If you’re looking for a sprint tri and you live in the Washington, DC Metro area, consider this race. The same course is used for the Dog Days event in August. I highly recommend signing up now as it always fills!
I had several goals for Sunday’s Infinitive Sprint Triathlon in Broadlands: First, I wanted to beat my time from my previous race on this course, which was in August 2010. Second, I wanted to see how close I could get to my teammate, Leanne, a formidable racer to whom I’ve come 2nd in three races, all sprints. We went 1-2 at this race in 2010, as well as at South Riding Triathlon a month later. In 2011 we didn’t race a sprint together; she took 1st at Infinitive and I took 1st at South Riding. In the past I’ve been faster than her on the run but she’s had a much faster swim and bike, and has finished minutes ahead of me overall. I’ve been biking well lately so figured this was where I’d really try to get an advantage. Of course my dream goal was to beat her (isn’t that what competition is all about?) but I knew that would take a lot of work. But I didn’t completely eliminate the possibility. I believe you always have to be reaching further than you (and sometimes others) think you can go, in order to achieve.
It’s no secret that I came 2nd…again. But I only “lost” 1st place by 9 seconds….which to some people might be excruciating but to me was an indicator of success. I achieved the goal of getting much, much closer than before. And I did in fact have a faster bike time by 30 seconds… My race post-mortem has been telling. While I have wished I could have been 10 seconds faster on the run or the swim or in transition, I have reminded myself that my overall time was over 3 minutes faster than last year, which is a big improvement. So instead of focusing on where I could have saved 10 seconds (which is almost anywhere…) I am looking at how much faster I am now than I was 2 years ago.
2010 vs. 2012
2010 swim: 8:29
2012 swim: 8:08
Prior to the start I got in a 200m warm-up. This is longer than I usually do, but I’ve been paying attention to my sons’ warm-ups at swim meets and noticed that they swim around 200m, and their events are only 25m for my 8 year old and 50m for my 10 year old! I concluded that I should do a bit more than my usual 100 for a 400m swim. The warm-up felt great, easy, even. I felt relaxed and ready to race.
During the swim I used a new mantra to keep my focus, which often wanders in the water: reach, glide, pull. This worked well because I breathe every 3rd stroke so I said a word in time with each stroke. It reminded me of the things I tend to forget (probably could have thrown rotate in there too!) and kept my mind from wandering. I even managed to flip-turn at the first two walls, which is the first time I’ve been relaxed enough to do it in a race. I soon caught up with someone and had to slow down to avoid running into them. Unfortunately, with a 50m pool, when you run into someone it can be a long time until you get to pass them, because they don’t have to stop to let you pass until the wall. In a 25m pool it’s a shorter time to pass. I caught another swimmer about 100m later and he, too, had to stop at the wall to let me pass. After passing each swimmer I regained my momentum and pushed a little harder to try to make up for the lost time. I caught a 3rd swimmer with 50m to go and had to sit on his feet as I couldn’t pass. I just reminded myself that I was saving energy, and then when we hit the wall I jumped out ahead of him and started booking it into the transition area.
2010 T1: 1:45
2012 T1: 1:33
You can easily lose placings by taking too much time in transition. It’s time that you cannot afford to waste. I made a rookie mistake of running to the wrong bike rack. While waiting for my swim start I realized I didn’t know how many racks I was from the entry into transition from the swim. I spotted a tree and counted the racks from that, noting that I was 5 racks from the tree. Running into transition, I counted 5 racks from the tree, saw a red bike, started toward it, and realized it wasn’t mine. That’s when I looked at the numbers on the rack and realized they were 270s while my number was in the 170s. I had counted from the wrong tree. Finally got to the right rack, put on my race number, helmet, and sunglasses, grabbed my bike, and booked it out of transition. In future I plan to mark my bike rack. Some people put flowers in the top of the tube at the end of the rack or hang a shirt on it, others draw a chalk mark on the ground. I need to find a system that works for me because that was a big time waster.
2010 bike: 37:40
2012 bike: 34:35
On the bike I reminded myself to keep pushing, even on the downhills. I knew I could make good time on the bike and used that to my advantage. Every hill, up or down, I was pushing. No-one passed me on the bike and I ended up riding the 12 mile course 3 minutes faster than in 2010. I had spotted my family just before the swim and could hear my husband and boys cheering me on every time I passed the transition area. It was great to see them as I zipped by! My 10 year old son even started running with me at the start of the run! In addition to my family I had many supporters from my triathlon team, Tri Performance Racing, out there and so I heard my name being yelled from several points. I love this as it really makes me want to push harder.
2010 T2: 1:09
2012 T2: 1:02
I had a little bit of trouble finding my rack again! I had not counted racks from bike in and so had to read the numbers as I ran by. Frustrating and ridiculous. Really pissed off at myself at this point. This should have been a much faster transition.
2010 run: 21:38
2012 run: 21:56
As I set out on the run I saw number 163 right behind me. I was number 177 so I knew I had a decent lead on her since she had started before me (lower number = lower swim seed time so you start earlier) but I really didn’t want to let her pass me, just in case. I decided to run the fast mile a bit faster than planned to put a gap between us. It worked, but of course I paid for it in the latter stages of the run. Having taken a 2 week break from running, then hitting my kneecap on the bathroom floor the day I was to start back running, I didn’t have high hopes for a PR in the 5K. My plan was to push it as hard as a could and try to stay sub-7 which would give me the same time as in 2010. But every time I looked at my Garmin I saw my overall pace was in the 7s (it’s a rolling course so there are a lot of pace changes, so I try to look at overall rather than current pace), and no matter how much I tried to push my body, it just physically wasn’t capable. I saw Leanne about half a mile before the turnaround which meant she was a mile ahead of me, but having not checked how long before me she got in the pool, and not knowing what pace she was running, I really couldn’t tell how close I was to her timewise. I just had to run as fast as I could and see if it was enough. Soon after passing Leanne I passed another team mate, Mike, who said, “catch me.” So I did. It took a while and I think I was about half a mile from the finish when I finally passed him, but it gave me the boost I needed to keep pushing. As I crossed the finish line I doubled over and knew I had given it 101%.
Many thanks to my husband Stuart for all the support, time spent watching the kids while I train, and for cleaning my bike and switching out my wheels (!). Thanks to Tracy at Tracy Endo Photography for taking such great pictures and allowing me to post them on my blog. Thanks to my coach, Brian Crow, for helping me achieve my goals. Here we are chatting after the race. Contrary to the rumors, I did not ask him to take 10 seconds off my time!
Do you set more than one goal for your races?
How do you keep pushing in a triathlon when you don’t know if your competition is ahead or behind you?
Have you lost your way in transition?
Do you compare your times with those from previous years?