Monday, March 15, 2010

season opener...lessons learned

I am sure I can speak for most of us in saying, the season opener race is always the most nerve racking...going in to my race this past Sunday at MIT, I was excited and very nervous all at the same time. I couldn't help but think about all the unknowns; knowing good and well I had put in the time and effort (the steps that matter) for a successful and fun race. It never fails, the night before the race and the morning of, the thought of "why am I doing this?" or "how can I get out of racing?" crosses my mind; a split second later, I quickly remind myself I love everything about racing; there is so much to learn, and there's aways room for improvement. With each race I can check off a lesson learned; I'm just one step closer to one of many dreams.

Sundays race consisted of many lessons learned; guess that means I am several steps ahead of the game then I was on Sat. My first lesson occured on Friday night when I was driving down to Miami from Orlando; I was expecting my dad to come to Miami on Sat and be my support team on Sun. To my surprise, he couldn't make it due to things out of his control. So I had to get my head on straight and figure out how I was going to do everything on my own; it's amazing how quickly one can get spoiled without even knowing it. My dad even made the comment "what are you going to do without your bag boy?" That problem was solved very quickly when I found out how great my homestay family "the Lopez" was. They took all the worry away. Upon meeting them on Friday night, I felt like I was apart of their family; they treated me as one of their own. Raul and Joanne, thank you soooo much for the hospitality, all your help, and support...

As I was getting everything organized and situated on Sat I could begin to feel the nerves kick in; I don't remember getting this nervous in the past. I continued to take deep breaths and tell myself, "you're ready for this race; just put it all out there on the line; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain". For some reason I couldn't convince myself enough to relax. However, since everything went very smoothly during my pre-race training, I gained the confidence I needed to relax a bit. I headed back to the Lopez's house, organized everything so it was ready to go race morning. Then we had an early dinner filled with nothing but laughter; for instance, there was a point in the conversation where we were discussing the wind and how it could affect the swim and ride during the race. One idea that came about was using the wind to my advantage; Triathletes are always trying to hide from the wind and be as aero as possible. Now, why don't triathletes try and take advantage of a tail wind and sit up as tall as they can and essentially use their body as a sail; the more there is for the wind to push against, in theory the faster one would go; the opposite goes for a head wind, hide and tuck in as much as possible so one could cut through the wind. I really wanted to test that theory. I thought to myself, that would be a good test during training (lesson #2). Shortly after dinner we put our feet up with our 2XU compression tights and watched a movie.

I wasn't ready for the early wake-up call at 3:30...I don't think I will ever get used to that hour; especially when the night of sleep before the race really consisted of laying there with my eyes closed. I began my day with breakfast consisting of brown rice wrap with peanut butter and honey (a great gluten-free race day breakfast) and 20oz water battle with EFS drink; I also had a half a cup of coffee. I drank another 20oz water bottle with EFS drink while in transition getting my gear set up. About 30-40min before race start, I drank 16oz of water with EFS drink and pre race. Standing on the start line anticipating the horn, I was visualizing the perfect race and sizing up my competition to determine the best place to line up. The horn sounded and it was a battle from the beginning. It's not very often that the Elite Amateur Male and Females get to race together; this time we did. lesson #3, the swim was a battle from the start; be prepared to get hit, dunked, and swam over. I learned quickly that it was either going to be me or them. Usually the chaos spreads out after the first turn bouy; not this race. we were battling it through the last turn bouy, then it finally spread out enough to where we weren't hitting one another. No one wanted to give a little; the nature of was fun but tough. I was third female out of the water; which is pretty typical for me; just means I need to catch them on the bike.

about 2-3min into the bike I caught up with the two girls in front of me. I knew I had a good chance of passing them when climbing the bridge; I just needed to stick to my race and race plan. After passing both girls there was a bit of time where I was riding alone, no females in the EA division to ride with. I found it hard to have that extra push and concentration; sure enough last nights dinner conversation popped in my head. Since I had a good tail wind I sat up for a few seconds to briefly test the "sail" theory. I felt guilty for playing when racing, but it's supposed to be fun too...I got back in race mode after I saw what looked like another female; I was thinking where did she come from; at that point, the game was on...I thought to myself, I have to do what I can to catch her. I eventually did, and I soon realized it was one of the female pro's. That alone was enough incentive to push even harder. The only real downfall during the bike portion of the race was how congested it got during the second loop of the bike; there were too many people in such tight quarters. Throughout the entire ride I drank EFS Shot in a 24oz water botter; I sipped from it about every 10-15min. I would have liked to have had one more water bottle; especially if the temps were any warmer.

My transition from bike to run didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked it to. When I was putting my nike lunar racer's on, the sole insert got bunched up and I had to take my shoe off and put it back on. The second attempt it wasn't perfect but I hoped it would flatten out as I ran; it did after the first mile. For my future races I will have the insert glued down (lesson #4)...the little things you don't think about until they happen to you. The only nutrition I took on the run was water from 2 water stations and a sip of EFS shot at about 2.5 miles into the run. During the run I did had a rabbit. I was just behind one of the pros but couldn't seems to mustar up enough without risking blowing my legs up too early to catch her. But it was nice to have someone to run after and keep me going. Just when I thought I had enough left to pick up the pace during the second loop, I had to worry about how to strategically pace other athletes without throwing my rhythm and stride off; the course got very congested on that second loop.

Overall, I felt good throughout the entire race. As I mentioned earlier, the swim was a battle and the water temps were cold; I stayed warm with my TYR Hurrican what a great wetsuit. This was my ignaugral race on my Kestrel Airfoil; that bike makes riding and racing fun; speed is the end result with that machine. As for the run, it was nice to be in a shaded area but the idea of having to avoid the roots, stumps, and athletes made it a little more challenging. Despite the challenge though, it kept me alert.

Thanks to TYR, KESTREL, FIRST ENDURANCE, PROFILE DESIGN, CYCLOPS, and 2XU COMPRESSION for making this race a successful one...What a great way to start off a successful 2010 race season!!


  1. It's amazing to me that after all the races you've competed in you are still learning the tricks of the trade. Who would have thought there are so many technical aspects to swimming, biking and running :) I love hearing about your accomplishments and leasons learned after each race. I know deep down that there is no one else out there that wants the end results (Olympics) as much as you. You are extremely dedicated and determined to achieve your goal. I am so excited and awaiting with anticipation to watch you compete in the "Olympic race". I will be there in person cheering you on loud and clear and waiting for you to cross the finish line.

  2. You are very aware of what you are feeling and doing, this will be a great season where you will be able to dial it all in and realize most of your goals. I see so many athletes who are so unobservant of themselves and others around them that there is no way they are going to meet any of their goals unless it's sheer luck. Congrats on the win at MIT! What a great start to the season.

    Do you have your race schedule posted anywhere?

  3. HAHA...of course I ask too soon about the race schedule! Looks like you are possibly coming back to Minnesota for Lifetime! I'll have to come check out the race again...last year I planned to do Lifetime in '10, but I've decided to go in the trail/ultra racing direction. I find it easier to manage training for one sport than for three with a 4 year old underfoot - it's a lot less expensive too! I'll come cheer you on at LTF if you race it!