Siesta Key Beach Olympic Triathlon
|August 5, 2012||Posted by Katy under Race Photographs, Race recap, Summer 2012 Training|
What a race. In what seems to be a recurring theme this year, this was definitely an exhausting and difficult race. Not quite as bad as Disney, but it takes the number two spot.
I’ll be upfront and say that I went into this race not in the best shape. As of late, my running has been pathetic, my swimming is so-so, and my cycling needs some work. I also came in a bit run down and in dire need of some R&R. Let’s just say that I am excited to be taking this month easy before building my running base again next month.
As all race mornings do, my alarm went off before the sun, I ate my breakfast of PB and rice cakes, and headed over to the race site. Since I had already picked up my packet the night before, I was able to go straight into transition to set up.
The racks were arranged with different bib number ranges but the order of the transition spots on the rack were first come first served. By the time I got there, the racks were pretty packed, but I was able to squeeze my bike in and take my time in setting up my area.
After setting up my area, I picked up my chip and got body marked before heading back to the transition area to check my spot one last time. I actually met two other women who were also doing the Olympic distance for the first time. It made me feel a little more comfortable that I was not the only first timer at this distance.
Before I knew it, it was time to head down to the beach for the swim.
Going into this race, I knew that I would have to focus on slow and steady strokes in order to make it through the swim. For the 1500m, I had a loose time goal of ~35-36 minutes. I’m not fast by any means, but my swimming has picked up since my last triathlon in June.
The water was warm and calm, perfect conditions for a great race. After a brief explanation of the swim course, the Olympic distance waves were called. The two mens groups went off and then it was my turn to head into the water.
The swim course was simple; an out and back parallel to the shore. We started out in the water and with a “3…2…1… GO”, I was off and starting my race.
The first half of the swim was good. While I was slow (and one of the last in the pack), I had a steady stroke going and my breathing was under control. I had to switch my breathing pattern from bilateral every third stroke, to unilateral every second so that I could see the shore on my right and use it as a guide. It was a little unnatural at first, but I eventually got into it.
When I hit the far buoy for the turnaround, I was on track for my time goal, but then quickly derailed. I was starting to get fatigued and started doubting myself a little. I was also swallowing a lot of gulf water and was coughing it up. At this point, I was the LAST person in my wave and I’ll admit, it got to me a little. However, I kept trucking forward.
Then, at the 3/4 point, I was a sea of pink caps heading directly towards me. The sprint waves went off about 20 minutes after my wave and started at a buoy in the middle of the Olympic loop. Up until this point (and in races past) I have never panicked in the water, but seeing all these athletes coming at me made me freak out. The front swimmers were fairly aggressive, and with me already being exhausted, it was not a good combination. I was grabbed, punched, and tossed around and hate to admit that I was in such a bad state of mind.
However, what helped me was hearing my mom yelling from the shore “GO KATY! COME ON KATY!” Usually I block out any cheering during races, but hearing my name being called out, helped me get to the final buoy and out of the water.
I was not happy (I may or may not have punched the water when I was exiting) and way over my time goal, but I was done and on dry land. Time- 43:36
My transition time was really long, but part of it is because the run to transition was not only uphill in the sand, but long! Even so, I took my time wiping my feet off, getting my gear on, and getting out for the bike leg. Time- 5:08
You know that I had a difficult race when I say that the bike was my strongest leg. My only goal for the bike- to maintain an average pace of at least 16 mph. Again, like swimming, I am not very fast, but I knew that if I was smart, I could at least hit my goal.
The bike course was a double loop on the streets and neighborhoods around the beach. During the first loop, there were plenty of other athletes on the road with me, but the second loop was very lonely, as most of the sprint athletes were done with their single loop.
While the bike course was flat, it was also a bit nerve wracking. It took place entirely on the open road, with a few police officers at major intersections. Normally I do not have a problem riding on the open road, but some of the cars were whizzing by very fast and getting extremely close to the bike lane. I don’t know if many of these drivers were suffering from a major case of road rage, but it was scary at times. There was also one area near the end of the loop where the road was very narrow one lane (with no bike lane), and practically impossible to pass cars. I think my pace dropped down to 10 mph during that section which was frustrating.
However, despite it all, the bike went fairly well. I was a bit uneasy during the first loop (because I felt like I was going to throw up all the gulf water I had swallowed during the swim) but picked it up on the second loop. I was able to hit my goal pace and put up a solid time (for me) on the bike.
Time- 1:31:49 (16.2 mph pace)… with no flat tires (and believe me, there were many athletes with them).
Again, another slow transition but I was not too concerned. By this point, many of the sprint athletes were leaving and the transition area was emptying out. I quickly threw my bike over the rack, pulled on my compression sleeves, refilled my water bottle, and headed out. Time- 3:27.
Oh boy…the run. It was rough to say the least. Like the bike, the run was a double loop. The entire run took place on the beach, which for the most part was packed sand. There were a lot of families and children on the beach by this point, so there was quite a bit of dodging and weaving around people. but it was not a big deal.
I knew going into this race that it was going to be hot and tiring, so I adjusted my pacing plan appropriately. Originally, I was planning on running until I hit the mile marker and then take a 60 second walk. However, I quickly adjusted my plan once hitting the beach.
There was absolutely no shade on this course, and with the sun high in the sky, the heat index was easily over 90 degrees. Already drained from the previous two legs, I adjusted my pacing plan to a 5 minute run (although it was more like a shuffle at this point) and a 1 minute walk. The first loop was rough and I felt myself slipping into a negative mindset. Knowing that I still had another loop to complete was somewhat frustrating because I was spent by this point.
Going into the second loop, I started dividing the race into run/walk segments, not miles. I stopped thinking about the race as a whole, and focused on getting to my next walk interval. Thinking about the race in time segments made it a little more bearable to complete the distance.
Throughout the run, I completely threw out any time goals. This was the absolute slowest I have ever ran a 10K by a long shot, but at the time, I was only concerned about finishing the race in one piece. Time- 1:13:10
Going into the finish, I knew that I was one of the last people. My mom later told me that she overhead one of the race officials telling some of the volunteers at the water stop that they could leave since there were “only nine or so runners left on the course.” Hearing that later made me a little upset, because while I know that I was really slow and one of the last, I deserve the same race experience as the first place finisher.
I crossed the finish in exactly 3:37:00, a good 25 or so minutes slower than I would have liked, but I finished in one piece. I was a bit woozy crossing the finish (due to a drop in blood sugar) and took a few minutes to get some simple sugars into my system before heading to transition to pack up and head back to the hotel.
I later found out that I got 3rd in my age group, but to be honest, there were only four (and one girl dropped out after the swim).
While I am proud that I completed this race, I am of course a little disappointed in my performance. I know, I know…but I am very critical of myself and always want to do my best. What I am not doing is beating myself up over it, but taking the lessons I learned from this race to apply to future ones. I plan to write a post later this week with more thoughts.
As for the race itself, I was impressed. I know that it sounds like I complained a lot, but it was well organized for the most part and the volunteers were friendly and helpful. The medals and shirts were adorable and I appreciated the amount of lifeguards they had out during the swim. Additionally, I LOVED how an E-mail with personalized splits and detailed rankings was sent out to each participant a few hours after the race.
I only have a two suggestions for future races-
- Something needs to be done about the bike course. I’m not sure exactly what (because closing down the road completely would be impossible) but this was the second year in a row that I’ve heard of athletes complaining about safety on the course.
- Gatorade is NEEDED on the run course. I took in a LOT of water (I refilled my 16 oz water bottle three times plus drank 20 oz of water/Gatorade mix on the bike) and was in some serious need of sugar on the final loop. I took in some Gatorade and a GU on the bike, but it was not enough. I was surprised that there was not anything other than water to drink at the finish.
So all in all, I am proud of myself, but if I continue to do triathlons in the future, I am going to need some help from a coach to get me out of the back of the pack.
However, I have a few months before I need to even think about that. In the meantime, I am going to take it easy for a few weeks, and then hopefully start revving up again to get some speed back in my running legs for a winter half-marathon!