Saturday: The day before
All day Saturday, I was focused on eating well and hydrating well. The week prior, I was lacking in the sleep department (the reality of two kids under 3), so I knew I needed to take care of myself nutritionally to avoid arriving completely exhausted on race day. Pictured is my lunch and dinner - lots of whole grains, veggies, fruits and lean protein plus some healthy fat. These are the pillars of great meals in general - but especially when preparing to race the next day.
|Lunch: Homemade pizza on whole wheat crust, salad w/ vinagrette dressing, watermelon, water|
|Dinner: Whole wheat pasta, chicken (no skin), homemade coleslaw (Greek yogurt dressing - no mayo), sweet potato, olives, avocado, beets, fruit salad, skim milk|
A few key foods to note:
Beets - great source of natural nitrates to increase oxygen flow to muscles
Avocado - great source of healthy fats to help decrease inflammation in the body and enhance recovery
Non-fat dairy - great source of protein, leucine and branch-chain amino acids to recover and repair muscles and prepare the body for race day
I ended the day with a snack of cheerios and skim milk, did a quick ice bath and headed to bed (relatively late) at 11pm.
Sunday: Race Day
Wake up call at 4:55am. Immediately drank 2 cups water. Left the house on time at 5:15am with breakfast in hand.
Transition opened at 5am and it was a 3 minutes drive to the race start. Had I not had to pump in the car, we would have just biked to the start. While driving, pulling everything out of the car and walking to the transition area, I had my breakfast: 1 cup water, 2 mini whole wheat bagels with 2 Tbsp peanut butter and 1 Tbsp jelly and 1 banana = ~90 gram carbohydrate, 10 grams protein
Set up transition, hit the restroom, then ran back to the car to pump (was about 6am at this time). While pumping, I drank about 1.5 cups water/Gatorade mix. Here is a pic of transition with my Team James shirt proudly displayed (I ran the triathlon in honor of my brother).
After pumping, it was now about 6:20am. I ran back to transition to drink about 1/2 cup more water and then head to the swim start for warm-up. Did a nice warm-up in the balmy 82 degree water and then lined up for the start.
The Swim: 400m
This swim is interesting in this race in that it takes place in a large outdoor pool that once was a rock quarry. So, in order to get the entire length needed, we actually swam a large "M" route through the pool. The organizer started 4 people every 10 seconds. Competitors lined up by time (fastest near the front). For those of you who follow my blog, you know about my severe swim anxiety. For this reason, I chose to put myself a bit closer to the front than my time probably spoke to in order to avoid the bottleneck of swimmers that happens as more swimmers enter the pool. I ran into the pool and began. I am elated to say that there was one thing missing from this swim: anxiety. I had none. It probably helped that I could see the edges of the pool and that I could also follow the lane markers that had been stretched to mark out the "M". It also likely helped that I had purchased new goggles that were smudge-, scratch-, and fog-free. And with no swim anxiety, I could actually swim at a relatively normal pace. This meant I experienced something I don't normally experience on the swim - fatigue! Yes - crazy I know - but when you suffer from swim anxiety, you don't do all that much hard swimming. But this time I did and I was excited to get out of the water quickly and run the long transition back to my bike. I drank a sip of water and took off with my bike.
The Bike: 20K
This bike course was a two-loop route that took cyclers on very small rolling hills with mostly flat terrain. I was able to get out fast and immediately began passing other competitors. My goal for this leg was to simply go as fast as I possibly could. I was a bit sore starting out, but my legs quickly got into the bike and I was feeling solid. There was a surprising headwind on one part of the course, which meant a fantastic tailwind after the turnaround. During the bike, I had a pre-measured amount of Gatorade diluted with a bit of water in one water bottle. So, I knew once I finished that bottle, I was good with my nutrition. The bottle held 24 ounces of fluid, which I would guess was about 16 ounces Gatorade and 8 ounces water = 30gm carbohydrate. I easily finished the bottle while maintaining a good pace during the ride.
The Run: 5K
The run course was one large loop that took us on flat neighborhood roads - some with shade and some in direct sun. By this time, it was around 8am. So, it was still relatively cool, but the clear skies gave no relief from the full sun. The humidity was also relatively low, which was a nice break from our recent weather. My goal for the run was (once again) go as fast as I could after the first 1/2 mile and take no nutrition along the way unless absolutely needed. I (mentally) give myself up to the first 1/2 mile of the run to get my legs going and get my pace up. I was feeling good with great energy mentally and physically. It helped that during this entire race, I just kept thinking of my brother. I also really forced myself to stay focused during this race instead of letting my mind wander. Wandering minds = drops in pace. The support along the run was fantastic - lots of volunteers and neighbors cheering everyone on. Very cool to see and experience. As planned, I used no nutrition during this short run and after fueling so well on the bike. As I came up to the finish, I knew I had done everything I could do; I could not have gone any faster or pushed myself any harder.
Because this race was for my brother, I was really hoping to win my age group. However, I knew this was a fast course with some great talent among the 600 competitors, so the chances of that were slim. So, if nothing else, I wanted to be on that podium. I was elated to find out that I had made it - 3rd in my division! I was 2 minutes behind 2nd and a whole 5 minutes behind 1st. I like it that way - there is no way I could have caught those two ladies! Here are my times: