(Photo courtesy of Timothy Carlson)
I raced on Saturday. It was my first triathlon since September 5. I felt a bit rusty, a tad nervous but excited to get out there and see where I am starting this year. As it usually happens in the first hit out, some things were good (swim) and some were bad (bike). Either way, it was a good effort and a chance to see what I need to improve. As it usually is, my post race analysis showed me I need to improve the bike. Maybe I need to learn to make myself hurt a bit more while cycling. I also just need more time on the bike. The three weeks in Napa were great and probably helped, but it is hard to see major fitness gains in 3 weeks. Plus, my time on the computrainer is somewhat limited during the swim season in Chicago because of work so to bike fast I also just needed more hours per week on the bike. My one other limiter on the bike---I was FREEZING!!! I am not talking about a little bit chilly, I was full on shivering and shaking. I loathed going downhill because I got even colder. This lasted for the first 25-30 miles of the bike. I am not going to use this as an excuse but it was reality. I cycled as hard as I could given the energy my body had but I have to think that some of my energy was going towards trying to warm me up. I have never had this problem in Oceanside before but I was in the water about 45 minutes earlier than I am used to starting (pro vs. age group start time) so maybe this was the difference. The sun was just not quite as high in the sky. I'll have to come up with a plan to remedy this---it will probably include throwing on arm warmers and a vest or just racing in a warmer location. Luckily, since Ironman is taking over the world (or so it seems, I will refrain from an editorial on the subject) they just announced a new race in Puerto Rico next March; that might work for me! Anyway, back to my race. After I warmed up and got passed by just about every pro I had to stay in a positive way mentally. There were points I was frustrated but I told myself that emotion was not going to be helpful in getting me through this bike as quickly as possible. So, I focused on cycling as well as I could, hydrating, eating and generally enjoying the opportunity I had to race on this beautiful sunny day. Ultimately, the worst race day pales in comparison to other things that could go wrong. I was still out there with the ability to race, to push myself and to have fun. What could be better than that...I am mean really?!!!?! After what seemed like a long time I dismounted the bike ready to push myself on the run. After about 2-3 miles I found a pretty good rhythm and focused on getting in some hydration and keeping my energy level up. After the turnaround for the second loop I began to push a bit harder and actually had a pretty spell for 3-4 miles where I felt strong (must have been the gel). I started to feel a bit tired and not quite as peppy the last 2.5 miles or so but I willed myself to stay as strong as I could and get to the finish as quickly as possible. My mile times were not horrible at this point and they were not going way up but I was definitely getting fatigued. I embraced this feeling. I enjoyed being able to push myself to that point. Being able to do that showed me that I am fit and I finished the race with a positive feeling. Overall the run was pretty good, not great, but a solid starting point for the season. My calves were killing me from the stupid concrete. I got my things together and had a wonderful breakfast/lunch at the Longboarder Cafe with Andy after the race. We relaxed and then went to La Jolla for dinner and some strolling around. It was a great evening followed my a relaxing morning of breakfast, watching a surf competition on the beach and then packing the bike. I love post race mornings---while I totally enjoy racing the full body *exhale* on the morning after the race is something I really look forward to.
Lastly, I forgot to talk about what I termed the good part of the race---the swim. The water was chilly but warmer than the air so it was not too shocking when I got in for a short 2-3' warm up before the start. We were not allowed in the water prior to that because of the sun not being up. I had done a warm up jog and lots of stretching so I felt pretty loose. I lined up on the outside and had a good start and avoided a lot of contact with people. I was swimming along in a group and I felt strong and pushed myself. My swimming has been going well lately so I was hoping that I could have a good swim. I did, my best time on this course by about :55 seconds. Needless to say, I have a bike and run focus coming up in my training :)
My next race is one of my favorites, Escape from Alcatraz. And, it is close to home. I love being able to say that now since I am living out in Napa full time. Here's to a solid beginning to the 2010 season. Many challenges are ahead in both training and racing.