I am never training for a race again.
You may remember this post, in which I declared that I had no intention of training for this race. And I remained faithful to my word. I haven't done a pool workout since February, and I haven't run (except in my rugby training) any distance this year.
In spite of that fact, I had one of my best races ever! My performance this year was comparable to my performance last year (when I was training my butt off), and I had a great time!
I always run late to this race! At least I didn't get lost this year.
My plan was to wake up at 5:00, leave my house by 5:30, and arrive at 6:30. Transition closed at 6:50, so that didn't leave me much time to set up my stuff. I didn't get out of my house until 6:45, and I arrived at around 6:40. That only gave me 10 minutes to set up my area, but that was plenty. The one downside to arriving so late was that all the good bike rack spots were already taken (no assigned spots, this year), and I had trouble finding a place to put my gear. Even so, I was out of transition with a good minute to spare.
The olympic race started at 7:00, and my race started at 7:30. I thought about warming up, then decided against it. I jogged back and forth to the bathroom a couple of times. That was my warmup. Hey! I didn't even train for this race! It seemed hypocritical to do a warmup, after following my training regimen so precisely.
Swim: 750 m in 14:44 (last year 13:56)
This swim course is short, I think, but the time includes a long run-up to transition, so I guess that makes up for it. It's a rare beach start, and I get to use my dolphin dive to get out ahead of the melee. I started in front, but I felt sure that everyone else passed me as soon as we got into open water. Which I didn't mind. I was just focusing on getting through a full 750, seeing as how the only time I've spent in a pool this year has been in a very tiny bikini with a fruity mixed drink in my hand. My dad said that I was the first orange cap out of the water, though! I can hardly believe that. Maybe my dad missed the half dozen women who surely must have been out in front of me. But I wasn't paying attention to who came out of the water in front of or behind me, because I was so sure that I was bringing up the rear!
I have to admit, the swim was a little bit painful. My neck, shoulders, and arms aren't used to that kind of exertion. My traps and neck cramped up from breathing to the right. I tried breathing to my left, but that just made me swim off course, and my neck cramped on the other side, anyway. My triceps felt like lead by the end. But I made it through the swim, and didn't feel like I was over-exerted or anything.
T1: 44 seconds (last year 37)
Meh. I had no reason to be in a hurry, this year. I took my time getting my stuff together before grabbing my bike and heading out.
Bike: 20 km in 42:15 (last year 38:36)
Tailwind going out, headwind coming back, way more hills than I remember. I felt strong and capable on the bike, always my best event. I passed plenty of people. There was one woman who paced me pretty well. I passed her after 4 or 5 miles, but she stayed close throughout the bike. Staying in front of her encouraged me to hold a hard pace. I was somewhat concerned that I was going to push myself too hard and not have anything left for the run. I was worried about the run, but I tried to keep my mind on the present moment. My legs felt tight, and tired. I think my road bike may be too compact for me; I felt all scrunched up.
My rabbit passed me back around the 10 mile mark. We were going just about the same speed, and I had to work to stay out of her draft zone; I wasn't interested in trying to pass her back again. I was ready to settle in and wait for the run.
T2: 49 seconds (last year 42)
Took my time in T2, too. I could have gotten in and out in 30 seconds, probably. But what was the rush? I was just out for fun! Besides, I wasn't looking forward to running, and I was putting it off as long as I could. I was motivated to leave, though, by my rabbit from the bike leg heading out. I could at least beat her out of transition!
Run: 5 km in 30:26 (last year 28:13)
I don't know what I was so worried about! I felt pretty good on the run, and I passed a lot of people. Last year, I was so far out in front that I just got passed; I didn't get to do any of the passing. I didn't feel like a terrific runner or anything, but it did feel like a good run. I mean, it hurt. But that's how it's supposed to feel.
I did have some cramping in the first two miles. I've had some trouble with my anterior tibialis on the right leg spasming. There was one night at the gym when I was going to run sprint intervals, but my leg cramped so badly that I could barely stand, let alone run. I altered my gait, so I could run more on my toes (less dorsiflexion, so the anterior tib isn't contracted as much). That worked for a while, then my right calf started cramping. I had to alternate between running on my toes and running on my heels. Then my right psoas started cramping, and I got a little worried. But it worked itself out by about the halfway point. And then I felt okay.
Of course, "okay" isn't "great." I still hurt. It was still hard. I was still ready to be done with the whole thing. But I felt strong, in terms of my endurance. You know what really got me, though, was muscular endurance. By the last mile, my legs were done. I could feel that the muscles in my right leg weren't even working, anymore; my right foot felt floppy.
With about .2 mile to go, two women passed me. But I didn't have to worry about that, because I was just out there for fun! I smiled and told them they looked great. And then we were over the bridge and around the corner and into the finishing chute. I did my best impression of a sprint, which just involved picking my knees up slightly. And that was it!
Total: 1:28:55, 4th female overall, 1st female 25-29, 51st overall (male and female)
In terms of field placement, this is exactly what I did last year. 4th female overall, 1st in my age group. I had been counting women ahead of me, and I figured I came in 7th overall, but I failed to account for the fact that there were two swim waves, so the older women started 2 minutes ahead. That meant a better result for me!
I had so much fun at this race! It was a great time, and a surprisingly great result for me. I guess that the high intensity sprint work I've been doing for rugby actually keeps me in pretty good shape! I would like to add in one long-ish run (5-8 miles) on the weekends, once a week, just to keep my endurance up. We're going into the fall season, where more of the matches will be a full 80 minutes. That means I need to be able to work for a full 80 minutes! An 8 mile run will be perfect.
I do still enjoy triathlon. I just don't want to organize my life around a super-serious training plan. I think I was taking myself way too seriously, last year, and it lead to a good result, but I didn't feel good about it. This year, I didn't take myself so seriously, and I had a lot more fun. And I still had a good result, but I was able to enjoy it!
Thanks for reading, guys. I really appreciate you all!