For past races, I have woken up at the ‘dark and oh-not-so-cheery’ time of 5:00 AM feeling groggy and lifeless as I navigate through my pre-race morning routine. I’ve been known to fill the Keurig with water, insert a K-Cup and then forget the actual coffee cup, watching with dismay as it floods the counter and then drips on to the floor until my husband’s snaps me out of it … “Jen, Jen” !!!
You might be thinking how in the world do I get myself to the actual race site, set up in transition and over to the swim start. One word. Autopilot. I have lots of practice. My dear husband sends me off with these encouraging words, “watch for animals”. I think to myself, do you mean prey animals because I would be a target for them right about now!
I have packing down to a science even to the extreme of attaching my bike rack, loading my bike and squishing it all into the garage and closing the door. I also include a post-it-note on my dashboard reminding me to open the closed door in the morning. Why? Remember, autopilot.
For this race, I had a dream that I forgot my bike. Not sure why because we’ve been on good terms this past month. The mushroom has not felt inclined to deposit me on the side of the road with a dropped chain or flat tire or otherwise. So, I think we are good there, I think. It could be that in checking my bike shoes the day before the race (always, always double check equipment the day before a race!), I noticed 3 screws that attach the cleat to my left shoe were gone! Glad I caught that one. I don’t even want to think about what might have happened. Thankfully, the super awesome folks at The Bicycle Chain fixed them for me. They had spares. They also noted the wear and well, rust on my cleats and said that I must be using them a lot. Which is true, but I am also really rough on them AND riding my bike usually pairs nicely with torrential rain.
It’s an hour long drive to the race site and Lorde-Royals played on the radio 3 times. Guess what song I raced to? Arriving at the race site, race volunteers promptly inform me that I will not be able to leave the comforts of this prime-o parking spot until the last runner crosses the finish line. I am okay with that now because it is dark, cold and the alternative is a long walk to the transition area. I have instant fondness for this particular race site because there are toilets inside of a real building that flush. Need I say more?
For this race I have already scored points, I slept 7 solid hours, I am nourished and I successfully french braided the front of my hair, so that I can see while on the bike. As I am finishing up my transition set up a race official stops to ask me questions (while checking for any rule violations). Why in that very instant do I feel it’s necessary to tell her about my entire race season? Shut it, Jen.
We’ve been told that the outdoor pool water (70 degrees, maybe) will feel warm in comparison to the air temperature (54 degrees, overcast & breezy). It’s easy to convince us as we stand poolside trembling with teeth chatter. I dip my foot to test the water. Yup, just as I expected not warm. Not warm at all! The worst part? Standing there watching the expressions of the lead swimmers as they come out of the pool. But I survived Lake Logan (67 degrees of circulating frost bite) and I will take this one for the Team.
I am so numb heading into T1 that I don’t feel a thing until I jump on the mushroom and my ribs start to cramp. Frozen to the core I am. I keep my legs going and try to stretch out over the handle bars. There is a bit of a head wind and I am trying to maintain my average speed of 18-19 mph. I reach the 3 mile mark and a volunteer cheers, “don’t give up now! crank those pedals” which makes me glance at my speed, still a solid 18 mph. I am wondering what in the world my competition is doing! No time for worry as there are 3 hill climbs coming up – one after the other – Gah! I am experiencing some shifting issues in the valleys. Here’s the deal, if the mushroom doesn’t think I can handle a harder gear, it refuses to shift despite the coaxing and subtle words of encouragement. It just won’t happen until I clearly prove to the mushroom that I can maintain a better cadence. And 9 times out of 10 the mushroom has been right. But why does the mushroom have to be right during a race?
I am in and out of T2 in 44 seconds as I hear a familiar voice calling from behind the fence, “Go Jen!”. It’s my husband? I am shocked because he hates dark o’clock mornings. I give him a big smile and head out for my run.
I’ve been working on my run this season, I am convinced at least in a Sprint Triathlon, it’s the fastest run that wins it. At times I’ve felt like speed would never happen even though the endurance is there. This month I’ve picked up some speed. Not sure where it came from, but I am not complaining. So I embrace the run, attack some hills and increase my stride length for the final mile burn. I finish my run in 29 minutes which is excellent for me.
So, here is the heart breaker… I missed 3rd place in my AG by a mere 23 seconds! With a pool swim it’s hard to know where your competition is because they might very well be behind you. Sneaky! On that note, I did break my own rules as noted in my previous post, to let a very serious 12 year old competitor know that she was totally awesome. Her smile and thank you was well worth the time. Kindness towards others means more than winning a race. Always remember that.
So, here are my final race stats:
10 minute (very cold!) pool swim (350m), T1 59 sec, 45 minute bike (11.4 miles), T2 44 sec, and 29 minute run (5k).
Pretty close to my post-it-note goals (ample swim time = frosty waters & lane crowding).
Who is waiting for me at the Finish? It’s my husband, of course!