Women's Triathlon, Herzliya, Israel - 31 May 2008
I'd like to call this a really bad race, a catastrophe, a mistake. However, I think it would be better to refer to it as a learning experience.
Recap: Two weeks ago, I did my first Olympic distance race. Last week, I did the triple super sprint in Lehavim. This would be my third race in three weeks. It was just a sprint, but it was a race, nonetheless.
Everything leading up to this race was bad. I was tired in training this week. My hip was bothering me. I ate all the wrong stuff the day before. I didn't get enough sleep in the two nights leading up to the race. My husband didn't feel well and decided not to accompany me, so I had to drive both ways. Honestly, though, I wasn't thinking about any of this (apart from my hip). I had butterflies in my stomach starting the night before, which was really weird -- I'd done this race three times before and I was planning to just do it for the fun, so why was I nervous? On the way to the race, I freaked out, thinking I'd left my chip at home (I hadn't). I got my bike into the transition area just as they asked everyone to leave (no one did -- I got myself set up and then left). I did a quick 1 km warm up run (barefoot -- my shoes were in the transition area) and my legs were not into it at all. Then it was a quick dip in the water, which went slightly better.
While waiting for the start, I asked myself why exactly I was doing this race. That's nothing new. What was new was that I asked myself the same question repeatedly during the race. In retrospect, it was an excellent question.
The swim started out with a long run into the water. That went ok -- I ran in with the pack and started swimming with all the other women. Everything was going well until suddenly, I saw a very large woman directly in front of me swimming breaststroke with a kick that could kill. I tried everything to get away from her, but she was big and hard to get around (and there were women everywhere). Eventually, I resorted to swimming on the other side of the cable (where there were a lot of other women) -- I swam right up next to it until I could go back to the other side, making sure to round the buoy on the correct side.
The swim was crowded until the first buoy. It was semi-crowded until the second buoy. From the second buoy till the end, I had plenty of room to swim. When I got out of the water, I looked at my watch and had my first shock of the day -- my swim time was a good 3 minutes slower than what I do for the same 750 meters in the pool. Not good.
Transition was uneventful, apart from the fact that I almost rode into someone when I mounted my bike. I felt pretty good on the bike and I passed a lot of people, but I wasn't going as fast as I would have liked and, in fact, my bike time was the slowest I've done for 20 km in a very long time. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that I had to keep braking to avoid riding into people, but I think it was mostly fatigue that had built up over the last couple of weeks.
T2 wasn't as good as T1 -- there was a bike taking up half of my spot and I had to crawl under my bike to get to my shoes.
The run was... Well... Painful. I had expected my hip to hurt, but it wasn't my hip. Every muscle in my lower legs, especially my right leg, just seized up on me after about 1 km. It wasn't a cramp, but rather the feeling that there was a vice squeezing my legs. This is that pain that I sometimes get at the beginning of runs before I'm warmed up. It was really bad. Finally, I had to stop running.
I had never walked before at this race. There's always a first time, I guess. I walked and tried running and walked and tried running. This went on for about 1.5 km. Women were passing me right and left. I started to wonder where all the other walkers were (there are normally a lot of them at this race). When I got to the turnaround, I figured it out -- they were still behind me. Finally, a little bit after the 2.5 km mark, my legs finally loosened up enough to allow me to run. I ran my heart out for the last 2 km and I passed a LOT of people, but it wasn't enough. I finished with the worst time I've ever done at this race by about 10 minutes!
Although I was doing this race "just for fun", there wasn't a whole lot that was fun about it, apart from seeing people that I only meet at races. Pain is not fun. Being slow when you're trying to be fast isn't fun. There were a few fun moments on the bike and I really enjoyed the last 2 km or so of the run, because I was finally able to run. I can't say, though, that the overall experience was great.
So what did I learn? Racing three weekends in a row is possible, but not advisable, or at least not if you want to do well. Maybe if all three races had been sprints it would have been fine, I don't know. I just know that my body is tired and things aren't working the way they should be, but it's nothing that won't be resolved with a little bit of race.
I was considering doing another race (Oly) two weeks from yesterday. I've reconsidered. Bad idea. Then there's another one in four weeks -- a race I don't particularly like. I'm still thinking about that, but I'm also thinking that the better plan may be to skip the next two races, train well during the summer, including a lot of work on flexibility and strength to get rid of my hip problems and hopefully to solve the problem in my lower legs, lose a little bit of weight (not too much -- but 3 or 4 kilos would be nice), work a bit on my overall nutrition and go back to racing in September.