RACE REPORT: St. Anthony’s Olympic Triathlon

sta-747St. Anthony’s Triathlon has been on my race bucket list since 2013!  I had planned to register for it last year, but it was only 2 weeks before Gulf Coast 70.3 and I was worried about having enough time to properly recover, so I decided to wait until this year.  I’m really glad I did.

The St. Anthony’s Triathlon is a premier race event known for attracting a wide range of professional and amateur competitors including Olympic gold medalists, Ironman world champions and celebrity athletes who compete on a scenic course along the waterfront of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  2016 was the 33rd annual race and there were ~3,400 triathletes participating in either the Meek & Mighty triathlon (for kids and novice adults) on Saturday or the Sprint or Olympic distance races on Sunday.

Deb and I arrived in St. Petersburg on Saturday afternoon and went straight to the expo in North Shore Park for packet pickup and to see what goodies the vendors were offering.  If I were to offer one criticism it would simply be for the race organizers to add street addresses for the expo/packet pickup location and bike check-in, so it would be easier to navigate there by GPS.  But, no harm, no foul, we found both places – we just parked a long way away…

Someone had ONE job....

Someone had ONE job….(and why did I get a Men’s Large?)

Packet pickup was pretty painless – it got a little clogged up, but there were so many people.  As a race organizer myself, I cut them a lot of slack – they moved people through pretty well and 20 minutes later I walked out with a sweet USAT pint glass, a nice bright yellow dri-fit race shirt, my timing chip, bib, and an awesome bag of race swag.  Then Deb and I went back to the car to get Chrissie (my bike) and take her to bike check-in.  Everything went super-smooth – you’d think they had hosted this race a time or two… or 33.  We checked out the swim start, we went back to the expo and poked around for a bit.

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The fancy pants!

Then we headed for our hotel to wait for our roommate to arrive.  We had the wonderful pleasure of having the super-speedy, Malachi Henry, stay in our room with us.  What a delight!!  He arrived and we all went for a walk on the beach and he bought us dinner at Sloppy Joe’s (which was connected to our hotel).  Malachi brought his Normatec compression boots with him and was very generous with them.  Oh, they are HEAVEN!!!  I actually went through 2 cycles with them on Saturday night and another cycle on Sunday morning.  Sooooo awesome!!!

Sleep came early and so did the alarm!

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Ahhhh! Sooo amazing! May need a pair of these!

I jumped right into my routine.  Double check transition bag, make coffee, have a piece of toast with almond butter, a banana, and a bottle of water, make almond butter & banana sandwich to eat before the swim start, get dressed, and then just sit and wait… only I got to wait in the awesome compression boots!  Malachi and I left for the race site around 5:15am.  Deb stayed at the hotel and was planning to come meet up with me at the finish line.  During the drive there, I started to get nervous.  I hadn’t done an open-water swim since Beach 2 Battleship (and let’s be honest, that was much more floating along with the current than swimming) and was a little freaked out about the prospect.  I wasn’t worried about the distance – I swim 2500 yards 2-3 times per week and it’s not a big thing.  But I was worried about getting hit and kicked and punched during the start.  Oh well, it’s part of the game and what was I gonna do?  Quit?  Not likely…

We got to the transition area by 6:00am and got out transition areas all set up.  The transition area was VERY sandy – not a lot of grass at all.  I couldn’t help wonder how nasty it was going to be when I got to T1 after the swim… 😦

Malachi and I left transition and walked down to the swim start just in time to see the pros start.  Wow, I so wish I had my camera.  I have mad respect for the professional triathletes!  The men’s field included Cameron Dye, Tim O’Donnell, Tyler Butterfield, and Sam Appleton (and a bunch of others whose names I didn’t know).  The women’s field included my personal hero, Mirinda Carfrae, Sarah Haskins, Alicia Kaye, Lauren Goss (and others I didn’t know).  The cannon (yes, EVERY swim wave was started with a cannon shot) went off and man, those guys were so fast!!!

I ate part of my sandwich, got my wetsuit on, and then it was time for me to go warm up.  Malachi gave me a hug, wished me luck and I was off.  I went into the water, which was warm, but wetsuit legal, and just kind of got used to it.  I headed to the corral with my swim wave and looked over and who was standing right beside me, but Sister Madonna Buder – the IronNun!!!  OMG!  Such a cool lady!!!  We walked out into the water, the countdown started, the cannon went off and we were swimming.  I even remembered to start my Garmin… In Triathlon Mode even!!

And IT WAS AWESOME!!!!

I found a lane of clear water pretty early on and was thrilled with how (generally) straight my lines were.  I passed buoy after buoy – passing the orange ones, turning at the red ones.  And before I knew it I was at the metal stairs and a volunteer was helping me get my footing.  Up I went and I was off to T1.  (Swim Time:  33:44, Avg. 2:03/100 yds)

Just as I feared T1 was a sandy, dirty mess!  I stripped off my wetsuit, dried off a little and laid my towel down so I could sit on it and rinse my feet off before putting my socks on.  I had to rinse twice… :/  Socks on, bike shoes on, helmet, check… sunglasses, check… Bike food, check… sunscreen again… grab bike, throw wetsuit over the rack and go… only I walked out…  (T1:  5:10 – I gotta work on that shit!!)

The bike segment was GLORIOUS!  And Chrissie is an AMAZING bike!  I just love her so much!!  There are lots of turns on this course.  They call it a “technical” bike course.  I guess it was and I had to slow down to turn often, but every time I looked at Garmin, I was between 20-24mph.  About 14 miles in I hear an “On your left… THERE SHE IS!!!” and Malachi BLEW past me in all his Speedo clad glory – he must’ve been going 26mph!  Before I knew it, I was back to transition, dismounting my bike.  (Bike Time:  1:16:41, Avg. 19.4 mph)

T2 should’ve been super quick.  I have no idea what the heck took so long.  Racked my bike, changed my shoes, took off my helmet, put on a hat, got a drink, and headed out.  How does that take over 3 minutes?  I have no clue… (T2:  3:07)

The run course was beautiful!  We went over a bridge and turned into a very swank neighborhood – the houses were just breathtaking!  And the crowd support was amazing.  Along with the “official” aid stations every mile, residents had aid stations set up in front of their homes – some with beer even (which I did not partake of).  It was so cool.  I saw Malachi at about the 2.5 mile mark (for me) as he headed back to the finish line and he was FLYING!  I ran easy the first 4 miles and then actually raced the last 2.  I have NEVER raced at the end of a triathlon before.  HR zone training must actually be working! (Run Time: 1:07:38).

Total Time:  3:06:08

My goal for this race was 2:59:59 or less – I really wanted that sub-3.  And if my transitions hadn’t been so shitty, I could have gotten it!  You can bet I will be practicing before IMFL in November!

I place in the top half for my age group and my gender.  I was 12/39 on the bike (#ZwiftEffect).

12965217_1104521019604012_622696299_nShout out to Malachi, who took first in the 25-29 AG with a blistering 2:07:03!  His average run pace was 6:27/mile!  Incredibly and so inspiring!

20160423_094634I would definitely do this race again – and I probably will!  I have heard that the weather can be really fickle, but we had the perfect day for a race!  Next time we will stay at the Renaissance Vinoy which is right at the transition area so we don’t have to mess with cars, but all-in-all a great race!

Thanks especially to my sherpa-extraordinaire, Deb, my training partner in crime, Megan, and the folks at SwimBikeFuel.

Here We Grow!

13119690_mIt’s been a while since I last posted.  To say it’s been busy around here is the understatement of the century.  Deb and I spent the month of March on the road with a terrific group of folks from Ambit Energy, traveling around the country training their team.  It was great fun and we met some amazing people, but WOW, was it exhausting!  And the piles that we returned home to – OMG!  I am happy to say that I have just about caught up with everything… Finally… Mostly…

See me fly?

See me fly?

So, when we last met, I had just returned from our awesome (but unseasonably chilly and rainy) trip to Key West.  We had a really good time.  And for the most part, I achieved my goal of not eating my way across the island.  There was one slight mishap on the exercise front though.  On the first day of our trip I woke up bright and early to head our for a 1 hour run.  I had mapped out a beautiful route along the water before we left home and all was well until about 30 minutes in I found myself face down on the pavement out of nowhere.  My first thought – as I was falling – was that I had tripped on something, but no, that wasn’t quite right because I was flying through the air…  In actuality I had been plowed into from behind by a kid (maybe 12-13 years old) on a bike who was trying to avoid a puddle on the sidewalk on his way to school and he just didn’t see me.  I came down hard on my left hand and knee (one would think after doing all those front falls in karate over the years, that would have been my default, but notsomuch 😦 ).

After making sure we were both okay, the boy and I parted ways and I did what any sane, normal person would do.  I turned my bloody, sore self around and ran the other half of my workout back to our condo.  My knee was fine – just a nasty scrape.  My wrist was not so fine.  Any lateral or backward bending hurt – a lot.  We went to Walgreens and I bought a wrist support and then I texted my chiropractor friend, Malachi, and asked for his advice.  He recommended a trip to urgent care for an x-ray.  So, the next morning – on Deb’s birthday – we spent several hours at Advanced Urgent Care.  The x-ray did not show a break and I got another super-cool wrist splint and was told not to use it for a week).

Anyhow, that was my excitement.  To be honest, it’s just now (over 2 months later) that my wrist doesn’t hurt.  I’m not so sure the x-rays weren’t wrong, but it’s all good now.

Pics from the trip (yep, mostly food…):

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Did more treats slip in than I would have liked?  Yes, of course (case in point, the frozen slice of key lime pie dipped in dark chocolate that I conveniently forgot to snap a picture of… 😉  If you haven’t tried this, you must – it was AH-MAZING!!!).  But all in all, I was pretty pleased with the decisions I made.

Then we launched into March with travel to Stockton, CA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; and Erie, PA.  Crazy busy, but so, so fun!

SBF        M-and-M

Fun and games came to a screeching halt on April 1st!  I signed up for “Swim-Bike-Fuel” – a one month nutritional training program for triathletes presented by USAT Triathlon Coach, Meredith Atwood (aka SwimBikeMom) and Sports Nutritionist, Meredith Vieceli.  We’re not even half way through the month and I have learned so much terrific information.  Some of it is new.  Most of it supports what I already knew, but had forgotten, or just wasn’t being consistent with.  I need to be very intentional, not just with my training, but also with my fueling to get me to the finish line at Ironman Florida in 205 days (but who’s counting… 😮 ) and I will do whatever I have to do to show up as my very best self on race day.

On April 11th, my 30 week Ironman training program started and next Sunday (4/24) I have my first triathlon of the season at St. Anthony’s in St. Pete Beach, FL.  It’s been a stout training week and I just finished a 9 mile run that my body just didn’t want to do.  I told my friends that it was like a toddler in Target who didn’t get the toy they wanted – every part of me was bitching and whining and crying to stop, but I just kept moving forward… slowly, but forward nonetheless, and soon enough it was over.  I kinda want to curl up into the fetal position when I think about having to do that run 2 more times after more than 100 miles on a bike and more than 2 miles of swimming.  It seems impossible in the present moment, but every worthy goal always does until you grow into the person who achieves those goals.  I have 205 days to grow baby, GROW!!

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