This past weekend was Vineman. I was excited to race so close to home. Since I was a local (love saying that) a hotel stay was hard to come by since the majority of the hotels had 2-3 night minimum stays. I had never done a homestay before so I decided to give it a try. I stayed with Connie and Troy. Connie was racing as well and Troy is a serious biker. I felt right at home when we got there and they had about 7 bikes in the garage and lots of wheel bags.
The Welcome Chalkboard from Connie and Troy
We had a good dinner the night before the race and got everything sorted out and ready for the next morning. My morning routine was going to have to start early because my wave went off at 6:32am. It is nice to start so early because I was probably going to be done before noon, but it really made the morning go by quickly. We had to get up at 4, eat, load up the car and drive the 30 minutes to the race start. I set up my transition quickly, got in a quick warm up and slipped into my Blue Seventy speedsuit. The water was a brisk 72 degrees which means it was non-wetsuit for the Pros. This is an advantage for me since I am a swimmer but I like warm water. Seriously, I prefer to swim in pools that are around 82 degrees. I know this makes me a bit of a freak but I do not like to freeze when I jump in the pool in the morning.
The Swim Start in the Russian River
From this point forward I am going to give a Hillary-esque race report of the highs and lows for the day. It was not my perfect race. I had some things go wrong. It hurt a bit more than usual. However, I would be crazy to think they would all feel good.
A Beautiful Venue for a triathlon
High: Non-wetsuit which is an advantage for stronger swimmers.
Low: Non-wetsuit swim which a disadvantage for small framed triathletes who get cold easily and like warm water. Solution: suck it up princess.
High: I finished the bike feeling pretty strong and not having a slight drop off in the watts towards the end of the ride.
Low: Where should I start? T1 was a complete disaster. I could not get my skinsuit off, things would not clasp, I dropped things, rocks were everywhere. After standing at my bike for what seemed like forever I finally ran out of transition, jumped on my bike at the bottom of a steep hill and got started. However, instead of paying attention to what I was doing I was focused on the woman in front of me who was having a bit of trouble getting her feet in the bike shoes that were clipped on her pedals. I had a milli-second of thinking that I had made the smart decision of starting out with my shoes on* but my smugness was short-lived. Since I was not paying attention to what I was doing I found myself riding into a ditch. I unclipped and did not completely fall over but since I came to a complete stop on the hill I had a bit of trouble getting started again. I tried in vain. I dropped my bike. I finally had to run up the hill and then re-mounted. The first 3-5 miles of the bike I was so pissed at myself and, not to mention, embarrassed. I forced myself to move on and focus on the task at hand, biking. My bad luck on the little things (purpose of the blog title) seemed to follow me. I dropped a water bottle at an aide station, almost missed riding over the timing pad at the halfway point and dropped part of my Powerbar. None of these things were huge issues that had a big effect on my race, but it was just the way the day was going. The little things were a tad off.
(*disclaimer: I have never started the bike with my shoes clipped in the pedals and this is something I am going to master. I just wanted to make that point clear.)
High: I fought the entire way and remained positive. My mind could have been my downfall but I forced myself to find a few mantras to get me through what was one of the toughest runs I ever completed in my triathlon career. While I did not run as fast as I believe I am capable of, I find it encouraging that I ran as fast as I did on such a challenging day.
Low: I would say the way I felt on the run (tight, sore, drained and tired) was the low. However, the low was the same thing that contributed to the high point on the run. Without facing the challenges on the run I could not have found something within myself to do the best I could given the circumstances of the day. This will make me stronger.
While the result was not what I wanted I got a lot more out of the race beyond the actual time it took me to complete the course. I would have liked to feel strong on the run. I wish that I did not ride into a ditch. I wish the little things had gone well. In the end, I persevered I did all that I could with what I was given on race day.
Furthermore, I have been thinking about how I felt leading into the race. While I did get some rest in the days leading up to race day I think my body was starting to exhibit some signs of being a little more fatigued than I originally thought. A couple weeks ago I had the biggest run week of my life. My run was feeling good but perhaps the running combined with lots of biking (hill repeats, TT efforts, etc.) put me in a bit of a deficit. Ultimately, this hard work is what will make me stronger but I might have underestimated the effect it had on my fatigue level in getting my legs "race ready." I like to think of it as growing pains. My race fitness needs to catch up with the fitness I have been gaining in training. Perhaps the tightness in my glut, hamstring and calves, most apparent on the right leg, were all signs that my body was on the ropes. The rest prior to the race helped alleviate most of the aches and pains but it was not quite enough to make me feel fresh on Sunday morning. In an effort to allow my body to recover and soak up the work I have done this week is EASY. Two days off followed by three days of short, easy workouts of my choice. I think my body will appreciate the rest and ultimately, it will allow me to get in more great training and have some good races in the last few months of the season.
Now, if I could just stop re-living the disaster at the bike start. How mortifying!
The race really made the support crew very tired.