Friday, September 16, 2016

Kokopelli Race Report

Well, I am entering the week of training that marks ONE month till race day and I have A LOT of thoughts about it. This past weekend I raced at the BBSC Kokopelli tri in Hurricane, UT and it went relatively well. Leading up to the race I was STRESSED, as usual. I worried that my leg injury would deter me from doing well, that my lack of open water swims would mean that the swim would be too difficult, that the amount of rest I’m getting (or lack thereof) would mean I wouldn’t succeed, that not having my nutrition nailed down 100% would mean I would feel awful on the run, and on and on. Really, I could go on for hours regarding the things that stress me out pre-race. But I had gone over the course maps, I’d planned out my nutrition, Chris cleaned and prepped my bike and I was ready to just get it over with by the time we left for St. George around noon on Friday.

We checked in and unloaded our stuff quickly so that we could get over to packet pick-up and then off to meet my coach and the teenage tri kids that he is coaching, for dinner. Prior to this race I normally prep my dinner and just heat it up in the hotel room. It’s a little sad lol but it means I know exactly what I’m eating the night before and I know exactly how it will react with my stupidly sensitive system. My coach invited us to the potluck they were planning with the stipulation of bringing a side and I jumped at the chance as I hoped it would allow me to calm down a bit being around other anxious triathletes, the food would be healthy and it seemed like a better option than being anxious in my hotel room while Chris tried to get me to calm down. In retrospect, it worked well but I really do need more carbs the night before. I had grilled chicken and a huge salad with lots of avocado and while that meant everything went well, it also meant that my body didn’t feel as primed as it could have.
The day before the race the water temp was 80 degrees so I had planned not to wear my wetsuit even though I brought it just in case. Of course, on the day of the race they found a spot where they could measure 75 degrees so the race turned out to be wetsuit legal. I still didn’t wear my wetsuit. I missed the buoyancy but that was more than made up by the fact that I felt comfortable in the water and I could breathe easily. 

Swim: 31:53
The gun went off at 7:40 and we were off! My age group was pretty small which was nice. I ended up veering a bit off course (I am directionally challenged) but eventually found a few people to sight with and made it out of the water in 31 minutes. I was hoping for closer to 25 but no big deal.
T1: 2:39
Annnddd on to the bike! My super conservative goal was to be under 2 hours, my coach’s goal for me was to complete the bike in 1:30-1:40. I’m happy to report I made it in exactly 1:30! The bike was a lot of fun. Lately I’ve felt that I’ve been putting a lot of time in on the bike and it’s paying off. There was one huge hill (aptly titled ‘The Beast’) and I had to take a very quick break on it as I just couldn’t get my breathing under control but after the break I powered up the hill half standing and the other half sitting and felt like the rest of the ride would go well. The ONE complaint I have is that the road was so incredibly rough. Oh my goodness, I wanted to be in aero position as much as possible but my arms were shaking too much from the road that it just wasn’t the most comfortable. While I did start to get a little uncomfortable towards the end I did my very best to encourage each and every person I passed with a ‘Great job!’ Tri is an individual sport (one of the reasons I love it so much) and so on race day it can feel like you’re just out there doing a long bike followed by a long run. The best parts of tri are seeing people push harder than they ever have, seeing people not give up even when it’s hot and tired and getting passed by the lady that just fixed her own flat and has 20 years on you ;)
Bike: 1:30
Off the bike quickly to change my socks and shoes, grab my visor and water bottle and head out for the run!
T2: 1:58
It did not go as well as I had wanted it to go. I felt slow, it was hard to get my legs going, I walked A LOT. I told myself if I could make it to the turn-around I would run the whole way back. I did not run the whole way back. BUT I finished and I tried hard and I know the work I need to do in order to make sure this does not happen at Tempe as I have 13 miles to run, not 6.
Run: 1:19 (gah, trying not to beat myself up over this time)

Lessons learned:
- I need more food than macadamia nuts and strawberries. My arms felt sore and tired during the swim, something a little unusual as I normally feel pretty darn comfortable in the water even if I’m not considered “fast” by most standards
- I will need more UCAN in T2 for Tempe rather than just 1 shot of it at 1:30
- I need more carbs the night before, I really missed the sweet potatoes I normally have
- I need more salt before and during the race. My quads began to cramp during the last half of the run and it wasn’t something I was expecting this time around as that normally happens with me on the bike. Realizing that this is a time-dependent problem makes it an easy fix but still a little annoying.
- I need to drink LESS Gatorade on the run. As I expected, I never get to drink anything but water and UCAN on my runs so I always get a little excited at the thrill of Gatorade (I’m telling you, it’s the little things) and I end up drinking it at every aid station. WHICH, to be fair, was what my race plan was according to my coach. The problem is, my stomach just cannot handle that much Gatorade/liquid while running. I need minimal water while running and just ended up with too much liquid in my belly which meant that those last couple miles when I can normally “turn on the after-burners”…I could not push harder.
- I need to put body glide ALL OVER my neck lol. This is the second race where I’ve chafed terribly on my neck and I originally thought it was from my wetsuit, nope, even just a tri-kit will cause chafing. Use body glide EVERYWHERE
I’m sure I’m missing more lessons but this is all I can think of right now and they’re pretty big ones.
Another thing I would like to touch on is that during parts of this race (and for the past couple weeks) I’ve lost the fun of triathlon. Something that I think every athlete deals with and yet I don’t see it mentioned much on social media or blogs. It needs to be said: sometimes training is not going to be fun. It’s going to feel like work and that is NORMAL. You are allowed to get burnt out, you’re allowed to feel annoyed at constantly being sore and tired and you’re definitely allowed to take a rest day when you need a rest day. During parts of the run all I could think was that this was not fun. That parts of me were hurting that I was sick of hurting, that I just wanted to nap, etc etc. BUT the difference is that after having a couple weeks where I’ve just been feeling unmotivated I’m ready to turn things around. I chose this race, I chose this goal, I am putting in this work so that at the end of October 16th I can say that I completed 70.3 miles. That I swam over a mile AND THEN I biked 56 miles AND THEN I ran a half marathon. Something that a select few get to say. Something that I will relish and cherish because this summer hasn’t been the most fun summer. I miss swimming Friday afternoons for fun, I miss lifting weights in a class and I do really miss sleeping in on the weekends. But I’ve got plenty of time left to do those things and as much as I am looking forward to life after 70.3 I’m still really looking forward to that race day.