Who runs 15 miles the day before a triathlon?
Well this girl of course! :P I do have that little Chicago Marathon coming up on October 8. I wasn't sure how my legs would recover for my 3rd Max Performance Title 9 triathlon the next day. But I was ready to get out there and have fun.
2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the Max Performance Title 9 Women's Only Sprint Triathlon and my third time participating in the event.
In 2015 I finished 3rd in my division and ended up on the podium where in 2016 I couldn't make the cut and finished 6th.
Now it is worth noting in 2015 I did run 17 miles the day before the race so maybe I had that "long run day before the race" thing on my side. :P
We woke up at 5am and were on the road by 5:30am. 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. Since this was our third time doing this routine, we had it down. Okay we knew where to park and walk, which is 1/2 the battle, right?
My wife and dad stayed with my bike and stuff while I picked up my bib. Thankfully the bib pick-up/finish area/start area is all right next to transition so it is all easy to navigate. Tim, the RD, has all of the swag ready in a drawstring bag so it is easy for volunteers to sort and pass out.
Once I had my bib (#56), I pinned my bib to my shirt, stuck my bike sticker on Roxie and put the sticker on my helmet. I was ready to go to transition to set up my area. Luckily I was in the first row and found a spacious area at the end of the row where I could spread my stuff out.
I was feeling oddly calm for pre-race me. I think it was because I knew this wasn't the 70.3 I had done 2 weeks ago and "just" a sprint: 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike and 3.1 run. ;) Please know I was still freaking out internally, but not as badly as I usually do pre-triathlon.
Once my area was set up, I headed out of transition with my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles to meet up with my family.
Oh friends the puppies! There were so many puppies cheering on their owners and I just wanted to skip the race and just pet all of them. They were sooo cute.
I spotted the Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness crew and popped over to say hi before the pre-race meeting at 7:45am. Always a great time seeing Dave, Steph, and Shawn. If you need any PT help or are looking for a fun strength training class, I can't recommend this crew enough. They keep me running and getting stronger.
After the National Anthem, I lined up with the other red caps in Wave 1 (40 and younger). There is something special about a Women's Only race. The energy is electric and the vibe is 100% happy and supportive. I walked to the water start with my ZOOM teammate and friend Jocelyn, who had rocked IM Lake Placid in July.
The start for Title 9 is a water start so we all made our way into the water to wade until we heard the gun. Thankfully the water was 10 degrees warmer than IM 70.3 Maine so I didn't dread spending the extra time in the lake. I was just ready to start. I hugged the inner left side to hopefully avoid getting stuck behind any other swimmers. Again returning to a race sometimes help you learn exactly where you want to line up.
Swim - 1/4 Mile
From the get go I knew something was off. I was having trouble getting into a groove. I tried to focus on my stroke and counting to 3 to regulate the breathing. I made it to the first bouy and could NOT get around the girl in front of me. For some reason every time I tried to cut to her left or right side, she would swim directly in front of me. I don't think this was intentional at all, but I grabbed on her foot to try to steer her out of my way and show that I was trying to get around her. Let's just say she didn't get the hint.
So I focused my entire swim on trying to get away from this one person, which sometimes can be a good thing since it can distract from say the "off" feeling I had from the start. I knew I wasn't swimming as strongly as I did at IM 70.3 Maine and I was mad at myself for not getting in the pool between the 2 races (they were exactly 2 weeks apart). But due to work travel and jetlag, I just didn't make getting in the pool a priority.
I knew there was no reason to beat myself up over that so I just tried to focus on enjoying the swim as much as I could. It is my 2nd favorite part of the race and it would be over so quickly.
It is a super easy point to point swim with just one turn, a left towards the shore, so it should've been straight forward. But this other swim really threw me off my game.
Thankfully when we made that left turn towards the beach, I was finally able to swim around her and do my best to make up any time possible... which wasn't alot.
The water was super shallow so we had a lot of vegetation at the bottom, which might've helped me pick up the pace. I kept swimming until my fingers touched the bottom then stood up. I could see the girl that was in front of me most of the swim next to me and I mentally took a picture of her tri kit because now I had an inner mission to try and beat this girl.
Please note: I always want everyone to do their best at a race and wish everyone well, but sometimes I need to light that fire inside me to kick some butt. Sometimes imaginary rivalries is what it takes. ;)
We hit land and started the run from the water to transition. It is a decent distance on the sand and then on trail (complete with some jabby rocks). As you approach transition thankfully they have a cover laid out over some of the rougher rocky areas.
Total Time: 9:16
Pace: 2:07/100 yds
Overall Place: 29/599
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.
In a rare occurrence, I got the wetsuit off without falling off --- WIN!!! I chatted with Jocelyn, who was across the row from me, while I 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 bite of my Luna Bar and I was OUT. :)
Bike - 10 Miles
I say this every triathlon recap, but the bike is my weakest part. Thanks to upping my Flywheel game and increasing my strength training classes, I have felt stronger on the bike this year than ever before. Even though I still plummet in the rankings when it gets to this portion.
Let's note this was the only moment I was ahead of Jocelyn (#36) on the bike course. Haha. She schools me every race and I love it. I really did use chasing Jocelyn as a motivation during the bike.
There is a bigger incline/hill at Mile 7 that I dread and block out as much as possible when I hop on to the bike. My goal each year is to not get off my bike and just walk up it. No matter how slow I go I want to stay on the bike during that mile.
Well as I said Jocelyn took off on the bike and I proceeded to chase her for the remainder of the bike course.
No I didn't catch her. HA!
But I actually passed more people than passed me on the bike! WIN! That NEVER happens. EVER!!!
Maybe it was the fact that I was biking for 10 miles rather than 56 that I felt so much happier on the bike or I was just really enjoying myself. :)
Since this was my third rodeo, I knew the points where I needed to dig deep.
Before I knew it we hit the Mile 5 and for a hot second I forgot I was in a race and was just enjoying the scenery! Who am I? ;)
Well before I could truly enjoy it, we hit Mile 7 and the dreaded hill upon me. I again told myself to give everything I had to this hill and guess what... it wasn't as tough as the years before?
I was still huffing and puffing, BUT my pace was better than years past. I also felt like I still had something in my tank for the first-time ever. Was I actually improving?
Even though my pace was nothing to write home or brag about, I was DAMN proud of the improvement I could feel. I may or may not given myself a little fist pump in celebration.
The final 2 miles are heading back towards transition. It is one of my favorite stretches because I was cheering on all of the people heading out on the run/bike. The not so awesome part is that you are climbing back UP the hill you came DOWN to start the bike. Ouch! I used all of that energy to push myself back up that hill.
For the past 2 years I came into transition, spotted the wife and let out a F*&k. But this year, I didn't. I hadn't hated the bike course as much as those years. Look at me growing and improving! ;)
Now I just need to learn how to properly shift during the ride. I think my pace would greatly improve when I learn how to do that part.
Total Time: 37:11
Pace: 16.1 MPH
Overall Place: 59/599
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 and visor on.
Since I am relying heavily on Pedialyte now instead of Gatorade (happier tummy), I grabbed my hand-held water bottle and GU and hit the road.
Run - 3.1 Miles
We are on to my JAM friends!
As soon as I hit the pavement, my legs felt like lead. Well this was going to be a mental struggle as I knew physically I was FINE and could make it through the 5k.
After the brief uphill to kick off the run, it was all downhill - literally!
I had a great time cheering on the ladies finishing off their bike ride and encouraged them to push up that hill. It seriously makes me wicked happy to cheer on others during a race.
We took a brief right for a quick out and back at Mile 1. As I hit the turnaround, I twisted my ankle. DAMMIT! I took a quick walk break to refocus and hope that it was just a little twinge and I'd be okay. As I walked a woman was complaining about going too far on the turnaround (by like 10 feet) because "there wasn't anyone there to tell her where to go." Ummm friend there was a sign that said turnaround here. Please stop blaming others for your mistake. I get upset when racers blame volunteers for their own mistakes.
Thankfully this put a little spark in my tank to get running because I wanted to get away from her negative energy. When I passed her I said: "enjoy this beautiful day." Kill 'em with kindness, right?
I went back to cheering on the bikers and other runners to put myself back in a happy place. :) I also noticed my ankle was okay so I tried to push the pace as best I could. I knew there was at least one person in front of my in my division. Thank you calf numbering. :P
Just after Mile 2, I spotted the girl from the swim. We all remember her, right? Here came my chance to pass her finally. I pulled any speed I had and charged past her on the hill. I made sure to give her a "Looking Good" because as I said I wanted her to do well, but I needed the pretend inner battle to keep me going.
I was ready to quit after passing her, but there was just 1/2 a mile to go. I could hear the crowds and the announcer calling in Finishers and I was ready to be one of those names.
While the Finish Line photog might've missed my Finish Line leap, the wife caught it in all of its glory!
Total Time: 23:21
Pace: 7:32 min/mile
Overall Place: 21/599
FINAL TIME: 1:13.57
Overall Place: 21/599
I missed the podium (by 15 seconds), but...
I PR'D THE COURSE!!!!!!!!!!!
After grabbing my medal and water bottle, I bee-lined it for the PT tent.
Congrats to Jocelyn for finishing Top 10 in her division and special thanks to my cheering squad including this photo bomber.
Overall, I loved the race. It was well-supported with volunteers and cops, highly encouraging, challenging and great scenery. Plus they announced my name coming over the Finish Line which I always appreciate.
As I mentioned before I love a good all womens race and Title 9 didn't let me down. It was a great inviting, welcoming, supportive and encouraging atmosphere.
So if you are looking at your first triathlon, I highly recommend the Max Performance series and the Title 9 in particular!!
What do you look for when registering for your first race/triathlon?
Note: As a Represent Running Ambassador, I got a complimentary entry into the race, but my reviews are always honest. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!