Thursday, June 13, 2013

Westfield Wave Sprint Triathlon Recap

The distances are as follows: .3 mile swim, 13 mile bike, 3 mile run AKA 16.3

This is my third year participating in the Triathlon event, but my first attempt at the Sprint distance. The first two years I completed the Super-Sprint, which takes about 45 minutes, and I won first in my age group both times. The Sprint distance, well, it’s not just for beginners – and the competition was a little intimidating!

I feel like this pictures aptly displays my emotions before the race….I did not arrive super early so it was tough finding space to rack my bike, people around me were upset with one another over layouts, and a good deal of the Sprint athletes were either on their bikes or in the water before the race! All I could think was, what did I get myself into, and there is no way I am getting first place today.

Once leaving the transition area my anxiety subsided as we gathered on the beach in anticipation of the start. I had Tim take one last picture, griped about all the wetsuits one last time, and then lined up with the other pink caps and waited for the men to jump in.

SWIM: I have been regularly swimming 1,000 yds once a week, so this was just over half that distance. Of course my swim takes place in a pool, alone in my lane, so this is a tad bit different. I started off too early and there were way too many people, so I turned to the breast stroke to ward off the adrenaline surge and get out of the way of the serious swimmers. Once my heart rate went down I transitioned into freestyle and found that I could NOT put my face in pond water….oy. I maintained some silly head out of water freestyle approach to swimming, sighted well, and had to sprint to pass others (that’s a new skill I picked up) before arriving on land. My swim + the run up the beach to T1 was 11:27 …. Not too shabby.

T1 + BIKE: A new item I brought with me to this race was my padded spandex bike shorts. Do you know how hard these things are to get on when wet? Alas, I CANNOT ride this bike without them, so I did a little dance before preparing everything else then went off. Yoga served me well in regards to balance & flexibility in these tight quarters and I left T1 after 1:29.

Once on the bike I realized that this may be my new favorite sport. I managed 16 mph throughout the course, which is awesome for me, but man…I will never understand how people maintain 20+ mph. Spinning did help me when I needed to sprint, which felt like too often, but I’m glad to have that capability. I choked down half a Kind bar but couldn’t stomach much with all that movement. There was a woman who I kept my eye on, I noticed she was 31, and I told myself I better keep up with her. I get distracted while biking and knew I needed someone to keep me in line to maintain my speed. It worked! The race was two laps of nice country-ish roads and I completed the 13 miles in 47:46.

T2 + RUN: Another step I added was to change my shoes in this transition. I wear my indoor soccer shoes when biking because they lack cushioning, which equals efficiency on the bike. I started my brick workouts wearing the same shoes for running but got a wicked callous on my heel and my tired legs were missing the cushion. The change of shoes was easy and my T2 time was only :59 so I think that’s pretty good!

And then the run…..oh boy. I felt like I was draggin’ and there was no pick me up on its way. I just started laughing at myself because I felt so slow and helpless about it! By the time the first mile marker showed up I was feeling a little better, but I really felt a difference at the turn around (1.5 mi). It was about this time I was wondering what that bike woman was up to and sure enough, she appeared beside me! We maintained a good pace side by side for the rest of the race and man was I thankful for that. The final kick is on the beach (killer) and I found some energy to sprint it in for a 1:27:38 finish, with my friendly competitor just a second behind. I guess I should mention that run was at an 8:40 pace AKA my last 5K. WHAT? Adrenaline leads to some remarkable feats.

OVERALL: I won 3rd place in my age group (F 20-24) and was ecstatic to see that! There were more younger competitive triathletes this year, more than there have been in years past. It’s awesome to see more young people coming up but also intimidating. To put it in perspective – if I completed in this race last year, I would have gotten first place for all women under 30 by a whole two minutes. That is a crazy improvement in the field of competitors!

My goal was anywhere from 1:30 to 1:45 – with 1:40 being my “safe” zone. So I cannot express how happy I was to cross the finish under 1:30. I rarely exceed my own expectations in the physical world and it was such a treat to do so! Most importantly: I had a BLAST at this race and cannot wait for next year! The feeling of doing all three sports in one day, pushing the mental crap out of the way, and persevering to do something you didn’t think is possible…WOW. I recommend everybody try it.

Up next: Quaboag Plantation Triathlon on July 6th

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