At the suggestion of my coach I added a Oly to my pre-IM race schedule. I have not done an Oly Tri since 2009. The distance seem super short now with all my longer distance tri and running races under my belt. I was given permission to really race it and see what I was made of! And I had Speedy back so I was super excited to race on Sunday.
The Thur prior I ran an 18 miler at a faster pace on the same route I used last month. It was hilly and I felt really good the whole time. For the first time on my long runs I felt that I could have kept running at that pace. By Saturday I felt pretty recovered from the run.
The day started at 5 am with my usual large coffee and PB and banana. I slept well the night before and was feeling ready to race that day. There was not a cloud in the sky and it was in the high 50s. Perfect. There had been very little communication from the race director prior to the race so I was unsure when I was starting. The race started at 8 am so I wanted to give myself a good 90 minutes just in case. Turns out there were only two waves for the Oly and two for the sprint. I got in a very short swim warm up. The water felt nice, 72 degrees with a clear sky. The threw the Clydesdales in with all the womyn. This concerned me a bit 'cause I am little, but I managed to position myself well to avoid too much chaos. Big dudes really like to swim over me. I am strong enough now that I can keep going and it does not freak me out, but its annoying.
I started off nice and strong and rapidly progressed through my wave. I felt floaty and powerful in the water. I choose to go with the wetsuit for extra bouyancy. I managed to catch up to some of the men. The course was a counterclockwise oval shape (??). It was well marked until the last 500 yards or so. It was very difficulty to site the swim exit as it was just beyond a dock. Word on the street is that folks were swimming to the dock instead of making the hard right. I was fortunate enough to be able to follow a group of swimmers. Like good little doobey I swam until it was very shallow.
From the waters edge to Transition involved running up a .5 mile trail that was laden with rocks, roots, and mud. I had Crocs at the waters edge which allowed me to very cautiously run up the transition. All of this spelled disaster waiting to happen!! I was SUPER careful 'cause my luck I would twist my ankle. And that would have SUCKED this close to Ironman. Despite all of that my T1 was pretty fast! I slipped out of my wetsuit and hopped on Speedy. oooo how sweet it was to have her back.
The bike course was 26 miles. A walk in the park for me. 26 miles is my warm up these days. So I would ride HARD. It was hilly but nothing I couldn't do. The tricky part was pacing and nutrition on such a short course. I drank all of a PowerBar drink mix and had one caffeinated Clif Shot. I felt fantastic on the first loop of the course and averaged 20 mph. I slowed down a bit on the second, but still averaged around 18. There were some longish climbs, but nothing steep. And some killer descents. I've forgotten how good it feels to be down in aero. A few more rides on Speedy and I'll be 100% back on my TT riding form.
Quick T2 and off I went. Amy was voluntering near the finish line. I saw her heading out on the run. yeah! My legs were screaming a bit after that ride, but I felt good on the first mile of the run. The first 1.5 or so of the run shared the course with the bike. It was very crowded and many athletes were seemingly not conscious of other runners or riders. I pushed the pace a bit up and over the first two hills. I felt really good, but had to pee! whoops. It was only 6 miles but I wanted to be able to hydrate. Soooo I found a place in the woods around mile 4. phew. That was around the time that my legs decided they had had enough. My pace dropped up the last few hills, but was able to push the pace on the flats and the downhills. Part of that was pacing on the bike and early on the run. And that 18 miler three days prior. I finished strong in just over 1:57. I came in 6th in my AG. Over all I am pleased. I forgot how much fun this distance is. Long enough to feel a bit challenging, but short enough to be able to push it and not feel like toast at the end.
FIRMs Ashland tri was a super fun course. Challenging and beautiful. But it was poorly run. Race staff did not warn us about the trail run at any point during the days and hours before start time. It was unclear until moments before the start what the swim waves were. There were not clear signs to the swim start (it was hidden by trees). Transition was not clearly labeled. And there were apparently a few bike accidents involving cars. Also, the food at the end was terrible. Our options were hot dogs and salad. That's it. Amy and I ate at Whole Foods! So much better!! I am not sure that I would do another FIRM race.
There are 42 days left until Ironman Lake Placid. This week is a short 4 day recovery week, ending with a 100/7 brick. My next training block will have LP on in. yikes. I am feeling more and more ready every week. I am ready to have some free time on the weekends and S:B:R because I want to (fast or slow) and not 'cause I have to. I love Ironman training. I love the how my body changes. I love how my mind changes. How 18 miles on the run and 90 on the bike seems like nothing towards the end. I love the muscle burn. I love discovering how much I can push myself, my perseverance, determination, and tenacity. But I also love sitting in the sun on a Saturday afternoon with a fruity drink after doing an easy 20 miles with my girlfriend. Or hiking all day. I am ready to have variety back in my life. But I am also ready to have a great long weekend in Lake Placid, NY with my friends, family, and girl friend. I am ready to spend 12+ hours swimming, biking, and running with a whole lotta awesome people. I am ready to be surrounded by like minded folks. I am ready to kick some serious ass. Final KICK!