Essential Sports Nutrition


IM 70.3 FL - Race Recap

On the night before the race, I found myself thinking of a popular quote "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet." As I enter my 12th consecutive year of endurance triathlon racing, I found myself referring back to my training over the past few months as my main confidence builder going into the race. Although I have past race performances to make me feel prepared for the distance, I couldn't help but think about all the workouts that were accomplished in the months leading up to the race to help me feel physical and mentally prepared. Putting my trust in my training helped me ease the nerves that I was ready to perform.

I consider myself a great sleeper but I guess the pre-race excitement got the best of me as I didn't sleep too well on Saturday night. Karel was in bed around 7:30, listening to music with his headphones and visualizing his race and I went to bed shortly after. Although I eventually fell asleep around 9pm, I slept really light and felt myself tossing and turning throughout the night. When my alarm finally went off at 4am, I was relieved to finally get the morning started....our first triathlon of 2018!!

We shared a house with our athletes/friends Erica and Joe (Erica was racing her first half) and their almost 2-year old Weston. Also staying with us was Karel's friend Roman from Prague, Czech Republic who flew in to race. Just down the road from us were most of our athletes (I rented two houses for them in the same neighborhood) so it was fun for us all to be so close together. It was a very quiet morning in the house with everyone who was racing (me, Karel, Erica and Roman) doing their own thing. 

As Karel made his espresso, while waiting for his french press coffee, I boiled water for my instant European Nescafe Gold coffee (I am a one cup a day of coffee type of athlete unlike my European hubby). I could feel the nerves as I tried to eat my pre-race meal of waffles with peanut butter and syrup and yogurt on the side but I tried to keep everything in perspective that this was the first race of the season, I was fit and healthy and I had nothing to prove at this race but to go out and dust off the rust. Karel was not nerves and stayed really calm and chillax all morning. 

It was exciting to put on my new Canari Trimarni one-piece suit on race day morning - there's something about putting on the race day outfit, knowing that the day is here to put the training to the test in a competitive setting. After pouring water into my powdered-filled bottles and flasks (which I filled with powder the day prior), I got all my stuff ready and around 4:50am, I headed outside after Karel for a quick jog around the block. This is a pre-race ritual that I picked up from Karel that really gets the blood and digestive system moving before heading to the race venue. One more trip to the bathroom and off we went to the race venue at 5:15am.

Having the option to not check in our bikes on Saturday was nice, especially since two storms came through in the late afternoon/evening. After we parked, we rolled our bikes a few blocks to the race venue, got body marked and entered the transition area. Karel and I are use to having our racks near the front as AWA athletes but this race was an exception as we chose to have our racks with our team/athletes as part of the Tri Club Regional Championship. It was so cool to have so many of us Trimarnis on the same two racks! And even better, my bike was right next to Karel's! I don't think we have ever been on the same rack, let alone right next to each other, in an Ironman branded event.

After setting up my transition area, I walked down to the Tri Club tent area to meet up with our athletes under our team tent (we don't have a Trimarni branded tent so we were lucky enough to get one from a fellow Trimarni fellow Brian - which then turned into a tent from Leo at Outspokin since Brian's tent broke in the storm :( Ironman did a great job with the Tri Club area and overall, this was a great venue for the Tri Club Regional Championship.

Nearing 6am, I went for a quick jog around the race venue to start warming up my body. I saw Karel running in the other direction as we both have a pretty similar pre-race routine. After jogging, stopping, stretching and jogging some more, I grabbed my wetsuit, cap and goggles and walked to the pool. Unlike most races, this venue has a pool open in the morning of the race for athletes to warm-up in. Not too many athletes take advantage of this but we feel its a must for athletes to warm-up before a long distance race, especially in the wetsuit to avoid the suction feeling on the chest (you need to put water inside the wetsuit to prevent the chest of the wetsuit making you feel as if you can't breath. It also helps with adjusting the wetsuit for the right fit). Karel was already swimming when I got there at 6:30am and seeing that the race started at 6:50am, I gave myself only a few minutes to jump in, swim a few laps, adjust my cap, goggles and wetsuit, get out and walk back to the swim start. Although it was a short time in the pool, it was worth it. I sipped on my throw-away bottle of sport drink to keep my energy levels up while also helping me to top-off on hydration before the race.

The weather was perfect - not cold and not hot. Compared to the previous days, it was going to be slightly "cooler" with the highs in the 70's. I didn't see Karel before the start but luckily we wished each other good luck before we started our pre-race warm-ups. 

Picture by Ryan Rager

I've mentioned this before but one of the reasons why I still love to race is to be in the race environment with other athletes. I love the spirit, the energy and the excitement of surrounding myself with like-minded athletes. You can't replicate this in training. Even more so, being with my athletes/teammates is so much fun and having over 30 Trimarnis on the course was an incredible feeling. I never felt overwhelmed with so many of our athletes at the same race and if anything, it gave me a lot of positive energy.

After wishing good luck to my athletes, I headed down to the swim start. I wasn't sure where to line-up as I tend to swim right around 30-minutes. Since I am always frustrated that I can't seem to get under 30 minutes in open water in a half, I decided to line up in the back of the 27-30 minute group. Karel, on the other hand, lined up near the front just to test his swimming skills and to limit any swimming over slower swimmers. We both love the rolling swim start as we have swum our fastest times in open water in a rolling start setting (half and full distance).

My athlete Stephanie lined up next to me and she mentioned that she wanted to draft off me as long as possible. I laughed because I know how hard she has been swimming and I was pretty sure it was going to be the other way around. We both have the same wetsuit (in purple) and I know her swim stroke so I was excited to swim with her.

There was a slight delay to let the sun rise and eventually, it was time for the official race start. Suddenly, the nerves went away and I was ready to get this race started!! The rolling start took a few minutes but finally, we stood on the beach near the waters edge and we were allowed to run into the water.

1.2 mile swim
Although a technical swim course in the shape of a M, I really like this course because there's always something to focus on and you never feel like you are swimming too far for too long. There was some congestion with slower swimmers and Stephanie and I found ourselves bumping into each other a few times but it was nice to have a pacer off Stephanie as we both swam fairly close together for the entire swim. I never found the sun to be in my eyes and it was easy to sight on the buoys. I felt good in the water - not fast but very steady and efficient. I was focusing on my catch to make sure I was grabbing water with each stroke and constantly sighting to stay on course. I found a good rhythm and once I got to the last turn buoy, I had extra energy to pick up my effort. As I was nearing the exit of the swim, I reminded myself of the drop in sand/mud in the water after the shallow section so I kept swimming until I literally could not swim any more and quickly got out of the water. Since I don't wear a watch in the swim, I had no idea of my swim time but when I saw the official race clock, I did some quick math and figured I was right around 30 minutes. Karel said he felt really good in the water. His swimming has progressed a lot over this past year and he is very efficient and much more comfortable in the pool and in open water. I was really happy to hear that he swam so well but just a little jealous that he beat me in the swim by 5 seconds. Guess I need to keep stepping up my game!

Last year I forgot my helmet as I was leaving my rack and had to turn around and go back. This time around, I wanted a quick but efficient transition. I ran to my rack while pulling down my wetsuit to my waist, took off my cap and goggles and once I got to my rack, I quickly took off my wetsuit, put on my socks and cycling shoes, started my bike computer, put on my helmet and I was off. My visor fogged up immediately so I pulled it off and attached it (magnets) to my helmet to defog.

Photo by Ryan Rager

Photo by Ryan Rager
56 mile Bike
I gave myself a good 5 miles to settle into a rhythm and to find my cycling legs. They came to me pretty quick but I didn't rush it. I really like the start of this bike course with all the twists and turns as it's such a great way to wake up the legs and to change up the cadence. My legs were ready to climb as that's all I know from where we ride in Greenville but I enjoyed flying on the flat section of this course. Immediately from the start of the bike, I was passing athletes. Eventually I did get stuck around packs of athletes but I stayed draft legal at all times. I even had an official (female) around me three times over an hour so I knew I was following the rules and not drafting. After about an hour, the riders started to dissipate and I found myself riding alone for a windy stretch of road. Thankfully, it wasn't incredibly long until I made a turn and knew the hills were coming. Finally!! My cycling skills and fitness has improved a lot over the past few years but with all the trainer work and outdoor rides this year, I felt really confident going into this ride. While it's always an unknown how the body will feel on race day, I was pleased to feel strong all day with no low moments. I stayed up on my nutrition and strategically drank every 10-15 minutes (4-5 chugs) and rotated my bottles so that I started with Carbo rocket, drank it until 3/4 finished and then drank the last 1/4 in the final stretch of the bike. It's super light and easy to get down and I really like the black cherry taste. Other than that, I drank my INFINIT which has never failed me on the bike in long distance racing. When we got to the last 10 miles or so, the pavement turned to chip seal and it was rather annoying but I prepared myself for it and just focused on a good rhythm with my pedal stroke and embraced the uncomfortable pavement. Nearing the end of the bike, I had no idea of my total time as I was hitting the lap button throughout the race to help me focus on one stretch of road at a time. I do not race with any power goals which allows me to be an active participant in my race. When I flipped over my computer screen to total time, I was shocked to see that I nearly broke 2:30 hours on the bike. I was really excited and felt like I paced the bike really well and rode hard but didn't blow myself up. I took smart risks and trusted all my previous training, knowing that I could still ride hard and put together a good run off the bike.

Karel said he felt good on the bike and really enjoyed his new Ventum. He didn't have any back issues which was something that plagued him in the past few years on the bike. While he felt like he rode well, he said his time didn't reflect how he felt and he's ok with that. He is realistic with his fitness with where he is right now in his season and he's not one for excuses. He said he felt good and put together the best ride he could on that day. He was stuck behind packs of athletes near the front of the race (since he started near the front of the swim) and he hates drafters so that frustrated him a bit but did not let it affect his own race.

I slipped my feet out of my bike shoes as I was rolling into transition and put my feet on the ground right before the mount line. I have yet to learn a flying mount or dismount but I was proud of myself for removing my feet from my shoes. I rolled my bike to the rack and the race announcer gave me a cheer and told me that Karel was about 8 minutes ahead of time. Not sure how he knew his time exactly but I thought it was really cool that he mentioned it. I gave him a thumbs up. I tried to make my transition super quick and put on my running shoes and then race belt followed by my hydration belt. I grabbed my hat with sunglasses on the bill and put it on as I was walking. I then put on my watch and started a very light jog. I made sure to keep it light and easy to keep breathing under control under I crossed the timing mat to officially start my run.

Photo by Elyse

Photo by Elyse

13.1 mile Run
When I started running, my legs felt ok. Not great but not bad. They felt light but something just felt a little off. My form was good and I didn't feel heavy in my legs but I didn't feel how I wanted to feel. It was great to hear the cheers from the spectators as I started running and then from my friend Elyse who was giving me excellent information about my status in the race. I was really looking forward to this run course (all except the flat section on the back half of each loop) because I love running hills and I LOVE looped courses. I am not sure if it's from my swimming days of following a black line but somehow my mind works really well with loops and this course was just perfect for my mindset when I run.
When I hit the first hill about 1/2 mile in the course, I liked the change in my stride so I welcomed the incline. Once I got to the rolling hills, I felt a little better but still not great. I love my hydration belt because I can drink when I want to drink and I made sure my breathing was under control when I took my first sip of my sport drink and I also tried to time it for sections where I was running downhill to make it easier to drink. I kept my mind in a good place throughout the first loop of the run by reminding myself of all of the training sessions that I have done, working on my running economy and resilience. My run has been a huge work in progress but I can't take too many risks as I feel I am always at a great risk for injury coming from a swimming background (sometimes my lower body doesn't always feel connected with my upper body).
During the first loop, I had a bunch of mind games going on. On one side my brain was saying "you are slow, this isn't a fast run" and then the other side said "but you are running well, you feel good and if you could run faster you would!" I remembered our team motto "do things well" and I just focused on my form, trying to find my rhythm and ignoring the sabotaging thoughts. I never felt hot during the run but at times, a little warm. I only took water from the aid stations to help cool my body.

Once I got back to the transition area to start loop two, my legs finally came around! I was so happy and I felt like I was in a really good place with my running. I felt myself running stronger and passing people on the course. I loved seeing more of the Trimarnis on the course as it gave me a lot of energy. Elyse told me that I wasn't losing my age group position but I was losing my spot in the top 3 overall female amateur. While I was a little bummed, I was also really happy with how I felt on the run and the race I was putting together. I didn't get stuck on paces on the run as I don't find any benefit in chasing paces - especially on a hilly and hot course so I just focused on running well uphill and running strong downhill. I kept up with my fueling every 5-8 minutes to keep my blood sugar up to help delay fatigue. I never felt the need to take in coke so I just stuck with water at the aid stations. The volunteers were great.

When I got to the 3rd loop, I felt stronger than the first two. This was a huge motivator for me and I was really happy with how I was feeling. I never had any low moments and never felt like I wanted the race to end (of course, I was looking forward to crossing the finish line). There were more athletes out on the course on my 3rd loop so the energy was growing. I felt like I paced the run really well and had some energy to pick it up in the last mile to finish strong. As I was nearing the finish line, I was so excited to get this race behind me as a great kick-start to the 2018 season.

Karel said that he felt ok on the run but just didn't feel his normal running rhythm. He put together the best run that he could. On a positive note, he loved his new Naked innovations running belt that he wore during the race. Karel said that he is ok with the fact that he is not running fast right now as in the past, he would tend to peak too early in the season with his running. 

Once I crossed the finish line, I met up with Karel. Surprisingly, I didn't feel too beat up. Karel and I went out on the course to cheer for the rest of our team until everyone crossed the finish line. It was so much fun and inspiring to see so many of our athletes on the course and to be able to high five everyone as they came by. Elyse told me my results and I was happy with an age group win and super happy for Karel to place 3rd in his competitive 40-44 AG. I couldn't believe my 4-minute PR at this distance but I felt like this was one of those days when everything came together.

Although Karel was a little disappointed in his race, he didn't dwell on it too much. It's just one race and certainly not a determination of his athletic worthiness or predictor for the rest of the season. As always, it was fun to share the race course with him and all of our athletes and share the post race "war stories" after the race.

Two funny stories from the race:

-The announcer saying "Mr. Marni" when Karel crossed the finish line.
-A spectator cheering for me on the run yelled "Go Trimarni, your coach would be so proud!" (I don't think he knew I was Marni the coach :)

Now to rest up....just a few weeks until we return back to IM 70.3 St. George!


1st AG (35-39), 5th overall female

Swim: 29:46
T1: 3:00
Bike: 2:30.32
T2: 2:38
Run: 1:38.59
Total: 4:44.52

3rd AG (40-44), 13th overall
Swim: 29.41
T1: 2:37
Bike: 2:22.45
T2: 2:59
Run: 1:29.33
Total: 4:27.33