Event: Captex Sprint
Location: Austin, TX
Class (yours): F 30-34
Results: 8th in AG (My goal was top 10, so I was pumped!)
Local Knowledge and Conditions: I had raced Captex in previous years and so I had a small idea on what I was getting myself into. The race is quite exciting...there are athletes from all over that come to this race and it is quite a huge event. And, since there is an olympic and sprint distance, you get a lot of athletes of all different backgrounds and endurance levels coming out to race in Austin. The one thing I always remember is how crazy the bike course can be. Since the Olympic athletes start 2 hours before the Sprint and they have 4 loops on the bike, there is quite a bit of traffic that you enter into upon starting the sprint. I also remembered that there are quite a few turns on the bike route and with having to do 2 loops, this means twice the number of turns overall...thank goodness it wasn't wet on the roads! The weather ended up being quite wonderful...it rained on the days leading up to the race, but on Memorial Day, the sun was beaming and the temperatures were quite warm (great for jumping into the 68 degree water, but not so great during the unshaded run!).
Pre-Race Strategy & Warm Up: I love going to this race..it's just fun going out of town for a race, it seems to hype it up even more. Barry and I drove down to Austin on Saturday and enjoyed a relaxing evening there while grandparents kept John for us that night. It was nice to wake up Sunday, go for a morning run, and then enjoy a leisurely day of heading to the expo, getting race gear together, etc. Since there are so many waves and two different distances, the sprint athletes didn't start until 9:00. I think I could get used to the later time! My transition area didn't even open until 7:00, so I was able to wake up, get dressed, and have plenty of time before heading to transition. I enjoyed some toast at the hotel's complimentary breakfast and drank some Naked Juice (love me some Gold Machine!). I then headed to transition knowing I had plenty of time to spare...transition closed at 8:30 and I didn't start until 9:10. I did several checks on my gear, making sure my bike was set up right and I wasn't stuck in a difficult gear to start out on the course (I definitely learned that from past mistakes!)
Psychology: I was definitely nervous about this swim...it was 750 meters which I had been spoiled on the 500 meter and less swims from the previous sprints. Since swimming is my weakness, I was pretty nervous about the longer swim and wondering how I would feel. I had been working on the mental aspect of swimming, just trying to figure out why I was so nervous and what I was really scared of...all I could come up with was drowning...that's not such a big deal, right? :) Anyway, seeing that this was a wetsuit legal race, I actually felt a little calmer and decided I would just go out and swim slowly and smoothly, not worrying about anything else but my body gliding through the water...and lo and behold, I had my best swim ever and never had any panic! Woo hoo! Baby steps! :)
Lessons Learned (Or Re-Learned): The main thing I learned is that everyone hurts when they are out there. If I'm out there trying to race and not hurt, then I'm not working hard enough. There were times during the race I felt so worn out and thought that I was the only one hurting that bad...then I would notice someone else with the same look of pain on their face and realize they were hurting just as much but still pushing forward...and that's what I needed to do..learn to hurt and keep pushing. Our lovely team motto kept creeping into my mind..it never gets easier, just faster. And that was absolutely right...I hurt just as much as I had on previous triathlons...but this year, I was 14 minutes faster than last year...I'm beginning to like this faster part!
Future Goals (include skills executed well and skills needing improvement): This race had some great positives for me...the swim was a huge improvement. Last year at this race, I ended up having quite a bit of panic and resorted to backstroke, breath stroke, survival stroke...anything to keep me moving forward in the swim. This year, I swam freestyle the entire time and ended up catching quite a few girls in my wave. The bike had some great moments too...I have been training with a power meter and have started to learn how to ride with actual strength instead of lolling around like I seemed to have done in the past years...those lousy power numbers just don't lie! :) Anyway, my training on the bike has gotten a lot better and I pushed a lot harder the entire race...my goal was to average close to 19 mph and ended up hitting 19.5...woo hoo!! Now, the run was a little discouraging...I got off the bike mentally ready to hit the ground flying...and my flying ended up being more of a coast....I just couldn't get my legs to move any faster and settled into an ok pace...definitely not as fast as I had hoped though. I started to let the heat mentally make me more tired and allowed my pace to slip off...but once I got to the 2 mile mark, I decided it was ridiculous to let this 5K distance beat me and I picked it back up....just need to learn to pick it up from the beginning (gosh this seems to be a recurring theme with my racing!)
Fitness (endurance, nutrition, hydration): I utilized my normal nutrition of a gel before the start of the race, gel at the end of the bike, and lots of water on the bike and on the run. Love those aid stations!
Something funny that happened: One funny thing is when I got into T1 and started yanking off the wetsuit, the arm of my suit flung around, hit the ground, and then flung up toward my face sending wet grass directly into my contacts. NOT GOOD! I ended up finishing out T1 while blinking profusely and trying to run with my bike, half seeing where I was going. I started wondering whether I was the weird blinking girl to everyone, or the serious flirter that was winking at everyone. heh! heh!