Reflections on New Jersey State Sprint Triathlon

storm-01Haven’t had an update for this in awhile.  To sum up the experience.. relief and disappointment.  Relief that something is over that I wasn’t fully invested in, and felt guilty constantly when I wasn’t training for it, disappointment in that the race was shut down due to severe thunderstorms before I had a chance to finish.  I was really.. really disappointed in that.  In big part because I had been running the most for training for this race compared to the swim and bike, and I had been saving up my energy to kill it on the run portion.  I wanted to leave my time of a bad 5k race I had months ago in the dust. There were so many things that went wrong with this race, it ended up being more of a mental exercise in patience and letting go of what you have no control over, rather than an exercise in fitness.

Not prepared with training:  I had been focused on other things, and I underestimated how hard it would be to train and have a puppy.   I loved training for the Olympic tri, and I just didn’t have the time to devote to this. I wasn’t excited, and part of me wanted to just skip it.  I knew I wouldn’t do that, but I secretly wanted to.

The week of:
I got sick! I was very very sick with a fever and body aches and had missed nearly the entire week of work.  I was functional at least on the Friday before going up, we had a hotel room and would be staying in Jersey the night before.  Functional, but coughing a bit, and still had a fever.  I had also had a difficult week personally, and it was contributing to making me even more anxious and sick.

Day before:
Getting ready to go up we had planned it with plenty of time to go pick up our packets.  Plenty of time turned into cutting it close, as we hit bottleneck rush hour traffic out of DC.  The website specifically had said there was no same day packet pickup, and we had to be there before the cutoff time that evening in order to race.  I felt so angry with myself and  was having difficulty managing my anxiousness in the car ride.  As the traffic became worse and worse, the hoping that they would stay open a bit late, turned into acceptance that we would definitely not make it, and would just deal with it.  I had a knot in my stomach the entire time.  We tried calling, but there were no race headquarters and could not get ahold of anyone.  At this point all we could do was cross our fingers and hope that with such a big race, there would be so many people who did not make the cutoff and needed to be there the morning of.

Finally we arrived to the course to check it out around 8pm, which was my first twinge of excitement.  It was beautiful. The swim did not seem daunting at all.  It was pretty short after all.  We got to the hotel around 9pm, which did not leave very much time to destress, but rather just start getting my things ready then to go to bed.  As I was preparing my things for the next day, I pulled out my running shoes and realized I was missing one! I was horrified.  I had double-checked my things so many times the day before and must have left one when I had pulled them out to make sure I had everything else.  At this point I’m lucky to have had my friend there with me, who recognized that someone who gets lost all the time and is panicking should not be trying to drive around alone.  She calmed me down, called around to find the nearest box store and we managed to get a new shitty pair of running shoes barely before they closed.  I kept telling myself  during the car ride, after I got my shoes, that all I wanted to be able to do was race, and everything would be ok.  I had a good nights rest from being so exhausted of all the excitement, and felt better the next morning than I had for the entire week.

The Race!
We got there as soon as the race opened up and went straight to the line.  It was a $35 same day pick up fee which they made a killing off of.  So many people needed to pick up their stuff that day.  This race was huge! It was exciting to be part of such a big production.  Bikes everywhere.  We got set up, then went to do a warmup swim.  The water was warm, I finally was able to relax.  I wasn’t near as nervous before this race as my Olympic tri.  Probably because of having been through so many setbacks, at that time I felt that I really wanted to be there and do the best I could do.  I even got to yell into the bullhorn for my friend who was a few heats ahead of me.  I was ready.  I was excited.

The swim was short.  I was able to swim free nearly the whole way and without any issues with cramping.  Near the end I did do some breast stroke, and had some trouble sighting which added on some distance but I thought it went well.  My bike felt really good.  I was pushing myself just enough, and was saving myself for the run. I felt focused, was doing good on my nutrition, my body felt good, and I wanted to tear it apart on the run.  I could see some menacing clouds and was thinking it would suck to bike in the rain and hoping it would hold off long enough for me to start running.  I rolled up to the transition area and I heard volunteers yelling at me.  I was confused and kept going and finally it got through to me. “They called it.  They called the race”   I realized people were leaving in droves and that the race had been cancelled due to the severe storm that was approaching and there had been direct lighting strikes near the course.  I was so incredibly disappointed.  I went to collect my stuff and tried to wait for my friend.  The people who were halfway done with the run portion were allowed to continue.  I kept going through things in my head.. if I had been in an earlier wave, I might have been able to finish.  If I had been 5 minutes faster on the bike.. I might have been able to finish.  If I had only..
My times were ok.  My bike was better than my realistic goal, but my swim was slower.  I felt like my run portion would have been much faster.  I was especially disappointed in my swim because even though I hadn’t been training a ton, I was much more consistent with my swimming than my biking.  My endurance training was not on point, but likely was the biggest contributor even though I had gotten much faster.   My 100m swim times had improved quite a bit and I was at about 2:05 in the pool for my splits, while my bike training was almost non-existent. I even had a slower 500 meter time for this than what my three consecutive 500 meter splits were for my 1500m at the Olympic.   From my previous post: 

Realistic goal:   Swim 12:30  Bike  41 mins  Run 25:30 mins
Transitions total = 6:00mins  Race Time: 1:25.00

Ambitious Goal: Swim  11:45  Bike 38 mins  Run 24:30 mins
Transitions total = 5:15mins  Race Time: 1:19.00
Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 8.29.53 PM

This whole time though all the panicking and frustration I had told myself that as long as I got to race I would be content.  Then as it turns out, I didn’t get to finish anyways, and it was out of my hands.  I was crushed and in the hours immediately after the race I was searching online to sign up for another tri as soon as I got back from traveling in a month.  Then I started to have a reality check.. why do another race that I will be even less prepared for?  This would not be a victory for me.  It is what it is.  Maybe next year. Maybe a different race.  I was glad at least that this did not happen at my Olympic Tri.  I had trained so much harder for that one that I would have been even more crushed.   There will be other opportunities.  I would like to think that I handle stress well but in this case I did not.  It seemed like many things came together at the same time to make this an extremely challenging mental exercise in letting go of control and being okay with that.  One of my favorite quotes from The Art of Happiness: “If there is a solution to the problem, there is no need to worry. If there is no solution, there is no sense in worrying either.”   I would like to have been calmer, to have not let these things bother me so much. It makes me a nervous to see that his happens occasionally.  A 50 mile qualifying race was cancelled a few weeks ago due to the hurricane, and I was following along the Facebook group in the comments to see people’s disappointment.   So in addition to preparing physically for the next challenge, I plan on working more on meditation, and mental focus, and to use this opportunity as a learning experience that reflects back to me what my weaknesses are.

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About Musings over Coffee

Fitness enthusiast. Love to travel, mess up recipes, ponder random things, get riled up about the news, all of which nearly always coinciding with one of my favorite things in the world: Coffee.
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