This race holds a special place in my heart. In part because it was my first Olympic distance ever and my first triathlon in over a decade. But it’s mostly because when I come back each year, I can see how much I’ve grown. It’s the annual mark on the doorframe of my triathalife.
This year, year 4, was no different. I’m sitting here, legs up (they’re cramping up a bit), writing this race report with a heart full of love for the sport. So fair warning, I’m feeling sappy.
Lead up to the race:
As part of the prerace taper tradition, I conjured up the prerequisite, raceday worries. This year’s first worry was that I haven’t been training for 10k pace or on any hills. I was worried I wouldn’t be as fast on the run as I was last year when I was actually training for this race and this distance. (yes, as I write this, I do see that this was more of a healthy understanding of how training works as opposed to an unfounded worry) Luckily, I didn’t obsess over this one for too-too long. I became fixated on Sun Multisport’s Facebook update: the lake was 80 degrees. Ack! No wetsuit?! Oh yes, I fretted about this for 48 hours straight. I seriously considered trying to shove a pull buoy into my tri kit. And the ripple effect of the swim worry – kicking is going to kill my bike and I’ll probably pass out on the run because my legs won’t be able to hold me up.
Mid-day on Saturday, I realized I was really creating much more anxiety than reasonable, so I called a friend, my former coach, and amazing swimmer – and I turned myself in. I shared my insanity out-loud with the person who I thought would best be able to help me out of my mental chaos. Kelsey was most most awesome!!!! Even though I wasn’t able to execute the strategy we created, just sharing my crazy fears with a person who could see that I was both strong and weak in the same moment, was what was required. This was the magic I needed.
Saturday night, I returned to the rituals. I cleaned and lubed my bike, packed my bag using my handy dandy check list, ate a delicious clean supper, packed the car for a 5:15 departure, and snuggled with the kids at bedtime. Fell asleep with no dreams of forgetting my wetsuit.
There was peace in having a plan / system – there was nothing eventful about my departure. My Dunkin order even came out perfectly. The drive was drizzly, but not pouring rain.
The venue / Transition set-up:
There was a line for packet pick-up, but it seemed to move quickly. I picked up the day before so I was able to grab my timing chip and get body marked very quickly. It was still drizzly out. I wished that my checklist included plastic bags, but in moments a bikerackmate produced 2 extra plastic bags for me. I love this part of the morning. I love the camaraderie of set-up. There were first time Oly racers sharing the rack. I also love having the opportunity to pay forward the welcome and help I received at my first Cranberry transition set-up. I feel I’m saying thank you to the sport. Set-up was done with plenty of time to make sure the bike was in the proper gear and take a warm up run and nice warm-up swim.
Cranberry has a time trial start, so it was a pretty calm start. I focused on a strong engaged core and good rotation from the start. As I hit the first buoy, I knew that my fears of my hip flexors being an issue were unfounded for the day. I was relieved, happy, grateful, and focused on swimming as straight a line as possible between buoys. It was a actually a pretty great swim.
It’s a long run after carefully climbing up the granite stairs. I heard Laura, “This is a race, let’s go!” This would echo in my ears for a while. It was a great message for me. Man, socks are a pain to put on wet feet.
I love this course. A lot of beautiful scenery through lakes and fields and pretty darn flat. It’s got a lot of the Patriot Half course and same weird jog through the gas station parking lot. The course was dry, no puddles. It started getting drizzly again about 15 miles in, but not enough to really mess with the vision through the lenses. I felt good, strong and happy on the ride. I was very excited to see my average pace exceeding last year’s, but my focus was on the heart rate and keeping high zone 3. I’m so proud to say that I did it – rode in my target hr zone and significantly improved my pace over last year. And I kept right on track with nutrition and resisted the urges to modify the plan because it wasn’t quite as hot as I thought it would be.
Note: I think it’s time to start practicing dismounting and running on pavement in bike shoes – I look like a hot mess here. Another small victory – I ran out the right way this year! Woot! Things went very smoothly in T2, with the exception of my fuel belt; it seemed to fit the night before, but was now spinning around my waist, bouncing about, and wouldn’t stay closed. If my number wasn’t pinned to it, I would have dumped it. (I also would have been sad around mile 2 when I needed food.)
The fuel belt was so irritating that I didn’t notice any bike to run fatigue. (yay?) Eventually, I got the belt to stay closed, adjusted as well as possible, and just accepted it as an imperfect part of life. I put my attention to great running posture and upbeat cadence – and I felt solid. The hill around 1 ½ took more out of me than I hoped and posture / cadence / pace recovery felt slow. I started getting grumpy and my brain started offering some pretty unhelpful thoughts. Happily, I didn’t get sucked in before realizing that I could probably do with some food – yay carbs / sugar! After washing down a few shotbloks with big mouthfuls of water, my happy returned. At mile 3 I knew I would finish and would still feel strong. This is when the words I had written on my arm with sharpie that morning came to my aid. “She believed she could…” I said them over and over to myself. After a while I tried a modification – “She believed she could, so she is.” I knew the hill at mile 5 was coming and my goal was to get to the base of it and then remember that the hill is tough, feeling tired while running up it ≠ ‘I suck’. When I got to the top I created another modification – “I believe I am!”
The final part of the run across the grass felt difficult – but I believed. When I finally hit the chute – I saw Hannah and Will. More happy! Hannah was yelling, “Daddy’s up at the finish!” As the finish got closer, I felt more and more elated. I was filled with such joy for the whole day – the whole experience – I leap! I love this sport! I love that I can feel how lucky I am to be able to participate.
(I was also terrified that I was going to land on my beautiful pink badass)
Hannah & Will’s favorite Cranberry tradition is the post race swim in the lake and as is the tradition I join them for a long post race soak. It was confirmed. Even though I’ve done a bunch of triathlons now – every race has an IKB (I know better) moment. This year as I waded into the water – I was painfully aware that I forgot to lube the chamois territory – ow!
2015 Bonus features!