Tag: Cranberry Trifest

Cranberry TriFest Race Story – Good Things Come in 5s

I just completed my 5th Cranberry TriFest Olympic Distance Triathlon. To keep things neat and tidy, I finished 5th in my 5th (and final) year in the 45-49 age group.

Each time I race, I learn about myself: how I make choices and how I feel about the outcomes of those choices.  I’m pretty sure that this and the fact that the learning opportunities seem to be endless are what keep me racing.

A little piece of relevant history… Back in the beginning of July, after 4 weekends of racing each weekend, and after thinking a lot about my training and the mental fatigue I was experiencing at 5am when it was time to wake up and train I made a a conscious, out-loud to Jason choice:

“This summer, I’m just going to have fun and enjoy swimming and biking and running. I’m gonna ride on the beach, run without a watch, and just swim with my friends at the reservoir – maybe the pool once in a while.” Long pause…
“And please remind me that this is the choice I made in August when I’m wishing I made a different choice at Cranberry.”

It’s been a delightful summer. I’ve had great open water swims followed by chatty runs with friends. Jason and I rode so many gravely, sandy, grassy miles on our CX bikes. I was a little sad when I had to wipe spider webs off my TT bike for a local sprint at the end of July, so a weekly TT bike ride got thrown in. I ran hills one day for fun and a lot of beach, off-road miles. I enjoyed every minute.

Although I worried that I’d lose fitness, the reality was that I never had a week with fewer than 5 workout days, many days included bricks (because I like them), and off days meant long beach walks with the pup. I stayed very fit. In many ways because of the off road miles and resting when I felt like it – I felt healthier and much less injury prone. My morning workouts just made me happy and set me up for a great day with work, with friends, with everything.

I didn’t lose my fitness – I did however lose some speed. And we’re back to the race story…

Cranberry was a great race. The swim was a wetsuitless, hot, shallow, 2 loop, pond scummy mess. And I found myself entertained by the chaos. It was on the bike, when I was trying to push a speed that I probably could have held back in June that I started wishing I could undo my choice and go back in time. 

When training regrets creep into your race, flatting is almost a promise. Not that your tire will get punctured, but you feel like it did and the whole race feels flat and frustrating.

I was right there, when a flash of words flooded my brain:

Would you rather have some excuse or rationale for a race outcome: Sick last week, got a flat tire, missed a feed, had to sneeze when the winning attack went, or even just that you lost your nerve that day when it got really hard (yes, this happens). With that, you can forever clasp onto the worrystone-mantra of “I could have won, if only…?”

Or, would you rather honestly know you had ridden a race to the very best of your strength and ability, know there was nothing else you could have done and have that be…not…quite…enough?

Mara Abbott’s thoughts following her courageous 4th place Olympic finish had clearly made a lasting impression and became my mantra for the rest of the race. I would ride to the best of my present strength and ability and let go of the energy wasted on rationalizing anything. And thank goodness, because it was such a more pleasant way to race!

I raced hard. I gave all I had. I’m sore today and I was slower.

And to further emulate, Mara, I’ll be really honest (as she was) and share one more thought I had when I finished …

Yet here is what I will always sort of wish I had:
A podium spot.

The day after, I’ll tell you without hesitation that I wouldn’t change a thing about my summer. It turns out you can still be pretty speedy when you do what makes you happy, play and share joy. I’m thankful that Mara’s story collided with mine when it did.

And thanks to Sun MultiSports and all the wonderful volunteers for a great race!!!

Cranberry Trifest 2016

Celebrate this race – the analysis will wait

Cranberry TrifestI cross the finish line; I stop my Garmin. I shuffle through the volunteers who remove the timing chip from my ankle, drape a medal around my neck, and hand me a water.  I haven’t even made it through the short chute to collect hugs from my cowbell-ringing crew and I’m already in my head, analyzing the race. I look around, we’re all doing it.

It’s really more like exploratory surgery than analysis. Each leg gets dissected looking for every moment where time was lost or we could’ve pushed or where we wished we trained harder.  As I meet up with other racers, I can hear them processing their races, too. We’re sorting through our missed steps and timing results. There are many expressions of disappointment for missing a time goal or being slow on a particular leg. All this processing feels more like mourning the race we wished we had, as opposed to celebrating the one we did have.

We’re so wired for improvement that we’re thinking “next race” when we haven’t finished the current one.

I remember a story that Sally Edwards shared about a Danskin Triathlon in the late 90’s. All of the swimmers were out of the water, but there was one bike left on the racks. The race volunteers were panicking as Sally went running over to the lone bike. She found the missing woman, sitting on the ground eating chocolate cake.  She finished the swim and she was gonna eat some cake! She understood celebrating.

We had just finished a triathlon. There was a day in the past when we never could have done this and there will be a day in the future when it will be impossible again. We should all be celebrating this race! Even if we stumbled or stopped, we were with like-minded people pushing our bodies to all sorts of physical limits and supporting each other. Let’s celebrate that! Let’s celebrate what we did accomplish that day – whatever it was.

On Sunday, I decided to delay my analysis. I hadn’t hit my “perfect race” goal, but I didn’t want to focus on that and overshadow what I did accomplish.  I told my coach there wasn’t going to be a race report for a couple of days. I didn’t want to scrutinize each leg trying to figure out why I fell short. Not on that day.  I gave all that I had.I just wanted to savor my triathlife and not think so much.

I love to dissect data and analyze, at least as much as any runner or triathlete I know. (My husband will roll his eyes while he attests to this.) I’m usually squirreled into my brain for several hours processing my races.  So this finish was unusual for me. I love progress and planning and training. I will eventually look at the splits for this race. I’m sure there will be an entry or two into a spreadsheet.  And I have no doubt that  I’ll come up with new areas of focus for future training and races, but not on “this race” day.Celebrate this race

If I had a chocolate cake – I would have eaten it, just as smuggly as I like to imagine the woman sitting next to her bike.
Congratulations to all of us!



Cranberry Trifest, IV

milestonesThe Cranberry Trifest is this weekend. This is my milestone race. Like I mark my kids’ growth on the doorway on their birthdays each year, this where measure my progress as a triathlete.

Cranberry 2011 – My first-ever olympic distance sign-up.
I had a good running base from doing the Boston Marathon with Team in Training. We usually cycled a decent amount in the summer. Hurricane IreneI’d have access to a pool – I’d never swum further than a ½ mile and hadn’t done that in a decade, but I felt comfortable enough about the other two.   The week before the race, I decided to rent a wetsuit. (I’d never been in one before) It was a very busy week at work, so I never got to try it out. My training was all about being able to complete each distance.  Speed wasn’t a consideration, at all.

Hurricane Irene canceled the race –DNS. There was no triathlon for me in 2011, but I was hell bent on trying out the wetsuit.

Cranberry 2012 – Do-over.  Same training approach: Run a lot, bike a lot, swim some.
I quickly broadcast my newbie status by racking my bike in the wrong place. And that’s when I fell in love with the triathlon scene. Two very supportive racers helped me find my (clearly marked) spot and answered all my newbie questions. They were amazing and I was so nervous. I thanked them both for being so nice. As they left for the swim, one of them turned to me, pointed to the other and said, “And just so you know, she’ll probably be on the podium today.”  That moment still sticks with me. There she was helping me and treating me like a peer, the whole time.Pedaling and smiling all the way

The swim was fine.  I survived being swum over by the men in the heat behind us. (I didn’t need to swim backstroke, at all.) Getting out of the wetsuit was hilarious. The bike was gorgeous.  There wasn’t a picture from that day where I wasn’t smiling on my bike.  I did lose all my nutrition from my pockets. The run not awful, the lead feeling in my legs was brief. My goal was to finish.  I did. 2:57:58.

I was hooked. I was so fired up that I signed up for a Half Iron Man six weeks later.  (That’s a different story)

Cranberry 2013 – My first “triathlon season”.  I’d  done 3 sprints and 1 oly that summer. Cranberry 2013 Finish I’d started swimming in April, and had joined a group of open water swimmers. I started cycling earlier, too.  My nervousness was now just the pre-race anxiety that I’ve always had.  I arrived and met the same two women from the previous year.

It felt like coming home. Everything went so much smoother than the previous year. I was comfortable in my wetsuit and in the water.  The bike was still my weak spot, but the route is so pretty through Lakeville, that getting passed didn’t bother me. The run was hot again.  I had hoped to feel stronger on the run, but held a good pace. My goal was to finish and improve my time over the previous year. I did. 2:43:03.

Cranberry 2014 – 2 days away. This will be my 3rd Olympic of the 2014 season. I haven’t raced since Lowell in July, but I’ve been working with a great coach this year and feel stronger than I ever have. My training has had lots of ups and downs around family situations, but it’s been steady. I’m excited for this weekend to see where I will measure on my door frame.