Lately I've become fascinated by the Instagram hashtag. I guess it's the photo researcher in me that can spend an hour just looking at random people's pictures for one that stands out.
Most pro triathletes spend the winter at training camp, putting in grueling hours of work in order to prepare for the upcoming season. Instead of spending my days trail running, going on group rides and smashing swim sets, I spent the winter recovering from a C-section and waking up at in the wee hours to feed my newborn daughter. For the first time in my career, I kicked off the racing season while easing into training—slowly and solo.
It has taken me a few days to process last weekend's race. I cried about it and got pissed about it and felt really stupid about it and the last thing I could think of was writing a race report about it! But, Bec reminded me that I have a responisibility to inform all our sponsors and supporters and fans about what happened. As much as I want to hide- you guys all deserve to know what went on.
Before I go into my race- there were 5000 other participants that did amazing and inspiring things. Congratulations to you all! One of the many reasons why I love this race is because it's challenging whether it's your first triathlon or if it's your 13th time doing the race. Everyone who conquers the Central Park hills in brutal heat should feel really accomplished. One of these racers just happened to have a baby 5.5 months ago...you know her side of the story...but coming from her twin and competitor, I was in awe of her race. I knew that nothing would stop Bec from competing in the NYC Triathlon. I had some serious doubts as recent as a month ago that she'd be able to do it. I knew she was working really hard in her rehab, but was wondering if that would translate to swimming, biking and running. When she told me she swam a 5:42 500 free in practice and dusted off her TT bike, I knew she wasn't fooling around! She won the swim and came off the bike within seconds of first. That was after only having ridden her time trial bike 3 times in the last year and a half. I think this is just a testament to her natural talent and determination - which I'm sure we will be seeing more of soon.
So, what happened...why did you happen to see a 1:20 bike split from me? Well this:
I had a good swim, a pretty easy pace which got easier once I found Bec's current. We got out of the water first and second with Jenna just behind. I cruised through the 3 min run to the bikes and when I got to my spot, I found my bike turned around and moved. I was a bit flustered but just got on and started riding. I was in first...for about 2 minutes. Then Jenna passed me and Bec zoomed by me a few seconds later. I pushed on telling myself I didn't want to go out too hard and just kept my watts at my normal race pace. Not too long after the entire field passed me - including people I swam 4 minutes faster than! I just kept pressing on working hard and wondering what was going on. I finally just convinced myself that I was having a bad day. I tried to look down at my wheel but couldn't see the brake because of my aero water bottle. I had thoughts of stopping to check if things were ok, but thought it would just take even more time. In hindsight, and why I feel so stupid about this is, I should have stopped immediately when I got passed by Bec and checked my bike. I learned a big lesson - don't doubt your abilities when you are in great shape, and don't be afraid to stop for a second to check for mechanical troubles. I learned a costly lesson - financially, emotionally, and personally.
Despite riding so slow, my overall power was actually higher than last year when I rode 13 minutes faster. And, I managed to have the fastest run of the day. So... as my dad said, in his best Brooklyn accent the day after the race "Ya shoulda won that thing". But, it takes more than just swimming, biking, and running fast - execution is key in triathlon. Getting it all together is what wins, and Jenna did just that.
So, that's my story, and I have plenty more from the day that I'd like to share in my next post.
ZICO featured our favorite summer smoothie recipe on their Facebook page last week. They must have known we were in for a major heatwave! We've been mixing this combination up daily, between workouts, in order to stay hydrated. Using ZICO as a base for the smoothie keeps things light and refreshing while providing natural electrolytes. So far I've managed to stick to my training program by finding shaded trails to run on, swimming in cold(er) lakes, and biking in the woods instead of the road. Tonight will be a different story, as I attempt a 5k race with a forecast of 95 degrees. The race features a post race BBQ, but I'm thinking of bringing my blender!
Blueberry Ginger Smoothie
Blend the following ingredients:
½ cup greek yogurt
juice from ½ of a large lemon
1 bottle (14 oz.) plain ZICO
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Ok, so I have 15 minutes to write this race report before Amy wakes up from a nap. Yesterday was my 10th New York City Triathlon and while I wasn't able to reclaim my title, I exceeded all of my expectations for the day. My goals going into the race were:
-don't get hurt: meaning don't fall off your bike and don't push yourself to the point of injury on the run
-be competitive for as long as possible: In Philly I was competitive in the swim leg and for half of the bike. For NYC, I wanted to improve upon this
-enjoy being in the race and not on the sidelines
Here's how things played out on race-day:
It started with a 3:20 wake up by my natural alarm clock: a hungry Amy. She doesn't normally get up in the 3's, but she must have sensed that it was going to be a big day. So I quickly fed her and then fed myself (a bowl of oatmeal and coffee), pumped up my tires and was out on the Westside Highway at 4:10 am. Laurel and I were supposed to meet up around Canal Street, but we missed each other, so I ended riding in the dark up to 79th street, dodging rats and stumblers and getting a good cheer from the Christopher Street crowd. Other than that, the path is well lit and the ride was a good warm up. When I got up to the transition area, I found Laurel and we organized our stuff and then did the one mile walk up to the swim start. There, we met up with the guys from Digital Kitchen who were filming us for an upcoming (and very exciting) project. We had a few minutes to get in some swimming stretch cord warm ups and chat with our competitor/friends. There were two other moms in the field (Flo and Amy) who shared a few funny stories and mom tips with me. Then it was time to get the action started…
The swim was fast. 11:57 for 1500m! I won it. And beat all the guys! This is not because I turned into a SaraMcLarty (aka super fast swimmer) overnight. It's because part of my preparation for this race was the 2 Bridges swim last month as well as the various Hudson River swims I've competed in. When we dove off the dock, I immediately found myself on the feet of Jenna Parker. A few minutes later, Laurel came by me and then the two of them swam away from me. I then realized that we needed to be in a different part of the river to make the most of the current, so I moved over and the next thing I knew, I was sailing by them. I went with it and was the first one to hit the exit ladder.
This is a hilly bike course. It is all up or down, no flats. The course goes from Riverside Park, north on the Westside Highway to the Henry Hudson Parkway, crosses the bridge into the Bronx, then goes past Van Cortland Park to the Mosholu Parkway and back. Jenna and I started the ride at the same time. She got a little time on my during the more technical section as you exit the park, but after a few minutes I caught up to her. We rode either side by side, or very close to one another the entire way. I was paranoid the entire time that I was going to get a stagger penalty because we only had one lane to ride in. It was narrow and one side had gutters and the other had potholes. At times I had to sit up and drift way back to make it obvious to the circling referees that I didn't want to draft. Aside from that, I was really happy with the way I rode and felt great. I tried to make the most of the downhills so that I could cruise up the uphills. I rode almost the same split (1:07) the last time I raced in NYC, so that's an accomplishment. What I'm most excited about though is that I was able to do this on only my 3rd time on my time trial bike in months. I haven't been able to ride in the TT position because my core wasn't strong enough to support the position. But, just last Sunday, I tried it out for the first time and felt strong, so I decided to go with it for the race. I also tried a disk wheel for the first time. (provided by my generous bike sponsor - Cervelo - who not only provided me with a fast bike, but also very hard to come by 650 race wheels). I'm hooked on it and am looking forward to using it for other races this season.
After entering T2 in second place by just a few seconds, I had a slower transition to put socks on and then started the run. I tried to start off at a decent pace but after a few minutes, I realized that I wasn't running fast. I pushed and pushed and put one foot in front of the other, but my lack of running training revealed itself once again. After I race at the Philly Tri, I wanted to focus on running, but two days into that plan I strained a muscle in my hip. I had to back off for about a week and then gradually build into running easy again. Before the race, I got in two or three decent runs, maxing out at 5.5 miles and 7 minute pace. Running continues to be a struggle, with some new ache and pain in the hip or back area after every run. This is, by far, the hardest part about getting back to being race ready and is just one of those things that takes time. Too bad 5.5 months after having Amy hasn't been long enough--I was holding onto 3rd place until the last half mile of the race. I had built enough of a lead on the swim and the bike that even though I was barely moving on the run, I was still in podium position. But when I got passed, I had nothing left and was just focused on getting to the finish line. That right turn from the park loop to the roundabout and then to the finish-line seemed like it took an eternity (it's probably only about 400m).
When I got into the finish chute, I was in 4th place, well behind Jenna P., who had a great run and ended up winning. SJ met me with Amy and we jogged, then walked across the line. At first I was worried that if I walked 100m or so I would get passed again, but jogging with Amy made me feel like I was stealing her. We have to choreograph this better next time! Shortly after crossing the line, I checked myself into the medical tent because I knew I wasn't in very good shape. The staff were very helpful and cooled me off with ice packs and cold water. Amy was in there with me, but I had to hand her off because I was worried about dropping her! After a few minutes, I recovered and went back out to join the finish line party. Amy and I got interviewed for the evening news and then we met up with our HUGE cheering section. See the photo below! It was so fun to see everyone and introduce Amy to fans, spectators and other athletes.
It is always so inspiring to see so many people complete this grueling race. Laurel and I had a great time cheering for people running across 72nd street on our way back to pick up our bikes. As always, the New York City Triathlon was an amazing day and I'm already looking forward to next year's race.
Up next for me is Rev3 Wisconsin in mid-August. My mom (who has assumed the role of chief advisor/coach) will not allow me to race again until I get in better running shape. So back to training it is.
So that's my story. Feel free to share yours with us in the comment area below!