The last three races I signed up for did not go to plan.
Sonoma Women’s Tri turned into a Duathlon because there wasn’t enough water for a swim. The Lake Tahoe Triathlon was postponed due to fire. Odyssey Swim Run? Woke up sick and DNS’d for the first time ever.
I signed up for the Napa Tri because I wanted to do a proper triathlon this year. Not a super short one (looking at you Tahoe), not a duathlon (glad I didn’t go with Marin the day before), a regular old standard Sprint Distance Swim-Bike-Run.
I got to do that. I had a great day. I did a course recon a few weeks ago with a club mate. I have been training fairly consistently. My swim is, for being one forty minute session a week, going great. My run is the best it’s been since 2015 and improving. My biking is good and I’ve made big strides in getting comfortable on my tri-bike so I can take advantage of all that amazing aero-ness I paid for.
My goal for the day was to race every leg. The new move I’m making in training is to go out hard and not worry if I’m going to blow up, just hit it and see how long I can hold on.
I lined up at the front of the swim. Am I a front pack swimmer? Hell no. Am I gonna give up places to people who haven’t earned them. Also hell no. The usual mess of people who can swim but have zero technical open water skills happened. Got my line cut across, one person managed to swim under me, which was a first, got some feet to the face – nothing serious. I tried to catch some feet mid way through but that athlete was not sighting well and I always trust my own line.
The big news is that I was swimming the whole time. Not letting my mind wander and coasting. I was in it. Staying with my stroke, focusing on getting a good catch, opening up and using my lats, keeping my elbow high and my body rotating. Head down. Swimming from the first to the last.
Dizzy as hell getting out. Ran most of the way up the boat ramp. T1 was, for me, not my finest moment. Shaking, hadn’t practiced a quick wetsuit removal. Running on a gravel parking lot in cycle shoes to a bathroom break.
The bike was so good. Course recon is always the move. The ride out of the park to the road is horrendous. The first half mile on the road is a bit crunchy and the next eleven miles are lovely. Smooth pavement, low traffic. It’s a continually rolling and curving course. There are no flats or straights for easy miles. There weren’t any very technical moments and I spent more than half the ride in aero.
It did start raining on the ride which I had not planned on. It didn’t get bad enough to slick the roads or muck up my glasses and it kept the temperature down. I do very well in cooler temps and I’m sure I gained some time on people who both took the time to put on jackets and then had the jackets catching the wind. There were some lovely headwinds that had me pushing the gear harder than I expected on some downhills. Thems the breaks and everyone had to do it.
Like the swim – I rode the whole ride. Head in the game all day. Checking on effort. Didn’t look at the watch, just asked my body if I was pushing too hard. Kept after it and pushed it to the end. Got into aero early and often. Hit the downhills spinning in a big gear to take the free speed and refresh the legs. It’s always a good day when I’m moved to yell out “Fuck yeah!” at some point.
Again, not my favorite transition. You’ll never catch me slipping at the rack though. Bike up, shoe change and gone.
The only metric for the run is cadence. 190 was the goal. Like breathing. Gonna take calories in the bottle next time. I wasn’t thirsty because it was cold. A nice hit of flavor would have been wonderful.
Stayed in the run the whole way. Cadence strong and quick. Completely happy to be where I was and to be doing what I was doing. Taking in all the energy from the other racers on course who were just as happy as I was. This is the one part of the race I could have pushed harder. It would have been a big ask after the bike and it wasn’t that day. I didn’t need to go to the well in that way. I was happy, I was present. I also ran my best 5k of the year off of a hard bike, on a hilly course, not feeling like I was pushing particularly hard at all, so there is that.
I made sixth in my age group and I am damn proud of that. A great day at the races and I’m stoked to move into the winter. Got big plans for next year.