I signed up for Tri AC Olympic in 2016 and was unable to race due to my back. Since this is pretty much the course for IMAC 70.3, it was a must do on my schedule for this year. I normally always look at previous year results before going into a race. I like to know what people in my age group have done, the overall winning time, number of participants, etc. This time around, I did none of this. I wanted to truly go into this race with no pressure, no expectations, nothing. The only thing I checked a few days before I left town was what time it started and I reviewed the bike course map. Rather than worrying about my performance and finish time, I had one goal and that was to execute my race plan. I think ignoring all the chatter I usually introduce to myself really helped. The day before I was calm, I slept really well (which is huge considering I wasn’t in my own bed and I just suck at sleeping in general), and I didn’t have any butterflies waiting for the race to start. I was cool, calm, collected and excited!
I spent the night in Ocean City to make my drive on race day shorter. We were scheduled to enter the water at 630am so it was an early start to the day. The morning was a little stressful because I got on the road later than I would have liked and arrived to the race site with about an hour until we got in the water. I had to check in, set up and hit the bathroom, which had a long line, so I was a little frantic. I kept taking deep breaths and made sure I went through transition set up slowly so I didn’t miss anything. I got in line for the bathroom about 6am and waited a good 20 minutes. After that I hustled over to the swim start right as they announced a 15 minute delayed start. We had some serious black clouds rolling in and they were concerned about putting us in the water in case there was lightening. Surprisingly, the clouds passed by fairly quickly and just sprinkled us with rain. I actually welcomed the delayed start because it gave me some time to chill and focus before things got going.
The 1 mile swim was a rolling start, self-seeded. I knew I did not want to be caught up in the back of the pack so I let a minute go by and then made my way on to the dock. I was in the water within 3 minutes of the start. Water temperature was 82 degrees so not wet suit legal. I did wear a swim skin that I borrowed and I have to say, I loved it! Really made a difference not having the drag from the tri kit back pockets. My goal for the swim was to be steady and pick up effort after I warmed up for a few hundred yards. On the way out to the turn around, I got a little too far out to the side and had to work my way back in. After that, it was smooth sailing on the way out with a little current pushing us along. After the turn around, a bit more effort was needed to get back. Definitely some current but nothing a quicker catch and turnover couldn’t work through. I hit the dock and clocked a 30 minute swim which immediately made me smile. I felt great out there and the effort was perfect, I was warmed up for the bike. I swam about 100 yards long which was probably me trying to get back along the buoy line and averaged 1:38/100 yards.
T1:Racked far away from bike out. 2:51
The bike was 2 loops on the Atlantic City expressway with the exit ramps leading to the turnaround points being the only elevation change on the course. First loop of the bike was nice, not congested at all. I got down in aero and just focused on my power and heart rate targets and didn’t get caught up in anyone around me. My heart rate target at times held me back and my coach and I are going to play with this a bit; was it a good thing it held me back so I was set up for good run or did I have a little more to push without sacrificing anything and blowing myself up? Second loop of the bike we met up with the sprint athletes and the course was crowded. I spent the entire second loop yelling “left.” Lots of newbies out there who weren’t sure how to navigate a busy course. I finished the bike in 1:08:33, average 19.6mph. I didn’t have speed displayed on my watch because I didn’t want to get caught up in that number but man, would it have killed me to average at least 20mph!?!
T2: Bike in the same as bike out so another long run to where I was racked. Opted to wear socks. 2:20
My plan for the run was to settle in during the first 5 minutes then start to build my effort. That’s exactly what I did and I felt good; legs felt good, effort good; I was smiling. Then we hit the sand. I think Delmo puts on a great race but seriously, having to go down a few steps and then run through sand just sucks. A lot of Delmo lovers find it cute, I find it totally annoying. My back had been bothering me all morning and my first step on the sand I felt a bad twinge in my back and hamstring. I immediately pulled back my pace because I didn’t want to push off hard on a soft surface. Even though I was carrying water with me, I was so thirsty. Near the end of mile 3, I walked the water stop to drink some cold water and poured a bunch over my head. At this point, the course had separated from the sprint and it was really quiet. Not many athletes running my direction but I saw the front men and first woman heading back. I started losing my mental game just before the 4 mile mark. I just wanted to get to the turnaround to get more water. So thirsty. When I made it there, I again took another short walk and saw I had about 4 women coming up on me. I started back towards the finish when the one lady passed me. She looked awesome. Then two more came by and I was on their heels. Totally had them but then I took a short walk break. WTF Denise! My head wasn’t cooperating and I didn’t shut the voices up. I felt like I was kinda wimping out but not pushing harder but that last bit of drive just wasn’t there. The final mile I just kept telling myself, less than 8 minutes to go and eventually I pulled my shit together and got it done. Finished run in 50:24, average 8:08min/mi.
Final thoughts…really nice going into this race without any expectations. I was really happy with my swim, especially since I wasn’t in a wet suit. Bike, aside from my back feeling it, I was happy with how I executed. I stuck to my plan and exhibited control. The run, I wish I fought a bit harder. My pace was slower than what I would have liked and I let my head get weak towards the end. I definitely needed more water on the bike and another gel on the run. Lesson learned. Overall, this race served its purpose; great tune up for IMAC next month.
5th in AG
127/610 total finishers
Breakfast: honey stinger waffle, coffee, Ensure
6:15am: Hammer espresso gel before swim start
Bike: 1x bottle Hammer perpetuem (did not drink it all) and water with Hammer grape fizz (needed more water on bike)
Run: water with Hammer grape fizz and Hammer tropical gel
Run: water with Hammer grape fizz and Hammer tropical gel