Cue the waterworks—Saturday morning, I completed my last swim-bike-run race of the season, the 8th Annual ITPMAN Triathlon.
Held in Darien, CT, this event ended up being my first and final sprint of the year (even though the distances were a bit on the long side). Even though I had fun and strung together a solid race, this outing further confirmed I prefer the Olympic distance.
On Friday afternoon, two teammates and I made the drive to from New York City to Darien and picked up our swim caps and bib numbers at Weeds Beach.
Yep, definitely not in the concrete jungle anymore.
After getting these materials, it started to rain, so we retreated to the car and waited it out; we wanted to stash our bikes in transition, which would give us one less thing to worry about on race morning. As you can see, the rain eventually stopped.
How can you not be pumped after seeing a double rainbow?
Anyway, another teammate lives about 20 minutes from the race site, so we stayed with her, which worked perfectly because we got to “sleep in” the following morning. And in terms of the race itself, it was definitely on the smaller side (about 250 participants), but it provided a great atmosphere for a final race of the season.
Swim – 0.5 mi. – 17:40
OK, so Garmin readings aren’t everything, but the swim course was probably closer to 0.65-0.75 miles.
Even though the water was surprisingly warm and calm, it still felt like a long swim (for the official distance), and several of my teammates who race with Garmins measured the course between the previously mentioned values. Anyway, since it was a small race, there were only three waves: red (men), green (more men), and yellow (women). My wave was the last one, and I situated myself toward the front of the pack, put my head down, and got to work. As usual, it took me a bit to get into a groove, but once I hit the first buoy, I started passing men in green caps.
Transition 1 – 1:27
Upon exiting the water and unzipping my wetsuit, I immediately heard my coach: “You are the sixth girl out of the water! Get to transition and go!” I picked up the pace (and picked off some guys!), and a few spectators started yelling, “hey, it’s a girl! You go, girl!” In transition, I started talking to one of my teammates. (What? We were next to each other, and I wasn’t going to ignore him. Uh, rude.) And then my coach starting yelling again. “Carrie, so-and-so is one minute behind you—get out of here!” Done and done.
Bike – 15 miles – 49:50
Before the race, there were rumors of a flat bike course, but that wasn’t quite the case.
Yes, it wasn’t as hilly as Central Park, but it also wasn’t Milwaukee flat; “false flat” would be an accurate description. Anyway, as usual, the bike was my weakest of the three disciplines (in terms of average speed and overall ranking), but on the bright side, I stayed in the drops for the majority of the ride.
In addition to “false flat,” there’s another phrase that sums up my experience: Wall of Dudes (coined by Victoria). Since I caught up to and passed a lot of guys on the swim, I “broed out” on the bike and road with them. However, there were several points during the race that guys were riding three or four abreast across the road, resulting in a Wall of Dudes. This was especially frustrating when we reached hills because several guys didn’t downshift, couldn’t turn over their legs, and didn’t leave the passing lane clear. Anyway, I digress …
Transition 2 – 0:45
T2 was a little on the slow side because I couldn’t feel my feet. Gotta love late-season tris!
Run – 5 miles – 39:43 (7:57)*
Coming off the bike, my legs felt relatively good, minus being a little numb.
At the 0.25-mile mark, my coach caught me on the course and briefly ran with me.
Coach: “Do you want me to lie to you or tell you the truth?”
Me: “Tell me the truth.”
Coach: “You are the tenth female overall now. There’s a pack of girls out in front that you can run down. It will hurt a lot, but you can get in the top five. And getting in the top five would be huge. But you need to embrace the pain.”
Me: “All right. Let’s do this.”
Then and there, I decided to run based on feel and refused to look at my splits. This strategy worked well in Milwaukee when my watch died, and plus, I knew I needed to push the pace, but I didn’t want to psych myself out with numbers. Aside from a killer hill after mile two, I felt good—working, but not maxing out—and my mind was right. I tried not to think too much about what my coach said and focused on running my own race. As the miles passed, I picked off woman after woman, and before I knew it, I had reached mile four. And like clockwork, my coach was there waiting. “You have less than a mile left—you need to turn over your legs and go faster!” Yessir! The final stretch hurt, but I held on and finished strong.
*According to my Garmin data, the course measured 5.2 miles, resulting in an average pace of 7:38.
Official finishing time – 1:49:26 – 1st in age group (20-24) and 6th female overall
And just like that, I completed my final race of the season. Way to go, FTE!
Way to go, FTE! About 15 Full Throttlers raced, and two of my teammates even won first and third overall for women—woohoo!
So what’s next? Stay tuned.