Tag Archives: Olympic-distance triathlon

Being Tactical: Pre-Race Thoughts on Rev3 Quassy

Race week, race week: the next edition of sportz Saturday will occur at a sanctioned event, and I’m excited to swim, bike, and run at Rev3 Quassy!

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Structured training began in January, so I am itching to enter a race environment, do some sportz, and execute across the disciplines. Plus, I feel like training has been going well, but it will be beneficial to have an “official” check-in point to make sure we’re on track.

Held in Middlebury, Connecticut, “the beast of the Northeast” is known as one of—if not the—toughest courses on the race circuit. It offers both Olympic-distance and 70.3 races, and for those crazy enough, there’s a “revolution” option to race back-to-back and complete both. But tackling the modest 0.9-mile swim, 25.7-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run is more than enough for me. In fact, after the disastrous Pat Griskus Triathlon two years ago, I swore I would never do this race since these courses are so similar. Yet here we are.

As Earl and I developed my race schedule at the beginning of the season, one of our top priorities included exposing me to as many different experiences as possible—both for the build-up to Nationals this year and for my general growth as a triathlete. These mini tests would serve as opportunities to practice pacing, nutrition, etc. in challenging environments before I go to Omaha for *knock on wood* a successful smashfest across the disciplines. The “challenging environment” component is key: my tune-up races will be on hilly courses while Nationals will be flat and fast for the most part. Basically, if I can execute my race plan on rolling courses, then I should be able to lock it in on a flat course.

There’s no doubt Quassy will be the toughest race I do this year—and quite possibly ever. With that in mind, this will be a very calculated outing. This course does not play to my strengths. In fact, it’s probably one of the worst ones out there for me: it’s hilly, and at 5’10”, I am far from being a pocketfriend who can zip up those hills on the bike and run.  And that doesn’t take into consideration the weather either.

Enduring a four-plus-hour college graduation. Would not do it for anyone else, Margaret! <3

We’ve experienced an incredibly hot and humid week here with temperatures reaching the high 80s. Bottom line, facing a hilly course on a hot day is my worst case scenario, and there’s a high chance that’s what the conditions will be on Saturday. Oh, goodie.

It’s all about controlling the controllables: being smart, executing the plan, and racing the course—not the other athletes. On the bike, there will be no hammering. There will be lots of climbing, cresting hills, and managing my efforts strategically.

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Self, repeat after me: smooth, strong, controlled. Do. Not. Hammer.

Plus, due to my health insurance situation–due to my new job, I did not get insured until June 1–this ride will be my first true outdoor outing of the year. (Although I did spin out in Central Park yesterday in an effort to remember what it is like to handle a bike.) Therefore, I’m really managing my expectations for the bike. Luckily, Earl has data from my bike workouts and knows I’m fit. He’s not concerned about my performance in the saddle—he’s looking forward to seeing how I execute on the run.

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What goes up must come down …

Bottom line, this will be an incredibly solid training day. It’s going to be a grind. It’s going to be tactical. But I’m confident in my training thus far, and no matter what happens out there, the only place to go is up.

Stamford KIC It Triathlon Recap

On Sunday, I completed my second Olympic-distance swim-bike-run event, the Stamford KIC It Triathlon.

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Located about an hour outside the city in Connecticut, this race was a ideal for NYC triathletes:  close enough that staying overnight wasn’t required, but far enough away that it provided an escape from the concrete jungle.  And in terms of my race calendar, it served as a perfect tune-up since it’s two weeks before the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon.  In theory, I was “tuning up,” but in actuality, I’m still learning how much I can push on the swim and bike and still piece together a solid run.  Overall, I pushed more than Montauk, but as you will see from the race pictures, I’m clearly not experiencing enough pain.  I still had a good race, though!

Swim – 0.9 miles – 25:10

There’s no other way to describe the swim conditions without using the word perfect:  calm water, reasonable temperatures (I didn’t hear the official reading, but it was definitely warmer than Montauk, so maybe 60-ish degrees Fahrenheit), and the sun even started to peek through the clouds.  Basically, I really, really enjoyed the swim; it felt therapeutic. (And wow, I sound super Zen—ha!) So this probably means I didn’t push enough, right?  Like Montauk, I exited the water feeling strong and wishing the course were longer.

Transition 1 (T1) – 2:36

One of my favorite moments during the race took place during T1.  During the swim, I caught up to the wave that started before me, and not only did I pass guys in the water, but I also jogged by them on the way to our bikes.  As I passed one guy, he yelled, “Oh s$#*!” and he tried to pick up the pace.  All I could do was smile!

Bike – 24.8 miles/40-K – 1:25:38

Going into this race, I knew the bike would be difficult.

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Not only would it be a longer ride than Montauk, but it was also very technical; there were downhills, there were a ton of “hot turns,” so truly capitalizing and picking up speed wasn’t going to happen.  During the race itself, I questioned my judgment—‘why in the world am I doing this?’—but managed to get through it.

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Approaching T2.  Can you tell I’m pumped to run?

The fans and volunteers on the bike course were phenomenal.  The volunteers wore hot pink shirts and alerted us well before every turn, and the fans cheered like crazy.  My teammates were great too.  I saw five of them on course, and even though four passed me, they were really encouraging.

Transition 2 – 1:13

T2 was a blur.  It was actually a different location than T1, and I loved how each row of racks was numbered.  When I dropped off my run gear, I memorized the number, so finding my spot during the race couldn’t have been easier.

Run – 6.2 miles/10-K – 50:23

The run was a flat, two-loop course that took us through part of downtown Stamford.  Like Montauk, it took me about three miles to loosen up and become comfortable, and then I settled into a steady pace and put it on cruise control.

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So remember my teammates who passed me during the bike?  I caught up to and lapped them on the run.  It was nice paying forward the encouragement and trying to pull them along.  After the race, one of my teammates who was there cheering said it seemed like I was casually chatting with everyone.  She was kinda right, ha!

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I couldn’t help it, though—I was having so much fun!

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I did buckle down and kick it into high gear near the end.  I loved seeing my coach and teammates on the course, especially during the final 400m or so.

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Official finishing time: 2:45:02—first in my age group! (Full disclosure:  first of three.  But I would’ve placed second in 25-29 and fourth in 30-34, both of which were bigger age groups.)

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As you can tell from the pictures, I had a lot of fun during this race.  However, I can’t ignore the fact that as I crossed the finish line I felt very unsettled.  Yes, I had a good race, but could I have pushed harder?  Absolutely.  And the only thing worse than blowing up during an event is finishing with gas left in the tank.  In the words of one of my coaches:  “If you finish a race and don’t feel like you’re going to pass out or throw up, then you didn’t go hard enough.”

Oh, and speaking of my team, FTE had a great day—10 podium finishes!

Anyway, onto the next one—t-minus 10 days until NYC!

My First Work Meeting

Hiya, friends!  Happy … Thursday?  Yikes, I’ve gone a long time without blogging.  It’s been a busy week filled with work (more on that in a second) and working out, and I’m happy to have today off on both fronts.  As per tradition, my morning began with Wegmans Cin-A-Nut coffee.

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What, you don’t have spare goggles hanging around?

Weggies, please come to NYC.  Thanks.

Although I’m not scheduled to work today, I met with a local yoga company to discuss our partnership and other outreachy things.  Friends, this was my first solo big-girl meeting of my career!  And I wore “real” clothes (i.e. not running shorts and/or a race t-shirt)!

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My coworkers commented on how cute I looked, so just humor me with this outfit of the day picture, OK?  I could’ve showed up to the meeting looking like this:

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Yes, this happened at work on Wednesday.  No, this isn’t me.  This time.

Anyway, the meeting went well.  There was some miscommunication about the location, but once we sat down, the ideas started to flow. (Inadvertent yoga pun.) Exciting things on the horizon!  Right after, I recapped the main points with my manager and assistant manager, and they were really pleased.  By now, I should be used to this responsibility, but I still can’t believe how much they trust and believe in me—slash I’m still wrapping my head around doing somewhat big things at age 23.

I didn’t want to waste looking like a “real girl,” so I went shopping.  And not for groceries.  Although I did that later.  Success at Anthropologie!

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Plus both the tank and pj bottoms were on sale.  Love it when that happens!

Back at my apartment, there was a package waiting for me.

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Thanks for hooking me up, FitFluential and Kona Kase!  Review to come once I test these endurance nutrition samples.

Oh, and speaking of endurance, please start praying for me in regards to the Stamford bike course.

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If it were easy, then everyone would do it, right?  Oh boy.

Mighty Montauk Triathlon Recap

On Saturday, I completed my first Olympic-distance triathlon, the Mighty Montauk.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Basically, it feels like a sleeveless wetsuit.

Result:  Success!

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.

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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.

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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.

Result:  Meh.

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.

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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.

Result:  Success!

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.

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“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.

Result:  Semi-success!

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.

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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!

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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.

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(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!

Write It Down, Do It Up – Week of June 2

Hey, everyone!  I hope your June (wow!) is off to a great start.  Yesterday looked like a typical Saturday:  swim with some Full Throttle Endurance teammates and then work at JackRabbit.  I went right from the pool to the store, so I missed triathlete brunch (and a 60-mile bike ride, boo), but one of my teammates brought me a muffin.

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Homemade blueberry with lemon zest—yum!  Also, four teammates—yes, four—visited me at work yesterday, so that was awesome.  And today, I met up with a teammate for a run in Central Park, completed a solo indoor cycling workout, and headed back uptown for our first book club meeting.

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Thanks for taking the picture, Jen!  Great meeting you, Emily and Lynette!

So much fun—and no food pictures.  Whoops!  The official recap will go live Tuesday.

Anyway … it’s officially RACE WEEK!  I still can’t believe Mighty Montauk is next weekend, and right now, I have very mixed feelings about this Olympic-distance event.  As always, I’m excited and ready to do work, but I don’t feel ready.  This week’s taper will probably be more challenging than the one before Nautica South Beach; I really want to keep pushing, but I need to embrace the taper.  Here’s this week’s edition of Write It Down, Do It Up!

(If you’re new to WIDDIU, here’s how it works:  Every Sunday evening, I post my workout schedule for the week, and I invite you to do the same.  This way, we can motivate each other and hold ourselves accountable.  Sounds like a win-win, right?)

Monday – a.m. run with Full Throttle Endurance (FTE)

Tuesday – a.m. swim with FTE

Wednesday – a.m. brick workout with FTE—indoor cycle and run off the bike

Thursday – a.m. easy swim; a.m. easy run

Friday – off

Saturday – Mighty Montauk Triathlon

Sunday – off/easy run

When is your next race or event?