Well, this was the race that almost didn’t happen. It wasn’t on my schedule, there was no build for it, and with roughly a week to go I still wasn’t registered for it. But, make no mistake, I still came to race. This wasn’t just a show up and play around. Raleigh was going to be tough for the weather and for the course, it was my opening tri of the season, and it was also my first race in a new age group.
After Boston, I took 3 weeks off rom running due to a foot injury. In the end, there was no stress fracture and by the time I had an MRI, the bruising had healed up. As long as I was ready to give it a shot, then I was good to run. The benefit of the time off from running was that I paid more attention to cycling and building that fitness back up after a marathon build. In addition, I came back to running and felt surprisingly good. I was beginning to feel my legs coming around and wanted to find a chance to race. That’s where Raleigh came into the picture and after a few convincing texts from a friend, it was time to go.
Swim: 35:41 (14th place)
This definitely did not go as planned. I was aiming for 30min in the water. I felt good, didn’t have any issues getting settled into a rhythm and just started moving along. After about 10s, the guy that was in front of me was half way to the next buoy. It would be so nice to be able to swim like that. But, I kept pushing through. The swim was in a triangle and the first leg out was good. The second leg was incredibly slow. The water got choppy and I kept getting pushed further away from the buoy line so I had to tack back towards it. Somehow, I still managed to swim basically right on 1.2mi but it just wasn’t fast. The water was over 80 degrees and it got a little crowded at different times.
Bike: 2.24 (23.3mph and up to 10th place)
Hop on the bike and just start going. I had had some great rides included one day where I actually managed to ride my FTP for a full hour outside. That’s something I’d never done before. I felt strong on the bike and was managing the course well. I caught a few people and then a group of guys in my age group caught up to me. The tough part about that was having the group split in half so I didn’t know if they started in my wave or 4 minutes behind me in which I would really have to make up some time. I kept them in sight, would change places around hills, but really just kept pushing to the finish. The temperature started to climb during the last hour of the ride and I was dumping water all over myself at the aid stations to stay cool.
I came into transition with a couple guys in my age group and asked them if they were in the first half or the second half. A couple started with me and a couple started 4 minutes later. That meant I needed to get moving out there in order to make up the time. This run course was bizarre. We just kept making u-turns all over the place and were running in humid dark tree groves or baking on the side of a highway. It was a change from the 3mi uphill out and then back route but I’m not so sure it was better.
Anyway, around mile 4 or 5, I passed the last person in front of me but he was still 4min ahead due to starting in the second half of the group. The benefit to this course was that I could keep seeing people on all these out and back segments. I took stock of where they were. We stayed roughly the same distance apart until around mile 10. Then, the rubber band just went and I started packing in the time. It was great to see the run base and endurance be there even as it was 85 out (felt like 95). The run was just on auto pilot.
Finish: 4:30:02 – 1st AG, 5th amateur, 23rd OA
This was great. The night before, I had a Precision Hydration 1500mg packet to start sodium loading. I knew it would be hot and that I would be sweating a lot so it was time to plan for that. In the morning, I had UCAN and another 1500mg packet before the swim start. This was a huge help as I was ahead of the game and had a little extra sodium to hold on to some water as the temperature would climb. On the bike, more PH, UCAN, and a salt tab. The run was all about keeping up fluids. I had a Surge accelgel to get me the last boost to the finish line. Towards the end of the run, I was taking 6 cups of water and dumping most of it on me and even just grabbed chunks of ice to hold and cool down. Keeping the core temperature down was critical to be able to run and “hang out.”
Takeaways and Looking Ahead
It was good to get the season going. The body is ready for action and I’m getting there mentally. The dark spots came, that’s part of racing, but there was enough confidence to refocus and look ahead to get back into it. It’s not my best time and things didn’t click as much as I would have liked, but I’m happy with the result and to have a starting point to the season.
Nutrition is good and evolves with the races as needed. I’ve put in a lot of time with my nutritionist and she’s done an amazing job setting me up for success.
Bike fit needs adjusting. I feel stronger and more capable on the bike than I have in the past. As it turns out, I’ve gained some extra flexibility and can now capitalize on it with some additional adjustments.
The swim continues to be a work in progress. It will always be like that for me. I’m not pleased with the way it went and fully expected to be 5min faster. That will come. Until then, I’ll continue to plug away in the pool, refine the stroke, and build further confidence in my abilities.