3/20/17

Great Clermont Olympic Triathlon - race recap


With a job title of "triathlon coach", Karel and I have the big responsibility of help our team of athletes, physically prepare for races while keeping them in good health. 
Coaching is much more than writing workouts as it requires understanding the athlete as an individual and stepping inside the athlete's life to provide the most appropriate training plan for consistent athletic development. 

Karel and I take our coaching job very seriously and part of our job is putting on training camps. We absolutely love the camp experience as a way to interact with athletes in a group training environment. 
Seeing that Karel and I are not only coaches but we are also athletes, it's important to stress that we understand exactly what our athletes feel and experience with training and we are very aware of the fact that training for triathlons, in a busy life, is not easy.

But, on race day, we are reminded of the why in our triathlon hobby. Race day is what we all live for as we can put all that hard work to good use and share the suffering with teammates. The energy, nerves and excitement is alive on race day and only on race day do you truly feel like a real athlete. 

I can't fully express it in words but I can tell you that racing with our athletes is one of the coolest and most rewarding parts of our job as coaches. Being on the same course as our athletes, experiencing the same conditions and going through the same highs and lows, nerves and uncertainties is what racing is all about. 

The Great Clermont Olympic triathlon holds a special place in my heart as it was the very first triathlon venue that Karel watched me race in, back in 2006 after a few months of dating. Now, 11 years later, after racing this event at least a half dozen times, I did something that I never thought I would do with my body - win the race as overall female. 

This race win is dedicated to all my Trimarni athletes and campers as they are the reason why I love this sport so much and why I continue to push my body in training and on race day. For Karel, the sport of triathlon has given him a new outlet to be competitive and to explore his physical limits and we both love sharing our race experiences with our athletes.



For your reading entertainment, here's the recap of the race.  


RACE DETAILS: 

Marni: 
Swim: 23:34
T1: 2:11
Bike: 1:07.48 (21.9 mph)
T2: 1:28
Run: 46:38
Total: 2:21.37
First overall female

Karel: 
Swim: 23:11 (Karel finally beat me in the swim!)
T1: 1:53
Bike: 1:03.15
T2: 1:29 (I beat Karel in T2!)
Run: 38:30
Total: 2:08.16


PRE RACE:
Nutrition: 
1/2 cup oatmeal + syrup + peanut butter + dates 
Hardboiled egg
8 ounce coffee w/ milk
8 ounce water
Transition area: 8 ounce water with Clif hydration (1 scoop)

Karel and I woke up at 4:45am and after eating our pre-race meals (Karel had a croissant w/ jam and INFINIT Mud in his second cup of coffee), we headed down to the transition area (via bike) which just a few minutes down the road. I left before Karel at 6am to set up my transition area.

After body marking and setting up my transition, I saw all my Trimarni campers start to roll in. They all looked SO good in their new kits. Karel and I sported our new kits as well, but Karel surprised me with our own brightly colored custom Canari kits (Pink and Green).

After 3 days and 8 workouts at camp, they were all excited to race but a bit nervous as to how the morning would turn out. We assured them that this race was all about dusting off the rust as the first race of the season and taking smart risks and applying the information learned at camp.

I spent a good 20 minutes getting myself warmed up on dry land before putting on my wetsuit. Karel spent at least 30 minutes jogging around to get his blood flowing.

After putting on our wetsuits, we made our way down to the water to get into the chilly lake for a warm-up (it was around 68 degrees). After warming up, adjusting the wetsuit and goggles and getting myself comfortable in the open water, I exited the water to line up with the first wave of women to start at 7:30am.

Not knowing what to expect as this was my first triathlon race since August, my focus was to just stay present and to go through the motions of racing so that I could shake out my nerves and get myself more comfortable in the race environment for my upcoming more important races. 

I have to say that it was a great feeling to be surrounded by so many of my athletes/campers and also to see so many familiar faces out on the course. My most favorite part about racing is being around the other athletes as I have made so many friendships thanks to the sport of triathlon. 


Swim: 
Goggles: TYR Pink 2.0 special ops 
Wetsuit: Xterra Vengeance
Gadget - Garmin 920

The water was dark and a little choppy. The course was a large counter clockwise rectangle and with the sun slowly rising, we didn't have to worry about swimming into the sun. There were plenty of buoys to keep us on course but I found myself zig zagging a few times due to the chop. My athlete Stephanie is an excellent swimmer so we both found ourselves swimming next to each other (and sometimes hitting each other - let's say love taps) for almost all of the swim. There was one lady swimming right in front of us for the entire swim and I couldn't get myself to catch her or stay on her feet. To be honest, I didn't feel too good in the water. I didn't feel speedy or slow, just so-so. I guess I needed this swim to just go through the motions. Regardless of how I felt, Karel beat me out of the water! He has been working really hard with his swimming and we swim a lot together so I am glad to see that he is feeling more confident and comfortable in the open water. I guess I need to really step up my swimming game!

I exited the water in 2nd (women were first wave at 7:30am) and just in front of Stephanie. I had the wetsuit stripper help me take off my wetsuit and I ran into the transition area. 



I did a quick transition and ran with my bike to the mount line and then started up the hill to star the bike portion. I was actually most excited for the bike portion of the race as 1) I have improved my power and skills a lot on the bike 2) My bike is much more "aero" thanks to Kare, so I wanted to test it out for the first time 3) I love riding my bike. 


Bike: 

Bike: Trek Speed Concept 7 series custom (pink rocket) w/ Shimano ultegra Di2 shifting 
Wheels: Alto cycling. Front: cc56. Rear: cc86 
Helmet: Lazer Wasp Air w/ shield
Fuel: Infinit Trimarni base blend (220 calories) 
Socks: Swiftwick 
Shoes: Bontager XKL hilo

As I started the bike, I yelled behind to Stephanie "Great swim!" and I was off. It was only about a mile down the road that I caught the first place female and I found myself riding behind the police car, who was leading the race. I received no draft from the police car as he was way in front of me but it was a really neat feeling to have that escort for the entire bike.

Since I know this course really well, I had a lot of confidence on the course. I knew every turn, hill and descend, which made it much easier to execute on this course. My race strategy was to go hard on the bike and see what happens to my legs on the run. Karel wanted me to ride hard and he believed that I could still run well off the bike, even after a very hard effort for 40K.

For the entire bike, I pushed hard. My quads were burning and my glutes were working but I felt strong. Since Greenville gives us such challenging riding, Clermont is such a different riding terrain for me and I really wanted to take advantage of the gentle rollers and smooth pavement.

The highlight of the bike course was seeing Karel after I made the first turn around. Whereas I usually get a smile out of Karel, he actually lifted his head up and gave me a loud yell. I am not sure what he said but I could tell that he was so proud of me to be in the lead, behind the police car. Let's just say that marrying a cat 1 cyclist meant that one day I would be a strong cyclist. Well, that day has finally come and I owe it all to Karel. 

I saw my competition, which included my friend and superstar athlete Elyse, as well as several of my Trimarni athletes/campers, which gave me a lot of energy.

I gave myself one littler breather to loosen up my legs after the 2nd turn around but besides that, I pushed hard for the entire ride and wowzer, did it hurt!

I made sure to stay fueled and hydrated since I was going into this race after 4 days of leading our training camp (8 workouts) so I sipped on my 220 calorie bottle of INFINIT throughout the race - always making sure to take several gulps when I drank. I now have my bottle cage between my aero bars as Karel recently moved it from my frame (to be more "aero") and I have to say, I really like it as I find myself drinking more often and it's very easy to grab.

I stayed in the lead of the race until about 1/2 mile before T2, when I was passed by the first place male.

Throughout the entire bike, I found myself thinking "I won't be able to run after this.....stay present, don't think about the run!" I was thinking this over and over and I tried to stay as present as possible on the bike. When the time came to get off the bike, my legs didn't feel too wobbly, which was surprising! 


Run: 

Shoes: New Balance Zante
Hat: Boco gear performance trucker
Sunglasses: Oakley women radar lock with vents
Hydration belt: Nathan mercury 2
Fuel: water and Clif hydration cran razz  

I tried to get as much of a lead on the bike as I could, along with any extra "free speed" in transition, as I worried about any fast runners behind me. While I would love to call myself a fast runner, I feel my strength is in endurance racing and as a resilient athlete, I feel I am great at not slowing down.
I put on my running shoes and fuel belt and jogged out of transition while putting on my race belt. I had my sunglasses sitting on my trucker hat so I was able to grab the hat (with sunglasses on it) and put on my hat and then sunglasses as I began to run.

The first mile of the run felt ok but certainly not great. The best part was having an amazing female lead escort on the bike, leading me on the course. Not only was she super supportive to me, cheering me on but she was encouraging everyone around to give me a cheer. She really made the run a lot more exciting for me. It felt a big windy in my face heading out to the first turn around, around 1.5 miles on the trail. Around mile 1, I hit a very low spot and I felt extremely uncomfortable running. I was having trouble breathing with a pain in my ribs, my heart rate monitor was uncomfortable and I just felt blah. I kept trying to focus on good form and to help me out, I would count "1, 2, 3, 4" with every foot strike to find a good rhythm. Oddly enough, all my pains went away when I hit the turn around and I suddenly felt good again! I saw Elyse and she gave me a huge smile and I cheered her on. The first place male was way ahead and when I saw Karel, as the 2nd male, he gave me a cheer and told me to stay steady as I had a big lead.
To be honest, it sure didn't feel like a big lead as I felt like Elyse was coming for me so for the next few miles, I didn't look back as I just stayed focused on what I needed to do to keep my lead for however long that I could. 

It was so great to get back to the crowds at the race venue and to see my athletes on the course. With another 3.5 miles to go, I started to find my rhythm. Like I said earlier, I didn't feel fast and didn't expect this to be a "fast" run but I really wanted to see how my legs would perform after such a hard bike. Although I wore my Garmin throughout the race, I never once looked at it on the run. I had it autolap each mile so that I could review it after the race (I used multisport function for the race).

Although I never felt tired during the run, I experienced a few moments where I felt like I was running low on energy. Thank goodness that I had my fuel belt as I needed that extra energy between the aid stations. I didn't grab anything from the aid stations but instead, grabbed my sport drink flask or water flask as needed throughout the race. I also used my water to cool myself as I found myself getting a little warm near the middle of the run.

After the final turn around, which seemed to take forever to get to after seeing mile 4, I saw Karel and he said "damage control." Not sure what he meant by that at the time but when he passed me again, he just told me to enjoy the rest of the race. Karel passed me around mile 5 and he was quickly out of my sight. It was great to see him so much on the course and to have him pass me, which never happens.

The last mile was pretty special as my bike escort was cheering me on and I was getting some high fives from the spectators. With so many familiar faces on and off the course, this really felt like a home town race for me. It was really special to cross the line as the first overall female and to make the moment even more special, I was the next finisher behind Karel. 

My run splits were super consistent and once I found my rhythm around mile 4, I felt like I could have kept going - not any faster but certainly further. I went 100% by feel. A big confident boost for Haines City 70.3 in a few weeks. 
Karel, on the other hand, didn't even wear a watch on the run as he always goes by feel and decided to just forgo the watch in this race. 

My run splits:
7:29
7:35
7:34
7:34
7:37
7:21
7:02 (for the last .2)

After Karel and I chatted about the race and I did an interview with a camera guy, we headed back out on the course to cheer for the rest of our Trimarni athletes. 
It was really great to see our athletes finish and then immediately head back out to cheer for their teammates. 


After all of our athletes finished, we took a team picture with all of our campers/athletes and then it was time for awards. All of our athletes stayed for awards to cheer on everyone. 



Not only did we have several of our campers on the podium, but Trimarni placed first in the division 1 USAT Florida Region North Club Championship! We had 21 athletes race and all of our campers started and finished the race! What a great group of inspiring athletes who did something amazingly incredible with the human body! 


What a GREAT group of athletes!
Thanks for reading! 
We hope that our campers inspired you to not be afraid to stretch your comfort zone. You never know what you are capable of doing, unless you try. 

Thank you to our 2017 Trimarni sponsors!
-Run In
-New Wave Swim Buoy
-Mg12
-Clif
-Cheribundi
-Veronica's Health Crunch
-Infinit
-Levelen
-Hot Shot
-Boco Gear
-Canari
-Xterra
-Alto cycling
-Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge
-Salem Anesthesia