“People worry too much about times. Time is just the outcome”
Well, here I am again! Writing another race report. I can’t believe it’s been 5 months since my last triathlon and 3 months since my last race (Bandera 25k). I never wrote up a report for Bandera, but it was fun to do a trail run and I got this awesome donkey for 2nd overall.
This past weekend I raced Texas 70.3 in Galveston. I was a little nervous going into this race as it’s the first real test of the season. Plus I hired a coach in December. It’s scary to turn over something that’s been under my control so closely for the past year and a half. Additionally, I’ve felt like my running fitness isn’t quite the same as last year and I’m up from my weight I raced at last year. After meeting with my coach, Chann McRae, on Friday before the race, I had my race plan ironed out and felt calm and confident. The forcast for Sunday was thunderstorms and there was talk of the swim being cancelled, but I kept with the plan (and my gut feeling) that it would be a triathlon and not a duathlon.
I’ve got my pre-race rituals and foods pretty much ironed out by now. Usual pre-race dinner. My mom came down to cheer me on, so she ate with me. She does make fun of me for the vegetables I eat these days (beets, brussels sprouts, kale). I find it funny that my mom gives me a hard time about eating veggies….
Race morning was fueled with my favorite waffles. Yum! Got everything packed up and headed down to the race site. I was staying in a big house with a bunch of T3 team mates. I headed out as most others were just getting up and eating breakfast. I got to the race site around 5 and got a killer parking spot right near transition. It was super windy and I was worried about things blowing around in transition. Got my spot set up and ready to go. Eventually when the time came, I got warmed up and started getting my wetsuit on. Brand new sleeveless Vendetta and it ripped a tear in the calf. Not a hole, but two years ago I had the same thing happen in Galveston so I was trying to be especially careful. I didn’t let this mess with my head and got back to getting ready.
30 minutes before start I took a shot of X2Performance and walked over to the swim start area. The pros went off 5 minutes late (I assume for weather?) It was still really windy and the water looked rough. My wave was the 1st one after the pro females. 6 minutes behind them. I was hoping to have a strong swim and maybe catch one or two out of transition or in the water. Soon the pro men and women were off and they let us on the pier. Before I knew it, it was time to jump in the water. Lined up and waited for the gun. Usually you can sight off the Home Depot sign across the Bay, but it was so foggy there wasn’t a way that was going to happen. The gun went off and we were going.
On the way out, it was swimming right into heavy chop. It wasn’t the craziest swim I’ve been in (St George 2012 by FAR was), but it’s second after that. I just kept calm and swam on! I was trying to find some good feet to get on, or determine if I was the feet to be on. Usually I try to muscle my way to the front in a race, but today I just tried to keep up with the lead pack and on the right course. I was swallowing plenty of salt water, but able to get some good breathing in as well. I saw a swimmer in a pink cap and another in a green cap. Either I was mistaken (wouldn’t be the first time) or others might be having a rougher day than usual in that choppy water.
When we hit the first turn I had passed a few girls and it was me and 2 other girls. This was a lot easier to swim through, but sighting was challenging as sometimes you couldn’t see anything but water in front of you. Most of these buoys went by fairly quickly. Sometimes I had to sight more often than I was planning to, but it was better to stay on track. I did well until the last buoy. All of a sudden, I looked up and was WAY inside the buoy line. Either the buoys weren’t in line or I got shifted way off course.
One more turn and I was heading back in. I passed two more pink caps on the way in. This helped boost my confidence of how my day was going. Soon I was at the swim exit and running through the crowd. I looked at my watch 32 something. I had started my watch around 2 minutes before start so maybe I broke 30, but it didn’t matter. Swim was done, on to the next leg! I heard someone shout 2nd! Man, there was one girl that had gotten away. Got my wetsuit stripped and heard my mom cheering for me.
Quickly into transition and to my bike. I saw Jennifer Lentzke just getting on her bike. She’s my neighbor and a solid cyclist, so I knew I probably could pace off of her. Soon enough I was out of transition just a ways behind her. Within 1-2 minutes I had passed the girl who had come out of the water behind me. Heading out onto the bike course it was foggy and not a ton of visibility. My stomach didn’t feel bad, but I knew it wasn’t thrilled with the amount of salt water I had swallowed. My plan involved pacing off my heart rate which wasn’t coming in. Oh well, all of your equipment won’t always work. I focused down the road and tried to keep the distance between Jennifer and myself the same. Every so often I’d move my heart rate strap around and try to get a reading on my HR. It would pick up for about 5 seconds and click out again.
Well, at least I could check what it was occasionally and try to keep the same “feel.” There was a nice tailwind on the way out and I planned to exploit it as much as possible. I’d never been so alone on the bike in a race before. No one was passing me and all I could see ahead was Jennifer in the fog. It was like I was out there alone. About 10 miles in I threw up a little in my mouth and spit out to the side. Not the most pleasant experience. I kept fueling and my eyes focused down the road. I wanted to make it as far as I could before I saw the male pros coming back. I had lost sight of Jennifer and the last few checks on my HR were a little low. I was about 1/2 way across the bridge when I saw the pro guys coming back. Man, it looked windy! That won’t be fun…but we’ll worry about it when we get there. Just after the bridge I got rained on for about 2 minutes.
I was close to the turn around and I saw Natasha heading back. There was a moment of recognizition before we went wizzing in opposite directions. Soon after I saw Jennifer heading back. Then the turn around. I took it easy since it was a bit slick and started back to town. I had made it out to the turn around in just over an hour and thought that the wind would feel worse than it did.
My speed was around 18-19 so it wasn’t slowing me down too much. On the way back I kept looking across the way at the athletes going out to see if I could recognize anyone. I saw Haley and Ashley, but looking across the way was distracting me from my focus. I wasn’t on that side of the street and I was going down the road. So I shifted my focus back down the road to the empty fog ahead. Soon I clicked pass 35 miles in. Wow. Really? No one had passed me yet. Maybe I could make it to 40 miles without getting passed once. The winds shifted to more of a side wind, away from a head wind. Allowing me to pick up speed. My heart rate was less good about coming in, even for short checks. When it did I was a bit under where I was aiming for.
Just shy of 40 miles, I got passed by a pro female. Just up the road I had spotted two cyclists in the fog. I planned to pace off this girl as long as I could and hopefully overtake the cyclists in front of me. No reason to try to make everything happen at once. Slow and steady pressure and I was gaining on the cyclists ahead. I was falling behind the other girl more and more each minute. I passed the first girl and the next was Jennifer. I gave her a shout and kept pushing. Soon the first AG guy passed me a few miles down the road. I could still see the other pro female down the road and eventually saw him pass her too. Back to almost being alone. It’s the weirdest feeling ever. In a race that big, and everything so quiet.
Soon I was about 3 miles from transition and turning through the side streets and I hear an on your left, Mer. Jennifer passed me and I encouraged her to smash it into transition. After a minute or two of being behind her (legal distance) I felt like I was creeping too close to the draft zone and decided to smash it a bit harder into transition. Just before the last turn I saw my mom cheering for me! Totally wasn’t expecting her to be by on the bike at all. Made me smile. Made it to transition just over 2:24. That was my goal of what I’d like to bike. An age group guy made it in right behind me along with Jennifer. Wow, only 2 people passed me the whole bike. That’s a first. Usually I hear “Nice swim” a few times….
Through transition fairly quickly and back out on the course. I felt good. I didn’t worry about pace and just try to peg my heart rate, which was now coming in no problem. (seriously if anyone has a recommendation of how to make it work better on the bike I’m all ears. I feel like the position of everything makes it hard…) On the way out to the first out and back, I got a few “Nice work girl!” And a spectator told me “first age grouper on the course…has to be someone!”
My legs felt amazing. I was most unsure about how the run would go. Solid swim, Solid bike, let’s get this thing done! At the first aid station a little girl was holding out ice. YES! I will take that. I thanked her and she turned to an adult volunteer and said “SEE!” I guess they didn’t believe someone would want ice. It wasn’t hot, but I’ll always take the opportunity to dump ice in my sports bra if it’s over 60! I got to see my mom again cheering for me on the run course.
On my way back to transition from the first out and back I was looking for the next girl in my wave (and probably age group). It looked like maybe she was a mile back and there were 2-3 of them. I hoped that none of them were runners and just focused on the road in front of me. I saw Haley on my way by transition and cheered for her. I got to see Scotty from TRG (Thanks for the awesome cheering every time I passed you) and April (who I had raced against last year here). Made it by T3 and I was all smiles. The run course was slightly different than the past two years (But the best I’ve had so far there! Great job guys, please keep this one!!!) Just around 2 miles in I got to see my mom again. I felt sooo good and as I was telling her so I started tearing up. I’m sure people thought I was lying but I was just SO HAPPY! I’ve never felt so good on the run.
The miles just seemed to click by nutrition worked well and I was able to get lots of calories in. After the first loop I was on the look out for if the other girls had gained on me. I couldn’t tell but thought it was a maybe so decided to push a little bit harder. I let my heart rate go up a bit more and tried to keep on my pace. I felt like I had been slowing a bit.
Half way through the second lap my mom told me the next girl was 1:30 behind me. Wah? That was closer than I thought. Maybe I missed someone. Well, time to keep it going. Jennifer pushed passed me around this point and I saw her pace and knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold that. The lead female’s cyclist went by just a short time later and started chatting with me a bit. Asked if I was Meredith and talked to me like he knew me? Sorry if I know you and didn’t recognize you. I had a few people who I had no clue who they were but seemed to know me! I’m blaming race haze!
Keeping on the gas, still feeling good one lap to go! Saw a few other T3ers out on the course, like Dan and Matt. Always makes me smile to see T3 kits! The last out and back
bit I was sure which ever girl was in 2nd I had put more time between us. When I saw my mom next I pointed behind me and ask how far? She let me know no one close 5-8 minutes. Good. Keep up the pace though! I thought. Soon just 1.1 miles to go. One water stop. I checked out my watch and figured I’d be finishing around 4:32-4:34.
Well, I wouldn’t break 4:30 today, but that would have shocked me! No idea how fast I was going to run but I figured 1:38ish. Got to see my mom one last time before pushing to the finish. Man. Did my legs still really feel this solid? I pushed across the line and saw the clock was at 4:44. So I probably was right around 4:34. Cartwheeled on the finish and bam. Done.
I pretty much headed right to the massage tent (hoping for no line!) and figured my mom would find me. Finally looked at my garmin and got to the total time screen 1:36:00. Wow, I didn’t run that much slower than last year! (officially I was 8 second slower than last year and still ran a 1:35 and change this year). I’ve never felt so good during a race or after before. Just solid and steady.
I listened to my body and followed the race plan. I wasn’t worried about times the whole way, I just raced and accepted whatever the outcome was. I ended up winning my age group and being the 15th female finisher overall. Very happy with the outcome! I’ll be heading to Canada in September to race at 70.3 World Championships!
Big thank you to all my friends and family who support me in my endeavours! It’s always fun to get back to my phone post race and have a million messages :D. Special thanks to my coach, Chann McRae, who definitely is helping me make some changes in my training and racing and Meredith Terranova, my nutritionist.