HITS Triathlon Series Championship, Olympic Distance, Palm Springs, CA 12/06/2014

The couple of months leading up to this race were full of uncertainty. I had gone from thinking that I’d never be able to race again (ok, kind of dramatic) to full force “I am going to rock this” in a matter of 6 weeks.

Luckily, by race day, I was in the “I am going to rock this” mindset.

The time I spent in the walking boot was time well spent, but I was definitely ready to go once I got the okay. Coach Brant had a great plan for me and I returned to running slowly but surely.

One thing I loved about California was that I felt FASTER there. I don’t know if it was the weather, the freeing feeling of being on vacation, or what. But, I was faster. And I definitely liked it.

Leading up to the race, I decided to do a 5K on Thanksgiving. Originally, I had agreed with Coach Brant to just do it for “fun”. Apparently he already knows what he is dealing with because he knew I was going to go all  out either way. You can read the race report for that race HERE. I rocked it with a PR at 19:49* (read about the asterisk in the race report).

The week leading up to the race was perfect. Jeff and I took a little vacation within a vacation and left the kids in Palm Desert with family while we went by ourselves to La Jolla. In the 9 years we’ve been together, we have NEVER taken a trip alone, so this was a much needed, way overdue trip. We didn’t do much. That was the plan. We just walked the beach, laid by the fireplace in the hotel, and ate and drank. Perfect. For fun stuff, we went kayaking on our last day. It was awesome!

I swam in the ocean (which was fantastic until I got caught in the kelp and turned into a big baby). I ran along the beach. Ahh. I never wanted to leave!

The day before the race came and it was time to get my practice swim in and pick up my packet. I’m not going to lie…the water was gross. There was a LOT of debris, including feathers and bird poop, as well as twigs and such. It was not a pleasant swim. Luckily, only a couple of days before, I had received my new Swim Bike Mom branded swim cap:

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SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP.

PERFECT.

So, I sucked it up an swam.

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I met a few other crazies out there and had an overall great day. I did a “shake out” brick and just fueled, hydrated, and rested all day. (I actually listened!)

Aidan and Cora had fun on the banks and while I choked on lake water.

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RACE MORNING:

Normal pre-race: unable to sleep the night before, bathroom issues (I’ll spare you), no appetite, and nervous as hell. Nothing new.

I forced down half of a banana, chugged a couple of bottles of water, and headed toward the race site.

Beautiful!

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I did my best to follow Coach Brant’s plan for the day. That included an easy spin, dynamic warm-up, easy jog, and a swim warm up close to the race start. It also included taking a gel about 20 minutes prior to the race starting.

Something I’ve not been good at this entire first year of this crazy stuff is nutrition/hydration. My plan was always to not plan which always meant failure. I would drink a few sips of water, eat a half of a banana (if I remembered) then head out for a 3-4 hour workout or event and wonder why I was so drained at the end. Hmmm…wonder why?!

This race was different. I trained smarter and harder. And, by training smarter, I mean I trained with nutrition and hydration. Imagine that!

So, I took an apples & cinnamon Huma Gel and headed to my warm up.

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The sprint distance took off about 20 minutes before I was to join in for the Olympic distance. Man, oh man, I shouldn’t have watched that. One word: SARDINES.

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And the Olympic distance was an even bigger field. Ugh. This is how I should have trained:

There were people running in the 2 feet of water along the banks because there was no room to actually swim. Apparently, the water is protected by the state and will not allow ANY type of watercraft (AKA: kayaks) into the water. What does that translate to? A couple of scuba divers and keeping the race ridiculously close to the banks. By the end, my fingertips were RAW from scraping the bottom. Oh, and two loops of a swim where you GET OUT of the water after the first loop and back in for the second loop. Talk about throwing me for a loop!

I am sure I swam significantly further than the course was meant to be because I stayed WAY on the outside for the entire swim. But, I was determined to: 1. Actually SWIM the entire thing and 2. Not die. I am proud to say that I achieved both of those goals.

1500M SWIM TIME: 00:31:46

Off to the bike. The transition area seemed FOREVER away.

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And the sand/razor sharp rocks made it a little more difficult just for fun.

I made it into transition and did my best to hurry it up and get out on that bike.

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I didn’t forget my helmet!

T1 TIME: 00:03:50

Within 5 miles of the bike, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was immediately regretting not being fitted properly on the bike. My hips and knees were screaming at me…profanely. Let’s not even talk about the “Queen”.

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I played yo-yo slingshot with a few girls on the bike and by the end passed all but one of them from the group. I *had* to go get her on the run!

I had a couple of close calls on the bike with turns and the turn-around by getting into sand (ahem, we were in the DESERT), but came out unscathed. However, I did come out without a water bottle. Whoops. (Note to self, practice putting the water bottle back securely).

24.85 MI BIKE TIME: 01:24:49, 17.4 MPH AVG

I was off the bike and ready to rock the run…

or so I thought.

My dogs were yelping. I tell you…GET FIT ON YOUR BIKE. My hips and knees were NOT handling this thing we call “running”. I couldn’t feel my toes. But, I ran.

T2 TIME: 00:01:57

Nothing special about the run. It was 5K out and 5K back. My first and second mile were horrendous. I finally picked up after mile 4 and headed in. And, I passed the girl from the bike (and a few more) that I had set targets on.

I had made a goal to finish under 3 hours. My last Oly was at 3:17 and I really wanted that PR!

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I looked down and saw that I was at 2:35 with 2-ish miles to go. I was going to do it! So I did.

I came in from the pavement to the last 1/2 mi on the grass and then I head the cowbells! “GO REEEEEB!!!!” was emanating from my 8 year old. You have no idea how beautiful of a sound that is!

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(And Cora was eating watermelon)

Sometimes at the end of a race, I feel like just falling over. This race, I felt pretty darn good. I mean, I felt as good as one can after swimming, biking, and running for 32 miles. But, I felt GOOD.

And, once I saw that time, I felt even better…

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10K RUN TIME: 00:48:34

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I made it across that finish line and immediately started dousing myself with water bottle after water bottle of wonderful ice-cold water. I can’t even tell you how great that feels after a race!

At least if I’m soaking wet, no one can tell if it’s pee, right? (Sorry, not sorry)

FINISH TIME: 02:50:45

I DID IT!!!

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Of course, I am my own worst enemy and harshest critic, so I ran through the million ways that I could’ve done better. I’m going to skip all of that, though, and say that I did the best I could at the time. And I am okay with that.

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