Tweet This post is overdue, but it has taken me about 10 days to process the outcome of my most recent race, the St. Louis 5150 (Olympic distance triathlon) the last Saturday in June.
I hadn't really planned to do the race, but I was feeling OK and wanted the practice of doing a full Olympic distance triathlon. I actually competed in the Kansas 5150 in May, but the swim was canceled due to lightning, so I missed out on that. I've done this race three times before, but this was the first year it was a true Olympic distance. It's always been a "Quartermax" (quarter Ironman) before: 1000 yard swim, 28 mile bike and 6.2 mile run.
I thought that my fitness would be good considering the St. Louis 5150 was 3 weeks post-Ironman Kansas 70.3. I was feeling pretty good, not as good as I did before IMKS, but pretty good considering.
The morning of the race I got up at 4:30, at my traditional toasted bagel, half with peanut butter, half with jelly, and some Ironman Perform drink. I left home at 5:05 a.m. for the 1-hour drive to Innsbrook Resort. I was calm, cool and collected, which is highly unusual for me pre-race, but since I knew this course, and wasn't really racing, I was ok.
The lake was 80 degrees, so no wetsuits for this one, and I was ok with it. Last year was not wetsuit-legal either, and I did fine. And the week before, I'd swam without a wetsuit at the open water swim practice, so I was confident. I got to warm up for a few minutes in the lake before the pros started. Finally the canon sounded for my wave. Although I struggled at bit at the beginning because I kept getting water in my goggles, it actually was the least stressful open-water swim I've ever had in a race. I felt really good, didn't panic at all and felt like I was making good progress the whole time. I passed a few people, and when I was passed, I tried to stay on their feet as long as I could. I reached the shore and started running up the long, grass-covered hill to the transition area.
I had a quick transition time, relatively, and headed out on a very hilly, very technical bike ride. The first part is a very steep uphill that many people have to walk their bikes up. Every year someone falls over because they start it too big of a gear. I've learned to keep it in an easy gear and glide on up. The route was a little different this year, but despite the hills and technicality, I made good time, I thought, with an average speed of 20.2 miles per hour. I even passed some men, and they didn't pass me back! There were three hills where people were walking their bikes up. These were mid-packers, not back-of-the-packers. I stopped at one point to make sure I didn't have a flat because I suddenly wasn't going anywhere fast!
I still felt pretty good when I started the run. However, the course was changed significantly this year to one that was even harder than before. We started out on hilly grass that had lots of holes and ruts. It was almost cross-country like. It was really hard. Then we got into the condos onto regular road until we got onto the gravel road. The course was one of the most difficult I've ever run on. I had to walk up two very long, steep hills. I had hoped to really blitz it out on the run, but the course was not allowing that. As I passed other runners, I got a lot of "great pace," "looking strong," "keep it up." As I neared the finish chute, I was back on the grass, and had to run up a couple of short, steep hills. I tripped, but didn't fall. I ran as hard as I could through the chute and to the finish line. I had no idea what my time was, but I felt pretty good about my performance.
I got some food and water and went back to my transition area to gather my stuff, and a woman came in on her bike and racked it near mine. She made a comment about how hard the bike course was, and I agreed. She then said, "I don't know if I can keep going." I said, "what do you mean?" she said she still had to do the run. I encouraged her not to quit, as the weather was beautiful and she'd already come this far. I felt bad for her.
I took my stuff to my car then walked back to get my receipt with my results. My swim time wasn't very good, but it includes the long run up to transition, so I was ok with it. My bike time was pretty good, though they had my avg. speed at 17.5. The run time was not good, but considering the circumstances, I was ok with it. But then I saw my placement in my age group (9th) and was devastated. Although I kept saying this was just for practice and I wasn't racing, I had really hoped to finish in the top 5 in my group. I was really discouraged. I got some more water, got in my car and drove home feeling really defeated.
Since then, I've talked with my two trusted advisers, one of whom was there watching his wife. He said there was nothing for me to be discouraged about, because he had learned the swim course was way long (over a mile), and the run course was just brutal. My other adviser said to consider that this was my third race in 6 weeks, and my body was probably really tired. This is really my first season doing solely triathlons, so I'm still learning how I recover. So I felt better.
So while it was a race, it was a learning experience in many ways -- my first real Olympic distance race, as well as one in which I set too high expectations for myself and disappointed myself. But, life goes on, and now I know three races in six weeks -- Olympic, 70.3, and Olympic -- is probably not the best plan for me.
What's next? I'm going to take some time to think about it while I train correctly for HyVee Triathlon in September.