This was a big milestone race for me, so you’re in for a doozy of a post! I had the best time, which is probably why I hit the post race slump pretty hard (more on that in a later post). Last year, I volunteered at this race (bodymarking and bike in/out) and I was in awe of all the athletes as they came racing through the area. I just couldn’t imagine myself as one of them.
I had my eye on this race after volunteering, but I knew I had to tackle the OWS at Esprit de She first. After the 2015 Esprit de She, I was hooked so I convinced friends to do this one with me. D and I registered for this race Memorial Day weekend. I’ve been attending Masters Swim workouts and even leading group rides so that I’m not cycling by myself. I also used the Swim Bike Train plan I bought last year for my first tri. I mostly followed the plan; where I had questions Coach Meredith and Coach Brett were great helping me modify it with Master Swim and my Gilbert Half training.
I made sure to get a few OWS in under my belt since this was NOT going to be wetsuit legal race. I was thankful for the WannaTri and Arizona OWS practice swims, I was feeling confident and comfortable going into race day.
I picked up my packet and dropped my BFF early on Saturday and met up with the #MRTT gals.
It was a toasty afternoon and I was ready to go home and rest, but I forgot to take pictures with everyone. Even with the heat, the atmosphere was pretty awesome; it was comforting to see familiar faces in the crowd. I introduced myself to IG friend and one of the Phoenix Luna Chix, @juliaflew. It was great to finally meet in real life! 🙂
I got myself home and had my go to pre-race meal is half a Chicken Cesar Wrap from Salad and Go, with a little bit of extra salad on the side. It sat well with the pizza I had for lunch. 🙂 After dinner, laid everything out for transition and packing. I had a little help from a little sassy sprite!
I packed my bag, added my race number tattoos to my arms and I felt like a pro athlete!
I posted this to the Women For Tri facebook group and then I tried to go to sleep before my 3:50 am alarm! This was the earliest bedtime for a race that I actually hit, but it didn’t mean that I fell asleep right away.
The alarm went off and I didn’t hit snooze like I normally do. I drove over to D’s house and carpooled with her and her hubby. We got to the race venue in plenty of time. After getting my bike aired up (I brought my own pump), I laid out my transition mat and I was ready to hit the loo.
I love race morning, let the celebration of training begin! The music is playing, everyone has nervous energy and excitement is in the air. It’s fun bumping into familiar faces from previous races (Hi Jenny!), online groups (other EDS ambassadors), and Masters Swim.Before we knew it, it was time to leave transition! I uploaded a slew of pics to FB and we were on our way. Last pic before we closed up shop (I was lucky that my transition area was spacious):
D and I stood in line for the loo again. The line was so long that we knew we’d be in line when the first racers got into the water. I ate my Chocolate Honey Stinger waffle while we waited. Thankfully, the line wasn’t really that long! We met up with the other MRTT gals and watched the first few waves go in while I tried my best to refrain from dancing. I think that’s the hardest part for me! It’s just so much fun and I have so much nervous energy. 🙂
I saw more IG friends, Kim (@teamsprinklesandglitter) and Jasen (@jasenguy), so I said “Hi” and wished Kim good luck with her Olympic distance and got back to my spot in line.
The race was actually on time and the previous heats were leaving as scheduled. While we were waiting, we saw that the Elites were already coming back (a 15 min olympic distance swim!) Amazing and so motivating! There were no female paratriathletes in the sprint division, so the 0-39 Female wave went 5 min early! With a squeal of excitement, I waved to the other MRTT ladies (I have no idea if they saw me) and descended the stairs in to the water.
I totally forgot to have my watch set to triathlon before I jumped in. Ooops! I tried to switch it over, but I’m not that coordinated enough in the water so I decided to forgo the swim tracking with my GPS. And then it was time for us to start.
My goal for the swim was to sight the best I could and finish under 30 min. The sun was a little bit higher, but it made it harder to see the buoys. I was fine with my sighting as we passed the Super Sprint buoy and cleared the Mill Ave bridges. After that, it was so hard to see. I tried to sight off the wall, but that just pulled me closer to the wall. The ladies of the 40+ wave started to pass me and I knew D was in that group! (She told me later that she saw me as she passed me. She knew my stroke from a mile away!) When I finally spotted the orange buoy, I had to angle over to swim there! Yikes! I would have been interested to see how much further I actually swam. It was interesting swimming into the Oly distance traffic. Merging into the swim is the hardest part. I will say that I have improved greatly with my swimming confidence: I had people grab my foot and my butt and swim on top of my legs and back and I held my own without panicking. I swam on top of a couple of people as well and just kept moving forward. I was thrilled by the final turn toward the finish. I felt like I couldn’t swim fast enough to get to the stairs. (This was drastically different from my first EDS without the wetsuit, or Masters Swim or any other OWS training/practice).
I gave out a big “Whoop!” once I hit the grass running.
My goal for T1 was to get my headband, helmet, sunglasses and get my shoes on WITHOUT sitting down. I was successful in my mission. I also remembered to grab a sip of my drink before starting the Brick workout on my watch. Once I hit the mount line, I was ready to rock and roll!
My goal for the Bike was to not be a chicken and to use momentum in my favor. I told myself not to slow down and it was going to be awesome! I was feeling pretty good starting out. This was definitely a different field of bikers than I was used to. The EDS ladies are pretty speedy, but add a couple hundred guys to the mix and it was a little bit chaotic. I was brave enough to try to pass people when there was a wide lane. I managed to chug along the first few miles pretty well until I almost lost it!
I was coming across the Priest Ave on ramp and cresting over the overpass. I reminded myself not to slow down and I checked my back to see if any one was coming on my left or taking the turn on my right. I was clear. I realized I was flying down the hill and towards the curb protecting the light rail! I took my left foot out of my cage and I was trying to lean into the turn, but I was going too fast. I tried to move my front wheel gently to turn and I gently tapped on my brakes. I thought, “This is it! I’m loosing control and I’m going sideways into the curb.” I screamed in terror and thankfully I turned in time so only my right pedal (and my dignity) hit the curb.
A gal came up behind me and said enthusiastically, “but you saved it!” I was in shock, so I just nodded in agreement. A guy in a One Multisport suit sporting an alien helmet, just shook his head in disapproval as he passed me. I came up to R, a friend of mine, who asked the first gal “Was that you screaming?” I answered, “Nope, it was me. I need more bike handling practice.” She shook her head, “Oh Olivia!” Ooops!!
Needless to say, I was a chicken for the rest of the ride. Esther passed me not too long after that and I don’t remember seeing anyone else familiar along the course. I rode more conservatively and then tried to pick up the pace later but just couldn’t do it. Thankfully, the rest of the ride was uneventful.
My goal for the run was to keep a steady pace, try to push my race pace which is 10:00 per mile and be positive. I was so happy to be out on the run! I knew this is the best area out of the three and where I could gain some time. I tried to be motivating to others as I approached them and I definitely cheered on the runners that passed me. Many of the Olympic athletes were doing their first or second laps as I was running. I was glad that I was only doing one lap because it was a toasty day out there.
The aid stations volunteers were pretty peppy, so at the first station I raised my arms so they would douse me with water and it felt amazing!! I was happy that I carried my own hydration. The aid stations were too far apart for my liking on this very hot morning! I caught up to Esther and tried to cheer her along after the first mile. I started singing songs in my head (Honey, I’m Good & Shut Up and Dance) to keep my feet moving. At one point in time, I passed an Oly athlete with the number 1007. When he passed me running a few minutes later, I said “You go, Mr. Bond. 007” and cracked myself up. I don’t even know if he heard me.
I was amazed at the speedsters that were really racing the Olympic. They were finishing up their distance, while I was finishing up my race (half their distance). They did have an hour on me since they started their swim earlier, but still they are amazingly fast athletes!
I caught up to D as I was chugging up the hill right before the Marquee Theater. I got her to run a little bit since we had less than a mile to go. She wasn’t feeling well and the run really got her. I kept going across the bridge and towards the finish line. I was able to hit the jets coming down the finish line shoot and I even stopped and did a little jump at the finish line. The photographers didn’t catch it but I did see it on the video. Finish Line Video
I was ecstatic to be done and I felt pretty good. All smiles!
I waited for D, and she was done!! She needed to hang out in the med tent to cool off and get her bearings. I gave her my gatorade and looked for the others as they finished.
Once D felt better, we caught up with the rest of the gals and enjoyed the post race festivities. I forced her into post race pictures. 😉
We stayed through the awards ceremony and a bike raffle, but alas we did not win. 😦 I did pick up a new visor when they were doing a swag toss. It looks like I’m doing Marquee in April. I’m hoping it will be a great Olympic distance race since it will be wetsuit legal and (fingers crossed for) cooler temperatures! I’m also signing up for the Arizona Challenge if they have it next year.
I was happy with my race, the finisher’s medal and the memories made with my friends who tackled their first OWS sprint distance tri!
We believed we could and we did!!
Lessons learned: I must start my watch or at least select triathlon before the race begins! I don’t have to sit down to switch my shoes in transition. Practice more bike turns. Find some more hills. Continue to carry my own hydration. Try to push the pace for the run. Try to catch Kim, Tori and Renee for pictures. 🙂
Top 10 rankings in T1, T2 & the Run! 🙂