I must have set some bad patterns at last year's race, at least in terms of the mechanics of racing. Next year, maybe I'll get to the race on time, and I won't leave anything important.
I thought the race was at El Dorado Lake State Park, but it wasn't. Consequently, The Photographer and I drove to the wrong side of the lake, and couldn't find the race start. So we had to drive back over to the west side of the lake, and finally found the Walnut River camping area. At 7:00 a.m. Which was in the Olympic distance race started. Sigh. Fortunately, the volunteers were kind enough to body mark me and let me in to the (already closed) transition area to set up my stuff. One thing I can definitely say about this race is that they're very accommodating! (Last year, I didn't read the race website and didn't know that I needed to pick up my packet the day before, so I arrived to the race late AND without my packet. And they still let me race. I love them.)
After I got my gear set up in transition, I went for a brief barefoot jog on the grass. Then, since I couldn't do a bike warm-up, I did some static and dynamic stretches to help warm my muscles (slower than an active warm-up, but still effective). Once the olympic distancers had all cleared off the swim course, I was able to get in and do a nice, long swim warm up. The water temperature was perfect, it was relatively clear (relative to Kansas lakes), and the lake was calm. It was going to be a great morning for a race.
Swim: 750 m in 12:16 (official race time was 13:56, but that included a long run up to T1)
I love beach starts! No one in Kansas (apparently) knows how to dolphin dive, so I always get a good lead going into the water. I started wide to the right, aiming for the second buoy instead of the first. As soon as I started swimming, I felt good--long and lean, with plenty of energy and a strong pull. Everything felt good. When I was not quite to the second buoy, I caught onto another woman and let her pull me in her draft. It was the best job I've ever done at drafting. She was just a touch faster than me, enough that I could swim at slightly faster than my normal speed and keep up with her. She gave me about 200 yards, then, as we came around the third or fourth buoy, she sped up and dropped me. I came out of the water as the third or fourth woman, though, and I was happy with my swim.
8th best T1 time, overall (men and women). I think that's pretty good. Passed the girl who pulled for me in T1, too. She stopped to put on socks.
Bike: 20 km in 38:36 (19.3 MPH)
I passed EVERYONE on the bike. Okay, not literally everyone. But almost everyone. I decided early on in the bike to roll the dice, bike as hard as I could, and see if I could hold on for the run. So I let myself hammer, a little bit, especially on the hills and into the wind. I just focused on reeling in one athlete after another.
The only really interesting thing that happened was that I passed a girl about two miles before T2 who was in my age group. "Aha!" I thought. "That's the last of them! Now I just need to hold her off!" I tried not to look back to see where she was. She passed me back just before T2.
T2: 42 seconds
That's about twice as long as it should take. Clearly, I need some practice. I nailed my dismount, but struggled a bit to put on my running shoes. I had to tell myself to slow down and be calm; it only takes longer if you let yourself stress out over it. Unfortunately, that girl who passed me back was off like a frickin' rocket!
Run: 28:13 (9:07/mile)
Sigh . . . It's not that I did badly on this, exactly. But I didn't do well enough. The girl who passed me right before T2 took off, and I knew right away that I wasn't going to be running her down. She ended up running a 24:46. What really bums me out, though, is that I let myself get run off the podium. There was this young girl who burned up the 5-minute lead I had on her going into the run and put another 2 minutes into me on the last mile to take third. I saw her coming after the turn-around, maybe 60 seconds behind me, and I knew I wouldn't be able to hold her off.
I've been doing my threshold runs at 8:30 pace, so I was disappointed that I couldn't hold that. And it's not, I don't think, because my body couldn't handle it. I think I just didn't have the mental fortitude to make myself run that pace. I could feel myself accelerating, at times, and tried to let myself just go with it. But then I would catch myself slowing, again.
Total: 1:22:04, 4th female overall, 1st female 25-29, 20th overall
Not a bad result, you know? And I feel like I really did my best work, out there. I had a great swim, I owned the bike course, and I did my best on the run. I really did. I should be happy with the result. And it's not like this was an A race or anything. I didn't taper. I had a hard week of training leading up to it.
But I don't like getting beat!
It's clear to me that the area I really need to work on, still, is my run. I haven't really had a definite focus, this season; my focus has been on getting back into the sport after a year off. My goal for the season is to finish Shawnee Mission well. I've been working out hard, but it's a year of general improvement, not precise focus.
I have to admit, though, that what I really want at Shawnee Mission--what I really think I can do--is top ten. And if I don't get that, I will be very hungry for next year.