The other weekend I competed in the Inside-Out Sports Beaverdam Olympic Triathlon. This was my first triathlon since 2013 and my first FS Series triathlon. I survived!! It was actually a great comeback race, a great race in general, and a great day with Brian and new friends! It was also a good gauge of what I need to work on going forward. I have done something crazy and signed up for a half ironman in September soooo looks like I have my work cut out for me. I’m much more of a short distance race person than long so a half iron scares me on many levels. Enough on that…I don’t like saying it out loud too much…and let’s talk about Beaverdam.
I signed up for Beaverdam because I was so scared another summer would pass without me doing a race! It’s not that I haven’t wanted to race the last two summers it just became easier not to. I had some injuries that took me out for parts of the summer and then I just couldn’t find a good race that fit in with our crazy schedule and I didn’t want to have to work too hard logistically to make it happen. AND…I’m not in the shape I used to be and have lost some edge so I was even wondering if it’s worth it to put all this effort into something I wasn’t going to excel at. That particular feeling changed when I met some new triathlon friends! Just like running I remembered how everything is way more fun with a group and I’m thankful for meeting Andrea and her introducing me to the Grasshopper Triathlon Group. Several Hoppers raced Beaverdam last year and had great things to say about it so I signed up….just like that! Then I remembered that I don’t usually like early spring races because that means you should probably ride your bike and swim before March and I usually don’t do that soooo my training could be described as minimal at best. I upped my once a week (or month) swim to once or twice a week and started biking the last week of February instead of March. I did ONE 30 mile bike ride, 3 open water swims (which I’m SO glad for) and one brick. Andrea and I even cut our brick short because we were tired and I was hungry haha. I really have no idea why my performance isn’t what it used to be. So, needless to say on race day I was freaking out. How in the world would I swim 1500 meters, bike 24 miles and run 6.2 miles?? Well, somehow I did and survived!
Friday before the race I was pretty nervous! Brian picked up our race packets on his way home from work which was nice because I forgot ALL THE CRAP you have to get together for a triathlon. Brian makes a list which is very organized of him while I just start gathering everything I need or might need. Here is what I packed: a wetsuit, two pairs of goggles (one brand new which is risky), my ankle strap that holds the chip, racebelt, bike helmet, bike shoes, run shoes, two gels, a visor, towel, two water bottles, change of clothes, garmin, hairbrush and sunglasses. After all of that it was midnight and time for bed…kidding sort of:) I did prepare what I could of my breakfast smoothie. In 2013 I discovered UCAN Superstarch and had super races and results with it. I’ll have to do a whole other post on how I used UCAN and why I love it. My breakfast smoothie is a scoop of UCAN, a scoop of Shakeology, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 banana and almond milk. Then I went to sleep and actually slept good. Another bonus of Beaverdam is the race started at 9am so no crazy 4am wake up! This race was also great because it’s local and Brian also competed. I like when Brian does a race with me because he handles all the pre race bike maintenance and race directions. I also know I will have someone waiting at the finish line…even if he finishes so far ahead that he changes clothes and scopes out the food.
Beaverdam State Recration Park is in Wake Forest on Falls Lake. Pulling into the race site I felt a little like I was going to a Jordan lake beach access. It was a good familiar feeling. There was plenty of close parking and we were quickly headed to transition. I mentioned this was my first FS Series race and I was pleased so far! Brian and I found our spots on the rack and loaded up. I always get more nervous at this point. I look around and see all the participants calmly and coolly (in my mind) arranging their gear for transition and I always think they have the coolest gear and the bikes look so fast….and then I’m full fledged freaking out. This is when I start my nervous chatter with people around me and I met this sweet girl Alex. This was Alex’s very first race! She is training for Raleigh Half IM. Reminded me of Andrea as Raleigh IM was her first race ever. That’s amazing to me! Set up was fast and after a quick swim warm up we were off. I did try out my new goggles and decided to go with them. They are my favorite brand Aqua Sphere. I’ve used the clear Lady Kayenne for years, but needed a polarized lens for the sun and glare so went with the smoke Kayenne.
I’m always most nervous for the swim. As much as I’ve become accustomed to open water swimming I know that a panicky feeling can still occur. I was especially nervous this time because my first time in the open water this year I had one of the worst panic feelings I’ve had since this was brand new to me. Our first practice in Jordan Lake it was super cold and I was wearing my new wetsuit. I was also recovering from a cough and sinus infection. I started swimming and everything felt so tight on my chest and I was trying to control my breathing while shivering. I had to stop and collect myself for several minutes before I could continue. Luckily Andrea went out with me the next day and everything went great. I’m very thankful I spent some time in Jordan before Beaverdam to work out all the nerves and kinks. I also for the first time ever didn’t think the swim looked like it was 10 miles long. The water was calm and the swim was a nice little rectangle. The site and turn buoys were large and bright. We started the swim in the water and it went logistically perfect for me. The nerves and adrenaline were under control and I had a smooth swim. Brian mentioned the cross chop at the turn and while I noticed it I had no problem because our swim the previous week in Jordan had a much worse chop so I was ready to turn on my side a little more to get a good breath. I was pleased with my swim as I exited the water and gave Barry a little wave. Barry and Jodi are a few of my new Hopper friends and were there cheering us on. The jog into transition was a little long and uphill, but I managed to get my wetsuit unzipped and halfway down. One thing Beverdam had was wetsuit strippers! What a cool idea. Our friend Tim who was wearing a full suit took full advantage ha! Swim time 33:17.
T1 wasn’t terrible considering I had to take my wetsuit off and I always wear socks. I felt like I did an ok job getting out of there. Last race I did I had long hair that I braided. That seemed to make putting on my helmet easier. T1 time 2:08.
The bike is my favorite. My strategy going into this race was to just bust it out on the bike and hang on for the run. I think I did pretty good with that strategy. A few things slowed me down on the bike. One is the busy road upon exiting the park. I was stressing out because there was so much traffic and I was worried I was going to have to squeeze around them. Just as I was having to slow as I approached the cars I noticed I was at my turn. I had about two seconds to look at the sign to see which direction I turned. Olympic race was headed left and sprint to the right. I had to go around the left of the cars to turn which was a little stressful. As the police officer was telling me to go a car started to go thinking the officer meant him. That was a little scary, but I made it through onto a much less busy road and then I found myself completely alone for several miles! I did not like this…I was starting to second guess if I had read the signs correctly in that split second. There was another bike group headed the opposite direction, but not another racer in front or behind me. Finally I came upon some racers, but those miles alone were a little nerve racking! Once I approached the racers I started to just pass a bunch of people…mostly men. I saw very few women in the first half of the race. A few men on super nice bikes passed me, but I felt like I was riding hard. Close to the halfway point I hit another traffic jam that slowed me down for a few minutes. A car was stuck behind a slower biker so I was stuck too. I have honestly never had these traffic jams in a race before. Once I reached the turn around I started to think about when I wanted my UCAN gel I had mixed. I used one pouch of UCAN with coconut water in a gel flask. I also made an effort to drink a lot of water. I’m really bad about drinking water because it slows me down. I need to get a water bottle that fits in my handlebars so I can drink more. I had my gel around mile 17 and kept pedaling. The hills were a little more prevalent on the return trip. I wouldn’t say they were steep, but a little longer and steadier. Luckily the busy road leading back to park had calmed down and I had no issue with traffic. The worst part of the bike and worst hill was this hill leading back to transition. It was crazy how that little part at the end kicked my butt. Bike time wasn’t my best ever but a good steady 19mph average at 1:15.
I don’t know what the heck I was doing here, but T2 was pretty embarrassing. I am usually less than a minute to a minute. My T2 was almost 2 minutes???!!! I have no clue what took so long. I didn’t feel like it was that long when I was there. I have no explanation!!
The run was pretty miserable. I felt every mile. I swore, I prayed and I even walked once! The run was a two loop course which I knew would be a struggle mentally and it sure was. The first mental struggle was starting the first loop and seeing Brian about to finish his first loop…no fair! The run course started with a slight incline and turned into two rollers before the first turnaround. I knew from the first loop that I would have a little downhill back towards the finish, but I also knew I had a couple rough hills before that. On the second loop I did take a teensy walk break up the toughest hill. I happened to be passing Andrea on the other side and she was a little concerned so I quickly got my jog back. I did really like seeing Brian and all my friends so often on the run course for the just the fact that I knew we were all in this together! I most definitely need to work on that bike to run a little more. I’m not a huge fan of overdoing the brick because its as much mentally draining as physically, but need to work on that and wondering if I could have used a little more nutrition either on the bike or in the run? I was actually okay with my run time of 52:17. My best run time in an Olympic is 50 minutes so not too far off. I do think Holly’s workouts very much help prepare me for pushing when I’m mentally and physically done too. Longer hill and speed workouts and finishing tough workouts with sprints and strides have shown me I always have a little more to give. I was so happy to finish though and Brian was waiting for me looking refreshed haha:)
Overall it was a great race! My overall time was 2:45 and that was enough for 3rd in my age group. Sadly if I had been in the two higher age groups I wouldn’t have placed. And I thought this was all supposed to get easier! Thank you to FS Series for a great race and my new friends for great training!!