Do you ever wonder how your winter training stacks up, and if you are really doing enough in the “off season” to prepare for the “on season”? Well the first triathlon of the season will definitely let you know. This years Icebreaker triathlon was no exception for me. It was my first tri in a slew of races on my schedule this season and a pivotal moment. Why is this years “Icebreaker” more significant than previous seasons, you might ask? Because, this year being on a racing team I have the pressure and goal of qualifying for age group nationals in Burlington Vermont in August. How I do in this race will let me know where I am at in my training and whether or not I am going to make my goal. This race gave me a lot of information.
I unfortunately had been really sick for the last week and a half and had a death in the family, so I was not going into the race feeling top notch. I was nervous about how it was going to go since I hadn't done a real workout in a week in a half. That isn't a real confidence builder going into a race. The morning of the race rolled around and I woke up early since I was having trouble sleeping and got ready. I arrived at 6am to claim my transition spot, and was able to snag one next to my team mates on the rack right next to the bike out. I was pretty stoked because this was the best transition spot I have had in a race. I noticed when I was wandering in and out of transition setting up, that there wasn't any security there yet, and anyone could have access to the transition area. That made me a little nervous, but I figured security would probably arrive soon. I went and got my timing chip and got marked with my number and headed inside the fitness center to decompress. I headed to the pool and talked to some of my team mates and dipped my feet in the hot tub. At 7:15am hoped in the pool and warmed up for 15 minutes to relieve my nerves and warm up my muscles. At 7:30am I got out and got ready for the race. I headed outside for the pre-race meeting and joined up with my team mates and listened to the race directors make all the announcements. I really appreciated the sense of humor and all the funny jokes. It really helped relax me for the race. When I went back to my spot, there was finally security at the transition area, so I felt a little safer having my stuff out.
We headed into the pool and lined up according to our projected times. The swim started and they started swimmers every 5 sec. I was impressed with how well organized it was and how smoothly it was flowing. The only hic up I noticed when I was waiting for my turn, was that lane one was really wide and lane two was really narrow. So there was some congestion in lane two. Fortunately for me that cleared up by the time it was my turn. The timer sent me off so I hoped in the pool and away I went. I had a really great swim and passed a lot of people. It was a real confidence builder since I was worried about my swim. I don't feel like a particularly fast swimmer and have had to work really hard at it. I finished my swim in about 6:30 and hopped out of the pool grabbed my towel and ran to transition while drying off. I appreciated how clear cut the path to the transition area was from the pool so there was no confusion. As I was running, I felt very fatigued and definitely could tell that I had been sick. I was very de-conditioned! I got to my spot and hurried to get ready. I was pretty stoked to try out my new Cannondale Slice TT bike since it was brand new. I haven't seen how she performs in a race yet, so here was my moment. I put on my shoes and helmet, and took off.
The bike was a but kicker at the beginning during the big hill, but after that hurdle, I got in my groove and had a pretty good bike. I was really impressed how well my Cannondale was performing and how effortless the course felt on my new bike compared to my road bike. That bike made all the difference. There was quite a headwind on the alpine highway, so I didn't get to spend as much time in aero position as I would have liked, but that is ok. I would have rather had the headwind going down hill, instead of uphill. I appreciated the traffic control and how smoothly it made my bike portion go. I didn't have to worry about getting hit. So that was a nice plus. I finished the bike and came to the dismount area. I was directed by the volunteers where to get off. They were very helpful in making things clear. I hopped off my bike and ran it through the transition area. The Bike portion took me 40 min which was about 2-3 minutes slower than I would have liked, but It was all I could muster.
I ran to T2 and got ready for the run and away I went. T1 took me 1:09 so I could definitely use some more practice on my transitions. The first mile particularly the big hill made me realize that I definitely need to do more bricks. I could definitely tell that I was still slightly sick, and I had to mentally talk myself through every step of the run. I eventually ran by the aid station grabbed my water on the go and headed towards the finish. My calves started to cramp up after I hit the Alpine highway, but I just kept pushing through. The downhill on the alpine highway made the run seem a little less painful and soon I reached the end. I sprinted to the end and finished strong and collapsed on the ground. I ended up finishing the run in 28:33 which was about 3 and a half minutes slower than I anticipated I would finish it in, but oh well. I did the race as fast as I possibly could have that day and was pretty happy with my performance considering all the obstacles I had faced the last two weeks. I received my finishers medal as soon as I crossed the finish line and a bottle of water. I really liked the finishers medal by the way. It is by far the coolest finisher's medal I have ever received.
The awards ceremony was fun, and entertaining. I had a lot of fun hanging out with all my team mates socializing, taking pictures, and comparing race notes. It is really a lot of fun doing a race with a bunch of friends and team mates and I am glad I got to participate. I am really proud of them. Six of our team qualified for nationals and almost everyone made it on the podium. I was sad that I didn't quite make it, but that's ok, maybe next time.
I ended up finishing 5th in my age group with a time of 18:33 and was disappointed at first but now I am ok with it. I figure all the obstacles I had, it was pretty dang good. My goal before the race was to get to do the race in 1:15 or under and get on the podium. I think I possibly could have made both of those goals if I hadn't had such a terrible week but that's ok. I think 5th out of 13 was pretty solid.
The thing I learned from this race is that I have some weaknesses I need to work on to improve and qualify for nationals. I need to do more bricks, and I need to do more hill repeats. I also need to practice my transitions a little bit more, and make some changes to my gear.
I also learned I have a lot of strengths that I was not aware of and that qualifying for nationals is within my grasp. I learned that I am doing a lot better than I give myself credit for. I was sick for a week and a half, spent the night before the race watching a grandparent die, and I still managed to show up for the race and come in 5th. I cut over 20 minutes off my sprint times from my last season, and came in top half of the pack instead of the bottom like I used to. So coach Keena's training is really working!!!! I realized if I keep working hard, I think I can realistically qualify for nationals next month. I just need to take another 4 minutes off my time for Woman of Steel, and Iron girl and I will most likely qualify at those races. So I will keep going with my training and work on my identified weaknesses.
Overall I loved icebreaker! was a really great race to start the season off. I got to hang out and race with my team mates, see where I am at in my training, and get my feet wet for the season. It was a blast to do, and I will definitely be back next year. My overall impression of the race was very positive. Other things I loved about the race included packet pickup being all week long so you could pick up the packets at your leisure, the volunteers were great, the course was very well marked and clear, the traffic direction was top notch, and I really liked the tech shirts and finisher medals. I also appreciated that the race directors brought a spirit of whimsy and fun to the race. I will definitely recommend it to a friend.