My Way or the Tri Way

This past Sunday we competed in the "My Way or the Tri Way" sprint triathlon in Aurora, Colorado.  With over 600 participants, this was a fairly big race, and the best aspect of event is the opportunity to choose your race order (Swim-Bike-Run, Bike-Swim-Run, etc.).  I opted for the same order I raced last year -- starting with the run because my legs are fresh, followed by the bike, and ending with the swim, which gives me the opportunity to be in the open water when it's less congested.

If I'm being completely honest, I wasn't really looking forward to this race leading up to it.  This was my last triathlon of the season, and I really didn't train a lot since my most recent race.  Our community center pool has been closed and the afternoons have been hot when I've tried to run.  I approached this race like it was just a fun workout, surrounded by other athletes who would help me push myself, and not a serious competition.

It was a beautiful morning in Aurora as we watched the sunrise over the reservoir while setting up our transition zone.  It was already warming up by the time the gun went off at 7:30 a.m., and the racers were off!  The 5K run entails one loop around a series of paths with a few moderate hills.  I took my time warming up for the first mile or so before picking up the pace.  It's a nice course, but from the past two years I would definitely argue that the "5K" distance is actually closer to 3.5 miles.  I'm glad I paced myself because I still had about 5 minutes of running left when I expected to be finished!  I had one of my slowest 5K race times at 35 minutes, followed by a quick transition before heading out on the hilly (and windy!) bike course.  I generally love and embrace hilly bike rides, and if it weren't for the wind on this particular morning it would have been an enjoyable ride.  Despite the wind I beat my bike time from last year and finished the ride in 46 minutes.  

Then it was time to don my wet suit and jog down to the lake for the 800 meter open water swim!  I devoted a lot of energy and concentration during the run and bike ride visualizing my swim, controlling my breathing, and imaging the feel of the water so that I would feel prepared.  I felt relaxed and calm as I walked into the lake, but the cold temperature was a shock.  I started to swim, and just like many of my races in the past, I couldn't seem to get my breathing under control enough to get my face in the water.  This has been an ongoing issue I've had since starting triathlons, but my last two races went so well that I thought I was over it.  I ended up breast stroking, side stroking and back stroking.  I attempted to freestyle about every 100 meters, but was never able to find a steady rhythm for the remainder of the race.  My goal at this point was just to finish.  I completed my swim in 31 minutes and jogged through the transition zone and down the hill to the finish line for a total time of 1 hour 58 minutes.  I placed 10th out of 19 in my age group, which was definitely not my best, but I was just happy to be finished!  I had a good workout and it was a nice morning, and the competition didn't matter as much to me for this particular race.  If I do this race again next year, I'm going to start with the swim so I can spend some time warming up in the water before the start of the race.

The best part of the day was post-race lunch sponsored by Noodles & Company, followed by stopping at Caribou Coffee before driving back to Santa Fe!

I'm done with triathlons for the season but I look forward to a few more short-distance running races this fall and winter!


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