Skip to main content

Troika Olympic Triathlon

Yesterday I put my pre season training and fitness to the test in preparation for the commencement of 2016's triathlon season. I placed 1st at the Negative Split Half Marathon in April, coming off a lower leg injury I'd been struggling with all winter. My fitness wasn't quite where I wanted it, but I figured it served as a good start to the year. I raced Bloomsday in May, running it 75 seconds slower than last year, but with a respectable time (for me) of 49:04. 

Negative Split half marathon.

Leading up to Troika's Olympic distance triathlon, I felt prepared, but tentative. The forecast predicted rain and cold. Combined with Medical Lake's notorious winds, I thought my good luck with regard for race day weather conditions had finally come to an end. Yet I was happily surprised by mild temperatures, clearing skies, and relative calmness as Bryan and I made our way over from Nine Mile Falls. 

Sure enough, Medical Lake's water looked enticing. When we arrived, the long distance athletes had just begun to make their way to the water's edge. I set out my transition area, donned my wet suit, and made my way down to the water with Bryan to watch the sprint distance athletes head out into the lake. The lead men for the long distance race soon exited the water with blazing fast times, and I watched my coach, Derek, leave transition as he established a sizable lead on his competition. 

My turn to dive into the water arrived sooner than I had anticipated. For some reason, I had this overwhelming sense of calm wash over me that, in reality, freaked me out. I'm used to my nerves preparing my body for competition, for action. Today, it felt as though nothing was firing. My warm-up swim helped a little bit, but when Scott announced the start of my wave, my body seemed to respond instantly.

Photo by Craig Thorsen
After my initial race out into the water, I found my pace and relished the strength I felt in my arms and shoulders. Derek has emphasized my time in the pool, as none of my swims for the past 2-3 months have been shorter than an hour and fifteen minutes. Three to four days a week of swimming, and I could only hope I felt something for all that work I'd put in. For much of the swim, I swam alone until I caught the group of Collegiates in front of me. I exited the water with a time of 17 minutes and change, suggesting the swim was a little short. Regardless, I found myself out on the bike very quickly. 
Photo by Rene Guerrero
Once on the bike, I knew I had one Collegiate woman to chase down. I managed to do so within the first 3 miles. From then on, I worked hard to ignore the annoying ache in my legs that I couldn't seem to shake for much of the ride. I know going into Victoria 70.3, I need to mentally feel more comfortable pushing an even slightly harder effort for twice as long. Regardless, I managed to hold off my female competitors and even had the opportunity to enjoy three extra miles on the bike course (with the rest of my competitors, of course). I am thankful for the time Wade Pannell at Fleet Feet took to adjust my fit and position on the bike using his Retul technology. Combined with a new Adamo saddle, I felt very comfortable. My bike performed well thanks to a good tune up before the race by Grafton of VeloFix. It doesn't get much better having my bike mechanic show up at my door, ready and prepared to work on my bike without any distractions that often time slow the progress at a bike shop. 

Photo by Craig Thorsen
In and out of transition, I made my way out to start the first loop of the two-loop run course around Medical Lake. The first half of the loop is relatively flat through the neighborhood, but the back half has many ups and downs. I remember coming back through the park to start my second lap and wondering if I'd be able to maintain my pace. I heard the lead man approaching from behind me, confident it must be Derek starting on his second loop. Just as I predicted, he passed with one suggestion: relax my shoulders. That mantra quickly entertained me and kept my mind busy for the  second lap. I sure felt as though my pace had slowed by mile 5, but upon completing the run, which was just short of 6 miles, I had in fact managed to keep my legs turning over despite my screaming calves. 

Another successful day had just concluded. Finishing in 2:16:43, I felt confident I had tested myself enough to know what more needs to be done before Victoria 70.3. Having said that, I keep reminding myself I only have 3 weeks to accomplish so much. Perhaps much of that is a mental exercise than a physical one, but I am thankful for the continued support of Bryan and my coach, Derek, to get me to where I need race competitively. 

Photo by Bryan Rowe. Julie Lehman-Smith, a friend
and fellow Big Sexy teammate, placed second in her
age group. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My opinion...For what it's worth

My first Half Ironman 70.3 turned into Boise 29.3. I may be the only one to say that I respect the officials' judgment call on this one, because apparently, a few of my triathlete comrades lack sufficient brains themselves. The comments I'm reading on Facebook leave me pretty disturbed. Let me just put this out there: I entered this sport because it looked tough and challenging. It pushes anyone who enters these races to their ultimate limits and requires a demanding amount of time to complete the training necessary to succeed. I entered this sport because of the people. Healthy, smart, fit, inspiring, motivating. I can't think of a single person who has questioned my ability to participate in this sport. I entered this sport because anyone can do it. I passed people younger and older than me, some as old as 74. I watched one woman hobble along the run course, surely just on her first lap. She looked like her knees were going to cave in. Yet she was running. I did not ent

Pain loves misery. Misery loves company.

I remember running through complete darkness along the paved trail between Moscow and Pullman during my years studying at University of Idaho. Five years ago, my training consisted entirely of running. Cycling served as something to do on the weekends, and swimming didn’t even exist until my sophomore year. What I remember most, however, revolves around the early morning runs. I awoke at 4:30, donned my warmest clothes, started my GPS, and turned my headlamp on in preparation for eight to ten miles of farmland along a lonely stretch of highway. Running served as my outlet. I buried myself in 20+ credits of biology, chemistry, physics, and human anatomy courses to fill my time. And fill my time it did. So running every morning was my recourse to stay sane. Every. Lonely. Morning. It wasn’t until the thrill of riding my bike overtook me did I realize riding alone—training alone—hardly compared to the enjoyment of working out with other people. My dad always stressed the importance of r

Noosa Triathlon - The Grand Finale

I looked out into the surf and watched the waves churn and roll, crash, then churn and roll again. Supposedly, I signed up for this, along with the 7000 other athletes who stood on the shore with me, questioning their own sanity. These Aussies grew up swimming in this insanity on the daily, and their numbers far exceeded that of my fellow Americans. Nevertheless, I puckered up my American ass and tried to stand tall and confident to the waves. I watched Natalie Van Coevorden scheme and plan her strategy, pointing out toward the buoys. Not until the gun went off did I realize that plan involved running at least 100 meters down the shoreline before we jumped into the water. Interesting. I never would have thought to do that, considering my open water swimming experience in ocean rip and waves is virtually non-existent. When confronted with a situation such as this, I have learned to fake it. Pretend I know what I'm doing. I can do it. I can swim with the best of them. Then I jump