On Saturday, I completed the Hopkins Vineyard Sprint Triathlon (0.5-mile swim, 10-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run) as my final tune-up event before Nationals. My coach said I should get a sense of my “top-end speed,” and my teammates said there would be a wine tasting afterward. Sign me up! In all seriousness, though, I wanted to make sure what happened at Stamford wasn’t a fluke—as in my training is going in the direction it should.
Overall, this race functioned as a solid training day: I logged a quality open-water swim, I put forth a solid effort on the bike, and I hurt on the run. This race also confirmed what I suspected: In Milwaukee, I need to work the swim-bike and simply hang on for the run.
But any race that results in an overall podium finish is a good race.
Swim – 0.5 mi. – 17:36
Although the Lake Waramaug swim was advertised as half a mile, Garmin data (not mine) measured the course as 0.7 mi. That’s totally fine by me; the longer the swim, the better. Anyway, this was the smartest, most tactically sound swim I’ve logged in a race setting. Out of the gate, I found myself in the lead pack and settled into a solid-ish effort; I was working, but not taking in water like I did at Griskus. I actually drafted effectively and felt good. And like during most swims, I hit Wall upon Wall of Dudes from the earlier waves. I exited the water in the five spot and immediately heard my coach yelling at me from the sidelines: “Everyone is in front of you! GOOOO!” So heading into transition, I thought I had a lot of ground to make up. But that wasn’t the case.
Transition 1 – 1:11
As I stripped my wetsuit and threw on my bike gear, one of my teammates who wasn’t racing came over to brief me: I was fifth out of the water with the third and fourth girls still in transition. I left T1 ahead of them, moving up to third female overall. I love passing people in transition!
Bike – 10 miles – 28:18
Aside from two hills—one being long and the second being steep—the bike course wasn’t too challenging. The hills actually worked to my advantage: I was playing leapfrog with the girl in second place, but was able to attack the first hill and create a gap. Is that how you race tactically?
Transition 2 – 0:35
As I changed gear again, my teammate relayed updated information: the girl in first place just left transition, and I could catch her. And my coach was out on the course waiting for me. Oh good.
Run – 3.1 miles – 26:25
Hands down, this was the toughest and probably 5-K I’ve ever run. The opening 1.5 miles contained a steep hill (steeper than Escape to the Palisades) while the closing half mile or so went off road and through a vineyard. Anyway, coming out of T2, my legs did not feel up to par. And to sum up the run in one sentence, I could see the first place female the entire time, but could not close the gap. Even when I reached my coach and got a peptalk, I could not attack the hill and reel her in.
Official finishing time – 1:14:01 and 3rd female overall
A woman from the last wave completed the course the fastest, so she took first, the girl I couldn’t run down took second, and I finished third.
So what did I learn? An Olympic-distance race plays to my strengths because I need a longer swim and definitely a longer bike; ten miles of saddle time does not give me enough real estate to make serious moves. A hilly bike works to my advantage; a hilly run does not.
And overall, like I experienced during Griskus and Stamford, some days you feel junky, some days you feel invincible, and sometimes, you’re somewhere in between. Saturday was an in-between day. But that invincible day where the stars align doesn’t come around often. But I’m chasing it—and hopefully I’ll catch it on Aug. 9.