5+ Hour Trainer Ride

With today’s forecast being less than ideal, I decided to do my 5 1/2 hour bike ride on the trainer.  I know, I know, what the heck was I thinking?!?!

A few weeks ago Nick and I were getting ready for a 4 hour bike ride.  We had the bikes ready, helmets and shoes on, all I had to do was press start on my watch and push off.  That’s when it hit me…I had a panic attack.  I started shaking and my breathing was labored.  Then I was gasping for air, shaking, and tears were rolling down my face.  I had 1,000 thoughts rushing through mind, none were good…I couldn’t do it.  Nick walked over, and comforted me.  He took my bike and told me to go inside and try to relax, we would postpone the ride to the following day.  I went inside, changed clothes, and began to settle down a bit.  The rest of the day was relaxed, the only pace I could handle.

The next day, I was mentally prepared for the bike ride.  We had a route on a bike trail to reduce traffic (thus reducing the chances of me having another meltdown).  I was calm on the bike, and finished the ride (a little shorter than my coach would’ve liked), but finished nonetheless.

Today, though, is self-inflicted misery.  With Nick sidelined from the bike and run for the next couple of weeks, my recent ride in the rain, and the ever so memorable panic attack, I decided to take today’s ride to the trainer.  I don’t think I’m mentally strong enough to do a solo long ride in the rain.

Em and T hour 1So what does one do while on the trainer for over 5 hours?

Hour 1: Drink of choice – 1 cup Coffee
Food – Peanut butter pretzels
Entertainment – Facebook

Hour 2:
Drink – Protein shake
Food – Peanut butter pretzels
Entertainment – Music

Em and Lou Hour 2Hour 3:
Drink – bottle of Advocare Spark and bottle of water
Food – Granola bar
Entertainment – Olympic Men’s Triathlon – an 8-lap bike course must be as mind-numbing as a 5 hour trainer ride.  Also, is this race draft-legal?

Hour 4:
Drink – bottle of Tailwind
Food – Snack mix with goldfish, nuts, raisins and chocolate
Entertainment – Olympic Men’s Triathlon (continued).  Congrats to the Brownlee brothers on Gold and Silver.

IMG_2527Hour 5 plus 30 min:
Drink – bottle of water, bottle of Tailwind
Entertainment – Music. Why, you ask? Because I’m watching the Olympics on the NBC app instead of the TiVo, and it’s still Live. I’m unable to start the Women’s Triathlon from the beginning.  Therefore, 1 hour and 30 minutes in, I know who’s in the lead.  What a spoiler!!!

 

Door County Half Race Report 2016

Sunday, July 17th was my third attempt at the 70.3 distance triathlon.  They say, “Third time’s a charm,” right?  After my duel with the swim at Steelhead, and my opting out of the swim in Austin (I will write a race report one day, I promise), this race needed to be successful.

After Austin, I made the decision to take on Door County Half Distance Triathlon.  I was told it sells out in less than 24 hours.  On New Year’s Day, I woke up and was registered for the race by 3am.  With a goal set, I had to start the training.  I put in hours upon hours of training for the swim.  I enlisted the expertise of a swim coach.  I completed drill after drill to make me faster and stronger, and ready to take on 1.2 miles in the open water.

Race Weekend

We left Friday afternoon to make the three hour trip to Door County.  We arrived at the race site around 4pm, and Nick and I checked in for our races.  The volunteer handed me my race packet and number – I was #35, which happens to be my racing age.  I felt like someone had a lot of confidence in my ability.  I later figured out, numbers are given out numerically according to when you checkin.  Regardless, my number made me feel fast.

Saturday morning, Nick raced the sprint.  I eyed the water conditions, which looked perfect all morning long.  I watched his wave take off, then tried to get to the bike out.  With both the bike and run being an out and backs in different directions, I had very small opportunities to see him on the course, and I knew my timing needed to be spot on.

By the time I made it to the bike out, Nick was already on the course.  I walked a ways, partially to keep moving to not be eaten alive by mosquitos, and also to get in a good spot to see Nick coming in from the bike.  At the one hour mark (or as best as I could estimate it), I had the camera ready.  I noticed his orange handlebar tape in the distance, and snapped a few photos and cheered as he passed.  He was cruisin!

I made my way to the run course, hoping I could see him at the run out.  I was too late.  I watched a few athletes, then headed to the finish line area.  I knew his run was only going to be about 30 minutes, so I didn’t have much time to waste.  I stood alongside the finishers’ chute, with visibility of the road.  As Nick came down the chute, I cheered him, knowing he had a great race.

After the race, we hung out for a little while, then made our way back to the hotel.  We ate lunch  and decided to walk around for a few minutes.  We noticed a bike shop directly across the street from the hotel, so we stopped in to see what they had to offer.  While perusing the store, I noticed there were a few mechanics working.  I asked if they could take a look at my bike, as it had been making some noise when climbing hills or riding hard on the trainer.  The guy was more than happy to help.  He made a few adjustments, then asked me to ride up a nearby hill to see if I could get the bike to make the noise again.  Nothing.  I thanked him and offered to pay for his services, but he wouldn’t charge us anything, just wished me luck on my race on Sunday.  So, if you’re ever in the area (Fish Creek, WI), I highly recommend going to Nor Door Sports and Cyclery – their customer service is outstanding!

The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful.  We ate dinner and hung out at the hotel.    I got all of my stuff prepped for the race, and we turned in early, as we had to be at the race site at 5:30 in the morning.

Race Day

Nick and I woke up around 4am, although I’m not entirely sure I slept.  We loaded the car and were on our way.  Nick volunteered at body marking, so we were one of the first people to arrive.  We parted ways as soon as we arrived.

I was the third person in transition.  I racked my bike and filled my water bottles.  I had over two hours until race start, so I decided to wait to set up transition until later in the morning.

Door County Triathlon

I picked up my timing chip from the stage, then got a cup of coffee.  Shortly thereafter, I heard the announcer say, due to upcoming inclement weather, athletes were advised to stay in their vehicles, a pending update at 6:30am.  Well, I had nowhere really to go, so I hung around the stage, talking to a few people.

TDoor County Triathlonhe update came, and we would have to wait until 7:45 for an official update on the race.  At 7am, I went and set up my transition area and returned to hang out near the stage to hear any further updates.  At 7:45am it was announced that, due to a storm system in the area, the race would be officially delayed.  Athletes were encouraged to take cover in their vehicles, and tune in to a local radio station.  There would be another official update at 9am regarding whether the race would commence or be canceled.

At this point, Nick was relieved of his volunteer duties and we decided to get a cup of coffee before the storm hit.  While waiting in line, we saw a mass exodus of bikes.  I decided to go to transition to pick up my stuff, in hopes of keeping my shoes as dry as possible.  On the way there, I crossed more and more people removing their bikes from transition.

I saw two race personnel, so I asked if we had to remove our bikes from transition, as I thought maybe i missed the announcement.  He told me it was recommended I take my bike, in case the race was canceled, then I wouldn’t have to locate the bike and bring it to my vehicle in the storm.  I thanked him and continued in to transition.  I decided to leave my bike there, but take all of my personal items with me.

Door County Triathlon

As I walked out of transition, I saw a lady walking her bike, she handed her timing chip to a member of the race staff.  Before I even realized what was happening, the employee lady asked for my timing chip.  I told her I hadn’t dropped out of the race, my bike was still in transition.  The employee explained, they were collecting timing chips now in case the race was canceled, then the athletes wouldn’t have to worry about turning them in.  If they decided to have the race, we could pick up the timing chips from the stage as we had done earlier that morning.  She continued, it was easier this way, for the race to keep track of the chips, and not have to go through the expense of replacing chips that people accidentally took home with them.  So, I reluctantly handed in my timing chip (she wasn’t taking no for an answer).

As I walked back to meet Nick, I sent him a text, “They’re going to cancel.”

Once I met back up with him, I explained what happened.  He agreed, they would probably cancel the race.  Between the two race personnel encouraging me to take my bike to the car, and the lady making me turn in my timing chip, it seemed inevitable.

The rain began, so we made our way to the car, and sat and waited for the official announcement.  Nine o’clock came and went and still no update.  About 5 minutes after, we saw a few people walking their bikes toward the race, we also saw people walking their bikes to the car.  With the movement of people, Nick got out of the car to find out the race was one.  New starting time was 9:30am.

We hurried out of the car, grabbing my stuff.  I had 20 minutes to get my timing chip, and back to transition to set up my area.  Nick walked with me to transition, it was still raining.  Transition was buzzing, I was glad I had left my bike, one less thing for me to worry about.  I set up my area, I had one plastic bag for all of my bike stuff, and one plastic bag for all of my run stuff.

Emily Door County Pre-SwimNick and I then walked back to near the stage area and swim start.  We stood under the beer tent to take cover from the rain.  The race started approximately 9:45am.  The swim had been shortened to 1/3 mile, the bike and run remained the same.  The course was now 69.35 miles.  The MC announced, if there is lightning while you’re in the water, swim directly to shore.  Don’t worry about a DQ or anything, safety is top priority.  (This was not comforting).

I was in wave 15, so I watched each wave go off.  I also watched several athletes walk up to the stage and turn in their timing chip (I later found out 759 of the 1,000 athletes started the race).  Wave 8 was about to start, and the rain began pouring down.  While standing there, I thought, “If I turn in my chip now, no one would fault me for it.  It was a bad day.  The weather is awful.  I can just walk away.”

The SwimEmily Door County Swim Out

When the horn blew signaling the start of Wave 13, I made my way to the swim start.  It was still raining, but a light rain.  I lined up with my group, and Wave 14 was off.  It was time for us to get in the water.  I positioned myself near the back, on the right hand side.  No need to get in all of the hustle and bustle.  The horn blew, and we were off.

I had to swim straight through the yellow buoys, make a left turn at the big orange buoy, then diagonal towards swim out.  Volunteers lined the course on both sides.  As I was nearing the yellow buoys, I heard a volunteer ask, “Are you okay?”  I thought, I didn’t realize I looked so bad swimming, I was actually doing pretty good considering the conditions.  I was going to answer her, then I realized she was asking the lady just beyond me.  I continued swimming.  I saw so many people hanging on to the paddle boards, kayaks, etc.  I just kept swimming.

About 100 yds out, I was ready to be done.  The thought crossed my mind, “How in the heck would I have swam the whole 1.2 miles today, if I can’t get through 1/3 mile.”  That’s when I sighted and realized I was almost to shore.  Not too much further, just keep swimming, so I did.

I stood up when the water was lower than waist deep and walked up the ramp.  Two volunteers motioned for me to come over.  They pulled my wetsuit down some and told me to sit on the ground, I complied.  In one swift motion, they ripped the wetsuit off of me

Swim time:  12:08

Emily Door County Swim           Emily Door County T1

T1

My bike was racked on the first row out of the swim.  Being a little disoriented out of the swim, I nearly passed my row.  I decided I would take my time in transition.  It was still raining and everything was wet, no need to be in a rush and hurt myself.  I got to my bike, wiped my face and hands with my semi-dry transition towel, then ate an applesauce.  I put on my socks, shoes, helmet and sunglasses, unpacked my bike, and I was off.

T1 time:  4:37

The Bike

My coach had given me power numbers for the bike.  That all went out of the window when I was riding on wet roads, and the race MC announced for athletes to avoid riding through puddles on the bike, as you don’t know the road conditions in them i.e. potholes, etc.  My new goal for the bike was not to fall and to finish (sorry coach, had to make adjustments on the fly).

Two weeks prior to the race Green Bay Multisport (a huge THANK YOU to these guys) hosted a swim and bike clinic.  They had both the sprint and half distances available for the athletes to test ride, along with support and nutrition along the way.  Having already ridden the bike course, I knew what to expect.  There were a few patches of rough roads and some potholes that could come by surprise in the rainy conditions.

IEmily Door County Bike Out kept my eyes on the road, a bit nervous of the wet roads.  I don’t think I even looked at my watch for the first 10 milesof the ride.  The rain continued.  I didn’t mind the rain so much, it stung at times, hitting my face with force.  But the wind…Oh, the WIND!  We had upwards of 20mph wind.  It felt like a headwind, but when the scenery cleared and we were riding along the lake, gusts of winds came from the side.  There were a few times my bike wavered in the wind, and I just held on tight, hoping to keep my balance. The wind was relentless.  Every time I thought it calmed down, I would make the next turn and battle the wind again.

I kept pedaling.  I fought the wind and rain and continued on.  Around mile 28 I stopped at an aide station to refill my aero bottle, and wiped off my sunglasses.  The rain had slowed, but the wind was still very present.

Emily Door County BikeI made the loop and was on my way back.  The roads were still damp, but at least the rain had subsided.  The wind was slowing down, too.  At some point the sun came out.  My legs were getting tired from fighting the wind for so long as well as not taking full advantage of the downhills for the upcoming uphill.  With the wet roads, I was really careful not to gain too much speed on the downhills due to having to weave around puddles of water.  This in turn, made the uphills a little more difficult than I was planning.

I remembered there was a big hill around mile 48.  I had already made up my mind, if it was too tough, I would walk it.  I was tired and ready to be off of the bike.  At mile 46 I went up a large hill.  I was quite winded at the top and out of water, so I stopped again to refill my aero bottle.  The hill had taken it out of me, and I still had the “big” hill to go.  After riding awhile, I realized I had miscalculated and that was the hill I was waiting for.  I was proud of myself, I made it up the hill like a champ. Okay, maybe I was going slow, but I didn’t have to get off of my bike.  Okay, I know I stopped at the top, but I definitely didn’t walk my bike.

Emily Door County Bike InAnother huge THANK YOU to all of the volunteers and spectators on the bike course.  They were out supporting athletes in the wind and rain.  Your encouragement was needed and very my appreciated.

I was less than five miles out, and excited to be almost done with the bike.  It had been a pretty stressful ride.  I pedaled hard.  I saw Nick as I made the turn into transition.

Bike Time:  3:25:3

T2

I dismounted my bike, and walked to my rack.  When I got there, it was a disaster – stuff thrown everywhere and bikes crammed on the rack.  I tried to rack my bike and couldn’t lift it high enough to get the seat over the metal bar.  I knew my arms were tired, and was starting to freak out that I lost my strength to lift my bike.  I moved the bikes on either side over some and tried again, nope.  I frantically looked around transition for someone, I saw a girl on the next row and asked if she could help me.  She said, “What’s wrong?”  I told her, “I can’t rack my bike.”  I tried again, no success.  (I was about to have a mental breakdown.  How in the hell could I not have the strength to rack my bike?!)  She pointed out the problem, my bike was getting caught on my neighbor’s back tire.  I  lifted my bike again, this time using my foot to keep his wheel out of the way.  Success!!

With the bike finally racked, I changed shoes and hat, grabbed my run nutrition and water bottle.  I made a brief stop at the port-a-potty, then exited transition.

T2 time:  6:34

The Run

I spoke with my coch regarding my run prior to the race, I decided to run based on heart rate zone.  He told me to find my “all-day pace”.  So that’s what I did.  I came out of transition, careful not to run too fast.  I settled into a pace I could keep for the next 13 miles (well, sort of).

Emily Door County Run OutI saw Nick just after the first turn.  He said I was doing great, I asked him if he knew my time on the bike, and he guessed it was around 3:45.  My watch wasn’t set to display time, rather I was looking at my power, cadence, and speed.  I really had no idea how long I was on the bike and was a little disappointed in the number he gave.  I wanted to ride faster than that, even through the tough conditions.  I remember shaking it off, telling myself the roads were wet and the wind as strong.

I ran what felt like an hour, and my watch buzzed indicating I had hit my first mile.  Great, 1 down, 12 more to go!  For the most part, I ran the first five miles.  Only stopping at the aid stations to refill my water bottle.

Then the demons began to appear.  – – The little voices in my head telling me to stop.  Questioning why I was doing this.  How did I think I was ever going to finish this race?  Who’s bright idea was it to sign up for a half (and full) ironman? – – The good thing is that I have recognized when self-doubt creeps in, I’m usually in need of nutrition.  So I grabbed a Boom gel out of my pocket and downed it.  Within a few minutes (okay, maybe a little longer), I perked up.  I dismissed the demons; they weren’t going to ruin my race today.

Emily Door County Run1At mile 6, just beyond the aid station, a volunteer cautioned me of the upcoming hill and said after that it is a nice long downhill.  I took one look at it and decided I would walk it.  A cameraman was stationed just before the top of the hill.  He asked if I could run a little bit.  I complied, and began running again.  The volunteer was right, the downhill to follow was exactly what my legs needed; a decent break from climbing.

Miles 7 and 8 were pretty uneventful.  I was looking forward to mile 9.  I reached The Bluff.  To my surprise, it was much steeper than I imagined.  I began walking up this hill.  I laughed when I saw a road sign that said, “I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.”  There were two ladies in front of me, both walking.  About midway up, one of them turned around and started walking backwards.  At one point I was sure she was going to crawl up.  I could appreciate the her pain.

I finally made it to the top.  Two volunteers were there cheering us on.  Another road sign, saying something like “Hooray, you did it!”  Then you make a sharp 90 degree turn and continue going up.  There is another sign that says something to the effect “Just kidding, almost there.”  I laughed a little, but it wasn’t funny; my legs were screaming in pain.

The bluff got the best of me.  I walked for about a mile afterwards.  The remainder of the course was a run/walk combo.  There was no relief from the heat – no shade and no wind.  For as windy as the morning was, the afternoon air was stagnant.

The night before Nick and I were looking at the course map.  I was planning my stops at the water stations, etc.  We noticed there was an “F” near about mile 11 1/2, the key indicated this was Freeze Pops.  We laughed a little.  Well, I finally made it to mile 11 1/2, and there was an older gentleman volunteer holding two freeze pops, one red and one blue.  He looked at me and said, “It’s what you’ve been looking forward to all day.”  I smiled and I took the red freeze pop from him and continued on my way.  As soon as I took the first bite, I knew he was right.  I had no idea this would be the moment that stick out in my head as the best part of the race….a red freeze pop!  It was so refreshing and a little motivating.

Door County TriathlonThe remainder of the run seemed to go by much faster.  I made the last turn and could hear the crowd at the finish line.  Just before the finisher chute, the road began descending.  While my legs typically enjoy the break of a decent, the bottom of my feet weren’t so thankful.  I could feel a blister and was trying not too focus on the pain.  The next thing I knew I was at the finisher chute, just a steep incline to the finish line.

I saw Nick and smiled.  I was happy to have sunglasses on, as a few teardrops fell.  I was smiling from ear to ear as I crossed the finish line.  I did it!  I finally did it!  I finished the Door County Half!!!

Run Time:  2:52:59

Total Time 69.35 Miles:  6:41:49

Emily Door County Big Chair

Door County Sprint

Emily made a decision last year that she wanted to race the Door County Triathlon Half Ironman course.  When I woke up New Year’s Day, (she registered in the middle of the night) and we were talking about the trip up to Door County, I decided to register for the Sprint distance race.  This would give us something to do on Saturday morning of the weekend.  I’ll leave the weekend round up to Emily, but I wanted to talk about my race specifically.

I honestly didn’t have a lot of expectations for this race when I registered for it.  I really thought I would get out, have some fun, and then help Emily get ready for her race the next day.  I was a touch nervous the morning of the race and even had to go back to the hotel after we left to pick up my Garmin (if I don’t have it, it doesn’t count).

Water

The water was calm Saturday morning.  There were a bunch of people warming up in the water, but I decided to hang out and listen to music.  This is the first time I have done this and it helped out a lot.  I turned the volume way down so that I could hear what was going on around me, but the music helped to keep me settled.  About race time, Emily and I ran into a guy wearing a Chattnooga shirt from last year and we talked to him and his family for a bit.  He gave us some insight into the Chattanooga race.  This was his daughter’s first triathlon, and they were there to support her Saturday, the following day he was going to be doing the half distance race.

Waves were sent into the water, but mine was about 30 minutes after the race start.  When it got close to time, I pulled on my wetsuit, my swim camp, pulled my goggles on to my head, and made my way to the beach.  Lots of nervous folks out there gave me a bit more confidence.  I have done this before, there isn’t anything to worry about.

The swim was not too bad.  There was a bit of a current that pushed me around a little, and that caused me to have to redirect myself a few times.  The water was very clear, so I was easily able to see the lines that the race volunteers had painted the night before, so getting back on track wasn’t tough.  We had recently listened to the DC Rainmaker podcast where he discussed how you can lose your watch if you have the quick disconnect on it.  So I had that worry going through my head about every 20 seconds.  Ultimately, I didn’t lose my watch.

Getting out of the water, I made my way to the wetsuit strippers.  They tore my wetsuit off quick (after deciding who was going to do it), but they took something else with them, which I didn’t notice for a few minutes.

Transition went pretty flawless.  Helmet on.  Glasses on.  Run to the bike out.  I made it to the mount line, but there wasn’t a beep when I crossed?!?!?!?  I looked down and noticed that I didn’t have my timing chip on.  So, it was back to my rack spot to see if it was there.  After a little digging I was able to find it tangled up in my wetsuit. I put it back on and was off again.  Once at the mount line, and jumped up and spun off.  About a minute later I slipped into my shoes and got ready for the next 18 miles.

Em and I rode the bike course a few weeks ago, and I knew what to expect for the most part.  We had also discussed what we thought I could hold for power over the course.  Em thought I could hold 160 watts or so for the 18 miles, and I guessed 180.  I averaged 185 watts and almost 21 miles per hour, finishing the bike in about 52 minutes.  That’s pretty quick for me, and honestly, a new expectation for myself.

It’s a great bike course.  For a little while you are in the woods, then you get a view of the bay before getting to the beginning of the city and turning around.  One thing I really remember from the ride was a great banked turn.  I remember it because I felt like I was flying, which I guess I was, since Garmin shows me at almost 25 MPH.

Bike Fast

The transition to run was a little less stressful, having not lost my timing chip this time.  But I did bring newer shoes that didn’t have speed laces on them, so I did actually have to tie my shoes (poor planning on my part).

The run is a simple out and back.  I ran past the parking lot, then a corn field, then the corn field again, then the parking lot again, then finish line.  And it felt that quick.  At just over a 9 minute pace, I killed any effort I have ever put forward.

I kept thinking I was going to hit the wall at some point, but I just kept going.  At one point I wanted to walk, but remembered that I have been talking to Emily about pace management instead of walking, so I just managed my pace back a little for a few minutes, then off I went again.

Run Door County Nick

Finish time 1:35:03 (exactly one second behind the guy who placed 15th).  17 of 36 in my age group and 222 of about 1000 total athletes for the sprint.  This is now my effort to beat for sure.  I can’t really match this up against the Elkhart sprint since the bike distances are different, but I can say my effort was better.  I am definitely interested in doing this race again.

Door County Tri really puts on a great race.  Everything about this was great (including volunteering the next day).  The food was good.  Beer was vast and they had music or a live band all day.  It makes me wish that Ironman would put the same effort forward for their races, but I realize they host a lot more athletes and are a bit more spread out.

What We Have in Store

Nick and I are excited to announce – We launched our Online Store!

CajunMile Online Store

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (okay, maybe months ago), we’ve decided to sell a few swim, bike, and run-related items.  We have decals – for your vehicle, helmet, bike, or wherever you’d like – and clothing.  Below are a few examples of what we have available.  We can customize, too!  So please let us know if there’s something special you’d like.

CajunMile Store Items

More Red Than Green

The last month my Training Peaks calendar has really suffered.  There are so many missed workouts, it’s embarrassing.   From work being less than ideal at the moment, to Nick and I being sick on and off, to shear lack of motivation; my calendar is a sore sight.

Training Peaks Calendar

The weather is finally nice enough to exercise outside and all I want to do is stay inside on the couch.  I’m not exactly sure how to get out of this funk.  I have TWO major races coming up – Door County 70.3 is a few weeks away and Chattanooga will be here before I know it.  I NEED to get motivated.  I know I’m on the verge of being completely underprepared for both races if I don’t get moving soon.

How do you find motivation?

2017 Elkhart Lake Race Report

Elkhart Lake is where triathlon began for us last year.  Nick and I returned this year because it is a great race – the course is nice, and we did not have travel too far from home.

I had a couple of goals for the race:  Don’t freak out on the swim and beat last year’s time.  I accomplished both!

The Swim
With my last two races resulting in a DNF due to the swim, I was a little nervous getting in the open water again.  I hadn’t swam outside of the pool since Austin 70.3 in November.

Race day, I was unusually relaxed.  Nick and I were in the last swim wave, so we hung out all morning.  I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to be the last sprint athlete our of the water.   I knew I could finish the swim, even if I had to doggie paddle my way through it.

We lined up and waited for our wave to start.  The gun went off and we were chatting with people in our age group.  We saw the first of the athletes complete the swim, and not too much longer it was our turn.

Elkhart does a rolling swim start, so you line up by wave, give your bib number and are off.  The next athlete is about three seconds behind you. It was my turn to enter the water.  I ran into the water.  As I was about to dive, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nick pass me.  (So much for beating him on the swim).

The water was cold.  I knew I had to keep my breathing under control, and remain calm.  Halfway to the first turn buoy I recognized where I had my little panic attack last year.  I kept swimming.  I was in a rhythm, breathing every other stroke (every third stroke was just too much).  Although, I was sighting very often, I didn’t stop swimming.

Before long I was at the first turn buoy.  Last year, I held on to a kayak hear to catch my breath.  I kept going, no need for a kayak this year.  My head was out of the water a little more than I wanted, but that’s what was keeping me comfortable, so that’s what I continued to do.  I was sighting nearly every stroke.

I got to the second turn buoy in no time.  I saw a girl struggling a little on the swim.  I asked if she was okay, and she said yes, so I kept going.  I was almost there.  I got to the point where I could touch and swam some more.  The water was getting cloudy/sandy, so I stood up.  As I ran the rest of the way, I saw Nick exiting the water.  I wasn’t too far behind him.

Swim Time – 9:05.1 (2:16/100m)

T1
The transition this year was a little longer in that you had to run along the back of the transition areas to enter transition from the swim.  I ran/walked to transition.   Once at my bike, I hung my wetsuit, put on socks, shoes, sunglasses, helmet, grabbed my bike and was out.

T1 Time – 3:59.9

The Bike
The bike course changed slightly the day before the race due to road construction.  Instead of three left turns to turn around, you made a left turn then right turn, and then a u-turn and back down.  No big deal.  It was essentially the same course.

When setting up my bike that morning, I poured my Tailwind in my aerobottle without mixing it.  I figured the jostling of the bike would stir it enough as I rode.  Boy was I wrong.  I drank all of the powder in the first few sips, and was left with slightly flavored water the remainder of the ride.

2016ElkhartLakeEmilyBikeI started the bike off strong.  My heart was beating fast.  The good thing about starting in the last swim wave is that there are a ton of people before you to pass on the bike.

About mile 2 I got stuck behind a Tahoe who was stuck behind two athletes who were much slower than my pace.  Without any way to pass, I had to stay behind the vehicle, until the course turned off and I was able to make my pass.

Next up were the two hairpin turns.  I remember these scaring me last year, but I was ready for them.  I slowed down, made the turn, then picked up speed again.  I was passing people on hills, something I couldn’t seem to do in my first race.

I rode by the place where I stopped last year to help out the guy with the flat tire. No one was on the side of the road this year, thank goodness.

I was trying to keep steady uphills and let the downhills work for me.   I was on the lookout for Nick, knowing he was ahead of me.  About mile 6, I crossed Nick on the bike.  He had already made it to the turnaround and was headed to transition.

I made it to the turnaround, careful not to fall, and continued on my way.  I was still passing people, and only had a few people pass me the whole ride.  Before long, I was nearing transition.

Bike Time – 47:15.2 (15.7 mph)

T2
I dismounted my bike and began running in to T2.  I very quickly regretted not leaving my shoes on the bike and running barefoot.  But the pathway leading to transition was single file, so I had to run in my bike shoes.

I racked my bike, changed shoes, changed hats, put on my bib, and was out.

T2 Time – 2:54.0

The Run
I still hadn’t calmed myself down.  My heart was still pounding.  I knew this was going to be a difficult run.  My pacing was off, I was running too fast.  Before the 1 mile mark, I had to take a walk break.  I needed to steady myself, run leisurely; but that wasn’t happening.  When I was running, it was fast.  This 5k was going to be bad.

Nick was ahead of me, but I wasn’t sure by how much.  When I passed where the course loops back on itself and didn’t see Nick, I knew he was less than 20 minutes ahead of me.  I continued my run/walk regimen, a little disappointed in myself for not being able to pace properly.

I made it to the water station and knew the big hill was up next.  I made it up the hill, but no without walking.  I wasn’t passing anyone, and really no one was passing me either.  There were people out on the course, but I felt like I was running it alone.  Finally, I was at the downhill, and let me legs just keep moving.  I told myself I had to run it in, and I did.

Run Time – 33:12.9 (10:42 min/mile)

2016ElkhartLakeFinish

Total Race Time – 1:36:27.3

This year versus last year:
I was definitely more prepared for the race this year, both mentally and physically.  A few days before the race I sent my coach my race predictions.    I thought it might be fun to compare my times.  Below are my 2015 Results, 2016 Predictions, and 2016 Results.

2015 Results 2016 Prediction 2016 Results
400m Swim 12:26.3 10:00.0 9:05.1
T1 4:30.5 3:00.0 3:59.9
20k Bike 52:47.6 46:00.0 47:15.2
T2 3:16.5 3:00.0 2:54.0
5k Run 34:35.8 32:00.0 33:12.0
Total 1:47:36.7 1:34:00.0 1:36:27.3

A total of 11 minutes 9.4 seconds improvement from last year!

2016 ElkhartLakeFlagEmily

Triathiversary (Elkhart Lake Sprint 2016)

Happy Anniversary, Triathlon!

It’s been such a great year, even though you tried to kill me once and on a few occasions made me doubt my abilities. I haven’t always been good to you either. I have skipped you at times. I have mistreated you. I have over trained and under trained for you. I promise that this year I will do better, but I won’t always be perfect. Just remember that I am trying very hard and I expect you to do the same. No more, “I’m going to change the course”. No more, “waves are fun”. And for the sake of the relationship, no more DNFs, those make me feel really bad.

Anniversary

Seriously though, this last weekend marked my first full year in Triathlon, and we celebrated by returning to the race where it all began, Elkhart Lake.

Elkhart Lake Sprint 2016 Race Report

My goals this year were to improve in every discipline, but more than anything, I needed a PR on this race. Coming away from a great race in Galveston just a few short months ago, I had everything going my way. Then I got sick to the point where I had a hard time breathing. I was measuring the miles by how much snot I had collected on my shirt. And generally, I haven’t felt well. Even still, I am battling some serious muscle pain (fatigue and stress related).

For some reason I got really nervous about the race, something felt off about racing and not traveling (because I didn’t have to prep a week ahead of time) and not staying in a hotel (having to re-prep once I check in) and not having to rack my bike the night before (one less thing to think about race morning).  All of those things seem to make everything a lot easier for me (counterintuitive, I know).  The morning of the race wasn’t great either, but I made it through with only one port-a-potty stop before the race started.

Elkhart Lake

My swim wasn’t great. I was breathing every other stroke (always on the left). I think this was the water temp taking my breath faster than normal, but who really knows. It could have been anxiety also. Really it was a great swim and I took 52 seconds off my time from last year. Not bad for a 400 meter course.  Having completed several 1.2 mile swims, I was sort of surprised at how stressful this 400 meter swim was.

T1 sucked. Because of where transition was this year, Sprint racers had to run about a 1/4 mile to their bikes. Still, I took 1m20s off my time.  I think the reduction has something to do with having gone through transition many times now and know what to do and what not to do (and honestly not worrying about anything since the bike is so short).

My bike effort was awesome this year. Some of the hills beat me up a little, but there was something different this year (I’ll explain in the run section). Rules weren’t followed well on the course, so I was passing people on the right and was getting stuck behind groups of riders. The night before the race, the course changed, but it wasn’t very significant, just a u-turn vs. a turn around on the roads. Overall, I was 4 minutes faster on the course.

T2 sucked. Again, an extra 1/4 mile to get to the run start from my bike . . . BOOOOOOO. Still, I made up 40 seconds in T2.

Finally, the run. Last year Elkhart’s hill of honesty killed me. The hill lasts for over a half mile and it sucks. More than that, the whole course killed me last year. I walked more than ran. This year, that wasn’t the case. I had a few drop outs to drink water and eat a gel, but ran the majority. The hill didn’t even kill me. I credit this to all the work I have done on the bike in the last 365 days. I was able to hold a high power number and still run a 5K at the end of it all. Overall, time savings on the run was 1m30s from 2015.

Nick Elkhart 2016

All said and done, my first year in the sport has been awesome, with incredible improvements in every discipline (I’m looking at you swimming, seriously you aren’t my best, but I have made you work). Nailing a workout makes the rest of my week seem great. Finishing my first 70.3 on a tough course validated my decision to change from running to triathlon. My PR at Galveston and at Elkhart in 2016 have really shown the progress I have made (thanks to the coach’s insistence that I make progress and not just be happy with my current paces).

It’s been a good year, triathlon, let’s see if we can have another good one.  Chattanooga is less than 100 days away and I plan on knowing that I can complete that distance.