There is so much we learn while training for and racing triathlons. Each year or event yields a higher level of knowledge about nutrition, training, and most importantly about ourselves. This year I had highs and lows, like we all experience during a race. But what stood out for me was the mental side of triathlons. Based on my recent training, I predetermined I could not beat my last year’s time. As I listened to wind howl through my windows the night before and wondered if it might rain, I said to myself… “It is what it is”, meaning I cannot control the weather, or a flat tire, or whatever else that may slow me down. My plan was to go out and do my own race at a hard pace and see how it goes. No worries and no pressure.
Pre-race: I had a great transition location as you came in down the hill from the body marking. What made this special was saying hello to all my MMTC friends and so many others I have gotten to know and train with over the past few years. I also loved being able to hang out at the MMTC tent and relax before my start. We have awesome support!
Swim (26:52): Started towards the front and right side this year for a change, even though I’m not a fast swimmer. I liked it because it seemed a bit less crowded. It was hard to find a good draft this year. I followed someone who went off course a bit, but I sighted the buoy before real damage was done. My goal was to beat my prior swim times and I did it by 1:30. I felt great after seeing my watch.
T1 (4:24) Ugh. I couldn’t get my jersey down my back. Put on sunglasses that were wet and too dark for the cloud cover, so I dug through my bag to find my other pair with orange lenses.
Bike (1:23:30) Over 4 minutes slower than last year. I have no reservations about riding in the rain. My two problems were 1) being blocked going downhill by other riders who had difficultly negotiating the wet roads and by cars who couldn’t or wouldn’t drive around riders in front of me. 2) not pushing myself (a mental thing). My average HR was well below lactate threshold. BUT it is all good. I enjoyed seeing Sadj climbing hard up Green Bridge and then Jean cranking up Linthicum at a fast pace. Everyone was toughing it out through the rain and wet roads. Hats off to all those who fear this type of weather, yet defeated their negative thoughts and pushed through!
T2 (1:58) Ugh, again. I feared blisters from my soaking wet socks, plus thinking that they must weigh a couple pounds, so I switched into dry socks I had in my bag.
Run (58:07) A friend of mine caught up with me on the run and we ran the first couple miles together. He is a faster runner than me, but was struggling today and our pace was slow. He told me to go ahead which I did, then I saw Arnat pass me. I followed him for about a quarter mile until we went uphill where his pace never slowed down! Go Arnat! I walked through the water stops and up a couple of the steep hills, but felt good overall. I saw Maura and her kids at the one water stop and got some encouragement there. I couldn’t catch up with Geoff who I ran with last year. He was smoking fast this year. Markos passed me at the last water stop and finished strong.
The finish was great with the crowds cheering and my family there. My son sprinted with me through the finish shoot and I gave my finishers medal to my daughter.
My take away from Sunday is that the mental game is so much of a deciding factor in the race. Last year I PR’d at Columbia by a whopping 18 minutes. I knew that would be hard to beat. The finishing time I predicted for this year came true. Had I convinced myself of a faster goal, I know it could have happened. We all have the ability to go beyond what we think we are capable of. It’s all in our head! Mental toughness! I’ll have to work on that. :-)
I wish I could have hung around longer, but I had family commitments. I did enjoy an awesome burger and snacks. Thanks again to Melissa and the rest of the volunteers at the tent!