bottle with electrolytes in it and felt like that was enough. I finished it all, mostly because I made myself drink throughout the course. I had taped onto my bike 4 chew gels that I paced out for 15 minute intervals as well. I was able to push myself pretty good, and my legs were burning for most of the time. There was a giant hill at the end that I was mentally ready for. From driving the course beforehand, I knew it would be hard. I eased up on my speed before it, so my legs would get a little rest, and sped up it. It was very hard for me, and I had to really concentrate to not stop. My legs were burning so bad through the whole thing. My training over the summer had incorporated a lot of hills so that helped me both physically and mentally. The course was hilly, but not as bad as some of my training routes had been.
I started out running fastish and felt good. Within about half a mile into it, my legs started cramping up and my calves, especially my right calf, was burning so bad that I couldn’t run very well. Every step I could feel it and was trying to just keep jogging. It was getting very hot and I was getting thirsty. They had the little water stations, but my stomach cramps up if I drink too much water while running, so I would take just little sips. Finally at about mile three my calves stopped burning and I could pick up the pace. I looked down at my watch and saw if I ran about 8:00pace I would finish below 1:30. I didn’t quite make it that fast, but I did make up some time for those last three miles. I finished, happy and relieved that it was over, feeling accomplished that I had trained consistently and did my best.