Race Report: Reston Triathlon

I made a goal, I worked toward it, I stumbled a little bit, I picked myself back up, and last weekend, I finally made it happen.  I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon!  

The Quick & Dirty

2016 Reston Triathlon

Reston, VA

79℉, Mostly Overcast

1500m lake swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run

3:55:04

Overall Rank - 368/396

Age Group Rank (F35-39) - 23/24

 

A beautiful day at Lake Audubon

A beautiful day at Lake Audubon

Pre-Race & Warm Up:

I tossed and turned most of the night, and woke up frightfully early.  Breakfast was two packs of chocolate Belvita breakfast biscuits with peanut butter, a banana, and about ⅔ of a bottle of nuun.  Black tea with milk and sugar is my special race day drink of choice, guaranteed to help clear the pipes out.  Because who really likes going in the porta potty?!  I took a shower to help wake myself up, packed up the gear bags, did a first coat of sunscreen, and made sure J was up and moving.  Dramamine and Gin Gins candy were also on the menu, to keep my motion sickness and sensitive stomach in check.  Transition opened at 5:30am, and we arrived just a few minutes after.  We weren’t anywhere near the first people to arrive!  Reston has two transition areas, so J parked at the high school and I set up T2. Since I don't have bike shoes, this basically meant weighing down my hat and race belt as much as possible so they didn't blow away.

Most people were riding their bikes to T1 at the lake, about a mile away, but I was nervous about riding in the dark, so I walked.  Warm up, I guess?  This is also where I wound up getting really impressive ball of foot blisters.  Sigh.  I used to wear these flip flops to walk Vivaldi for an hour with no issue, so I have no idea why a 20 minute walk would be an issue.  Nothing could be done at that point, so it was time to keep getting ready.  I racked my bike, got bodymarked, picked up my chip, and set up my T1.  There were plenty of athletes milling around, and I chatted with the others on my rack.  I met a girl who was doing her first Olympic, too, and I found that calming.  Reston Triathlon is full of super fast racers, so meeting someone else who was in it to complete rather than compete was wonderful.

There were no warm ups allowed in the lake, but the pool was open, so I hopped in and did a couple laps.  My REC center pool has been closed since late August, and I had gotten zero swims in the two weeks leading up to the race.  Quickly getting in 50 yards in the pool reminded me that yes, I know how to swim.  An athlete with an electric violin played the national anthem, and that was actually the first time I remembered that it was 9/11.  Before I could worry or dwell about anything they started calling out cap colors, and we lined up. The waves went out 90 seconds apart, and I was in wave 6.  Go time!

SWIM:

  • 1500m, 41:06 (2:44/100 yards)
  • Gear - Coeur Sports Lakota kit, Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 mirrored goggles
  • Nutrition - Honey Stinger Caramel Waffle
How awesome is my family?  I actually managed to spot this sign while I was swimming

How awesome is my family?  I actually managed to spot this sign while I was swimming

It was part of my plan to swim easy, but I was really surprised at how slow my time was.  I mean, I wasn’t getting out of breath or pushing hard, but I’m not accustomed to that level of exertion equaling such a slow speed.   The wasn’t a crowded swim, but I was also always quite close to others, if that makes sense.  More people around than at Harborfest, but not some kind of underwater boxing match.  Although, around the second and third buoys it got pretty intense.  This was the point where I had caught up with the slow men from the wave before me, and was getting caught by the fast men from the wave behind. I got slugged in the head twice and kicked a few times, which was unpleasant. At one point I started kicking really hard to get some ham fisted dude out of my way. No real harm, though. Sighting was much easier with my tinted goggles, so I was glad I had them. I did sight off of the wrong buoy at one point, and got slightly off course, but not too bad.  Sadly, the open water app for the Vivoactive is quite inaccurate for distance, so it's hard for me to say how far I actually swam.  Overall, I never felt nervous, scared, or anything like that. I just felt like the shoreline was taking its sweet time to approach!

T1:

  • 4:03
  • Nutrition - GU Triberry washed down with double strength Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix in Lemons + Limes

Eventually the swim was over, and after swimming up the super slimy boat ramp and getting a hand from a fantastic volunteer, I was off and transitioning.  I trotted over to my bike, wiped off my feet, and got the shoe/sunglass/helmet situation taken care off.  My handling skills aren’t strong enough to count on being able to eat on board yet, so I took my gel while still in T1, then headed out to ride

BIKE:

  • 24.8 miles, 1:42:04 (14.58mph)
  • Gear - Diamondback Podium 1 bike, Trek Vapor 3 helmet
Finishing up the Second Loop

Finishing up the Second Loop

A three loop course with no real climbs or flats, just roller after roller.  It is a fun course, and the first loop started off great.  As I headed out of T1 I saw J smiling at me.  I smiled back, and never really stopped smiling for the whole first loop.  Then, somewhere during the second loop, my front derailleur stopped working.  I was stuck in the granny gear, which was okay, if a bit overkill, for most of the climbs.  I was also forced to coast much more than I wanted to.  I fiddled and fiddled, and managed to shift up….and promptly got stuck there.  That made the climbs much harder than I wanted them to be, and there was a terrible noise coming from my bike.  I was so happy to have friends and family on the course.  My parents, brother, J, and even my friend K’s mom were all out cheering for me, and it was so helpful in keeping my attitude in check as I struggled with my bike.  My bike is my weakness, so I knew I was going to lose a fair amount of ground on the bike, but I wound up losing even more than I planned.  Everything thinned out quite a bit during my third loop, and I even started to wonder if I was the last person out there.  Yet still, spectators and volunteers were at most of the corners, cheering.  It was incredible!  As I approached the high school I made a left turn, and headed down toward T2.  I was ready to run!

T2:

  • 2:46
  • Nutrition - About ⅓ pack of Skratch Labs Raspberry Fruit Drops washed down with double strength Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix in Lemons + Limes

I got a little lost coming into transition. There were so many bikes, and I got confused about where I was going. Once I found my place, I racked my bike, grabbed my hat and number belt....then proceeded to stand there and stuff my face!  Next season’s big goal is to be able to eat and drink on the bike.

RUN:

  • 6.2 miles, 1:25:07 (13:44 min/mile)
  • Gear - Vivobarefoot Stealth II shoes, Nike drifit run hat, Oakley Half Jacket sunglasses
  • Nutrition - ⅓ pack Skratch Labs Raspberry Fruit Drops, water at each of the 6 aid stations
Favorite finish line to date

Favorite finish line to date

Once I gave myself permission to take walk breaks, my “run” sort of fell apart.  I would have been far better served if I had set up some regimented run/walk breaks for myself instead.  The run course was on the shaded trails of Reston, which meant either going up, going down, or twisting round.  So pretty!  My muscles, and even my blistered feet, felt fine. Rather it was my breathing/cardio that kept me from being able to run.  There were a couple points where my lips felt tingly.  What is that about?  I trucked along feeling fairly awful for the first couple miles, but got a great boost when I saw my parents and brother somewhere near mile 2.  Miles 3-5 went well.  When I was moving, I was feeling good and getting it done.  I walked up the small hills, as my back and shoulders had been feeling tight since the bike, and my back spasmed a little if I tried to run up the hills.  There was one last monster hill toward the stadium, and I had to climb that.  After the fact, I realized that all the spectators could see that, so next year I’ll remember to run.  But then it was down to the stadium, and a victory lap of sorts to the finish line.  And what a beautiful finish line it was.  I heard my family cheering, and smiled big the whole home stretch.  Finished!

Cool Down:

Immediately after crossing the finish line I was given an icy cold washcloth wrapped around a bottle of water.  So nice!  I also got a beautiful medal (prettiest of the season by far!) and a running hat.  I found my family, and someone (my dad?) set up a camp chair for me to sit in.  I tried to drink some of my beloved chocolate milk, but I had to stop for fear that it wouldn’t stay down.  My skin was entirely crusted over with salt.  My body felt pretty stiff, but more than anything I felt quite stupid.  Clearly I had left my brain somewhere out on the run course.  Once I felt good enough to move around, I hobbled my way to the car, and my family and I went to Be Right Burger for a celebratory lunch.  

Event Thoughts:

Overall, I recommend the event.  The volunteers were plentiful on race day, and always seemed to know exactly the right thing I needed to hear to keep pushing.  There were some information issues that could use improvement.  I couldn’t find any information about water stations on the run, so asked on Facebook.  I was told there was water at the turnaround, so imagine my surprise when there were actually 3 water stations on the out and back course, making for 6 opportunities for water or Gatorade.  Asking on Facebook was also how I found out when transition opened.  While I appreciate how promptly my questions were answered, it would have been preferable if I hadn’t needed to ask at all.  Having two transition is a bit annoying, and it’s lame that we can’t swim in the lake except during the event.  Back on the bright side, can we talk about the swag?! All told, I got a New Balance long sleeve tech shirt, tech socks, Scattante Bliss sunglasses, a multitool, a washcloth, and a finisher hat. And did I mention the really pretty medal?

So. Much. Swag!  And so much of it is stuff I can actually use! Well done, Reston Tri

So. Much. Swag!  And so much of it is stuff I can actually use! Well done, Reston Tri

Goals & Race Post-Mortem

Goals for this race were as follows:

Swim Smooth

Ride Smart

Run Strong

Smile

I’d say two out of four.  I swam smooth, and I definitely smiled.  I thought I was riding smart, but my mechanical issues had me working harder than I wanted to.  Looking back at my HR data, my average HR was 169 bpm for the entire leg.  Based off the zones I set up from my bike LT test, that’s Zone 5.  Way too hard.  No wonder I wasn’t able to touch my goal of “Run Strong.”  Kind of hard to run when you’ve completely depleted yourself on the bike, no?  At least the most important goal (SMILE!) was easy to meet.

For my race O.W.L. based on my time goals, my 3:55:04 earns me a grade of Poor.  You’d think that would make me unhappy.  I guess there is a part of me that is disappointed.  Sure, I wish I’d been faster.  On the other hand, how can I not be happy?  There’s nothing like a finish line, and this was the best day ever!  I can’t wait to improve my bike and run fitness over the winter.  I’m also looking forward to racing next season, improving my execution on the bike leg so I can actually run the whole 10k next time.  My brain is crowded full of exciting plans, not the least of which is that since this is a local race, I get to come back year after year to gauge my improvement!

Currently - June 2016

I’m pretty sure I say this every month, but time is just flying!  June was a fun month, starting off with my return to triathlon.  Besides tri-life, I spent my time as usual, in the kitchen and in front of the tv.

Eating:

Grain Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Basil – I swapped in whole wheat israeli couscous in place of the wheat berries.  45 minutes is too long to wait for wheat berries to cook, thank you very much.  I packed this up for lunches at work, served with a couple hard boiled eggs on the side.  It was bright and light, and tasted very much the way a summer grain salad should.  I highly recommend it for a 4th of July picnic, or as a side for anything grilled.  That being said, next time I plan to do some substitutions to get the fiber and protein count up, because I was hankering for a snack by the time the bowl was empty.  Not a good standalone entrée.

Can't wait to give this another go, with a few tweaks

Can't wait to give this another go, with a few tweaks

Jicama – I’ve had jicama before, but never actually in a recipe.  It is crunchy and juicy, but savory.  In the past I’ve cut it into sticks and snacked on it like I would red pepper strips or carrot.  For father’s day I was bringing this Chilled Black Bean, Feta & Cucumber Salad, but my dad is not a fan of cucumbers.  The crunch of jicama played nicely with the rest of the gang, and I would gladly do this swap again.  The only thing that was a little odd is that the squares of white jicama looked at first glance like the feta, so you do lose a little color.

I swear this salad is mostly beans....they're just at the bottom of the bowl here

I swear this salad is mostly beans....they're just at the bottom of the bowl here

Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives – We’ll file this one away under things NOT to make for Dad, since there is a lot of cucumber in this one.  I get big time cravings for salty food, and I’ve found that this salad is the perfect remedy.  Between the olives and the feta….so good!  I eat this on its own for lunch.  My trick for keeping the mint from wilting in the dressing is to add it in each day before mixing and eating at my desk.  I pack up the salad in containers during my Sunday prep, then pluck off the mint leaves and lay them gently on top of the salad.  Come lunchtime I rip the mint apart, stir it up, and go to town.

I can't believe it was only a year ago that I first tried lentils.  So quick and so yummy.

I can't believe it was only a year ago that I first tried lentils.  So quick and so yummy.

Chocolate Milk – Well done, chocolate milk marketing team!  Between Crowie and Rinny shilling for this as a recovery beverage, and my overwhelming desire to have all the chocolate, all the time, we’re officially going through at least half a gallon of this stuff a week.

Watching:

Silicon Valley – So J got an HBO Go invite, which came just in time for Game of Thrones to start up in the spring (see below.)  The added advantage has been all the other neat shows we’ve been able to watch.  Silicon Valley is a short (episodes are 30 minutes) comedy about a group of engineers trying to make the next big thing happen in Silicon Valley.  They fail, they succeed, they beta test.   J loves it because…engineering! IT! Inside jokes!  I like it because it is funny, and real, and the characters are wonderful.  Jared is my favorite.  If you have HBO but aren’t watching this, give it a go.

Game of Thrones – I loved this most recent season!  I felt like season 5 dragged a bit, but I never felt that from season 6.  You can tell that they're tightening up the sprawling story lines of previous seasons, so they can bring the story to a close.  The cinematography of the last two episodes was excellent.  The CGI looks good, too.  Sometimes the dragons were looking a bit cringe-worthy, but not so this time around.

The Fabulous Ice Age – This documentary chronicles a time when ice skating shows were THE form of family entertainment.  Performers could choose to be ice skaters, and not only would it be a legitimate profession, it would enable them to see the world.  As ice shows fell out of favor, it is sad in the interviews to see how it meant a real change of plans for some people.  Scott Hamilton had always wanted to be in the shows as a pro, but if no one was coming, what was he going to do?  If you’re a fan of ice skating, this is a lovely watch.

I guess my June was pretty action packed as far as training, as I didn’t seem to have much time for anything else.  Who am I kidding?  I’m not one of those people that has big adventures.  I don’t head out every weekend looking for the next great restaurant, the cool new musical, or the undiscovered hiking trails.  I swim/bike/run, then I eat and snuggle with my J in front of the telly.  Life is good.

In the Zone (Part 2) – The Test

Nothing will work unless you do.
— Maya Angelou

Indeed!  I did some serious work on Saturday.  My LT field test was a bit scary, a little painful, and above all, empowering.  There isn’t a feeling much better than overcoming something that had you mentally up against a wall.  My LT test had me unreasonably worried.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t pace myself well, that the results wouldn’t be worthwhile, or that I would collapse and throw up.  If any of these things had happened, it wouldn’t have been a failure, just a learning experience.  Yet in my mind, I had worked it up to catastrophic proportions.  One day I will experience a sports related failure, and at that time I will overcome it, I’m sure.  Fortunately, yesterday I executed well.

My plan had been to head over the high school across the street and run this test on the track.  I jogged over to the school as my warm up, and was dismayed to find that all the gates were locked.  What?  I could have sworn I’d seen runners on the track early on weekend mornings last summer.  Due to the hills, I didn’t want to run my usual routes in the neighborhoods, so decided in the moment to do loops around the high school parking lot.  Each loop took me about 8 minutes to run, and there was only a slight elevation change.

The thirty minute time trial began.  I tried to pace myself slower than I thought I should go for the first five minutes.  Even so, I was moving faster than I had run in quite some time.  I continued with the test, trying to focus on keeping my shoulders relaxed and my breathing even.  After ten minutes I hit the lap button, so that I would be able to check my average heart rate for the final 20 minutes of the test.  Mentally I kept checking in.  How am I feeling?  How’s my turnover?  Am I pushing the same now I was did a few minutes ago?  I noticed my breathing switch from my usual count of in-3-out-2 to in-2-out-1.  The last five minutes I tried to give it everything I had, focusing hard to keep myself from slowing down.  I was pouring sweat and felt like I was on fire!  As the last few minutes ticked by, I noticed a guy run into the parking lot from the neighborhood.  He ducked into an unseen alcove, opened a gate that I hadn’t noticed before, and headed down to the track.  Ugh, really?  Luckily I only had to run hard for a couple more minutes, then the test was over.  I walked a little ways, getting my heart rate back down, then slowly trotted the rest of the way home.

Once I got inside, I got down to the business of recovery.  In this case, I sucked down some nuun and sipped a chocolate milk.  I did get a little bit off track at that point, and while I was still cooling down before hitting the shower, I found myself answering the siren song that is salt & vinegar potato chips.  So good!

Does Lay's sponsor athletes? Because I would be all over that!

Does Lay's sponsor athletes? Because I would be all over that!

I believe my LT test went very well.  I didn’t puke.  I saw a max heart rate of 193, which sounds kind of freaky high.  I felt completely fine though!  To each heart their own, I suppose.  After getting everything uploaded, I checked the average heart rate from the last 20 minutes of the test.  That number is my lactate threshold, and is used to determine my training zones.  So there we go.  Starting next week I’m ready to start Zone 2 training in earnest.  I’ll do another LT test in about 6-8 weeks.  I’m so excited to see what kind of progress I make through the summer and into the fall!

week in review: Olympic Distance Training, Week 1

I haven’t done a week in review for a couple weeks!  I didn’t do a review for my final week leading into the Reston Sprint, since it was just a bunch of taper.  Then I took the week after the race completely off.  There was no scheduled off season for me over the winter, so I felt I needed a bit of a break before regrouping into Olympic distance training.  The specific event is still TBD, but I have 13 weeks until race weekend.  This week was a lower volume, to get me back into the mindset of real training.

My totals:

Swim - 2:19:40, 5200 yards

Bike - 1:02:36, 18.78 miles

Run - 1:09:46, 5-45 miles

 

Monday

  • Swim - 49:05, 1850 yards

    • 150 w/u :60
    • 4x25 kick :15
    • 4x50 drill :20 (fingertip drag and thumb drag)
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 1x200 swim :60
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 4x50 drill :20
    • 4x25 kick :15
    • 100 c/d

This was my first day back in the water after my week off, and I was feeling good.  There was nothing notable about this workout, just getting it done. I didn't worry about speed, and focused on a high elbow pull and body rotation. I spent a few minutes in the hot tub and then I was on to start the day. Getting out of bed was rough, but once I hit the water I was happy.

I went back to my usual applesauce before the workout and everything sat nicely. I had tri-berry nuun at poolside, and a chocolate milk in the car on the way to the office. Stomach felt good!

  • Trainer Ride - 32:34, Aerobic Intervals
    • 5 min w/u
    • 4x (4 min @85%, 3 min easy)
    • Cool down

Holy sweatfest, so that's what working on the trainer is supposed to feel like. My HR zones were estimated, so I need to do a test soon. The time just flew by. Granted 30 minutes on the bike is easy now, but still, it was nice to not feel bored. I can't believe I didn't look into intervals sooner.

Tuesday

  • Run - 17:16, 1.36 miles

Low humidity! Partly cloudy! 60 degrees! What a gorgeous morning to get my running feet back under me. It was a little tough to get going, but nothing too bad. I could tell I took a week off, so mentally it's a bit alarming how fast my running legs disappear.

Loved the look of these little yellow guys next to the pale purples ones.

Loved the look of these little yellow guys next to the pale purples ones.

  • Post Run Stretch
  • Functional Strength - 50 minutes
    • 1/4 mile walk warm up
    • ankle/foot routine
    • myrtls
    • pedestal 1
    • 1/4 mile walk cool down

Wednesday

  • Swim - 46:15, 1850 yards
    • 250 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

I didn't realize until I started how long the rests were in this workout.  Despite not really wanting to, I did it as written, figuring the great Sara McLarty knows far more than me. :)

Average pace was 1:55 for the 400 swim, which is :01/100 faster than my last workout and on race day. Consistent!

  • Trainer Ride - 30:02, LT Intervals
    • 5 min warm up
    • 8x (2 min @ 95% max, 1 minute easy)
    • Cool down

Getting up to the right HR zone is hard work in just two minutes, and I definitely worked harder on the trainer than I ever had in the past.  There was loads of sweat, and even a few moments where I had to tell myself to hang on. This was hard, but I loved it!

It took them four days to completely dry after the race, but I'm back in my beloved Stealths.

It took them four days to completely dry after the race, but I'm back in my beloved Stealths.

Thursday

  • Run - 23:04, 1.79 miles

Ugh, could it just rain already! The humidity was so thick that my fingers were actually sticking together. My calves felt like iron ropes at first, then the started loosening up, just in time for the run to be over. I am planning to do an LT test at the track once school lets out. I think I'm ready.

  • Post Run Stretch

My groin feels tight, along with my right outer hip.

  • Functional Strength - 50 minutes
    • 1/4 mile walk warm up
    • ankle/foot routine
    • pedestal 1
    • myrtls
    • 1/4 mile walk cool down

My right hip was really cranky all day, and doing the myrtls was tough.

Friday (Active Recovery Day)

  • Swim - 44:20, 1500 yards
    • 200 warm up
    • 6x50 2x(kick, drill, swim) :45
    • 6x50 2x(back, breast, free) :60
    • 6x50 descend 1-3, 4-6 on 2:00 (really....on 2? I might as well move to the pool and live there)
    • 300 as 2x(50 kick, 100 swim)
    • 100 cool down

I did not want to go to the pool this morning, but told myself to go it would be a short swim.  Active recovery day, and all, right? Sara McLarty's workout had other ideas, as it included so. much. rest. 50s on 2:00?! I also forgot to hit start for my warmup, so Garmin only recorded 1100 yards and 44ish minutes, so who knows how long it really took me to cover the 1500. As for the swim itself, I just wasn't feeling it. My back was feeling a bit off, I was tired, and mostly I just let my bad mood spoil the workout. Bah!

  • Foam Rolling

Whole body, including hips. My calves were tender, but everything else felt pretty good. My quads and inner thighs need more work next time.

Saturday

  • Run - 29:36, 2.30 miles

70, sunny, and humid. I can only imagine what it will be like later in the summer! I slowed way down because of the heat, and decided to have a nice easy run. Besides feeling like a slowpoke, it was good. I do have a scraped up toe on my left foot...guess I need to tape it up to prevent it rubbing in its neighbor? Or maybe some extra Aquaphor?

  • Post Run Stretch

Sunday

  • Unscheduled Rest Day

I was supposed to ride for an hour, but sat on the couch for “just a minute.”  The next thing I knew I needed to hustle to get to Father’s Day.  It never feels good to miss a workout, but I had a wonderful long visit at my parents’ house.  No guilt here!

This week started off strong, and went well.  I do wish I’d gotten on one or the other of my bikes this weekend, but I feel ready to hit the ground running for the first build of this training cycle.  My new strength training program was a bit more than I was expecting, so I struggled with DOMS pretty hard.  My calves were tender to the touch for a few days, but they’ve come around.  My right outer hip is feeling quite stiff.  I’m not sure if it is soreness from the myrtls, or if perhaps it is something else.  How it responds to this next week should give me an idea of what’s going on.  Speaking of next week, here we go!  The volume only goes up from here, with plenty more milestones to start checking off on the way to Oly distance.