Monday, June 1, 2015

Troika Long Distance Triathlon: A review

Overall time: 4:41:46 (PR)

Swim: 32:26

Our wait for the swim start included large rain drops from a small system that moved over head of us from the south. The rain felt colder than the water, which Race Director Scott Ward said measured a whopping 65 degrees. So upon diving into Medical Lake, I felt comfortable.

Over the last few months, I've really been working on making my swim stroke more comfortable. The use of my new Finis fins have helped me to better time my kick with my stroke. As a result, I've noticed I swim with a different position in the water, almost feeling as though I can pick up my butt to gain a bigger purchase on the water.

After a quick 200 yard sprint to gain position, I attained a comfortable stroke in clear water relatively quickly. Faster, in fact, than what I'm used to. Around 2 large yellow buoys and keeping the last three orange ones to my right, I navigated the swim course with relative ease, feeling fairly confident I'd swam the buoy line without getting off course.

Bike: 2:32:40 (PR)

Someone talked to me from just outside transition as I pulled myself out of my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit and donned all my bike garb. They told me I'd exited the water in fifth place. I appreciated whoever took the time to keep me posted, as I did not adequately thank them in the present.

On my Quintana Roo, I sank into my zone fairly quickly, reminding myself to hold onto a wattage that I'd worked to maintain during my training rides on this course in the weeks leading up to today. The headwind going out to the T-intersection (one way leading to Sprague, the other way leading to Edwall) did not even compare to the headwind I throttled through toward the turnaround. I managed to hold a normalized power output of 203 watts before turning around back toward Medical Lake.

The ride home, however, didn't feel nearly as good as I'd hoped it would, especially considering the tailwind I thought I could use. I appreciated the aid stations and the supply of water volunteers handed out to dilute the concentrated PhD Glyco-Durance nutrition drink I'd mixed up two nights before. If I could suggest two improvements, I'd request that volunteers remove the caps and that garbage cans be placed at least 30 yards past the aid stations. I hated the thought of throwing my water bottle out to the side of the road, and I rode with one tucked in my back pocket until the next aid station.

The last little loop around Clear Lake tortured me. Already, my back ached so terribly. I don't think I've ever stood up so frequently in an effort to extend and stretch my back. My power numbers started to waver, and my conscience began racing ahead to the run, where I wondered just how I'd manage to race out of T2 with a sore backside.

Run: 1:34:53 (PR)

Three loops. Relying on my Newtons, I started out at a decent clip that I wondered how long I could hold. The announcer in the park told me I'd biked into transition as second place female, yet I didn't know where third place stood in relation to me.

Clicking off the miles seemed to come easy. Running through the first three aid stations, I educated volunteers to please start putting ice in cups. I felt relieved and thankful that each and every aid station had accommodated my request as I passed through coming back from the turnaround. It was at this point that I could gauge where first place female, Haley Cooper-Scott, ran ahead of me. Being the accomplished and incredibly strong athlete that she is, I resigned to the fact that she ran at an untouchable clip.

Lap two came around, and I could sense my pace slowing slightly. I could feel my feet a little more, and my reliance on water and ice seemed a bit more desperate. Having run the loop already, though, I felt I could break down the lap into smaller bites, making it a bit more manageable. This helped, considering the sun beating down on me aimed to burn me on a fairly exposed course.

The third loop came faster than anticipated. I appreciated that each aid station recognized me as, "the one who asks for ice." I didn't pass up a single opportunity for water and ice, and I felt thankful my stomach didn't retaliate in my efforts to keep downing water. I distinctly remember mile 10 being one that I dreamed about in the first lap when the same spot only marked the first mile. How good it felt this time around!

By the time I'd reached the 13th mile marker, I had already been looking for it for about a half a mile. Happy to have reached it, I felt confident Haley had finished well before me, and third place ran about 2 minutes back. My day was done.

Post-race thoughts

Great race, great competition, great day. I felt happy to have had the opportunity to race against some of Spokane's best athletes in an effort to see where I've improved and where I'd still like to improve. Thank you to all those who cheered me onward, to the volunteers who parked themselves out in the sun to serve us, to the man with the sprayer hose, and to the Race Director, Scott Ward, for a great experience.

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