It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to do a pre-Tri Nats benchmarking race that’s a National Championship in my home state. Especially when it’s in a beautiful location like Lake Logan. The plan was to test out my swim speed and endurance for 1500 meters and see if I could pull off a sub-20 5k after. Hopefully, the results would lend me some confidence as I enter the final build up to Tri Nats in Tuscaloosa later this month.
Funny thing is that after seeing the splits and results, I do feel a little better than I did during the race. During the event, my biggest demons were the nearly endless plaguing thoughts to slow down, this hurts, it’s too hard and what have I done signing up for Tuscaloosa? An Olympic is too long. It’s going to hurt. I’ m going to get my butt kicked. Whaa! Oh CRAP. Score a C- for mental focus on this one.
The thing about a National Championship Aquathlon that isn’t within a couple days of a National Championship Triathlon is that the level of swim talent is higher. Yes, even though the turnout numbers are low, those that did show up can swim. So you can imagine my surprise when I got a fastish start and ended up out in front of the main pack at the beginning. Ummmm…thank you 2XU wetsuit? I saw some bubbling kick in front of me, latched on, then quickly realized that I was out of my league. Oops. No worries, because when I ease up there are plenty of swimmer girls around to take the lead.
Short story is that I stayed in a pack, gradually dropping back as I went. That plus a navigational error towards the end put me in the back of the chase pack. I figured I was in 10th or so, which is kind of far back, but not by much except for the two girls off the front.
Verdict on swim performance against goals? Speed good, endurance not terrible but could be better (especially since Tuscaloosa won’t be in a wetsuit), and confidence not so great. I will say that I sucked it up and still hung tough during the swim despite the negative thoughts. Shame I had to spend energy fighting that silliness though.
So out of the water (not very gracefully) and onto land. I can’t emphasize the importance of a quick transition enough. You can see how in a close race like this the final placing could have been much different if I’d been slower in transition or others had been faster. Out of the water in 12th and out of transition in 6th and in 5th before I hit the pavement. I didn’t even have an ideal rack position or anything either.
At the beginning of the run, I wasn’t feeling confident that I could get myself to the front of the race. Based on the response from Gary on the side of the road, at the beginning I realized I had a shot. As I began to reel in some ladies, I began to feel better about my chances. Then I was in 2nd and couldn’t yet see #1. Until I approached the turnaround. She looked like she was at least 15 seconds up and moving well.
The run course is gradual uphill, then turn around and run back down, so I tried to keep my feet moving as quickly as possible. My breathing was ragged. I hurt something awful. I pushed and pushed and fought my mental demons. I had a couple guys around me that were running my pace, so that was nice to have company.
In the end, I was 13 seconds short of the leader and 5 seconds short of running sub-20. To be honest, based on how that run felt, I was surprised I got that close. Funny thing is that I’m more disappointed about missing my sub-20 goal than I am about finishing a close 2nd. I mean, let’s be honest shall we? It’s not like 3rd and 4th were very far behind. They were right there ready to capitalize on any misstep I might make. I’m fortunate to move as far up the field as I did.
I’m trying not to think too much about how different the race would have been if I had my pre-baby run speed. I don’t, and that’s that. All I can do is try to work on it and maybe once Remy’s not nursing as much anymore things will be different. Maybe not. Who knows.
Verdict on the run as a confidence builder for Tuscaloosa? Not so much, but could be worse. The idea that a dig-deep, personally satisfying performance would involve running close to that speed for twice as long in HEAT instead of cool temps and rain is a bit nerve wracking. I’d say there’s some run speed work on tap for the next couple weeks so I can better embrace the pain.
Oh, and hey guess what? I was first finisher in my age group, so I’m Age Group National Champ. Ha ha! To you grumblers who say well, that was a small race and couldn’t possibly be that competitive, well you gotta show up before you can win. At least I showed up.