Two races in two weekends? And two team titles? Done and done!
Our fearless coaching staff
On Sunday, Full Throttle Endurance sent 60 athletes to race the Stamford KIC It Triathlon. It’s a small, local race the team does every year, so I was excited to see how much I’ve improved. Plus, I wanted to do another Olympic-distance tri before Nationals in August. And I’d be lying if I said I did not want redemption after Griskus last weekend.
Although the swim and bike courses stayed the same, the race organizers changed the run route and created a sprint-distance race. From a team perspective, this addition worked to our benefit: We were able to “distribute” our athletes so we didn’t have five FTE people racing each other for three podium spots.
Anyway, two aspects that drew me to triathlon included making personal progress and chasing the “perfect” race. Yes, “perfect” isn’t totally realistic, but rather the idea of putting together a race that is as close to perfect as possible. And as any athlete knows, it’s rare when everything lines up and you have a stellar performance.
On Sunday, I came pretty darn close: I raced hard, raced smart, and above all, had so much fun.
In summary, this race made me feel happy, proud, and satisfied. Which almost never happens, by the way.
Swim – 0.9 mi. – 25:36
Held in the Long Island Sound, the swim course remained the same from last year.
Overall, I wanted to learn from my race experience last weekend; this meant being honest with myself and saying I pushed too hard on the swim because it negatively affected my bike and run. Although I can swim a low-24 (maybe faster?), I decided to dial back. It’s all about energy allocation, and if pacing the swim better (read: slower) leads to a better bike and run, then that’s what needs to happen.
Anyway, I felt good during the swim. Good, not great. The lead pack of women dropped me after 100 yards or so, and instead of freaking out—ah, hop on their feet and draft!—I stayed composed, settled into a rhythm, and stuck to my plan. Like last year, I really enjoyed the swim and came out of the water feeling strong.
Last year’s time – 25:10
Transition 1 – 2:12
Since I didn’t crank the swim, I hit the sand running to start making up time. Other than struggling to take off my wetsuit because of the big timing chip, nothing too eventful happened.
Last year’s time – 2:36
Bike – 24.8 miles – 1:17:09
Pre-race, I had mixed feelings about the bike. Yes, I had done it before knew what to expect; it would be hilly, but not as grueling as Griskus. But after feeling absolutely awful last weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect—but my body was ready to rock.
Like last week, I planned to ride aggressively and race on feel. Even though I’m relatively new to this sport and still learning how to allocate energy across the disciplines, I have a good idea of how I should feel in the saddle. Basically, this meant pushing when I felt good and backing off when I didn’t.
Anyway, like Griskus, one of my teammates and I rode together. (She’s a little faster than me in the water, but I caught up to her on the bike.) We didn’t draft, but there is an advantage to racing with a training partner. We’re about the same speed, so I knew I could stick with her, and she kept me focused and pushed me too.
Bottom line, I did not want to get off the bike and was happy with how it went.
Last year’s time – 1:25:38
Transition 2 – 0:44
Total blur—get in and get out.
Last year’s time – 1:13
Run – 6.2 miles – 46:42
Like the bike strategy, I planned to run on feel. My Garmin came out of T2 with me, but I only wanted to see distance covered. Plus, my coach gave me a rough time goal—sub-47 would be awesome, he said—but I didn’t want to stress myself out with splits.
Coming off the bike, I wasn’t sure how the run would shake out. My calves tightened up immediately, but that’s normal. Oh yeah. This is what it feels like to really run off the bike! Also, it takes me about one or two miles to settle in and get my running legs under me, and the course worked to my advantage; the opening mile was totally flat.
As I gain more experience racing, it has become easier to turn off my brain and just run. There were a couple of climbs—around miles 1.5 and 5—but I stuck to my plan of running by feel. My second wind kicked in around mile 3.5, and I couldn’t believe how great I felt, so I started pushing a little more. And the run route reminded me of home, so both my body and mind felt right.
About 400m from the finish line, I spotted one of my teammates and coaches who were cheering and running people in. They did the same thing at Griskus, and I was not in a good place physically then—but it was the complete opposite this time: I gave them a thumbs up and starting smiling. “Carrie, stop smiling! There are still people to pass!” Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I picked them off and finished strong.
Last year’s time (different run course) – 50:23
Official finishing time – 2:32:25
Last year’s time – 2:45:02
I could not stop smiling after crossing the finish line. I was actually happy and completely elated. (And did I seriously run 7:30s off a hilly bike? What the what?!)
As a type-A person, I immediately think about what could’ve been done better, but there was absolutely none of that on Sunday. Honestly, the only two races where I’ve experienced the same high included my first race and South Beach last year. And it was this feeling that got me hooked.
Yes, age group awards are always great, but I’m concerned with times and how I felt: My splits were solid (excluding the two or three seeded elites, I was the sixth female overall), and I felt good while putting forth the effort required to hit those times.
Two takeaways from this outing: First, I cannot believe how different I felt during Griskus and during this race. My training and tapering were the same, but it really just boils down to how you feel on race day. And two, I need to trust myself and continue racing by feel. If I had seen my pace running off the bike, I absolutely would’ve dialed back; I would’ve eased off the gas because in my mind, I can’t hold that pace—but clearly I can. I mean, I did hold that pace. Also, I’m pretty sure this is my 10-K PR—standalone and off the bike.
Overall, I really needed a solid race, and this gives me confidence for Nationals.