Sunday, July 13, 2014

Minneapolis Life Time Tri

            This past weekend I raced in the big Minneapolis Life Time Tri.  Up to this point in my racing career, it would be the biggest and most competitive race I’ve competed in.  How competitive?  This was the first race that there was a designated pro field for men and women.  Then there was an elite field, and then the Age Group competitors (aka the field for “normal” people – that was me).  I did have some big goals for this race though.  I was shooting for a total time of 2:20, which, based upon past year’s results, I felt could also make me the top Age Grouper overall (another goal), and I also wanted to make the top 10 overall (including the elite women).  Read on to see how it all shook out on race day.
            We had fairly perfect weather for competing.  It was pretty warm and muggy out, but the skies were overcast and there was only a slight breeze.  This made for calm waters, and I’m always in favor of not battling winds out on the bike either!  I FINALLY pulled off a fast swim split (my fastest pace ever for a longer swim portion).  It felt phenomenal to come out of the water ahead of my estimated goal time for the swim – and I felt good during it too!  A few things contributed to the drop in time.  One, in the past two weeks I’ve only been doing open water swims, so while I was missing out on some pool speed, I definitely got really comfortable swimming in the open water and I think that benefited me on race day.  Two, I used an anti-fog spray on my swim goggles for the first time in a race.  All these years I’ve been swimming with foggy goggles and felt like a blind swimmer out there.  Silly me.  I’m hooked on the stuff now!  Third, I worked with Coach Koch (a phenomenal swim coach) a few weeks ago and he made some big changes and improvements to my stroke.  I wish I made these changes earlier!  I feel like a much stronger swimmer as a result, and I credit my time drop mainly to Coach.  So the swim went well (except the minor incident when a guy threw his arm around my neck and nearly drowned me).
            Transition was super long, and I wasn’t the quickest in the first place either, so that would hurt my overall time, but so far I was sitting good and ready to hit it hard on the bike!  My bike goal time was a 1:05.  We were warned that since this was an urban race and it was a rough winter, that the roads were in rough condition and we were to be cautious.  They ended up being way worse than I could have imagined, and I was even knocked off my aero bars two or three times.  There were some sections that were smoother sailing, but for the most part, it was by far the roughest route I’ve ever biked.  We were also warned about the super sharp turns, and they were also worse than I was anticipating, and there were many turns, which meant more slowing down than what I would have liked.  There were also a ton of bikers out there that I had to get around, as the course was crowded with competitors.  I felt strong and aggressive, but I had to do too many surges in order to pass people.  I ended up coming in close to my bike goal (but came in almost 2 minutes behind), and if I wouldn’t have been FORCED to slow down or back off so much, I think I could have hit it.
            Nevertheless, I still felt fairly positive about how I could still do, despite knowing it would be tough to hit 2:20 at this point.  For some reason though when it came to the run, I just could not put it together.  I held steady at a slower pace for the first loop (it was a two-loop course).  I picked it up a little at the start of the second lap after a woman, who was in my Age Group, passed me.  I couldn’t hold the faster pace, but was able to pass another woman.  I finished the 10K portion a minute slower than what I was hoping (with one of my slowest triathlon 10K times), and finished in 2:21:56.  Even just one minute faster and I would have been the top Age Grouper, but instead I ended up as 3rd Age Grouper Overall, 2nd in my Age Group, and 11th Overall.  So close!  The Top Age Grouper was less than a minute ahead of me even. 
Sure, I can look back the race and think of all the ways I could have cut that minute too (first of all, I should have just ran a minute faster, or cut time off that awful transition time!), but when it comes down to it, I raced hard and that’s what matters.  I can definitely evaluate the race and think of things that I can try to do better (and faster) next time, but I can’t live with regrets about how I performed at the race.  It was tough, and while I fell short of most of my goals, I still had fun and I gave it my best on that day.  It just didn’t all come together for me as I hoped, but I have the next races to focus on, and I hope that it will come together when I really need it to.  Looking back at Minneapolis, I still feel pretty stoked about my swim split (and even my bike split in those conditions), and it leaves me feeling excited for the next BIG race – USAT Nationals in Milwaukee on August 9th!

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