This last Saturday I had my first “redemption” race. Last year, the Jordanelle Olympic Triathlon put on by TriUtah was my first Olympic distance triathlon. At the time I had decided that I had done Sprint distance triathlons for 1 1/2 seasons and that it was time to up the ante and do an Olympic distance. I talked with my Coach and he suggested Jordanelle. The race was later in the year, it would give me plenty of time to up my training, etc. My coach told me about the course and even my friend Greg on Twitter emailed me from Texas and told me about the course.
I was nervous to say the least. The first 1/2 of the bike is what they call a “false flat”. It looks flat, but it’s anything BUT flat. I struggled last year. It didn’t help that I didn’t fuel myself AT ALL on the bike or run. I swam a mile, got on the bike and went. By the time I got done with the 25 miles on the bike, I was dead. It took everything I had to finish the run.
I remember on the run, as I was heading in to the second loop of the run, I screamed at my dad to stop ringing the damn cowbells and I was crying and as I ran past my coach and his wife, I yelled that this was embarrassing.
Needless to say, I came in 2nd to last in the race last year. I felt humiliated. After the race though, I decided that I was hell bent on doing the race again and doing better.
I’ve quickly learned that on long races like this, I need to eat a gel before I start the swim. Then, while I’m on the bike and run, I need to eat an energy gel every 20 – 30 minutes. Then, I don’t bomb.
Knowing this nutrition information, I registered for the Jordanelle race fairly early in the year. I was excited for the race this year. Knowing the course, knowing what I need to know about nutrition, and even having a better bike, I felt a little more confident than I did last year. Don’t get me wrong, I still got race day nerves, but I felt a little more confident than I did last year.
One thing I like about TriUtah races is they assign you a transition spot. Most races, I try to get there early so I can get a good transition spot. I like the end of the bike rack the best. You have more room.
Jordanelle is about an hour away from home, so my dad and I left about 6:15 a.m. to head up to the race. We got up to Frances, UT about 7:30 a.m. and I had to bike down to the race (about 1 mile) and then my dad was going to take a bus down that TriUtah provides for the spectators.
I picked up my packet and headed to transition to get set up. As soon as I reached transition I was shocked! The water level of the reservoir was SUPER low. It was about 40 ft lower than it was last year.
I got all set up except for my water bottles. I had my dad bring my water bottles down with him because I didn’t have room in my bag. It’s now about 8:15 a.m. and I haven’t seen my dad yet. The race is supposed to start in 45 minutes and I have NO water bottles for the bike or run. I’m starting to panic a little bit. I decide to head up towards packet pickup and maybe I’ll see my dad along the way. Plus, I gotta use the Porta-Potty.
Finally, I see my dad! The shuttle buses didn’t show up!!! My dad was able to get a ride from another spectator that was shuttling people back and forth in his jeep. So, I head back to transition with my dad to fill up my water bottles.
As my dad is putting sunscreen on me, I’m in full blown panic mode. I start to cry. The open water scares the bejesus outta me. I decide to get in to my wetsuit a lot earlier than I normally would and head down to the water. Maybe if I do some warm up swimming I’ll be ok.
You know how I said that the reservoir was about 40 ft low? Well, it was so low, we had to hike about 150 – 200 yards from transition to the water. It was SUPER muddy too. It was so muddy it was disgusting. I got in the water to do a little warm up swimming and I did ok.
I decided to eat my shot blocks about 10 minutes before the start of the race. After I ate the shot blocks, they decided to post pone the start of the race to 9:30 a.m. so that they could get all the spectators to the race. So much for eating my shot blocks and having them do any good. Lol.
The race was finally ready to start. I was feeling good from my warm up swim. As we waded in to the mud and water, a girl asked if I was Ara. She was a girl from Triple Threat Triathletes (a group I’m a member of on Facebook). How people recognize me in my wetsuit & swim cap when they’ve never met me, I’ll never know.
The gun went off, and I took it easy heading to my first buoy. As I was swimming, the water was SO shallow that when I’d follow through with my swim stroke, I would touch the bottom of the lake! There were times it was SO muddy that when I’d stick my head in the water, it was like I was closing my eyes, the water was that dirty. I remember thinking “Did I close my eyes when I put my head in the water?”, but I didn’t.
The swim went really well until about the middle of the 2nd loop. Once the Olympic distance athletes started their second loop, that is when the Sprint distance athletes were supposed to start swimming. Because of the late start of the race, I think the race officials let the sprinters start a little early. I ran in to ALOT of them on the swim. I remember actually swimming OVER a couple of people. It was kind of frustrating, but at the same time, I knew it couldn’t be helped. Alot of the sprinters were just doing the bare minimum to get through the swim. They weren’t sighting or anything, so they were in everybody’s way. Oh well, that’s part of the game.
I managed to finish the swim in 0:35:28. That’s not bad. That’s about how I finished last year. Then it was time to hike up to transition. When ever I get done with the swim, my entire body feels like jello & it takes everything I have to just walk up to transition, so that’s what I did. Walk.
I was excited to head out on the bike. I thought since I had a better bike this year, I would be faster. I did ok for the first little bit on the bike. The further out on the bike we got, the slower I got. About 1 mile until the turn around point, 2 girls were getting ready to pass me, and I was grunting and groaning on the bike and I was ready to cry. It hurt, my legs were tired, I just felt like I was doing as bad as I was last year. But they gave me great encouragement.
Once I hit the turn around point on my bike, I did great. The rest was downhill, except for 1 hill that I had to climb, but I even did ok on that climb. At one point on the race though, there is a hill that is a 10% downgrade. I could’ve flown down that hill, but that hill scares me it is so steep. To give you an idea, my coach, when he does this race, he flies down that hill at approximately 45 mph!!! So, I took it easy going down that hill and then flew in to transition. I finished the bike in 1:36:18, an average speed of 15.4 mph. I wish I would’ve been faster.
Now it was time to head out on a 6 mile run. This is what I was nervous for. I knew exactly what to expect. Within the first mile of the run, I fell apart emotionally. I went in to this run REALLY hoping I could run all 6.2 miles. Unfortunately, my legs just didn’t have it in them. After climbing hills on my bike, my legs were just ready to be done. Even though I nutritioned myself on the bike and had plenty of nutrition for the run, I felt like I wasn’t properly nutritioned.
As I was approaching the first water station, a fellow runner took pity on me and stuck with me for a little bit to give me encouragement. His name was Josh. He told me that we were going to walk to the water station and then run the rest of the way. He kept giving me words of encouragement and I really appreciated it.
He eventually went ahead of me. As the run went on, the better it got though. I was able to handle it easier…mentally. Alot of the run is on a trail, which is a little harder, because I don’t do alot of trail running, but it’s a fun run.
There were more people out on the run still than I expected. You have to do 2 loops of the run. The 2nd loop of the run was alot easier than the first loop. I still did a little bit of walking, but I felt like I finished strong. As always, I didn’t get my “running legs” until mile 4, and that’s when I really felt strong and I ran the rest of the way of the run.
I finished the run in 1:10:10, which is an average 11:10/mile. Not my best, but certainly not my worst. I finished the race overall in 3:27:45.7, which is 22 minutes better than last year!
I ended up coming in 4th in my group (Athena…weight division). I was 15 minutes behind the 3rd place. I’m ok with that. I would’ve been upset if I was like 1 minute or something.
This will be a race I do every year. Why? Because it is very well organized. Plus, I want to conquer this race. I want to be able to run the entire 6.2 miles. I want to feel strong on the bike. I’ve decided in order to accomplish this, when I have long rides on my schedule, I need to pack up my bike and go up and ride this bike course.
You can see more pictures of me at this race here.
Next race on the list: Camp Yuba Tri on 9/8/12.