I waited a couple days to write this race report. I was disappointed in my performance. That's OK, it was a disappointing performance, and it happens. The disappointment has lessened with the reality of the situation: I am starting over, and this is a good start. I see that my disappointment is because of my high expectations, but training is a process not an outcome. My goals don’t need to change, but my training could use some changes. I am just not there yet, but I am not afraid to keep trying.
Though it was not the race I was hoping to have, I am happy to have taken on this challenge: I have a habit of learning the hard way. I was 12th overall in 5:33 and 2nd in my age-group. Key West was a beautiful place to visit, and I am so very thankful for the support (and humor) of my travel partner and husband, Jeff. His comment in the end "you did just as bad as my best race: I think you did OK. Don't be so hard on yourself.".
Don’t make excuses, make changes
I was not anticipating having difficulty during the ocean swim. I have swam in the ocean before without any problems, but this has been the first time I have raced in such a massive body of water. It started off well, but the wave of women athletes was small and we spread out very quickly. I started far left knowing the ocean was going to push me towards the buoy to make the right turn towards the pier. The water looked calm on the surface, but the swells were more profound than I had ever experienced – it felt like I was being dropped, similar to that of a roller coaster, every 5 to 10 seconds which made me feel very queazy. The green buoys after making the turn into the long stretch were much smaller when in the water and it was difficult to track a position. I had been catching up to people in the wave before me, but these swimmers were spread out too, and I was not sure which direction they were going either: I looked for pink caps and tried to group up. I found a group all stopped to tread in the water, asking each other where to go. At the corner of my eye, I could see a pier and started swimming towards it, and swimmers followed. As I got closer, I realized I was shooting too far, and the pier I should have been aiming for was actually behind me. I had to swim against the current to get to where I needed to be. A 47 minute swim - YIKES! Not a good start.
Simply, I gave up, but not right away. A poor swim (my worst ever) was just a temporary setback. I can gain time on the bike. This was not my race strategy, but that is OK, this race was intended to be a learning experience. I started fully determined to make up time, and spots. I reminded myself to be patient, this is a long race, but I was determined to catch up. I hit some debris on a bridge and flatted. That’s OK, just another hurdle. I pushed again with more intent. My legs were getting tired, and I reminded myself to be patient and steady. Coming to the turn around, I could see 8 women making their way back, and they were within striking distance. I can do this! But, when I got to the turn around, I was forced to stop to let the traffic go through. “A forced stop, you have to be kidding!”. I was deflated, emotionally and physically. When the police officer let us go, I thanked him (he was doing his job), and I went along with very little motivation. I started talking with myself, trying to push harder, but nothing. Done. I hung my head low and continued on, wondering why I do this. I finished in 2:53 minutes.
I started the run with the same negative feeling: done! I gained some motivation after the first of two loops. Racers were smiling and encouraging and struggling and pushing themselves and others: I couldn't help but feel good because of them. My legs were steady and cadence great. I started to cheer back. Finally, a smile on my face. I was feeling great. I ran a 1:45.
Training: What's next?
Building fitness is the foundation of my training, and I felt fit starting my training for this race. Bone Island 70.3 was not my goal race for 2014, but it is the start of my 2014 season. The purpose of this race was to see where I am currently, in my physical and mental ability to race 70.3. Though I have not been training for performance during this training block, I was hoping for a much better performance - my goal was 5:00 to 5:15 hours. The focus of my training during this “complex” was to just be able to finish the race. I accomplished that. The next step is to evaluate my training and performance to build the next 8 weeks of training. I think I have found my "sweet spot" for training for performance, and will post my training thoughts in the next post.