TriCal Alcatraz, Long Course Worlds, IMAZ & What’s next???
I have not written since March. Blogs seem to be SO yesterday with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the now countless forms of social media.
If you feel like reading I have recapped the last few months of racing below.
San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz
After a successful race at Vineman 70.3 in July (5th place) I hunkered down for a long block of work leading into ITU Long Course Worlds at the end of September. TriCalifornia revived their Alcatraz event and I was stoked to get the chance to race the course. It also offered a bit of a “break” in training since I got an easy day before the race. I did a couple pre race Q&As at the expo and, in all honesty, I was so tired from training the thought of getting up at 4am to race was less than appealing. I managed to motivate on race day and once I got out there I was happy I did not hit the snooze button. The course is one of my favorites and I savored the chance to race up and down the hills in downtown San Francisco. It makes me very sad the race will not be returning next year.
ITU Long Course Worlds
Ten years ago I raced Long Course Worlds as an age group athlete. I was excited to have the opportunity to race the distance again, and with ten more years of training miles in my legs. The travel to Oklahoma City was easy and I had a great AirBnb close to the race site. The weather was hot and humid and I knew if I took care of myself during the race I would run well in the heat while others suffered. It was also very WINDY. I had the worst swim of my triathlon career. I had to convince myself to head out on the second lap of the course. I did not feel like I was swimming, instead just flailing in the chop caused by the wind. I was also getting cold because it was a non wetsuit swim. That was entirely my fault because I did not wear my neoprene hood under my swim cap. I got out of the water discombobulated but happy to be on dry land and no longer cold! Thankfully, no one told me I was TEN minutes behind after the swim. I set off on the bike making sure to pace myself due to the longer distance (75 miles) and intense heat. As I got close to the turnaround I uttered a few swear words when I saw the gaps to the women ahead of me. This confirmed my less than stellar swim and I was not pleased AT ALL. I just kept going and focused on drinking lots (2+ bottles of sports drink per hour) and taking a gel every 25-30 minutes. I started the run WAY down but feeling good. Again, when I saw the gaps I said to myself “you gave up too much time, it doesn’t matter how well you run.” However, I had trained to run well off the bike and no matter what place I finished I was going to go down fighting. Amazingly, women began to crumble in spectacular fashion 7-10 miles into the run. I stayed patient and moved up on the second lap. I was starting to hurt on the third lap but was closing in on 4th!!! I came up 38 seconds short of catching her but was pleased to finish the race with a strong run after a mediocre start to the day. In addition, I really enjoyed the longer race, especially the run! Foreshadowing….
The plan was to be done with the season after the race in OKC. However, I began to think about doing an Ironman since I had done quite a bit of longer training in preparation for Long Course Worlds. In addition, I rationalized that the race in OKC was a good “training” day to prepare for a late season Ironman. I decided to do a couple weeks of training to see how my body responded before signing up. I felt good so I quietly registered for the race, not telling too many people about my plans. For some reason, I thought I would jinx myself if I started blabbing about my planned attempt at the distance.
My approach during the race was to be conservative on the bike and back myself for a solid run. I also wanted to have a better swim after my crappy performance in OKC. In Tempe, I was second out of the water to Meredith, who was out of sight right from the start. I felt better as the swim went on and ended up picking Leanda off after the turnaround. I paced myself from the start of the ride, and in hindsight, I might have held back a bit too much??? I do not really know. I made sure to eat and drink regularly by watching the timer on my bike computer. It got crowded on the three lap course but it was not quite as terrible as I anticipated it might be. Dealing with other athletes was also a good test of my blood sugar level; too much annoyance meant I needed a gel!
I got off the bike in 10th or 11th and I believed I would move up with a well executed marathon. The weather was perfect for fast running (60s and cloudy) so I knew spectacular blow ups would be at a minimum. I felt okay, got into a rhythm but the run was not clicking like it did in OKC. Perhaps it was the longer bike but it felt like a lot more work in Arizona. My pace began to degrade slightly after 10 miles, again at 16 miles and from there I was able to hold relatively steady the last 8-10 miles of the marathon. It was funny because when I got through 16 miles I thought “only 10 miles to go, that’s nothing compared to how far you have gone already!” I focused on keeping my feet moving because I knew my stride length was shrinking dramatically. I was really happy to get to the finish. I even shed a few tears when I saw Andy waiting for me as I rounded the last corner before the finish line. It was a long way and I was really tired. I did not have expectations for my first IM beyond finishing but my initial reaction was a bit of disappointment. Did I pace it right? Could I have gone faster? Maybe I could have done things differently but ultimately, I think it was a good day with no major nutritional meltdowns or problems on the course. The next morning when I stood and received my ninth place trophy I became much more proud of what I had accomplished in the race.
Now what?? I have no clue. So much has changed on the professional triathlon circuit. Races that were staples on my schedule (Wildflower, Pacific Grove, Vineman) are gone. The North American WTC (Ironman branded) race schedule has changed significantly. There are fewer races and they require more travel.
So, where does that leave me? I like being able to keep travel costs to a minimum and I enjoy driving to races. Races like Wildflower and Vineman were also events I loved and I was excited to race them every year. Santa Rosa 70.3 is just over the hill in Sonoma but it is not Vineman (sad face). Escape from Alcatraz is close but it is invitation only. Truthfully, I absolutely LOVE the training part of triathlon. A 5 hour ride on my own sounds like a fun way to spend the day. A challenging run on the trails here in Napa makes me happy. I get so much satisfaction when I see the progress in training throughout the season. In fact, it takes the pressure off races for me. If I make it to the start line fit and healthy, even if it all goes to shit, nothing can take away the work I did preparing for the race. I am still very enamored with the training part of the sport. Frequent, expensive and long travel days to get to races?? Not so much.
I will end it there. The future has yet to be decided…..