Wikipedia defines self-destruct as follows:
A mechanism (protocol or device) that can cause an object to destroy itself within a predefined set of circumstances. The self-destruct mechanism is usually the most complete way to destroy the object.
I was blessed to have been born a pretty healthy person, save for two congenital disorders: horrific allergies and an internal self-destruct mechanism. The latter being a more insidious condition than the former. Sometimes, when experiencing difficulty, instead of having a rational perspective on the situation, I completely self-destruct and melt down. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about managing this, but it’s still something I struggle with. So, imagine when my two disorders converged!
Two months of off-and-on strong allergic reactions did a REAL number on confidence leading into my race. My training felt inconsistent; a sporadic series of fits and starts. I also was putting a lot of pressure on myself about the two recent investments I made in myself: coaching and a new bike. What if I bombed this race? Did that mean I wasted my money? Would I be bringing shame upon my coach? Would Mike regret agreeing to buy me a new bike? I was totally self-destructing!!
It finally dawned on me that I was having test anxiety; just like I used to before final exams in college. And just like I did in college, I needed to trust that all the months of preparation leading up to the big exam would allow for a good showing. There were times where my test results didn't reveal how hard I worked all semester, and I'm sure I'll experience that with triathlon, but the Oktoberfest Olympic Triathlon was NOT that time! My coach set out some race paces that I, honestly, didn't know if I could reach, but I nailed every single one!
This one always fills me with the most anxiety. I've had great starts that go smoothly, and have had others that included a panic attack. I’m happy to say that this one was great! Since starting coaching, I have been swimming without my iPod. This was not because my coach forced it, he actually doesn’t mind if I use it, but I chose to fully focus on swimming without distractions. I think several months of listening to nothing but the sound of my own breathing really helped me on race day, since that's all you have to listen to! Especially since the water was really dark, so visual perception is pretty much gone, so auditory perception is heightened. In the 4 years I've been doing triathlon, this was the most comfortable and strongest I've felt in the water. I think this comfort in the water allowed me to do the best open water sighting I’ve ever done. I also think the razor sharp optics of my Roka R1s helped.
Coach John set my race pace goal at 2:13 min/100 m, and I did 2:11. I was conservative with my swim, so as to not risk getting panicky in the water.
T1 and T2
My last race was at Ironman 70.3 Texas in April. Since then, I got a new bike, watch and head unit. So, I'm blaming the train wrecks that were my transitions on being rusty and having new gear. I accidentally started the bike segment on my watch while crossing the timing mat into T1. I also thought I had auto-stop enabled on my head unit, so I didn't hit stop on it when I racked my bike. Well, I didn't and the tracking ran for an additional hour or so until transition opened to check out my gear. Ugh.
I was completely discombobulated in T2. I racked my bike in the wrong direction. I forgot to open up my bib belt before the race started, so I fumbled around trying to get the buckle opened. The thing that threw me for the biggest loop was my hat. I couldn't get it on over my race braids. So, I kept making the snap closure bigger and bigger and it wouldn't fit. FINALLY, on the 3rd try, I got it to slide on, but messing with that made me forget my Base salts and GU packet in transition. Like I said, TRAIN WRECK!
Overall, I had a great ride. I studied the course to look at the turns and tried to strategize where to hammer it given the headwinds (10 mph+ from the northeast). This race was going to be my first real ride on my new bike, so I was curious how it would perform. I felt very comfortable and strong on La Vitesse. I tried to be mindful of fueling and hydrating on the bike. Unfortunately, I ran out of Honey Stinger chews in the last 5-8 miles. This was bad timing, because that’s where the few rolling hills were. I didn't get to power up them the way I usually would, but managed them ok.
I need to work on getting my calories in on the bike so I don't run into this problem again. This was a problem I struggled with all summer. I guess the experimenting continues.
I also think my bike fit needs a little tweaking. I did a bike fitting with Phillip Shama which helped a lot with getting into a much more aero position. But, I felt a little too stretched out, making it a little harder to lift my head. So the Friday before my race, Mike put on a slightly shorter stem and raised me up a little bit. I took the new fit for a quick 25-minute ride on Saturday and felt less stretched out and my neck felt more comfortable. However, the body part that was sorest (most sore?) the day after the race was my neck and upper back. I never had this issue on my old bike, so I think La Vitesse needs some more work to get her to fit perfectly.
Coach John set my race pace goal at 20.3 mph and I was just shy of it at 19.8 mph.
I loved every second of this run! I was a little nervous when I realized I didn’t have my GU packet, especially since I ran out of nutrition on the bike, but God provided and there was a Honey Stinger gel packet on the ground in the first ¼ mile of the run and I snatched it up! Chocolate isn’t a flavor I would do again, but as they say “Beggars can’t be choosers.” It gave me the extra little boost I needed to get my legs going. This course was beautiful with lots of trees lining the path and the temperature was nice and mild. I literally remember thinking how much I was enjoying this run. The ONLY complaint I have is that I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to. I had pain in my right calf all week leading up to the race and it just wouldn’t let me go harder. But, that’s a small complaint for a great day.
Coach John set my race pace goal at 8:25 minute miles, and my pace was 8:11 minute miles.
This race was just great fun! I got to race with friends new and old, and that was a true blessing. It takes the sting out of being passed on the bike when it’s your friends! :-) Cherry on the sundae was that I placed 3rd in my age group. And, there were more than 3 people in my AG! LOL! This race was a big deposit in the confidence bank and a great way to end my 2016 season!