As an athlete, I strive off competition. I like to make my body perform. But in order to perform on race day, I have to train. Just like many of you, it doesn't come easy for me. I've learned from past learning "lessons" (err... mistakes) that it takes much more than putting in the miles in order to achieve success on race day.
Always enjoying the journey and putting in the necessary quality work, I have kept a common motto for my race day performances over the past 6 years of racing endurance/multisport events
......"my mind will be my only limiter on race day".
This is something that I strive for in every race and I remind myself this with every training session. Whether it is sport nutrition, sleep, attitude, stretching or strength training - I am always thinking about what I can do to set myself up for success on race day. This may seem extreme but there's nothing "normal" about turning a single sport event into a multisport event - and racing it, or in covering a specific distance for over 30 minutes....only for a tshirt and maybe a medal.
Confidence can bring a person far but there are many pieces in the performnce puzzle that must stay together as an athlete preps for an important race. As someone who doesn't belive in "B" races - my goal is to always put my training to the test....and let my mind be my only limiter on race day.
But then comes the bigger obstacle. Competition. This is an area in which I once feared and now I embrace. With a body that loves to perform, I love racing others and this often brings out the greatness in myself. I crave to see athletes who are faster than me - in order to push me to my limits. For even as I race my own race, I need others to remind myself that it is possible....especially when the mind and body start their common love-hate relationship at least once during a race. But then, I also need the newbies - out there questioning their own capabilities and wondering if it is really possible. I need to stay humble to remind myself that as we all reach the same finishing line, we all go throug the same emotions, excitement, nerves and questions on race day.
Triathlons are an amazing lifestyle. I can't even start a proper sentence when I begin to think about how tri's have changed my life. I'm filled with so many emotions and the biggest life change, besides creating a passion for helping others through my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition business, was meeting Karel just a week after I did my first half ironman and 1 month after finishing the 2006 Boston Marathon. Six months prior to my first Ironman, Karel has embraced and supported my lifetyle and has really shown me what it takes to compete at a level beyond what one believes is possible.
And after 6 years, we finally shared the same course for our first-ever triathlon race together.
After work around 4pm at the hospital on Friday and then picking up my packet at the JRC, I came home rather hungry (I blame not having PB for 24 hours and not getting to the grocery store). Prior to packing my transition bag, I had a hearty salad w/ fruit and veggies to hold me over until dinner was ready and sipped on 1 Hammer FIZZ.
I grabbed my Iron Girl transition bag and Campy helped me pack as he was super excited - thinking he was going for a trip. Poor little guy :(
Triathlon Olympic check list:
Pre race outfit - socks, old but good Brooks running shoes (launch), hammer jacket
Race day outfit - Asics sport bra, louis garneau bike shorts, CEP calf sleeves (approved by race director to wear in swim)
TYR Torque speed suit
Vanquisher Speedo goggles
Swim cap (from packet pick-up)
COOLA spray sunscreen
Garmin 500 -bike computer (restarted to zero the screen)
Garmin 910xt - (will write a review about this - LOVE IT!)
Water bottle - water (pre race)
Water bottle - 1 scoop heed (pre race)
Water bottle - 2 scoops heed (for bike) - mixed on race day morning
Gel flask - 2 gels + water (for run)
Race belt + number (+ safety pins as I always pull my number off the belt when I put it on)
Brooks Launch running shoes
Louis Garneau cycling shoes
Giro aero helmet
Radar Edge Oakley women sunglasses
Extra chip strap + safety pins
Oakley Women towel (for transition) + extra towel for post-race
Grocery bags (for wet/dirty post race clothes)
Post race - skirt, tank top (with built-in bra), sandals
Dinner was the typical - same staples for almost every race for the past 6 years:
Sweet potato, rice (or bread), veggies (smaller portion since I had my salad an hour prior), scrambled eggs (2 whites + 1 whole) and cheese.
I like to keep it super simple as I know every time I eat during the day, I am refueling. Since my pre-race warm-up at 6am (1:15 bike + 2 mile run w/ race pace short intervals), I made sure to not let my blood sugar drop and to eat and drink regularly and to honor my hunger.
Karel had a similar dish but I prepard him a bowl of rice and a hearty salad w/ sardines.
Race day morning
At 4am the alarm went off and we started the coffee and packed up the bikes into the car. Campy was excited for his early morning walk but sadly, we had to tell him he had to stay home until the neighbor let him out later in the morning. Sad face for Campy ;(
Karel and I had a similar breakfast but in different quantities. He knows what works for him and I know what works for me.
I had coffee and sipped on my water and on the drive (as Karel was driving), I had cooked oats, banana slices, PB (stirred in) and a few raisins. Just enough for me to finish it satisfied and not stuffed. It sat very nicely and I was super excited for Karel's first Olympic distance triathlon.
We arrived an hour and 10 minutes later in Fernandina Beach, and a little after 6am, I could tell Karel was getting a bit nervous. It's hard to say the right thing to someone who is nervous for a race - for Karel wasn't nervous about the bike and the run but certainly, swimming a mile for the first time in the ocean - with a mass start - in your 2nd ever triathlon can present an anxious feeling. I tried to say the right thing as I was feeling super excited, without a nerve in my body. I suppose just having Karel with me made me super calm but on the flip side, he was anxious for what was to come.
After body marking and getting our chips, we went our seperate ways to set up in transition.
DRC puts on excellent races and the morning went by really smoothly. I loved being so close to home and seeing so many familiar faces.
After a few bathroom stops, Karel and I went for a little 10 min jog in our "old" shoes w/ a few pick ups to get the body going. Lesson learned from a few shorter races - I need a long warm-up for the short distance races.
After getting our swim stuff together, we mentally rehearsed transition area (swim enter, bike exit, bike enter, run exit, finish) and walked to the ocean to scope out the scene.
We did a few minutes of swimming and then a few faster efforts. Karel felt comfortable in his tri-suit but I could tell he was gettin more nervous for this swim.
Feeling great during my warm-up - I was about to burst with energy. I was so confident knowing that my best friend was out there with me.
After the pre race talk, we made a 3/10th mile walk to the swim start for the Olympic mass start, whereas the sprint distance started closer to the swim exit (5 minutes behind us).
I kissed Karel and wished him good luck and told him to have fun. I check out the waves and paid attention to the top female competitors (Shiver sisters and local speedster JC - who just qualified for her 2nd Kona at IMCDA) . With swimming as my background, I wanted to stick with a group to keep me steady in the water.
Swim - 23:21
The swim was great. I have really been working on my stroke in the water and certainly, the Olympic swimming events have helped me with my enjoyment for wanting to be a better swimmer...even after 20 years of competitive swimming.
Rather than focusing on the yards in the pool - needing to get to 3500 or 4000 yards, I have dedicated the past few months to working on my catch in the water as well as my body position. With this being the main focus for Karel's swim training since he started 2 months ago, I'm really enjoying the minor improvements that we are both making, which make for a great efficient swim on race day.
I swam and exited the water with a group of guys. I ran quickly to transition had our friend Jerry (who works at Trek) ran to the side of transition to cheer for me. That really helped me get excited for the bike, along with all the spectators cheering that I was one of the top females out of the water. I knew I wasn't in the lead but I couldn't wait to put my bike training to the test and my new pacing strategy.
Bike - 1:04 (YIPPEE!!)
The strategy that Karel gave me was to take it easy the first 3 miles on this out and back course. With tail wind on our way out, I went by perceived exertion and held back to prevent my legs from locking up. I sipped on my bottle every 3-5 minutes as I did intervals (yes intervals) after my first 3 miles of "comfortable" riding.
I broke up the bike into intervals and kept in mind that I was racing an Olympic - not an Ironman. Time to see some different power numbers - more like upper Z3, low Z4 - NOT Z2 or low Z3. A constant reminder for someone like myself who loves to push hard on the bike when I draft behind Karel but a constant struggle in racing to be smart with my bike race.
The strategy was 3 minutes "race pace", 30 sec ease up. I was minding my own business, in my own zone - looking at my screen which was showing me my 3second power, normalized power, lap power, current cadence, lap heart race and lap speed. Typically, I don't train w/ speed on this specific screen but I added it for the race. I also hit the lap button every 3:30 (or when I remembered as sometimes it was more like 7 minutes or 8) so I was constantly seeing a lap that would represent that moment in time, not an average over the entire race. For I knew I would approaching the head wind and I didn't want to overcook myself on the way out and not have enough in the tank on the way back. I made sure to stay well fueled and when I got to the turn around, I saw Karel in flying in the other direction....as well as my closest competitor, JC.
Karel passed me and he said "good job babe".
I suppose with Karel having a swim of around 31 minutes he had a lot of ground to make up to "be in the race".
But not to worry - Karel average 26 mph on the bike.
Shortly after, JC passed me. She is a strong cyclist (and runner) so I didn't try to pace her race but I did try to keep her in sight...but with around 4 miles to go, I had to settle down a bit as my power and HR were increasing and I wasn't racing my plan.
Still feeling great - my legs were ready to run. Mind and body were functioning the best ever and I had a bank of track workouts to keep me motivated for the upcoming 10K run.
At the dismount line, I got off my bike and ran to rack my bike. I quickly transitioned to the run with my visor, race belt and gel flask. Jerry told me Karel was a few minutes ahead of me and I smiled big as I ran to start the run.
Run - 43.44
First mile went smooth. Just like I practice off almost every bike ride, a short stride/shuffle with a relaxed upper body. The pace and HR was just where I wanted it and another confidence boost that I was executing a great race.
The run was beautiful. Most of the run was in a park where there was a bit of shade. Thankfully, there was water at each mile for it was still really hot.
I kept a steady pace for the first 3 miles and tried to pace myself so I could have a strong last 3 miles. I couldn't wait to see Karel as he was running back home as I knew that would give me some instant energy. With 3 girls ahead of me, I confirmed my 4th place overall finish when I didn't see another girl behind me for over a mile.
I sipped my gel flask before every aid station (2 gels + water) and sipped water at the aid station and used water for cooling. After my 3, I found myself getting a little tired in the legs but nothing that the mind couldn't change with a helpful reminder from a guy who was pacing me during the run. He laughed that I called some guy "babe' as I cheered for Karel "go babe" so I told him "keep up the great pace - babe". He laughed and so did I.
I received a few cheers from friends running in the opposite direction and with 2 miles to go, I took a brief look at my Garmin after switching the screens to the overall running time of the race (instead of seeing my lap pace, lap HR, distance and running time).
With a goal of sub 2:20 for this flat Olympic distance course (best time 2:24 in hilly Clermont, FL), I noticed I was putting together a race that by my standards - is super duber fast for an endurance athlete.
With 1 mile left - I decided to go for it. Just like on the track on Tues mornings when I train with Karel and Jeff (his boss), I constantly battle with myself "don't give up until the body gives up!"
I picked up the pace with whatever I had left and crossed the line with a HUGE personal best.
Dropping to my knees, my friend Owen (who won the race) as well as Karel came over to me and poured cold water on my head. It took me a few minutes to process it all - as I felt fantastic from start to finish. But oh my - what a different hurt compared to an Ironman.
Stats from the race (from my Garmin 910xt):
Bike: 1:04 (22.1 mph average)
Run: 43:44 (6:56, 7:06, 7:04, 7:18, 7:19, 7:14)Total time: 2:15.21 !!!!
4th overall femal
1st age group
Stats from Karel's race:
Swim: ~31 min
Bike: 55.30 (~26mph average)
Total time: 2:11.27
5th overall male
2nd age group
Results (splits should be up soon)
Words can't describe this experience. With Karel saying that he wanted to quite the swim at 250 meters and me having the race of my life, I really cheerish moments like this that prove that the mind can be stronger than the body.
Karel fought the demons in his head that were telling him to quit and he didn't count himself out - after blazzing the bike and really pushing it on the run.
I needed the fast girls out there to beat me - for if they weren't out there, I don't know if I would have executed my smart race day plan.
And of course, with Karel being out there - I couldn't hold anything back - or else he would know :)
A big congrats to all the newbies and veterans out on the course - it was wonderful to share such a great race with so many inspiring individuals.
And with data analyzed and a lot of reflection - I can't wait to get back to enjoying our triathlon lifestyle.....48 days til Branson 70.3!!