07 30 2015.

race report: tri for a cure 2015

Photo © Carly Raymond

On Sunday I participated in the Tri for a Cure for the second year in a row. Starting almost immediately after Sugarloaf, I dove right into triathlon training. I trained for six days a week with a rest day on Fridays. In the midst of this training, I left my job at a graphic design firm and joined the ranks of a larger business in town as a front end engineer. While it proved to be a very hectic and busy two week transition, my tri training and fantastic new job provided me with a huge confidence boost and finally brought about my excitement for the Tri for a Cure that had been missing for way too long!

Since I was no longer a stranger to triathlons, my goal going into this race was to improve on last year’s time. I didn’t have a specific number in mind – I just wanted to see that I had made performance improvements, especially considering that I had been working with Kelsey since February!

At 4am on Sunday, I woke up to pouring rain. I had checked the weather the night before and knew to expect rain, but waking up to it sent me into panic mode. I frantically started filling my already meticulously packed bags with extra towels, socks, a raincoat, and trash bags. I’m not usually bothered by the rain. In fact, I love running in the rain – and swimming in the rain reminds me of being a kid in a lake during the summer. I was, however, a little concerned that I’d be cold, especially on the bike.

The funny thing is that I wasn’t that nervous for the event overall. I didn’t have the same concerns about it that I did last year – the logistics (did I pack everything I needed? how do I set up my transition properly? will I get a flat on my bike or will the chain pop off?) I felt kind of calm. All of the work had been put in at this point. I just had to go do it.

I ate my traditional tri breakfast of (water, coffee) an English muffin with peanut butter and a banana. It went down fine – no nerves getting in the way. Before I knew it, I was out the door headed to SMCC.

The morning always feels so long after I’ve set up my transition area. I’m an over-planner (shocked?) and pack everything I’ll need in the order that I’ll need it so when I get to my bike, I just unpack it and wait around. Though it was no longer raining, I covered everything with a trash bag to stay dry just in case.

Sidenote: my bike was in the same exact spot this year as it was last year! SO HAPPY about that. It didn’t mess with my head at all and it’s directly next to the swim in/run out area.

Photo © SheJams

After setting up my transition area, I went down to the beach to get the mini transition area figured out and then back up to the lot to get a sheJAMS photo. All the quiet of the morning usually fades at this point. I feel like the morning of a tri is so silent, almost somber, until spectators arrive. The SheJAMS photo is actually a great icebreaker for peoples’ excitement and nerves. I start to fully realize (re-realize?) how wonderful the event is, how lucky I am to be doing it for a second time, and how actually excited I am for it to start.

I decided to get in the water to warm up and that’s when my nerves started. The water wasn’t that cold (and according to an official USAT reading, it was a few degrees warmer than the air) but when I got out of the water, I couldn’t seem to keep warm. I kept my wetsuit on for warm but I felt so cold and was experiencing full body shivers. Honestly, I thought I had been hit with the flu or something really suddenly! I became increasingly more concerned that I wouldn’t be able to warm up during the race and that I’d just be miserable and sick.

The ceremony started shortly after and the excitement in the speaker’s voices was so motivating and powerful. I chatted with some women around me who were lined up in my age group – some who had never done it before, a few who had done it for 4+ years in a row!

And then it was time to get into the water. Those 2 minutes pass by so quickly. Meredith initiates a hilarious chant of “I AM AN AMAZING SWIMMER!” to settle our nerves and then the horn goes.

I dove right in and started my freestyle stroke immediately. I wanted to get ahead of most of the girls to avoid the chaos. Unfortunately, that was everyone’s idea. This was probably my worst swim start to date – it was completely hectic and I finally experienced being “climbed” up in the water. Not a good feeling. I’m pretty sure I kicked a few women and I even got a light kick to the face – all before rounding the first buoy. It was disheartening to have had such easy swim starts for my other three tris and then to experience such a tough beginning at (what I would consider to be) a performance race.

Once I had broken free from most of the pack – after rounding the first buoy – I was able to just focus, keep my head under the water, and swim. I was back to the beach before I knew it.

Last year, I experienced a bit of vertigo after coming out of the water. I had felt nauseous while running back into transition and during hard bouts on the bike. This year I didn’t feel nauseous at all after the swim. (I feel like I owe that to more swim training.)

Photo © Paul Raymond

I hopped on my bike and set out for the second part of my Tri for a Cure adventure.

The bike felt much better this year. I wasn’t cramping, I wasn’t unhappy or uncomfortable. I pushed my effort about 85-95% at all times, but made sure to make use of the small chainring when I could in order to keep my legs feeling fresh and fast.

race_1114_photo_22972909 (1)
Photo © Game Face Media

I was fairly chatty on the bike. Not conversations, exactly, but I just felt so happy and relieved to A) not be cold(!!!) and B) not be cramping again this year that I was feeling generous with my optimism. I told almost everyone I passed that they were doing a great job, and I even told people who passed ME that they looked great. I know that’s kind of strange in the spirit of triathlon – but totally not for the Tri for a Cure.

Photo © Paul Raymond

Coming down Fort Road again this year choked me right up. My lips were twitching just trying to smile, though I wanted to cry tears of joy from seeing how many (hint: A LOT) spectators came out to line that street, even in the rain. I rounded the corner into transition for a second time, dismounted from my bike, and right away I knew that my legs were toast. They were bricks and felt so stiff. I practically limped back to the rack.

I grabbed my Garmin (dreading that darn 5k), flipped my bib belt around, and set out for the run. And after a few more seconds of running, my legs went, “JUST KIDDING!” and were okay. So I got a second wind, smiled some more, and was completely fueled by my relief and excitement to finish.

Photo © Game Face Media

I fell in slightly behind a woman whose pace I really liked. I had been pushing a 6:50 pace until that point, and felt like it wasn’t sustainable, so I nominated her to be my unknowing pacer. She was going ever so slightly faster than I felt comfortable, but it was a great way to push myself. My goal was to keep her in my sights and finish strong.

After the first mile, I actually felt like I had regained some strength and that I was capable of keeping this pace for the rest of the race. Shortly after mile 2, the woman in front of me turned around, gestured for me to move faster, and encouragingly said, “Come on!” I picked up my pace a little bit and ran next to her.

Photo © Game Face Media

I realized that I recognized that woman. And I knew exactly where I had seen her before. Last year I ran the Twilight 5k – it was my first official 5k. I had pushed myself (perhaps too hard) and I was feeling awful during the last half mile or so. I could hear a woman slightly behind me for the last mile – slowly gaining on me. At we approached the finish line, she finally did pass me, but she turned to me and said, “I’ve been trying to catch you this whole time! Come on! Finish strong!” I had nothing left in the tank, but I sped up as much as I was able to – not much at all – and watched her just blow me away and finish before me. I resolved at that moment to work on strong finishes so that I could do what she did.

This was that same woman.

We didn’t talk – I don’t think either of us were able to really hold a conversation – but having someone next to me whose pace was challenging yet doable was such a relief. That last mile went by much quicker than I had ever expected or hoped.

With about 1/3 of a mile left, as if on cue, she yelled for us to pick it up. I had been expecting that, so I started to run as fast as I could. Too fast. I ended up blasting by her but running out of steam just before the turn to the finish chute. She blew by me again, but turned around and kept encouraging me.

And then the finish line. Oh my goodness I’m SO grateful for my run angel for pushing me to run my fastest 5k!

Photo © Game Face Media

I was a little disoriented at first after crossing the finish line, but then I remembered that my mom was waiting somewhere close. She had volunteered at the finish line to put medals on athletes so she was able to put mine on me! That was so special! That was the perfect ending to such a physically challenging yet so rewarding experience.

I knocked off a good 4 minutes off of my time from last year – not surprisingly – all from the run! I was also surprised to see that I placed third in my age group and 34th overall! That’s a huge improvement over last year!

Time Breakdown
Swim | 10:58
T1 | 4:12
Bike | 52:00
T2 | 0:57.1
Run | 21:06
OVERALL | 1:29:12.8 (3rd AG!)

Photo © Tri for a Cure Facebook



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