I went into this race pretty relaxed, but also fairly unorganized and with a brain that was definitely not in triathlon or race mode. In recovering from my injury, I observed that the physical recovery was actually easy compared to the "mental" recovery of regaining confidence and motivation. I knew though that a race was exactly what I needed to get back on track and pumped up for the season ahead!
I arrived in Williamsburg Saturday afternoon to pick up my packet, but also to present a mini seminar to the racers, "Mastering Race Day Nutrition." The talk went well, minus the torrential downpour that I had to compete with causing me to have to yell towards the end! It was well attended and I received a lot of great questions too! It was really neat to have this opportunity to share my expertise with others, so much thanks to race director Greg Hawkins for the invite!
I did not get in a lot of sleep pre-race (do we ever?!) Partially because it was an early start and I had a 40 min drive to the race start, but mainly because I was amped up in tracking my husband who ran through the night at the San Diego 100 this past weekend! He finished (11th overall!!) just prior to the start of my race, and I literally got off the phone with one of his crew members, Trevor, just prior to jumping in the water for my swim start. Hearing of his positive race outcome was a great pre-race motivator for sure!
Okay, so now on to the actual race:
Getting ready on race morning went smoothly. I arrived in plenty of time and was able to get in a decent warm- up on the bike. This is a good thing as I also did some mounting & dismounting practice on my newly minted beautiful tri bike (!!!) and had not thought of practicing that earlier. I got in about 5 minutes of swim warm-up, which is not quite enough for what I need, but I was just glad to be at the starting lineon time 😉
I am very pleased with my swim! It was not easy nor perfect, but my overall comfort in the open water and in swimming has greatly improved and I was able to implement many of the strategies I've been working on in the pool. I swam decently straight (always a good thing) and found a good rhythm. What helped me there was a new mantra I've adapted to keep me focused and motivated while also helping me to maintain a faster turnover and stronger pull. It definitely made a difference, as I felt confident and smooth throughout the entirety of the swim. Swim split- 32:01 (1500m).
T1- I need to do more swim-run bricks. That hurt. The end!
I am also stoked about how well the bike went! My new tri bike fits me very well, and I definitely feel much more comfortable and confident in the fit, especially in riding aero as compared to my road bike (good work, hubby!). I was not sure what to expect with this as I have only more recently increased my focus on cycling and have only done a handful of harder. But it was FUN and I focused on that, maintaining a higher cadence and picking off one person at a time. I paced myself better and pushed a little deeper than I have in the past, was focused and felt strong. No complaints from this girl! Bike split-1:07:33 (40k).
T2- Pretty straight forward with no major hiccups. Flying dismount like a champ (my favorite part of the race!)
I had very little expectations for this run. "Lets get through it, Kristen." I have only been back to running about a month and my longest run less than 6 miles, so I knew I wasn't in position for anything too stellar. As I left T2, I felt surprisingly good but listened to coach's instructions and *tried* to keep my pace reigned in. After about a mile I was feeling pretty strong and regaining my legs, so I made a move to pass a few ladies directly in front of me. Perfect! Too bad about a half mile later (approx 1.5 miles in) I was hit with a killer hamstring cramp. I instantly pulled up and was forced to walk as I dragged my left leg forward. I stayed calm and walked-jogged as I was able until the next aid station, roughly a mile, where I chugged down some Gatorade with hopes of a quick turnaround. I have to say that the many racers that passed me in this stretch were AWESOME in providing encouragement and asking if I was ok. One even checked in on me after the race. Triathletes rock!
Miles 2-3 were pretty slow, but I was moving again and began regaining some momentum. Around mile 4 I looked at my watch and knew I still had the potential for a great time and started picking off some of the runners that previously passed me. It's so important to maintain a positive perspective while troubleshooting through these situations and I'm proud of myself for doing so! I don't have my run splits, but I do think the last mile was one of my fastest, and as I approached the finish I had little left in my legs to give.
Special thanks to friend, Crystal, graciously for hosting me for the weekend AND all of the stellar race photos. With my husband racing on the opposite coast with his stellar crew of friends, I am thankful for my own crew of one and all she did to help me prepare!
Last but certainly not least, I want to give a birthday shout out to my BFF and amazing husband Jordan. I love this picture, taken at mile 50 of his race, as it perfectly exemplifies the joy and fun he brings to my life!! Some day I hope to be half as awesomely cool as he is 😝
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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