This weekend I participated in Louisiana Tri, an open water sprint triathlon held at False River (my old nemesis). This is probably the first tri that I have not obsessed about in the week leading up to it. I'm not sure if it was because I was busy and tired, or that I just managed to keep my anxiety at bay. I will admit that it did start to creep in around Friday, especially when I learned the swim would not be wetsuit legal (meaning I would be losing the comfort of my floaty neoprene). I had not been in open water this year without my wetsuit. I did my best blocking out negative thoughts and whenever I thought about the race I would repeat to myself my race mantra/instructions which was to focus solely on "blast the swim". I had other goals in mind, but decided to just follow my coach's directions and not worry about the rest of the race, and just give it all to the water.
As the sun came up, the athletes began to arrive. The sky was overcast and it was windy ~ chilly almost. The water appeared relatively calm which was a huge relief. We explored the transition area and the in/outs, and talked to the race director and volunteers to get tips on the course and a good lay of the land. FreeBird and Ann H. showed up and our FitBird team was complete for this race.
An aerial view of my swim
Ann H., First Female Out Of The WaterLast turn and heading to shore. I'm starting to get optimistic that not only will I finish the swim freestyle, but I might even be able to claim that I "blasted" it. I felt fast. Clumsy and awkward, but I still felt aggressive with my stroke and fast. I knew in the pool I could hold around 4 minutes for 200 yds so I figured best case scenario I could finish it in 16 minutes. Last year at Meat Pie I swam 800 in 20 minutes and part of that was on my back. So going into the swim I was hoping for 18. I felt at this point I might even have beaten that.
I struggled a bit coming out of the water and had to walk/jog into transition. I went right to my bike and unracked it after donning my helmet and shoes. I had no cheerleaders at this race except for my teammate's husbands, but I heard a few "Go Coug"s and it pumped me up. The mount for the bike was at the base of a steep hill, so I ran my bike to the top and then mounted.
Even with her helmet on backwards initially, FreeBird manages to fly by me just minutes later
Susan Hayden getting FreeBird turned around (literally)
I may have to rename Lizzard "Chrissie Wellington" because I find she is always smiling. She just ran up a flight of stairs out of T2.I hit the turn around and quickly discover that the worst of the winds are now coming straight at me. I glance to the side and see that the river has some whitecaps and I think how grateful I am that I am not swimming through them. I focus on a blue shirt up ahead that I am convinced is Lizzard and I make her my rabbit. It takes me a while but I catch up to her and realize it is not her. Bummed that I can't harass a stranger I choose to pass instead. I play leap frog for a while with a male rider, and we laugh that neither of us can maintain our lead for very long before switching places. He pulls ahead one last time before we get to the dismount, but I burn him in transition and he acknowledges it. Under a minute into my running shoes and I'm off.
Unfortunately Lizzard was tied up the last mile with calf pain that took her out of the "running"I hate to admit it, but all the brick work I've been doing lately has really paid off. I bound up the steps onto the road and wait for my heartrate to get wild on me and it doesn't happen. I manage to slip into a good steady pace, although my strides are short. I make it without rest to the first water stop and then walk the station to get some fluids. After the second mile I start to feel cramps in my shins and try to push through but stop every so often to walk. Finally I see Lizzard ahead and give it some effort to catch up. She has had to stop and walk due to injuring her calf, but she is in good spirits. I catch a breath with her but she encourages me to push on and be there when she finishes. I manage to walk/jog the final half mile to the finish. Total time: 2:00:37
My bike time was a little over an hour with an average of around 17 mph. Satisfied. My run pace was 9:44 which surprised me considering I had to add in a little walk here and there. My hope was to keep it under 9:30, but I knew I didn't meet that when I had to walk. I was happy that I got close though.
Linda "FreeBird" Adams, Ann H., "Coug"Overall, the FitBird Team rocked. Freebird and Ann H. placed first in their age groups. Lizzard had a great race but had to "walk it out" the last mile due to her calf. But in true Lizzard fashion she managed to dance it in through the finish shute. Got to love the attitude.
The Lizzard "walking it in"... ok, she danced it in FitBird style
So things are looking up. I finally get to claim a victory against that damn river. I can't say I enjoyed the swim. I never do. I want so badly to love it. But I don't. And I still don't know that I'm ready to take on a longer distance again. Yet...