Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ST. A's....

St. Anthony’s was a decent race for me, and a wake up call for sure. It had been 8 months since my last race which was in England, and I have learned that no matter how much training you do in the off season, you can still fall apart on race day if you aren’t mentally prepared to race. Richard and I have both decided that our first season race will not be St. Anthony’s again. We will both plan at least one race prior to St. Anthony’s to sharpen the race skills that have collected dust over the off season.

The week was a great week with lots of adventures and fun. R's parents came in from England to visit and Rich’s father raced St. A’s as well. On race morning we crawled out of bed early. Richard had a 6:44 start, my wave was an hour later. We headed down to transition. Right away I felt a little lost, even put my aero bottle in backwards and thankfully realized my mistake before the race. The weather in St. Pete all week had been calm and beautiful and just like last year, on race morn, the wind was whipping like crazy and it was cloudy. Storm front blowing in. …great. My first thought—please don’t cancel the swim again like last year. Thankfully they did not….well, at least not until after my wave anyway.Out of transition and had to sprint all the way around to see the pro men go off. Rich was toeing the line as we got down there and I had just a minute before he set off. The gun popped and the pro men were off, and fast. After I saw Rich start, I decided to go ahead and suit up. Thank goodness for Rich’s mom as she is the pro spectator and gear drop ;)

After looking at the lines to the toilet, I decided to just go in the water. Hahaha…I got in the water to take care of business and there was my friend Jen lo and behold doing the same thing. Too funny!! I can almost guarantee that there were at least 50 other people doing the same thing as well. So, after our release, we headed over to the start as we were getting ready to go off soon. Jen and I in the same wave and both very anxious. As they called us up, I felt those butterflies as always. Breathe….Breathe….Breathe…Calm….Calm….The Gun went off. Richard wanted me to run then dolphin in, we practiced and practiced, but did I dolphin?? No! Not even sure why, but I ran in all the same and guess I just fell and started swimming. Now here is where it gets interesting. I have trained, trained, and trained some more. Dropping my swim time drastically with Richard’s coaching. Olympic swim…fast and a piece of cake. Well, not today. UGH! Right away I started to freeze up. Here are my list of excuses ugh...Number One- The waves were incredible. Number Two- Never raced in the ocean, and Number 3-I felt a creature brush by my body before the first 500 meters ( I am petrified of sharks having had an encounter with one up close a few years ago). All of these things, plus the first time I have had my head in murky water in 8 months=disaster. I simply freaked. I tried to talk myself through it, not sure what had just happened but I lost it. I kept going but the strokes weren’t easy. No matter how much you swim, no matter how fast and strong you are in the water, if you aren’t with it mentally, you will have a hard swim. Mentally I wasn’t there and it showed. On the way back in after the last turn buoy, the waves were throwing my body around like crazy. Once out of the swim, I was completely disoriented. Dizzy beyond dizzy. Swim time for the day—horrible. After the race, we later found out that because of the severe chop, they stopped the swim for 30 minutes and then shortened the course by 1000m for all the other waves after ours. Oh well, at least I got through it.

One the bike and feeling better, I hammered it. I caught my breath after mile 4 and then things got a little easier. It’s a nice flat course, but again on this day, it was very windy. I always have a fast average on this bike course, this time it was supposed to be faster but from the high wind, it was pretty much the same average as last years. Once in transition again, I felt lost. I threw on my run shoes and headed out. Oooops. Already at least 5 minutes out of transition on the run and I realized I had forgotten my race belt with my number. GREAT! I turned around ran all the way back in transition and got my belt. By then, as you can imagine, I was a mental frazzle. Ugh. This is the whole part of the race sharpness that was lost in the last 8 months. I have never forgotten my number, ever. Anyway, the run was hot and humid. Really hot. I was tired and still annoyed by my horrible swim, and now forgetting the belt, so I got around the run as best I could. I did a bit better than the last race 8 months ago in time, and after I crossed the finish line, was happy, but still annoyed with myself.

Richard had a horrible experience as well. Halfway through his bike….his saddle broke. He had to stand up for the second half of the bike, completely exhausting his legs, so his run suffered. He pulled it off with a 14th finish, but was not at all happy about that. Richard’s dad had a great race…winning his age group even. He has been doing triathlon since Rich was a child, she he really is a strong solid athlete. Like father, like son I suppose. After the race, we hung up with lots of friends and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Rich and I, along with his parents drove back to NC on Monday and enjoyed stopping in beautiful Savannah on the way back for the night.

St. Anthony’s a great race. Not for either of us that day, but I was very happy to see my friend Jen do her first Olympic Triathlon and she did very well. I’m sure Jenn will not be hooked for life! It always starts with one, then you can never get enough!

Per Rich and our race discussions…Key things to remember with the first race of the season is to be sharp. Race sharpness comes with mental preparedness. You have to visualize things. See your transitions in your mind, plan them out in your head and then do it just like you envisioned it. Try to do a small race to get your skills up to par before your season opening big race. It really will make a difference and we both fully intend to do just that next spring before St. A’s.

The Pro Men Start At St. A's---See R almost take out the camera man hehe!


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