Triathlons still scare the shit out of me. Okay most races still give me an "I can't do this" sort of feeling even if I have run that distance countless times. But there is something special with the triathlon nerves.
Yet when I arrive on-site at the Max Performance Title 9 Women's Only Sprint Triathlons I always feel at ease. The vibe is unique and the sense of support amongst the participants is unmatched at any other race I have participated in.
In 2015, I tackled the Title 9 race for the first time and somehow ended up third in my age group. Sayy wwhhaa??? I was SHOCKED!
Well when I returned in 2016, I knew I wasn't in the shape to place, but I was ready to PR in fun!!
The 2016 Title 9 race would be my 11th triathlon and 5th Max Performance race. :) Can you tell I am a fan? Well Tim puts on a good time! ;)
We woke up at 5am and were on the road by 5:45am. Gotta love these early morning races, right? I know my cheering squad (dad and wife) were wicked excited to be up and on the road that early. I made sure we had time to stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way so they would be properly caffeinated for their cheering duties!
The race would be taking place at Hopkinton State Park. Thankfully there was limited traffic on the highway and ample parking when we arrived at the park.
We took the walk from the parking lots to the transition area. Here is where I should've taken photos, but I was so focused on finding any friends that were participating and getting my tires filled that I totally forgot. Bad blogger I know!!
I headed into transition and set up my spot. Now at the previous triathlons that year, I kept overshooting the lane where my stuff was so this time I made sure to put my ikea bag, which holds my stuff at the end of the row so I could easily spot it when running in.
How about that for a fun race number? 123!
I love that Max Performance races give our water bottles at the Finish of each race - they end up being my water bottles for future races. They just fit so nicely on my bike! :)
Once my stuff was all set up, I headed back out to hang with the wife and my dad. With limited time to train for this race - as I had been focusing on ultra marathon and marathon training. I was feeling a little nervous about how the race would go. Enter ball of nerves and my inability to focus on anything else.
Luckily I ran into my friend Juls and completely distracted myself by chatting with her. We were in the same wave so we were able to line up next to each other.
The water was warm enough to race without a wetsuit, but I opted to wear mine. It can act as a bit of a security blanket sometimes so if I can race with it, I usually do.
I kissed my cheering section and headed off down the beach with Juls and our wave.
Swim - 1/4 Mile
Usually I cherish the swim portion of the course as I have been swimming since I was 6 months old. But something was different on this day. I was feeling anxious in the water and worried about making the 1/4 mile swim. Now the rational side of my brain knew that was stupid, but the other side was having a field day with my emotions.
After wading in the water waiting for the gun, we finally heard it. Of course even in the water I was mid-convo when a race starts. Haha.
We were off. I put myself on the left-hand side so I could try to get into my own groove.
From the first stroke I felt off. I was having trouble breathing - even though I keep my wetsuit unzipped a little, which is usually perfect for me.
I was having a little panic attack and issues getting air. I felt like nothing was getting in the lungs. So I adjusted my stroke and started breathing every stroke rather than every 3-5. It helped, but my mind was still a buzz.
My lack of cross-training after the ultra was playing with my mind. C'mon self it is 1/4 of a mile. You can do that in your sleep.
I thought for a quick second to hold on to the canoe of one of the swim angels on the sides of the water, but I refused. I knew it was mental. Physically I was really fine. I took it buoy by buoy.
Finally I was taking the left turn around the final buoy and using the land as my sighting point.
I kept repeating: You are fine. You are fine. Breathe. Stroke. Push forward.
Somehow I kept moving and was finally on land. I can tell you I look better in these pics than I felt.
Total Time: 10:13 (40 seconds slower than 2015)
Pace: 2:20/100 yds
Overall Place: 37/625
** Now the swim featured a decent run from the water to transition. I think that time is added to your swim time, which can affect the numbers above!
I was on the opposite side from SWIM IN so I quickly dunked my feet in the kiddie pools they had and ran as quickly as I could to my transition area.
And I didn't overshoot my lane!!!
Off with the wetsuit (I avoided falling over - WIN!), wiped off my feet with my towel and quickly threw on my bike stuff: socks, bike shoes, Sparkly Soul headband, Sparkle Athletic skirt, Chocolate Milk shirt and helmet. A bit of Gu and I was OUT. :)
Time: 2:39.1 (13 seconds faster than 2015)
Bike - 10 Miles
For those that don't know the bike is my weakest portion of the race. I am not strong on the bike probably because I don't practice it enough. I love attending Spin classes, but not so in love with biking outside. But, I was ready to give it my all.
As I came out of transition, the chain came off my bike. SHIT! I was frantically looking around to see if any of the volunteers could help - unfortunately they were younger kids that weren't. I was trying to seek out the bike volunteer, but he was out on course in case anyone got a flat/hurt. SHIT! Finally I finagled enough with it that I got it back on.
My dad and wife were right there saying it will be fine Relax! I mean we all know I am not winning the race, but it took me out of the moment a little.
Plus the bike portion has two really tough hills (in my opinion) so I needed to get myself re-focused.
The bike leg is an excellent course. It begins on park roads, with downhill turns and rolling terrain through Southborough and Ashland. You’ll experience one challenging hill to make it even more exciting, as you cross the start of the famous marathon. You’ll finish with a fun downhill as you enter the park for the final run leg.
For some these maybe wouldn't have felt like mountains, but to this girl they did. Oh boy was I pushing hard. It was during the bike portion that I started to feel the day prior's 18-mile run. There was a point where I didn't think I would finish. I was about halfway through and thought I could just get off the bike and sit for awhile. Ha.
For the worst of the two hills, I just kept telling myself to push my legs. I would NOT let myself get off my bike and walk. I had to keep pedaling no matter how slow it was going.
The other participants were super motivating and encouraging. That is something I love about an all-female race compared to a co-ed race (at least the ones I've been a part of) ... especially for first timers!
While the ride started on a downhill, it ended on an uphill. Of course because what goes up must come down and vice versa. I dug deep and focused on the prize: I could run next! I would be entering my comfort zone. :)
Total Time: 39:50 (1.5 min slower than 2015 - damn bike snafu)
Pace: 15.1 MPH
Overall Place: 127/625 (the point where I plummet in the rankings)
Luckily BIKE IN was right next to my row/stuff so I could quickly turn in and change into my sneakers. Transition 2 is much easier than T-1. I only had to remove my bike shoes and put my sneakers on. I opted to put a visor on as well just to keep my long hair in check.
Another quick bite of a LUNA bar and I was off.
Time: 1:34.6 (3 min slower)
** Maybe that could've been faster, but I was happy with how it went. I did have trouble tying my shoes only because I was fumbling and trying to do it too quickly. I should look into the Lock Laces more.
Run - 3.1 Miles
Come to mama! Bring on the comfort zone. :o) Running is my JAM!
I had been passed by quite a few women while on the bike. So my goal for the run? PASS THEM!
Since the bike ended on an uphill, the run started on a downhill! Yay ummm sorta? Downhill is tough and sometimes can beat your legs up more than the uphills. Hello Boston Marathon. I distracted myself from the soreness by focusing on the bikers coming up the hill across from me. I was hooting, hollering, cheering and encouraging. I mean I was in those poor ladies shoes not 10 minutes ago.
Races with out and backs or triathlons like this where you can cheer folks on are some of my favorites. I love being able to help put a smile on someone's else's face while they are pushing, digging and sometimes hating what is going on.
The run course was located within the State Park and had some pretty scenery and a few hills of their own. It was bound to happen since we met up with the bike course a few different times.
I could spot 3 women in front of me that each had a number on their calf between 30-34. Well ladies you are about to get passed. I dug as deep as possible and pushed past them. I am not normally someone that wants to put down anyone else's race, but on this day I needed to play the mental game of needing to "chick" them off. Get it? Chick instead of pick because they are ladies?
I am not usually a cocky runner so I am not good at being like "check me out passing you." So I kept that inside and used it as fuel.
Adios ladies! Time to focus on the next lady in front of me.
The final stretch? Straight over the levy. No the levy wasn't dry. (Anyone get that? Too old?) As we made our way over the levy, I noticed a girl in front of me. Your age at the end of the year is written on your calf pre-race. Now I could only make out the 2 on her calf so I immediately assumed she was 32. Oh heck no. I was coming for ya lady. As I got closer and was about to pass her, I realized the age actually said 22. Oops! Get it gurl! :P Hey it worked as the motivator I needed.
We ran past the swim exit, passed transition and entered the 300 yard chute towards the Finish. I gave it everything I had.
Total Time: 22:49 (4 seconds slower than 2015)
Pace: 7:22 min/mile
Overall Place: 13/625
Division: 3/59 (hot damn)
How awesome is that medal? I grabbed my medal and my water bottle and headed off to meet the wife and my dad along the Finish chute to cheer on other racers.
I finished 32nd overall out of 625 and 6th in my division out of 59. I am beyond thrilled with those stats with how poorly I felt going into the race. I wish I didn't have issues on the bike, but such is life.
I found Juls after the race and congratulated her on an awesome performance. She is an amazing athlete and I loved seeing her out on the course - especially when she easily passed me on the bike. But then I got to cheer her on as I passed her on the run. :) We all have different strengths.
As soon as we finished catching up, the skies opened up. I felt bad for the women still out racing and was thankful I was done. I quickly gathered everything up from transition, making sure to stay out of the way of the women still racing. Met up with my dad and wife and we headed to the car. We were sure to cheer the racers on as we made our way out. I even got to see my friend Sam kicking some serious ass on the run. :)
Overall the race was a BLAST!! The race director Tim was looking out for his racers every step of the way and keeping everyone's safety in the forefront. I know it can't be easy for him to potentially have to cut someone's race short due to weather. Luckily everyone was able to finish as the shower passed quicker than everyone expected and everyone was out of the water!
I let the wife have my free post-race sandwich since she had to be up so early to support me. I was holding out for a nice beer when we got home.
Since I had so much fun at the race in 2015 and 2016, I will be back in 2017! Do you want to join me?
Save $10 off this year's race on 9/10 with code WOMST9TRI17 (expires 5/31)!!
Will I see you there?
Disclaimer: I did receive complimentary entry into this race, but all opinions are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!