SO I know I stink at writing posts nowadays…But my life might seem boring to others as it is basically work/ school/ school work/ swimming/biking/ repeat.
Since I have a paper due, I figured now was the best time to write a race report 😛
Sometime during this past winter, I decided to sign up for Toughman Tinman Aquabike, which was a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 56 mile bike ride. Basically, a 70.3 distance, minus the run. Perfect for those who are unable to run. Since March, I’ve put my share of swimming and cycling in– and have focused more on my training than I ever have in the past (to include IMLP). This race was going to be a fun one: one where a bunch of other women from the Hudson Valley would be “tri-ing” out their first triathlon race!A fellow Hudson Valley-er (and terrific mother/athlete) helped organize some swim lessons with Jane who helped me with my swim last year. They did Monday night swim workouts together, to prepare for this race!
(My apologies ahead of time for going on and on during this post!)
Race-Recap: They say sometimes you have good races, and sometimes you have bad ones.
Friday I drove up to L.L’s amazing camp in Long Lake, where she opened up her doors to us ladies doing the race Saturday morning. We went to packet pick-up and tried out the water where the race would be. (Oh, and side note: the race is not actually in Tupper Lake. It is in Raquette Pond!). Dinner was low-key and relaxing– it reminded me of summers growing up on Lake George. I loved everything about it. When I grow up I want a lake house in the Adirondacks.
The 30 year olds are ready to race!
The first of many selfies!
Just a couple of nurses contemplating life and the race course…Photo courtesy of K. T.
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Pre-race healthy carb loading dinner! Yes, we wore PJ’s at 5:30 PM
Good night, Long Lake.
Saturday morning we woke up and had breakfast/ coffee, and headed to Tupper lake for the race. I had my english muffins with PB and a local honey blend (which is my new favorite breakfast, thanks to Devon!).
Driving up, I listened to music and thought about how fun the race would be. I was not prepared to go out super hard, because I had not been feeling well the week before. It was all about fun– riding and swimming in the Adironacks!
(Toughman Tupper Lake is a relatively small, local race, but really great value for the entry fee!)
I knew that the Aquabike (AB) field was fairly small, but as I racked my bike and prepared my transition area, I could not help but notice the other women who were doing the AB with me. They were fit, slim, toned, had (more) expensive bikes, aero helmets, and donned fancy team tri-kits.
I could feel my heart drop into my stomach.
Holy crap. Look at them. They are hardcore triathletes. I’ll never be able to keep up with them.
I put on my wetsuit and took a dip in the water to get acclimated, trying to stay positive and not worry about doing well, but just having fun. I found the other Hudson Valley women and wished them luck on their first triathlon. Then I found my swim coach Jane and fellow RN/ Ironwoman-to-be, D.J.
“Did you see the women doing the aquabike? They are so fit!I have nothing against them.” I remember exclaiming.
“Nahh, don’t judge a book by its cover.” Jane said. “Man, Molly, you are really an anxious racer!”
We waited for our waves to start.The swim start to the race is so low- key and relaxed– you can wait with family/friends right until you enter the water.
These triathlon newbies about to DOMINATE!
I was not sure how my swim would be, but I was hoping for under 39 minutes, which is what I was able to swim one lap of the IMLP course last year. Jane kept saying, “I think you can swim a 35– try for a 35.”
Staying calm before the start…
“Yeahhhh,” I remember responding,” Or maybe a 40 minute swim…” I have a fear of pushing myself in the swim, and did not think it was possible to do it in 35 minutes.
The aquabike wave started after the mens half swim wave. It is no surprise that I hate swim starts. They just freak me out. All the kicking, bubbles, shoving…Especially when you are starting with men! My goal was to start hard and then settle into a comfortable rhythm. Before I knew it, we were off.
Unfortunetly, I felt panicked quickly and tried to swim away from the buoys and the crazy people. After a couple hundred yards, I was able to weed myself out of the mass and tried to ease into my 1-2-3-breathe rhythm, but ended up breathing with every stroke. Oh well. I didn’t push myself, but went at a comfortable pace. Eventually, I made it to the turn buoys. When I was heading back to the beach, I found myself catching up to the men from the wave in front of us.Which meant, men swimming into me.
More than once I found myself choking on water and doing breast stroke to gather myself back together, and then sight. They had warned about the sun being right in your eyes on the way back, but other races I have done, like Quassy, have a similar return swim. Finally, I was back at shore. One unfortunate aspect of the swim was you had to run on rocks to get back to shore. Major ouch.
I thought there would be a clock showing your time, but there wasn’t. And my watch had no OWS tracking capabilities, so I had no idea how I did on the swim. I remember hearing Jane shouting ” Go molly!!!!!” and yelling back, “What is my time?????”
When I reached transition I had to make a decision: do I worry about putting my socks and cycling gloves on? When I grabbed a glove and was about to spend time putting it on I though, “screw it,” and started on the bike course.
I felt good starting on the bike and since I had not ridden further than 30-32 miles this spring, I decided to race to the turn around in Cranberry Lake, and then at the turn around, have a race back to the finish. I was told the course was not too hard– just rolling hills. They fail to mention that the rolling hills begin two miles into the course. Thank goodness I’ve made it a point to do hill work once a week– I think it definitely helped.
Once out on the course, I realized i had made the mistake of spraying suntan lotion all over my watch, so it was nearly impossible to see the screen (and with that, see my distance, the time, etc). Not knowing the time was going to make nutrition a bit more complicated. But, I was fully prepared with bars, gels, and gummy chew things. (Yes, I was that oddball triathlete with a $3000 bike who wore a camelbak…Hey, I did not want to have to stop to get nutrition on the course.)
I rode hard, and had a couple gel chomp blocks in the 30 minutes on the bike. I have never had gel chomp blocks (NOTE: there IS a taste difference between types of gelled blocks) and thought they would be like the Gu chomps I used when training for IMLP. Wrong. I had three of them and they left me with a disgustingly sweet aftertaste in my mouth. Ewwwww gross. So I just sipped on my water and Biocharge along the rolling hills.
The first 28 miles out I felt fine. I was pushing harder than I would normally on a bike ride, but felt like I could maintain what I was doing. I ate a VO2 prime bar over the course of the last hour, and made sure to drink lots of water.
This isn’t so bad at all!
When I turned around in Cranberry Lake to head back to Tupper Lake, things drastically changed.
I felt myself incredibly nauseous and light headed, therefore I continued to drink more water thinking I might be dehydrated. I then noticed that I was not sweating at all (which was very abnormal for the girl who sweats walking up a flight of stairs).
Sh*t. Something is not right.
I continued to push myself, despite the way I was feeling.
At mile 30, I wanted to quit. I was mentally and physically done with the race. I tried to hum music to myself, which has helped me in the past. But after “singing” a verse in my head, my nausea would return with a vengence.
Why am I doing this? This is not fun. Why am I doing this? This is the last race I’m ever going to do…Why am I doing this? F-ck you, rolling hills!
I kept pedaling.
This is stupid. Just stop. You aren’t a good triathlete, so who cares if you finish or not? You aren’t like the other women. Just stop.
Then I would think, “No, get to the finish line. Just get to the finish line and you are done. Just finish and you can go home. Just finish….Just finish…”
The 5 mile distance signs felt like for-e-ver. With each sign I tried to reason with myself by comparing the distance to rides I would do at home, “this is the ____ loop you do at home all the time….No big deal….You got this”
I felt like I was riding slower and slower. People started passing me.
The rolling hills that I hadn’t really noticed going to Cranberry Lake, were like mountains.
I thought about how my nutrition and hydration was so out of whack. The “200-300 calories/hour” on the bike did not happen. I calculated the amount of calories I had consumed total, and it was less than the amount I consumed on my olympic aquabike course at Quassy. I kept waiting for my body to bonk. I could feel the tears starting to well in my eyes.
I hate this. This is not the way the race is supposed to go. I’m not going to make it. I’m going to have another DNF.
When I finally hit the 50 mile point I thought I could make it.
“C’mon Mol, this is just like riding to the Fork in the Road at home. You can do this”
Except, at home, we didn’t have two “hills” to climb in those five miles.
After what I felt like was an eternity, I saw the “Welcome to Tupper Lake” sign. I was almost done.
I was going to finish.
Finally, I was able to dismount the bike.
I felt sick, yet relief that I had finished, and disbelief that I had completed the 56 mile bike ride in three hours.
I found my fellow Hudson-Valley-ers who had already finished their races (and PLACED!!! woo HOO, those women ROCK) and tried to force myself to feel better. It was a shame that I honestly felt like crap, because the post-race food was awesome, and there was even a post-race beer tent.
After about half an hour and forcing myself to eat some orange slices, I started feeling better. I was still concerned with the fact I was not sweating at all, nor felt any urge to pee, and felt nauseous as heck.
Jane sat with me, and we chit-chatted for a bit. There was a live band (ah-mazing post race!) and despite not knowing how I did on the race, I felt a small chance that I might have placed in the race. I wanted to wait and see what occured with the awards before heading to my Adirondack home to shower (Yes, L.L.– I consider your amazing Adirondack camp MY camp HAHA). Jane ended up finding the results and came back to me:
“Well, good news: you won your age group– because you were the only one in it….And, you also are first place overall in the womens AB division!”
Wait– I actually beat those hardcore women triathletes in their fancy kits and expensive bikes?
Wait– I placed in a long distance race?
Wait– I qualified for a “series championship race”?
I never in a thousand years believed I was capable of doing well in a longer-distance triathlon. Never before did I push myself. I’ve always finished long distance races (well, just the three long distances triathlons I’ve completed) with the mentality of “just saying I finished.” I never thought I was capable of swimming fast, or riding my bike faster than 15 mph.
Heck, halfway in, I never believed I was going to be able to finish that race to begin with.
But, I managed to perform better than I ever have, despite feeling physically the worst I have ever had.
Male and female aquabike winners
So, there you have it. I managed to have both my best race time wise, and my worst race physically.
I’m stoked I did’t let the voices in my head win and tell me to quit.
A HUGE thank you to L.L, D.J., and all the other ladies for a great women’s weekend away! It was super fun.
A HUGE thank you to my swim coach, Jane, for pushing me to go faster than I believed I could go.I don’t think I would have done as well as I did if you were not there.