This was my first Olympic Tri. As someone who started training for Sprint Tris a couple of years ago to get in better shape, just completing the race would be huge. My main goals were to keep a positive attitude throughout the race & finish well, but I had some specific time targets that I thought would be achievable.
I really felt ready for this race. I had trained well, tapered well (too well, maybe, due to a minor injury), and was eager to race but not nervous.
Things got off to a little bit of a crazy start when I wound up spending ~ 20 min in a line for the port-a-pots (poor line choice) & barely got back to transition in time to get my wetsuit out before they closed it. I raced over to the Tri2BeMore tent to suit up & then realized I was still wearing my Garmin – no time to run & put it back.
THE SWIM (1.5K in 37:31; 2:17 pace/100yds)
I made my swim wave – barely. I was excited to have the chance to swim with a couple people I knew for a change – and in an early wave at that – double bonus. Then, instead of sticking with the people I knew, I decided to take a position closer to the buoy (not a good decision). At the swim start, I got clobbered: sandwiched between slow people in front of me and fast people behind me. I couldn’t get into any rhythm – hard to find water to swim in, actually – and although I wasn’t panicked, I just couldn’t get my breathing under control. I thought I was comfortable swimming in a crowd, squeezing between bodies, etc., but here there was no place to go but over bodies & I wasn’t really keen on doing that – seriously, what if I drowned someone? I was so out of breath that once I got out of the main crush, I actually rolled onto my back to regroup. Not the swim I was hoping for, but I kept going, telling myself that eventually I’d catch my breath. I finally got into a decent rhythm when I reached the turn buoys, so my swim on the back half was pretty good. Nice to hear friends calling out as I ran to T1.
Unzipped the wetsuit on the run. I’d normally have tried to get the suit half off on the way to transition, but modesty deterred me. (really don’t need any pics of me in my swim bra & wetsuit out there) Once in transition, the wetsuit came off easily; thank you TriGlide! T-shirt, shoes, helmet, and done. Maybe a gel, too. Overall, a decent transition, I think. Ran the hill & met with a bit of a traffic jam getting on the bike. Again, got some good shout outs riding out of the park.
THE BIKE (25.5 mi in 1:37:34; 15.4 mph pace)
The bike is always my best leg & I really love parts of the Columbia course. I’ve had some good training rides & was mentally prepared to attack it if I could. I played leap-frog with a woman I met named Rosie for most of the course – it was cool to hear a “go Ally” called out every time I passed her & I cheered her on as well. Lots of young guys from the waves after me passed me, but it actually made me feel faster to be racing with the aero-helmet crowd. I successfully avoided a water bottle dropped by another rider right in front of me & also a rider(!) careening over from the other side of the road while I was zooming down a congested Homewood. I remember being so proud of myself that none of the women from my wave had passed me on the bike. Yea, me! But, as I realized later, the main reason that my wave didn’t pass me was that most were already ahead of me after the swim… No matter, it was still a great ride, several minutes faster than any of my practice runs, though I definitely felt more tired than usual afterwards.
I heard some friends give me a shout out coming into transition – always fun. Took most of a gel, took the time to put on socks (not worth it), & grabbed some water after transition.
THE RUN (10k in 1:17:00; 12:25 min/mile pace)
I wasn’t concerned that my legs felt heavy at the start of the run – usually it just takes a mile or so to get going after the bike. I can’t say they ever really came back this time, though. I mostly just pushed through with a slow and steady jog. I managed to make it up & over the big hill in the neighborhood, but I did walk at the crest of most of the others. I managed something a little more like running on the downside of Gatorade Hill and across the dam. To my surprise, I was able to pick it up again once I heard Coach Liz yelling at me to run faster at the turn. No big sprint to the finish left in me, but it was a solid run.
I was definitely dehydrated by the time I finished the race. I drank fine on the bike, I think, using a sports drink that I love and always train with. But I’d filled the flasks in my run belt with sports drink, too, instead of my usual water, thinking that maybe I’d want the extra calories. Nope. All I wanted on the run was water – so even though I was really thirsty, I barely touched my flasks. I drank a couple bottles of water after finishing, but it was a while before I could even think about eating anything. A massage afterward & I wasn’t sore at all the next day.
Overall, I feel like it was a solid effort. A couple of years ago the Columbia Tri seemed like an almost unattainable goal. Not everything went as planned, but I stayed positive throughout & just enjoyed the experience. I felt even better once I realized that the swim pace listed on the results page was per 100m, not 100 yds! I definitely loved finally being in an early wave – much more energy out on the course & better temps. I even heard the announcer give a shout-out to me and the charity I raised money for, World Vision – very cool. So glad for all the support from my training friends & awesome coach. Great first Olympic Tri experience!