Ah. The Key West Olympic triathlon….where do I begin? As I mentioned in Sunday’s post about the race, if you follow me on Instagram you know the race did not go as planned….not even close. This race chewed me up and spit me out.
But you know what? Looking back now, I’m grateful for that kind of experience. I learned so much about what I need to work on for the 2017 season and beyond. I went into this race confident of my physical ability. I trained hard and knew I could complete the distance. I learned that a weak mental game can destroy a strong physical game.
Here’s my race recap.
I woke up and did my normal pre-race routine of gluten free waffles and coffee with coconut milk for breakfast then got ready for the day. By 5:30am, Tyler and I were driving down to Key West (about 20 miles from the KOA we were staying at), listening to my “Race Day Magic” playlist. We found parking easily, about a 1/2 mile away from the start line and headed in.
I set up my transition area, put on my wetsuit and walked down to the water where Tyler was waiting to lube me up with Vaseline so my wetsuit didn’t chafe me. Works like charm-no chafing during my, ahem, extended swim time…more on that below.
I got into the water, thankful I brought my wetsuit. It was a chilly 74-75 degrees. Originally I had not planned to bring a wetsuit, just my swimskin, but right before we left Virginia I checked the race website and it popped up-average temperature 72 degrees-wetsuit legal! I figured I would benefit from a wetsuit on the swim, so why not. I will say though, my legs did get very warm during the swim, not sure if I would opt to wear a wetsuit again here.
7:05am, Men 39 and under took off and the women 39 and under, athenas/clydesdales and relay teams were called to the water for the 7:10am start. Tyler wished me luck and I headed in. I was oddly calm until the final five second countdown…then we were off. I hung to the back out of fear of being kicked/swam over by the stronger/faster swimmers. A few other women and I swam together, all struggling to get out to the first buoy. The tide kept pushing me back toward the shore. I made it to the first buoy, then the second and just kept counting down…6 more to go, 5 more to go…etc. I made it to the turn and I guess I had swallowed too much salt water, thought I had to burp and instead vomited. Gross, yes, I know. Right then and there I wanted to quit. In my head I was already telling myself, it’s okay to quit, no one will care, it happens. As I was telling myself this bullshit, I kept moving forward, still counting down the buoys and realized I only had two left. I managed to snap out of it and just finish the swim. I told myself just finish the freaking swim and then you’ll get to the bike. You love the bike. Just keep swimming. I cried (I cried on the swim, bike and run but whatever, it can be an emotional sport). Finally, I made it to the most beautiful green buoy I had ever seen, signaling the end of the swim. I was swimming so slow by this point that I decided to just stand up and run in-it was faster. Yikes. I made it out of the water, ripped off my goggles and swim cap and had my first experience with a wetsuit stripper-which was awesome because I never knew a wetsuit could be removed quickly!
Swim gear: Blueseventy Sprint Sleeveless wetsuit, ROKA F2 goggles, Wattie Ink tri top/shorts, Lululemon H2O Energy Bra
I took my time in both T1 and T2, giving myself a pep talk because I knew my goals for a PR/run PR where out the door. I also was not having fun, which freaked me out a little bit, never have I ever not had fun in a triathlon. I also wanted to make sure I had the basics covered-helmet on and buckled, water, barefoot in my bike shoes, socks with my running shoes….etc. Most importantly, I needed to make sure I finished this race and not let my dark thoughts during the swim take over.
The bike was by far my favorite part of the day. 25 miles of pure bike love, even in the headwinds. OMG the headwinds. I thought they were bad on Wednesday when Tyler and I rode some of the course but apparently they were saving some strength for race day. Thanks for that, btw. I remember looking down at my watch going north on Route 1 seeing 11-13 mph-I started to have that “ahhhhh just give up” feeling again, then I passed an older man who was cheering on athletes and he said “proud of you young lady!” Wow, just wow. All the feels, I teared up, choked out the words “thank you!” and kept at it. Words are so powerful, you never know what kind of impact they will have on a person. On Saturday, those are the words that kept me going. A perfect stranger was proud of me, I kept replaying that moment in my mind for the rest of the ride and most of the run until I started to believe I should be proud of myself.
The ride back into town had a sweet tailwind and I clocked in at times at 22 mph-whoohoo! That, plus seeing Tyler with a few miles left on the bike had me feeling a little more positive about things….in that moment.
Bike Gear: Cervelo R3 Road Bike, PowerTap G3 Reynolds Assault Wheelset, Wattie Ink tri top/shorts, Lululemon H2O Energy Bra, Shimano TR31 shoes, Rudy Sterling helmet, Smith Pivlock Sunglasses
Then after a longer than usual stop in T2, my legs did not want to move. I was doing the shuffle that normally happens to me in the last mile of a race. I ran approximately one mile before needing to walk. This was going to be a lonnnngggg run. I cried briefly, thinking “I can’t believe I’m walking so early.”
I was in good company though. There were a few others run/walking, so we helped each other through between miles two and four. The sun came out and it was hot, I did, however tolerate the heat very well. Finally! Most of the 10K was uneventful. Once I hit 1.5 miles left I forced myself to run it in. The last 20 minutes of the race were when I started to have fun, when I remembered my why. Why I love triathlon, why I choose to do this. It’s challenging, it’s rewarding and I get to do triathlon.
Run gear: Wattie Ink tri top/shorts, Lululemon H2O Energy Bra, Hoka One One Clifton 2, Balega Blister Resist socks, Boco Gear technical trucker hat, Smith Pivlock Sunglasses
I crossed the finish line in 3:38:19, about 22 minutes slower than REV3 Williamsburg. I was disappointed for a little bit, but Tyler put it the best-you finished, it was hard, but you didn’t give up-that’s what matters. And he was right. I didn’t give up, I crossed that finish line and was proud of myself for it.
A few positive things about the race:
1. No nausea after the swim, which surprised me, but maybe it was because I vomited?
2. No blisters. Balega socks FTW!
3. I tolerated the heat very well for the first time.
4. Fueling/hydration plan worked. I watched what I ate few days before the race (with the exception of a piece of key lime pie) and had a 1/2 bottle of Skratch on the bike + felt hydrated enough.
After the race, we drove to the other side of the island to the Cuban Coffee Queen for Cuban sandwiches, iced Cuban coffee and a piece of frozen, chocolate covered key lime pie.
A HUGE thank you to my husband, Tyler, for all of your support (and pictures!)-you are the best sherpa a gal can have.