On Saturday, I completed my first Olympic-distance triathlon, the Mighty Montauk.
Held in Montauk, NY, this 1-mile swim, 22-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run featured tough race conditions thanks to Tropical Storm Andrea, which pounded the area with rain the day before. The unrelenting precipitation made parts of the course challenging—and don’t even get me started on the standing water in transition—but I still had a lot of fun.
Red nails and red swim cap—and I didn’t even plan this matching!
As outlined in my race calendar, I didn’t “race” Mighty Montauk because it was my first Olympic, but I did establish a few training goals. I drafted this post the week before the race, but never published it; and this actually works out better because final finishing times are available online, but splits are not (i.e. exact times for the swim, transition 1, bike, etc.).
Goal: Get experience in my new wetsuit.
Thanks to my big-girl job, I’m eligible for generous discounts off products we carry in store, which includes Blueseventy wetsuits. Even though I have a wetsuit from last season, I needed to upgrade, so I ordered the Helix.
I won’t bore you with its characteristics, but it’s the best Blueseventy suit on the market: the lower body provides buoyancy, and the upper-body contains thin, 1.5-mm neoprene, which ensures flexibility in the water.
Basically, it feels like a sleeveless wetsuit.
The suit arrived Wednesday, just in time for a pool test swim on Thursday morning. I only did 500 yards, but immediately loved it. I felt faster and more streamlined, yet totally forgot I was wearing a suit because the upper body is so flexible.
And on race day, I had a pretty good swim. Lake Montauk’s temperature notched 50ish degrees Fahrenheit, and even though it took me half a mile to “warm up” (that phrase being relative, ha!), I felt strong, calm, and totally relaxed in the open water.
It was a bit choppy and windy, but nothing compared to South Beach or last year’s DeRuyter Triathlon. I didn’t push the pace, and overall, I definitely like the one-mile distance of an Olympic more than the half-mile of a sprint.
Rough time estimate: somewhere in the 35-37-min. ballpark.
Goal: Push—aka don’t be complacent—on the bike.
Based on the SoBe results and recent happenings, I have the most room for improvement on the bike. With another two months of training under my (race) belt, which includes an expedition to New Jersey and group rides in Central Park, I hope to feel more confident come race day.
So remember that tropical storm? Its residual effects—think heavy winds and a partially flooded course—made the bike tough. The course itself wasn’t too technical or challenging, but the wind and water combination made it touch-and-go.
Cruising into transition 2. Clearly, I cannot wait to get out of the saddle!
(My “favorite” part of the course was the turnaround point that had one foot of standing water. Good times.) Even our coaches commented on the unfavorable conditions. On the bright side, only two women passed me, both of whom had tri bikes.
Rough time estimate: The last time I checked my bike computer, it read 1:01, so one-hour plus.
Goal: Develop a nutrition strategy.
Even though this will be the longest tri I’ve done to-date, I don’t plan to do anything different in terms of nutrition. After all, nothing new on race day, right? I’ve fine-tuned my pre-race eating plan and hydration strategy, and I hope this combo can adequately fuel me for a 10-K run. Both my coach and a few knowledgeable triathletes advised skipping the gel on the bike/during the run. I won’t #trigeek out and go into the nitty-gritty science, but basically it will take energy to digest those calories, and during a short-course event, I want that energy to be spent on swimming, biking, and running.
I followed my tried-and-true plan—GU Espresso Love 15 minutes before the swim start and one bottle of PowerBar Perform on the bike per hour—and didn’t feel my energy levels plummet on the run. In fact, I completed the 10-K without taking any of the on-course water, Gatorade, etc.
“Hydrating” off the bike at the post-race party.
Goal: Execute the pace plan—aka be disciplined—on the run.
So South Beach was a classic example of making a game plan and then totally throwing it out the window. Luckily, that run spanned four miles, so I hung on and finished somewhat strong, but ignoring the pace plan won’t be OK during an Olympic-distance event. My coach gave me a target pace I should hit and hold for the run, and the toughest part will be being disciplined coming off the bike. I’ve also talked to my coach and teammates about the course itself, so I know what to expect at each mile. Miles four and five head downhill and then up hill through cul-de-sacs, which means I need to capitalize on the declines to make up for time lost on the inclines.
Aside from my first quarter-mile off the bike that was too fast, I executed the plan pretty well. I settled into cruise control for miles one, two, and three, and there was surprisingly little discomfort. It was tempting to push the pace, but I alternated between telling myself “discipline” and “shorter, shorter, quicker, quicker.” There was some discomfort that ebbed and flowed during miles four and five, and luckily, one of my male teammates caught up to me (his swim wave was five minutes after mine) and pulled me up the hill—like he literally reached back and grabbed my hand in an attempt to pull me up! I saw only four or five teammates on the run, but it was still great to cheer on each other. As I neared the top of the hill, one of my female teammates who was making her way down told me that’s where the mile-five maker was located, and the last one-plus mile was a downhill stretch to the finish line. Thanks to her tip, I settled into my tempo pace for the final mile.
Rough time estimate: 50:XX. I didn’t stop my Garmin exactly when I crossed the finish line, and it also measured the course as 6.4 miles.
Official finishing time: 2:33:00.5—first in my age group (18-24) and 12th in women overall!
No medal or actual podium this time, but this t-shirt is much more practical.
Given the circumstances, I’m happy with how this race played out.
(Some of) the best teammates a girl could ask for.
Overall, I definitely could’ve pushed more during each leg, and I still have a lot of work to do in terms of the bike. Honestly, I finished each discipline feeling way too comfortable, but since this was my first Olympic-distance race, I wanted to leave enough gas in the tank. I’ve also decided I prefer this distance to the sprint; at the halfway point for the swim, bike, and especially the run, I was glad there was more ground to cover.
Let the training and countdown for Stamford (19 days!) continue!