Monday. Completed my 6th race at St. Anthony’s yesterday. 30 minutes slower (3:53) than my best result (3:25) but I’m okay with how I did because I felt good, I worked hard, I started to remember how to do these triathlons, I had fun, I met one of my idols, I got to hang with my friend Melissa, had a nice visit with my friend Marlie after the race and today I feel okay. Of course I wish I could have ended with a better posted result but as we know not all victories are measured on the clock.
Flew down on Friday, got settled into my B&B, did a few errands, had dinner and before I knew it, time for bed. I think arriving on Friday was a good choice.
Saturday I went for a short run when I got up. Got sidetracked in cheering for the little 7 year olds doing the meek and mighty. They are so cute I couldn’t help myself.
I tried out my new long-sleeved wetsuit (Promotion brand). I like it but I really don’t like wetsuits. But as wetsuits go this one was okay. Lots of movement in the shoulders and no pulling on my arms. It’s acceptable but I think I need more practice in it before I race in it. Training camp in May will provide that. The wetsuit test was really for Alcatraz in June. I had no intention of wearing a wetsuit at St. A’s the water temp ended up being 73 degrees and that was perfect temp for me and no westsuit needed. But Alcatraz is going to be cold and I’m a little nervous about my asthma and the cold so long-sleeved wetsuit needed. Swam for about 15 minutes with wet suit and another 15 without. Water was amazing!
I picked up my bike, went for a 20 minute ride just to make sure everything was working and racked my bike in transition. Melissa and I went to Prima for dinner downtown, we both LOVED it and will go back again.
Race morning Melissa and I got up 5 a.m. For breakfast I had a protein shake, and one piece of bread with earth balance spread. I also drank a bottle of Infinit (my custom sports drink). All together about 550 calories. That was more than enough — I didn’t need the bread. I couldn’t eat my banana. For next time I’ll know protein shake and bottle of infinite would be enough — maybe do the banana instead of the bread. But morning calories I think were just right and I made sure to hydrate a lot the two days prior to the race. I think I did that all right.
I made one executive decision that was probably not the smartest. I felt my tires in transition and I decided to not pump them. They felt just right to me and I had tested my bike out the day before and they felt okay. I just didn’t want to muck around too much with my bike. A little voice just told me to leave her alone so I did. I was afraid of the rising heat temps and that maybe they would explode (happened to me in Disney 1/2 IM). In retrospect I probably should have pumped the tires more — might have given me a smidge more speed. But sometimes you just go with your gut. They felt fine during the race. I did not feel like I was riding on low tires.
Got my transition set up in a jiff and Melissa and I headed down to the swim start.
The big news at St. A’s is that they have changed the swim course. Instead of swimming from the pier out and counter clock wise to Vinoy Park, you swim from a northern beach and swim clockwise down to Vinoy Park. It looked to me that we would be swimming against the current most of the time but the water seemed calm enough that it wouldn’t matter.
Also new for the swim is it is an in-water start. Because the water is so shallow to about 75 meters out into the bay, each wave (group of athletes) entered the corral and then walked out to the start in the water. When the gun goes off athletes would start swimming from the water instead of running in from the beach as in previous years. I liked the new start much better. Seemed less chaotic.
My wave was one of the earliest. I went off at 7:05 with the women over 60 and the Athena women (over 150 pounds). I was so excited to see Sister Madonna Buder was there to swim in my wave. Nobody was announcing her name or making the big hulabaloo they made in Canada that she was in the race. I actually got a chance to walk up and meet her in person (I’ve been to hear her speak.) 82 years old, full-time nun, part-time triathlete, multi-time Ironman. I really admire her spirit and love for the sport. It made my day to be able to speak to her.
I was happy to get an early start. In past years I’ve had to wait as much as 2 1/2 hours for my wave start and that is grueling. But with every give there is a take and my one draw back is that after my small wave of maybe 20 women in pink caps, came the Men. Rough guestimate from the results but approximately 400 men swam past me in the race. I’m not making that up, about 400 man swam past me in the 44 minutes I was out there. The next group of women would not be in the water until an hour after me so I knew there would be no women coming up behind me. That meant anyone who swam 5, 10 or 15 minutes faster than me would be swimming over me and past me. Rough peruse of the results showed 400 men did that. Males swimmers are not quite as polite as female. I knew I had two choices, swim wide and let them pass me or swim my regular line and be prepared to be kicked and pushed. I decided to hold my line and if they were going to swim past me I was going to try to catch a draft. Yes I got knocked around a couple of times (one big wallop to the head), but for the most part as long as I swam straight, they didn’t bother me. Maybe that was a mistake to stay in the fray, but I think it was good experience.
Of everything, I was disappointed in my swim result. I felt that I was swimming with a decent effort the entire time. I didn’t stop, pause, go too far off course and yet I was six minutes slower than my predicted time. It took me 44 minutes instead of my predicted 38. I’m still not exactly sure why. I did feel there was some resistance and chop as we took the left turn out to sea but I thought for sure the draft I would get would make up for it. This was no lake swim for sure but I really didn’t feel I was swimming that slowly. Not sure if I will ever figure that one out but that was about six minutes of my overall 30 minute overage. My recent pool swim times have been just about the same, no big difference there. Just a mystery.
I had a decent transition onto my bike. I didn’t bother with things like socks or gloves. 3 minutes and change is pretty good for me in transition.
One note. My doctor gave me a new inhaler on Thursday. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Normally I get out of the water and spend the entire time on the biking coughing and most of the run wheezing. NONE of that. It was amazing. My lungs were clear, clear, clear. Even better than my old inhaler (which was expired). The new one really seems to work great. AND, I didn’t spend the next 24 hours coughing either (which is usually what happens after a big workout of breathing deeply.) Very pleased with that.
The bike. Yep, for me it all boils down to the bike. One thing I do wish I had done was have a bike tune up. Tina (my bike) has not had a tune up since 2010 and I know both she and I would benefit from one. I just didn’t have time before I went down. I also didn’t have time to even clean her up. I took her right from my 80 mile ride on Saturday to the bike shop for shipping. At the bike shop they said I needed to get my hub fixed and it was time for a new chain. None of that would have a huge impact on my performance but maybe a little.
Although I had a tremendous fun on the bike — St. Anthony’s is all about how I like to ride, get into Aero, big chain ring and pump, I was over ten minutes slower than my best. I only averaged 17.1 mph. I’ve averaged 19 mph in the past. That actually made up a big chunk of my total-time overage.
I made sure to set a minimum cadence of 82 (82 seems to be my natural cadence and if I shoot for 90 I often end up 82 or higher). I seemed to be at 85-87 every time I looked down at my cadence. I was pleased with that.
Weather was perfect.
I did my bike nutrition right. One bottle of Infinite and one bottle of plain water (remembering my lesson from my workouts in NJ several weeks ago when I drank too much Infinite without plain water and got stomach issues.)
The biggest difference this year for me was I usually spend the bike portion of the race passing people. I am usually one of the last waves and I just pick people off one by one. This was different. It was a wall of men passing me. I really couldn’t believe it. It was bizarre. These were all the men left who had not passed me in the swim. It was their turn to pass me on the bike. Anytime I wanted to pass someone there were five guys on my left passing me. I didn’t find anyone to pass until mile 10 (which was a weird feeling). Just swarms of guys and the race officials were out in full force looking to give penalties. I didn’t even bother doing my sit up and look innocent “not me drafting sir.” Even when I was going 19 mph they were just swooshing by me. I saw maybe two women ahead (out and back) and I think about 3 women did pass me (you mean I was faster than someone on the swim? or they just took a long time in transition). Other than that it was just me and this wall of testosterone. I was not so sure I liked this early wave start. I do better when I have someone to hunt down. I lost a lot of time on the turns because these guys were just crazy — they would just cut everyone off (not just me). But I kept focusing on a good cadence and every once in awhile I tried to get out of my comfort zone. But I started to think that the weather was pretty nice, if I didn’t kill my legs I might actually have a run come out of me.
The run. The first couple of miles I just took my time warming up and getting used to the heat. It was hot but it wasn’t humid so I was okay. And that inhaler was really working! I was actually able to get myself up to running 4 minutes, walking 1 and dumping a lot of water on my head at the water stops. Several people commented on how I was one of the few women out there. “I said I know it’s weird.” It wasn’t until about mile 3 when I started to see more women flying past me. Around mile 4 Sister Madonna Bruder passed me and I yelled out her name. She lifted her arms as if flying — the flying nun. She was pretty skippy if you ask me. It was mile 5 and 6 that I found really hard. No shade and the sun was just beating down. I had to drop to a 2 minute run 1 minute walk. It was just too hot and I could feel my heart rate going through the roof. Despite that I still felt good. I wasn’t in pain, I just didn’t want to have a heart attack or anything. My mantra became, “I am strong and I am grateful.” I saw ambulances ahead toward the finish line. Turns out some guy had a heart attack just as he turned into the final finish shoot. Apparently he grabbed his heart yelled out “oh crap” and went down. I heard they were able to revive him and got him to an ambulance. I’ve heard no other updates.
I was so grateful to be done. I had no knee pain, no lung problems, no shooting pains in my butt, no hamstring problems — one calf cramp on the swim but it was short and at the end. Pain-wise, might have been one of my top pain-free races. I was happy. If had started even an hour later I’m not sure I would have had a “happy race.” But I felt I had an even pressure on myself throughout the entire race. Could have pushed harder? Sure. But this was not my A race. This was a warm-up for me. A chance to dust off the old triathlon skills. Work out the kinks and be ready for the bigger races coming up. Most of all it was a chance for me to have a race feeling good. No dizziness, no hallucinations, no country music in my head, no pulling over into a coma, just a good even race from which I would recover and keep on going. And that I had. And for that I am grateful.
I’m a huge fan of Sister Madonna Buder Turns out she published a book in 2010. How did I not know that? I just ordered it, will read and review. It’s called “The Grace to Race.” And here’s a cute article about her with a few of her pearls