Race Report: Boulder Sprint Triathlon

I went into this race with the delusional idea that I might be within ten minutes or so of my time when I did it in 2010, despite the fact that I have never trained less than I have over the past four months. Not that I wasn’t training; I was, just not a lot. Instead of working out six days a week, with a few days where I would do two workouts, I was working out about five days a week, no more than once a day.

You know how sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail? On race day, I was the nail. Although I got up once in the night for Sweet Pea, she had slept the whole night through both Thursday and Friday nights.  I was very attentive to all the logistics of this race (read: stressed), so I had all my stuff out and ready to go the night before. Even Sweet Pea was wearing her race day outfit as her pajamas. (Side note: A friend once told me the best way to motivate to hit the gym before work is to wear your workout clothes to bed, so you’d be practically ready to go in the morning. So I wore a Speedo to bed once. And once only. It’s definitely ok to wear your spectating clothes to bed, particularly if they are a onesie and you’re a baby, but I wouldn’t recommend wearing workout clothes to bed).

The reason I was so stressed concerned about the details was that Dan was racing, too. Since when is Dan a triathlete, you ask? Since I was about 8 months pregnant, when I casually asked him if he wanted to sign up for this race with me. He said yes and I was on Active.com before he could change his mind.

It all worked out to plan, and we had our bikes, ourselves, and our baby in the car by 5:45. Dan went to the transition area while I nursed Sweet Pea in the car. Once she had her breakfast, I loaded her up in the Ergo carrier, I got my backpack on, I had her diaper bag over one shoulder, I stuck her blanket into one of the drink holders on my bike, and headed toward the transition area. I handed the baby off to Dan while I got my stuff together, then hit the porto-potties, and met back up with Dan and my in-laws, who kindly watched Sweet Pea during the race. I nursed her once more at 7:30, then headed over to the water to don my wetsuit for my 7:50 start.

Swim (1/2 mile)
In retrospect, it was a mistake not to warm up in the water. Actually, I was just running across the beach as they announced my wave, at which point I had only 5 minutes to go and my wetsuit wasn’t even zipped yet. Overall, I just wasn’t focused. I had not done a warmup of any kind, in fact. We didn’t get there early enough for me to do a bike or run warm-up. I wanted to bike to the race venue, which would have been a perfect warm-up, but I was anal concerned that going separately from Dan and the baby would have just been one more thing to worry about.

And the other thing that was a mistake- one of the things you hear about all the time if you read any triathlon blogs- was not swimming enough in training. Well, no doy, right.  I’ve skated by in a few other triathlons by gutting out the swim on practically no swim training, but this strategy didn’t work for me today. I had been swimming with some regularity up to about last month, at which point I stopped making it to the pool. This Thursday I did an open water swim, just to make sure I still remembered how, and it was fine. Not great, but fine. During the race, however, I just couldn’t catch my breath. Usually I settle into a rhythm after the first 5 minutes or so, but this never happened. I felt like I just couldn’t get it together, no matter how much I tried to relax. I tried swimming as slow as possible, I tried pausing to tread water, I tried counting each stroke. I tried visualizing my worst swims, hoping to realize it wasn’t that bad (I wasn’t sure), and I tried visualizing my best swims, to no avail. I felt like I had just sprinted a mile and had someone sitting on my chest.

I finally waved for help and I hung onto a kayak for a bit. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, but I’ve also never been anxious about open water. I’m an experienced triathlete, so what was the deal? I thought perhaps my wetsuit was too tight. Maybe it was the gel I ate right before the start. Who knows. Hanging onto the kayak was only marginally helpful, so after a while I started swimming again. I was still short of breath, but at least I was getting closer to the swim finish. 

There went any hope of beating Dan. Not to get into too much detail, but let’s just say there was a lot of trash talking going on in the Moore household and most of it was from me.  Finally the swim was done. I barely had the energy to jog to my bike, I felt a little nauseated, and I developed a deep hacking cough, which stayed with me all day. Nice.
Time: 21:28

Bike (17.2 miles)
I hoped to put all this behind me with a strong bike, but this was not to be. I got passed by lots of people. I imagined I would pick them off later, after a conservative start, but this never happened. As it turned out, my average pace was slower than I could have imagined, so that explained that.  I just never felt like I had any power in my legs.
Time: 1:01:21

Run (3.1 miles)
Onto the run… It was more of a jog. My calf was cramping, my stride was short, and I was barely able to breathe, so my goal became not to walk. I didn’t walk. Eventually I made it to the finish line, where my friends waved the best signs ever. They said “Team Moore” and “We want Moore.” I smiled big, part because of my friends and the signs, part because I was finally done, and part because Sweet Pea was at the finish and my chest was about to explode. (With milk, not joy, in case that wasn’t clear).
Time: 30:41.

My total time for this race was 1:58. In 2010 I did it in 1:35… A HUGE difference! I have to remind myself that the goal of this race was not to be competitive, but to have an event on the calendar to keep me motivated to get in shape, and to that end, it was successful.

I spent nearly all my energy trying to survive the swim, which forced me to slow waaaay down on the bike and run, even though I am capable of much more. Also, my miserable swim broke me down mentally for the rest of the race. I just couldn’t keep my head in the game after holding onto a boat so that I wouldn’t hyperventilate. Was it possible to stay motivated? Perhaps. But I didn’t have whatever it would have taken to be in that space. I was however making complete nutrition for another person while racing, so that’s got to count for something, right?

The good part was, Dan beat me by a lot. Of course this is good because I’m married to him and I celebrate his successes, but also because I’m his coach! I am super proud of him for doing all his workouts and for having a strong race.

I learned that muscle memory will only take you so far (not very), that I need to swim in order to not ruin my swim and possibly the whole race, and that I was capable of finishing, albeit slowly, on very minimal training a few months after having a baby.

The next major thing on my agenda is a fall half marathon and some shorter running races this summer. For now, I’m not willing to commit to the training required to be a decent triathlete and I would rather focus on improving in one sport for now.

So…. what was the worst/stupidest/funniest mistake YOU ever made during a race (triathlon or other type of event)? I’d love to hear…. Someday I will have to blog about the time I thought I could compensate for being undertrained for a half ironman with extra calories. My race day breakfast looked like it was meant for a lumberjack. To make a long story short, I saw the breakfast again on the run a few times. I finished, though! I am proud to say that despite all my rookie and not-so-rookie mistakes, I’ve never DNF’ed a race.

4 thoughts on “Race Report: Boulder Sprint Triathlon

  1. Melissa. says:

    Biggest mistakes:1) First tri (short) – decided to buy a bike 2 weeks before. Swam fine, biked crap, passed out during the run and DNF!2) Not ever practicing in the ocean before my first ever ocean-based tri (also my first Olympic-distance tri) – managed to do just fine but my spent all 40 k of my bike ride burping.3) Returning to practice too soon after my ultramarathon (80 k) – I did absolutely fine in my post-race training, but I think the universe just wanted me to slow down s,o as I was carrying my bike into the garage a few days after my ultra, I slipped, scraping my knee and foos so badly that I couldn’t swim, run or bike for 2 weeks, and was stuck with only simple gym and yoga days.So proud of my nursing mama tri friend and her newly tri’d hubby!

  2. Pam says:

    Melissa- Thanks for sharing:) When ar you going to get your butt back into the US so we can do a tri together?? I guess I could come to you but I think I’m gonna play the “I’ve got a baby its hard for me to travel” card:)

  3. Nat says:

    Biggest mistake:Not trying an open water swim before an open water tri (I had done one tri previous, and it was a pool swim). I thought ‘It will be the same except I won’t really be able to see much’. Wrong, it was not the same in any capacity except both a pool and a lake are large bodies of water.I can’t even put into words how PROUD of you I am, Pammy! You are such an inspiration to all of us, but most importantly to Charlotte. Way to go for modeling a tenacious attitude for her!!! Love you! This makes me miss you!Congrats to Dan too!!!

  4. Nancy P-S says:

    Hey Pam – I’m catching up late on your recent postings so I’ve decided I might as well not follow your instructions about what to post. I just have to say that: #1 you’re amazing for even doing the race. Hopefully you know that part and #2 I relate not being able to focus. But for me I’ve struggled with that a bit on all my post-babies races. I think I ended up feeling conflicted about not being with my kids so a part of brain is working on that. I have to give myself a little talk each time about how they’re safe and it’s ok for me to be out in the woods. My most recent race was trail and Joe ran it too. At the start we vowed to not sign up for the same race again. Too stressful to not have the spouse with the kids BUT we don’t have family nearby like you guys do. Anyways, I bet a part of your issue could be fixed with no training time – just five or ten minutes at the start to get your head into things and think about being an athlete, not just a mama. You’re a wonder, girl! Happy 4th.

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