A-Not-So-Great-Race, Race Reflections

Today was the first triathlon race of the 2015 season. The Smithfield Sprint located in (you named it) Smithfield, VA. Despite our crazy, cold VA weather this winter, I was feeling pretty confident about my race today. I had 2 great time trials (bike and run) under my belt from the week before and knew that my fitness was in a good place.

Normally the weather for this race is nice and cool. Today it was HOT and full on sun. The race started off well – I was extremely happy with my swim split (results are not posted yet, so can’t 100% confirm). I passed 5 people and never got held up. I felt strong, smooth and steady.

After I finished the swim, everything else quickly went downhill. In the spirit of living and learning, I wanted to document some race reflections while they were fresh on my mind…

Disable “energy saving mode” on my Garmin before a race.

  • I was super pumped to race with my new Garmin 920 and try out the triathlon feature. Little did I know that, while I was overwhelmed with nerves right before the swim, my Garmin switched back to the watch mode. No swim or T1 was recorded and I had to fool with a bit on the bike to start recording data.

Pool swims are not fun if you can’t start in the top 10%.

  • VTS/MTS used some sort of weird bell-curve swim seeding, which everyone complained about. I will admit I am pretty spoiled by typically being able to start towards the front. The hour and a half wait threw me off quite a bit.

A 10AM race start time is usually a solid play for a cool, April race, but not so cool when we get a heat wave. Holy hotness!

Starting the race at lunch time made me want to eat lunch.

  • Given the above 2 bullets, starting at 11:30 confused my hunger signals. We had to be there by 9 to get our packet and get set up in transition before it closed. I tried to gradually eat my breakfast on the ride down, but frankly I think my body knew it was time for lunch (and hungry again).

Study the bike route.

  • Even if I’ve raced the course before, still study it. With my Garmin debauchery, I was distracted from racing and missed (the not very well marked I must add) first turn on the course. While I thought it was VERY odd I didn’t see anyone in front of or behind me for a few miles, I kept plugging along b/c people were coming back in the opposite direction. It wasn’t until I saw Brian who started his swim 3 minutes back, that I realized I messed up.

Hot, sunny, non-shaded races are not my thing – nor will they ever be.

Bricks are good, very good.

  • I did very little leading up this race. It would’ve helped.

Negative thoughts won the day!

  • Particularly, after my race blew up. Multiple negative thoughts stayed with me throughout the whole run, which likely contributed to a very disappointing run split. I had high hopes that I would’ve gotten a run PR given my recent run focus. Sigh.

Here’s to hoping the next race goes down a bit smoother!


2014 Race Season Reflections

Well, I have completed my 4th triathlon season… 2 of which (the latest 2) I have been more seriously dedicated. This year closes out my time in the 30-34 age group and am looking forward to seeing what lies ahead in the 35-39 one. I still have an “A” running race head of me – the Richmond Half Marathon, so I’m not quite done yet. However, I think it’s about time to reflect on the triathlon part of the season.

I completed 5 triathlon races in 2014: one 70.3/Half-Iron, one Olympic and 3 Sprints. Clearly, I chose my races based on how well the logos color-coordinated. 😛 (kidding – complete coincidence)

2014 Race Season

I also completed the Monument Avenue 10K (running race) back in March and soon to be completed Richmond Half Marathon that takes place Nov 15th.

To start, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of my accomplishments:

  • I felt like a completely different person when training/racing this spring compared to a year ago – much stronger and faster. PROGRESS!!
  • During our team (Endorphin Fitness) banquet back in winter, I was awarded the “2013 Breakthrough Athlete for Group Coaching” award. I was given this award because I had a “breakthrough of the mind” vs. a particular  performance breakthrough.  For more context/background on this, please read my previous post.
  • I got my first podium in a race!! (Actually 2). I got 2nd place in my age group (30-34) at both the RTC Sprint (out of 17 racing) and the Pink Power (out of 35). I was beyond ecstatic!
  • I completed my first 70.3/Half-Iron distance race (Musselman 70.3). The swim and bike weren’t too bad, but the run killed me! I can’t wait for redemption.
  • My weekends were largely spent training. I completed many LONG bike rides (50-75 miles) on Saturdays with teammates and friends.
  • I was even more diligent about attending practices/getting my workouts in
  • I decided to divert my attention to more of a running focus from Aug – November. More to come on how that turns out!

Accomplishments don’t mean much in isolation. Here are some valuable lessons I’ve learned over the course of the year.

  • I LOVE my Felt DA4 triathlon bike! Seriously, why did I not invest in one a year or two ago? It’s super fast, smooth and comfortable.
  • A retro-fitted aero/tri fit on a road bike did not work well for me. After switching to the DA4, I no longer had any lower back aches and pains that I did when riding on my road bike. I felt like a new person!
  • Time on the bike really does make you faster
  • Only running 2-3 times a week does not translate into stellar running legs (of the triathlon) – at least for me
  • Similarly to the above bullet, I HAVE to find groups to run my long runs with – otherwise, I procrastinate, run late in the day, run slower than I would if with a group and often talk myself into a shorter run
  • I can get by with only swimming 1, sometimes 2 times a week
  • I seriously need to incorporate more strength sessions into my weekly routine
  • When biking a lot like I did the past season, I should have gotten a massage (or two or one every 2 weeks!!). I didn’t get any this past year and my hips/left leg were ALL out of whack after Musselman. I had pain radiating down in my inner shin/ankle. Consistently foam rolling would likely also help – which I also didn’t do that often. Also, a yoga session here and there would be helpful.
  • My body fat % is not ideal for racing – I’d like to shave off a good 4-5 points (very big stretch goal).
  • I need to improve my race/training nutrition strategies; I already struggle on the run and need all of the help I can get. Bonking should not be a reason why I have a sub-par run.

All in all, I am really happy with this tri season. I learned a lot and am continuing to improve. I am very jazzed about 2015 and am hopeful I will continue to improve in speed and strength. Now, I just have to figure out what races I will do. 😛

What have you learned? I’m always interested in hearing others’ experiences!