Race Expectations: Reston Triathlon

Tomorrow's the big day.  First Olympic distance!  Race nerves are in full swing already; this is the first time I’ve gotten them this early.  My brain is going wild - one second I'm second guessing my training, the next I'm convinced that I’m injured, and the next everything is perfectly fine.

As has been the case all season, setting goals is tough.  The first time doing a new distance means I have no idea what to expect.  I have a few ideas of how I want my day to go, so I’m using them as my guide.

  • Swim Smooth

    • I don’t want to push, but just enjoy the swim and get nice and warmed up for the rest of the race

  • Ride Smart

    • I need to ride my own race, and not get overly excited by the speedsters on the course.

  • Run Strong

    • Ease into the first few miles, then really bring it home hard.  No point in leaving anything out on the course!

  • Smile!

    • Don’t compare my performance to others, and just get out and PLAY.  Have FUN!

  • Goal Times – I have no idea how reasonable these times are, but they’re in my head, so they’re getting written down.  

    • Outstanding –  < 3:25:00

    • Exceeds Expectations – 3:30:00

    • Acceptable – 3:45:00

    • Poor -  4:00:00

    • Dreadful – > 4:15:00 (anything longer than this and they close the course)

    • Troll – DNF

Everything is all laid out and ready.

Everything is all laid out and ready.

I’m buzzing with nervous energy right now.  This last year has been all about building my fitness, and I’m stoked to let it rip and see what my hard work can produce.  Almost go time!

Anyone else is racing this weekend?


Thumbs Up/Thumb Down for Oly Training

This training block for my first Olympic race has been a complete blur.  It if weren’t for automatic upload on my Garmin, I’d probably have zero record of what I did.  As it is, I don’t have anything like what I usually have to look back on.  No in-depth analysis of each step, each stroke, and each mile.  Yet time marches on, and race weekend has arrived (omg!)  I want to take a few minutes to look back at how my training went over the last couple months, just to put it in perspective and see where my head is at.  Also, I want to give this analysis a day to sink in before I make my race goals.

Pretty clouds at the end of an afternoon run

Pretty clouds at the end of an afternoon run


The pool has been my happy place for a year now.  I love swimming!

Thumbs Up:

  • 2700 yard swims
  • OWS practice in Lake Anna and 1.2 miles in the Potomac at Harbor Fest
  • 400 yard repeats and flip turns are no big deal
  • Meeting Megan and Liz

Thumbs Down:

  • My pool has been closed since late August for maintenance
  • Too many missed swims for no good reason
  • Goggles, man


I had a whole separate post about bike things, so I’ll keep this extra short and sweet.

Thumbs Up:

  • Long ride = 30 miles!

Thumbs Down:

  • Still lacking confidence


This season, running has taken a backseat to swim/biking.  After all, I have to do those things before I ever get to run on race day.  Even still, I’ve managed to make some impressive gains.

Thumbs Up:

  • Running 30 minutes is “short” now
  • Meeting Stacey, running 6+ miles together, and eating watermelon in the parking lot

Thumbs Down:

  • Tip of toe blisters, the week of the race.  Really?


Half the fun of triathlon is all the gear.  The clothes, the toys, the gadgets…I love it all.

Thumbs Up:

  • Vivobarefoot Stealth II.  Although, these aren’t available anymore, so maybe this should be a thumbs down?
  • Coeur Sports kits.  The shorts, especially, were a game changer for me in regards to bike comfort
  • The cheap & cheerful Garmin Vivoactive

Thumbs Down:

  • My bike.  Sorry, friend, but you just don’t fit
  • Quest bike shorts.  Seams don’t belong anywhere near my lady bits.  These are banished.
  • Pocket-less run shorts.  Why do these even exist?
  • Goggles, man


Nutrition hasn’t been a big deal for me, since Olympic distance racing = short course racing.  Even still, I’m a slow athlete, and my race day is going to take almost 4 hours.  That means snacks!  Like Vivaldi (missing her so much lately…. gone 5 months this week) I’m hugely treat motivated.

Can't say enough good things about The Feed. &nbsp;Such a great way to try new fuel options

Can't say enough good things about The Feed.  Such a great way to try new fuel options

Thumbs Up:

  • Skratch Labs Fruit Drops because they don’t stick together in the package or in my teeth.  I’m also a fan of the Exercise Hydration Mix in Lemons + Limes and Pineapples
  • Vfuel Endurance Gel has a nice thin texture and good flavor.  They just came out with Salted Caramel Apple, which sounds tasty.  I like Peach Cobbler
  • Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are like extra plump and fruity Fig Newtons.  Raspberry is my favorite
  • Nuun Active and Plus.  A bottle of triberry on the pool deck is like a security blanket for me, and I like that Plus is flavorless, so I can add it to whatever I’m craving on the day

Thumbs Down:

  • Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix in Matcha Green Tea.   Not my cup of tea. (See what I did there?)


I’ve not had my head in the game lately.  Depression is a beast, no two ways about it.  I don’t want to talk about it too much, simply because at this precise moment I feel like I’m finally crawling out of the dark, and if I even glance back I may slide down there again.  So instead of head shrinking, I’m bullet pointing.

Thumbs Up:

  • Forgiveness.  I forgave myself for any missed workouts and moved onward.  No dwelling!

Thumbs Down:

  • Lying to myself.  I want to work on being more honest when I’m feeling fragile.  I can’t adjust course if I don’t admit that I’m going the wrong way. 
Sometimes one day at a time pays off big time. &nbsp;I remember this day so clearly.

Sometimes one day at a time pays off big time.  I remember this day so clearly.

So there we have it.  The road to my first Olympic distance triathlon.  I’ve done spring/early summer sprints before, saying that I was going to end the season with an Oly.  I tried and failed twice to even get to the registration point.  Now, here I am, ready to toe the line in TWO DAYS.  It was a tough summer.  I had some struggles, to be sure.  But I made it.  I’m ready.  And I’m excited.  Next up: race expectations!  

A Goggle Quest

I’ve had some goggle drama lately.  I’ve mentioned to a couple people that finding the perfect pair of goggles seems tougher than finding a bra that fits.  It is hard to find shops that carry a wide range of goggles in house, so online shopping seems to be the way to go.  That has led to plenty of orders, exchanges, returns, and missed opportunities.  I’m now pretty much right back where I started, but I learned an important lesson along the way.

I’m not really sure when I started wearing Speedo Vanquishers.  My guess is that they were the goggle that was available from REI that I liked the best when I signed up for my first mini tri back in 2004.  A pair seems to have hung out in my swim bag ever since.  I’ve never had problems with leaking, and until I started swimming earnestly this past year, I had no specific issues that I could point to with these goggles.  Around the time my workouts neared the 1-hour mark, the problems began.  Removing the goggles would be painful; it felt like I was digging glass out of my skin.  Goggles marks?  Yeah, they lasted at least until lunchtime.  Visibility was also a problem, since the tint wasn’t conducive to outdoor conditions.  With Reston and open water on my mind, I decided to try some different options.

Spoiler Alert - I wound up with mirrored Vanquishers

Spoiler Alert - I wound up with mirrored Vanquishers

ROKA Sports has been adorning the faces of many ladies I look up to on social media, so I decided to give them a go.  (Well done, ROKA – your social media game is on point and your marketing strategy worked on me!)  I’ve written before about how sad I was that the R1 didn’t fit my face.  I had an exchange with Kecia on Instagram, and she mentioned that the R1 didn’t fit her, but the X1 did.  Sadly, my face didn’t agree, and I had leaking with the X1 even more than the R1.  Both of these styles have a flexible uni-body nose bridge, which doesn’t seem to be a good match for me.  My next step was going to be the F1.  In addition to having multiple nose bridges, it looks to be a dead ringer for the Vanquisher, but hopefully with more comfort plus the excellent optics and clarity that ROKA seems to be so good at.  However, I ran into some issues.

I’m spoiled.  I’m coddled by the likes of Zappos and Amazon Prime, and the idea of paying for shipping and returns is something I’m not really down with.  ROKA is only sold directly from their website or through SwimOutlet.  At least, near as I can tell.  Please correct me if I’m wrong!  While ROKA has free shipping on large orders, my goggles weren’t big enough.  And although I have a deep love for SwimOutlet’s grab bags, their return policy leaves much to be desired.  Pay for return shipping?  Or forfeit a portion of my cost so that they provide me with a return label?  Really?  No.  So while I’m sure one day I'll have a bigger purchase to piggyback the goggles on, this time I was back to Amazon.

I should mention that this was all playing out during the Olympics.  As it turns out, not only does the local pool become quite crowded with new swimmers during the Olympics, but goggles sell out, too.  After reading several positive reviews of MP Michael Phelps goggles as having excellent visibility in open water, I wanted to try a pair out.  Sold out!  Even simple items like TYR Sockets and other standard goggles were selling like hotcakes.  I started to feel like I was running out of time.  My pool was scheduled for maintenance and would be closed starting from August 27th, and I wanted to have at least a couple swims in the new goggles before race day. 

It all seems so silly now, but at the time, it felt very much like I was in an episode of 24.  Time was ticking by, and without the new goggles, my race would surely be a failure!  This is bearing in mind that I’d already done Harbor Fest with my old Vanquishers, and while the sun was a bit bright, I had successfully finished.  I ended up with a new pair of Speedo Vanquishers.  This new pair is mirrored, with magenta trim.  They don’t leak, and they are excellent in bright light.  I’m pretty sure that means I’m going to have an overcast race day.  With all this manufactured drama, I want to highlight to myself what the takeaways of this experience are.  Mainly, that I need an adjustable nose bridge.  Also, that just because all the people in my phone are wearing a goggle doesn’t mean squat.  At the end of the day, my swim at Reston is going to turn out well because I’ve put in a lot of work at the pool this last year, not because of what gear I pick for race day.

week in review: Reston Triathlon Training, week 6

Ugh….this heat dome needs to go away.  I constantly feel tired, sticky, and irritable.  It probably goes against all kind of triathlon laws, but summer and I are not getting along.  Bring on autumn, please!  But the weeks march on, and although this was not one of my better weeks for consistency, there was still plenty of adventure to be had.

My totals:

Swim - 3:11:04, 7900 yards

Bike - 1:00:03, 18.17 miles

Run - 2:50:08, 12.74 miles

This massive flower was my "cool find" of the week.

This massive flower was my "cool find" of the week.



  • Swim - 1:06:45, 2600 yards
    • 300 swim
    • 200 pull
    • 100 kick
    • 12x50 :15 (kick, drill, by 25)
    • 4x100 swim :30
    • 8x50 :15 (drill, swim, by 25)
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 200 c/d

so. much. kicking.

And lots of drill. It's good to have a form focus, though, so I embraced it. I did catchup, 6-3-6, Tarzan, fingertip drag, thumb drag, fist, and sailboat. Whew!


  • Run - 37:33, 2.86 miles

I made it further up some hills without my HR buzzing, although I still had to walk up most of Idylwood and again for the return on Rt 7. No aches, no pains, nothing...I felt so good! I guess it was a good call to skip yesterday's ride.

  • Post Run Functional Strength - 11 minutes
    • pedestal #2
    • myrtls


  • Swim - 1:04:19, 2600 yards
    • 800 warm up (200 swim/200 kick/200 drill/200 pull)
    • 4x50 kick w/:15 rest (25 FAST, 25 choice)
    • 3x200 pull w/:30 rest (50 shark drill/150 pull)
    • 4x100 swim w/:20 rest (all strong)
    • 8x50 w/:10 rest (25 non-free/25 free)
    • 200 choice cool down

Wow, how did I pick another workout with so much kicking again? Oh well, it's always good to do kick sets. I think because this one has such a big warmup, it felt like the workout itself went by quick.

  • Trainer Ride - 1:00:03
    • 10' warm-up
    • 40' z2 (143 BPM)
    • 10' cool down

It was a bit hard to find a cadence that kept me at the right HR, but once I had that, it was good going. Challenging, but not hard.  Does that make sense?


After my first swim in the lake. #heartandcourage #stayhydrated

After my first swim in the lake. #heartandcourage #stayhydrated

  • Run - 46:38, 3.39 miles

It didn't feel too bad when I stepped out the door: 70 and humidity at 82%. I still sweat aplenty, and my visor even got so heavy with sweat it was sliding down off my forehead into my eyes. Ew!

My HR strap was being a bit wonky, reading 131 one second, and 177 the next. I finally realized maybe it was a bit too loose and was bouncing slightly away from my skin, so I tucked the edge into my sports bra to help hold it into place. I didn't have any weird readings after that. Hurray for quick fixes! Another good run.

  • Open Water Swimming - approx 1 hour

This was my day at Lake Anna.  I did two swims of maybe 30 minutes each.  I had to guess completely on the distance, since the vivoactive doesn’t do open water.  Maybe 1350 yards for each go?


Planned rest day.  Glorious rest day, especially considering how uncomfortable my sunburn was.


  • Long Run - 1:25:57, 6.49 miles
Stoked to count this chica among my friends. &nbsp;She's a racing machine, and lives a life of adventure!

Stoked to count this chica among my friends.  She's a racing machine, and lives a life of adventure!

I met up for the first time with Stacey, and we had a great run.  It was pretty warm and fairly humid, but not too bad.  Stacey let me dictate the pace, so we walked whenever my HR buzzed high.  Originally we had planned on an hour, but at thirty minutes in we were feeling great, so tacked on some extra time.  If I’d realized when we stopped how close we were to 6.5 miles, I would have kept on going just a teeny bit more.  My right hip started aching towards the end, and I got a baby blister on the tip of my toe, but this was a good run.  So much fun to run with friends!


Unscheduled rest day.  Just blech.  I lost my mojo on this day.

This week had some serious highs and lows.  My first go at open water swimming, and running with a new friend?  Doesn’t get much better than that outside of race day.  Sadly that was tempered by several days where I just didn’t get the planned workouts in, and just generally felt lazy.  I think overall my schedule is not quite agreeing with me, so for this next week I’ll be making a few changes.  A teeny bit less volume, and some rearranging of workouts to allow for more light days.  We’ll see how it goes.

week in review: Reston Triathlon Training, week 5

This week I officially registered for my next two races: Harbor Fest 1.2 mile Open Water Swim, and the Reston Triathlon.  Reston will be my first Olympic.  And yes, I stressed out about this decision for way too long.  I am quite nervous about conquering the hills of Reston, but I’ll get to sleep in my own bed before the race.  Eight weeks of training before the big day.  Here’s how last week went.

My totals:

Swim - 2:23:38, 5450 yards

Bike - 3:27:22, 55.00 miles

Run - 1:26:20, 6.42 miles

Crepe Myrtle in bloom!

Crepe Myrtle in bloom!


  • Swim - 47:54, 1950 yards
    • 350 choice warm up :60
    • 300 pull (breathe 3/5 by 50) :90
    • 400 swim 2:00
    • 400 pull 2:00
    • 300 swim :90
    • 200 c/d

400 swims no longer feel like an eternity!  Step back weeks are always funny.  I feel like they should be easier, but I’m still so darn tired.  But hey, I can remember when 1950 was a seriously long workout.  Now it’s a stepback week.  Amazing what a bit of time and hard work can produce.

  • Trainer Ride - 45:02
    • Aerobic Intervals, aka sweatfest!
    • 10 min warmup
    • 4x (4 min @85% max, 3 min easy)
    • cool down


  • Run - 22:09, 1.78 miles

A bit overcast, and not as warm as I heard it was going to be. My HR kept buzzing at me for being too low, which was unexpected. Since this was such a short run I kept it to apt complex loops, so that meant no real elevation change.

  • Post Run Stretch

Lots of attention to calves.  Shoulders too, as I apparently slept contorted the night before.

  • Functional Strength - 45 minutes
    • 1/4 mile warm up walk
    • leg circuit #1
    • pedestal #2
    • myrtls
    • foot/ankle routine
    • 1/4 mile cool down walk

The leg circuit is hard! One legged squats are no joke, and I was so glad I only had to do 5 reps. On the bright side, my hip is definitely starting to feel stronger, and my balance is getting a bit better, too.


  • Swim - 52:45, 1950 yards
    • 250 w/u :60
    • 4x25 kick :15
    • 4x50 drill :20
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 1x200 swim :60
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 4x50 drill :20
    • 4x25 kick :15
    • 100 c/d

My workout called for drills, and I made the decision to do the ones I really can’t stand.  This is with the feeling that if I hate them, I must need to work on them more! So: catchup, one arm, and fist drills it was. Reach reach reach! I think I'm still swimming too flat, so I need to get my rotation back in order. After the season is over, refresher lessons are in order. Plus, they were super fun, so why not?

  • Trainer Ride - 45:14
    • LT Intervals
    • 10' warm up
    • 8x 2' @95% max HR, 1' recovery
    • cool down

95% max HR….yeah, right!  That would be 175 for me.  I was working my tail off and by the end of the second minute I was getting a titch over 160. Judging by the pools of sweat on the mat under my trainer, I was working pretty hard, so I'm happy with my effort.


  • Run - 28:16, 2.02 miles

Warm and sticky, but the sun was out, which was nice. Wednesday was so overcast, so this was a nice change. The heat wave’s a-coming!

My legs felt heavy to start, but actually warmed up pretty decently. The 14 min/mile pace is a bit rough for the ego, but I do feel like I got further up some of the hills today before my HR buzzed and I started walking. No pain, and, quite happily, no acid reflux!

  • Functional Strength - 45 minutes
    • 1/4 mile warm up walk
    • leg circuit #1
    • pedestal #2
    • myrtls
    • foot/ankle routine
    • 1/4 mile cool down walk

I never would have guessed that lunges and planks and donkey kicks and whatnot would make me sweat more than I ever thought possible. Thank goodness for disinfecting wipes for those poor communal mats at the REC!

Friday (Active Recovery Day)

  • Swim - 42:49, 1550 yards
    • 200 warm up
    • 6x50 2x(kick, drill, swim) :20
    • 6x50 2x(back, breast, free) :30
    • 6x50 descend 1-3, 4-6 on 1:30
    • 300 as 2x(50 kick, 100 swim)
    • 150 cool down

Lots of backstroke and breaststroke in this recovery swim, and I loved it! Got my descending 50s, concentrated on rotation, and enjoyed my time at the pool. Stretched in the hot tub, then started the day!


  • City Bike - 47:02, 7.63 miles

Hit the ATM, rode to the farmer’s market, locked up Peggy, and did my run out on the W&OD.  It was warm and sunny, and I drank my entire bottle of water between riding and my run.

  • Long Run - 35:55, 2.62 miles

I got a late start, so it was fully morning by the time I started running. It was quite a bit warmer than I was hoping for, so I needed to take plenty of walk breaks to get my HR down. I made it as far as Arlington before I turned around.  I had my new Nathan handheld bottle with me, and I like it pretty well. It could hold my phone, but I kept that in my Spi belt. Instead I had my keys, cash, and cards in there, with room for nutrition if need be.

Near my turnaround point, heading back into Falls church.

Near my turnaround point, heading back into Falls church.

Speaking of nutrition, since I was going to be going for well over an hour including biking, I tried out nuun plus. No change to the taste, which I love, and no stomach upset. Score!


  • Long Ride - 1:10:04

I could write something about how it was really hot out, and I wanted to make sure this was a Zone 1 or 2 ride, and that’s why I was on the trainer.  But that would be a big fat lie.  I am a bike chicken.  My handling skills are horrible, and my discomfort is actually getting worse instead of better with every time I head out.  I am so in my head about it, which makes it worse.  So, this was a trainer ride.  While I’m quite pleased that I got a good hour of aerobic work in, I’m so disappointed in myself for not being able to conquer this bike fear.

So there we go, step back week is in the bag.  I have to figure this bike anxiety out before it becomes detrimental.  Looking forward, I’m pretty excited for this week.  This Thursday, weather permitting, I’ll be getting in my first OWS training session.  Upward and onward!