Tidewater Triathlon Race Recap

Thanks to my B2B training plan, I've been swimming a lot more than ever before, by far, lately, so I had that going for me. On the other hand, the only time I've been in open water all year was at Breezy Point 6 weeks ago, when I had a freak mini panic attack as soon as I started swimming. I wasn't nervous about getting back in the water - truly, that was a freak occurrence since I've been comfortable in water my entire life - but I did want to take it easy on this swim. I think part of my issue at Breezy was letting some race day adrenaline get to me and going out faster than I was really comfortable with. I also like that this race is a beach start rather than an in-water start, like Breezy, where I had to tread water for 2-3 minutes waiting for the swim to start. 

I was talking to a friend on the beach while the first couple waves took off, so it was a surprise to me when it was my wave's turn to get in the water. I realized pretty quickly after we took off that most people had made a made dash right from the start and that I was near the back of the crowd. The same thing happened at Breezy, something else that contributed to my freakout (OMG I'm going to be last!) but after a couple minutes I started passing people left and right. By the time I got to the first turn buoy I was right on top of about 10 different people, and that's when I was sure that a lot of people had started off too fast and were backing off. 

We swam with the current but against the wind direction, which made the water pretty choppy. There were several times, especially along the back stretch, where I was bobbing up and down a lot from the chop. It interrupted my breathing a few times but for the most part, it didn't bother me. I could see the final turn buoy pretty well during that section on the back stretch, and I was surprised that I was more or less swimming pretty straight toward it. I did end up right underneath it as I approached it - I looked up to sight and the buoy was on top of my head. I threw it off, made sure to go around the appropriate side, and hoped I wasn't going to get a penalty for swimming on the wrong side of the buoy (I mean technically I ran into it so there wasn't a right or wrong side - I didn't get one, btw). 

After I made the last turn I looked toward the shore to try to align myself with the finish, but I was having a really hard time distinguishing where to go. Usually they have one of those inflatable dancing man things set up at the swim finish but he wasn't there this time. I just swam in the general direction of the shore, as I had a decent idea of where the finish was, but I wasn't positive I was going the right way. Eventually it got shallow enough to where I could stand up, and I was surprised to see that my watch had just hit 9 minutes. This race has the shortest swim of any of my tris at only 500m, but I was expecting it to take around 10 minutes at least, especially with my leisurely swim pace. The swim time includes the time it takes to run up the beach back to transition, so I made sure to hustle a little bit to slide in under 10 minutes. A girl in front of me had a 29 on the back of her calf (meaning she was in my 25-29 age group) so I sped up a teeny bit to get past her and ensure that I beat her on the swim before I crossed the mat! I knew that getting ahead of that girl really wouldn't matter in the long run, but hey...if all I had to do to move up a rank in our age group for the swim was squeeze by her, I was going to do it. (Those 2.5 seconds that cost me 1st in AG a couple months ago will forever haunt me). 

Swim: 9:42 (1:46min/100yd)

Transition 1
If there's one thing I kick ass at in a tri, it's my transitions. I get in, find my stuff, snap my race belt around my waist, throw on my shoes and helmet, and get going. Easy peasy. I'm so good that my T1 time was the fastest of anyone in my age group. Congratulations, everyone, you're friends with someone who has placed first in a portion of a triathlon #winning.

T1: 1:04

The last time I did this race, in 2013, was also the last race I did with my road bike/before I got my tri bike. What a world of difference! I hopped on the bike and immediately felt comfortable, even with the headwind on the way out. The course was 2 out-and-back-loops, and on the first out I was surprised to look down and see myself easily averaging 19-20mph, even with the wind. There's a turn about 2 miles into that loop, and that section takes you out to a bridge where the headwind picked up a lot, but I really concentrated on just getting through it (which was a lot easier to do knowing that the turnaround was only a few minutes away and then all that wind would be at our backs). 

Around the first turnaround I noticed I hadn't really seen anyone in my age group, which either meant they were all way ahead of me (most likely) or they were all behind me. Just then, a girl with a 29 on her calf whizzed by me (upon later review of the results, it was the same girl in front of me coming in from the swim). I was already doing so well on the bike so I thought to myself, "Oh hell to the no" and played cat and mouse with her for the rest of the bike. She'd pass me, I'd pass her, she'd pass me, we'd get caught in a traffic jam so I couldn't pass her....I'd pass her, she'd pass me, I'd pass her, we'd get in a traffic jam where she couldn't pass me...and so on until she ended up being in front when we got into our last traffic jam at the end of the bike so she was able to get in before me. So it goes. My average speed for the bike was nearly 20mph, significantly faster than any bike ride I've ever done before, ever (I mean it was only 10 miles, but still), so all I could do was be thankful that she had kept me on my game the whole ride.

Bike: 32:39 (19.91mph)

Transition 2
Let's not talk about my T2 time, which I completed smack dab in the middle of my age group's times. I know it's all because I haven't gotten Lock Laces for my current shoes. I wasted so much precious time tying my shoes!
T2: 1:07


When I got out on the run I felt really...fine? Not good, not great, but not bad by any means either. Just fine. Just ready to put my head down and put one foot in front of the other until I made it 3.1 miles. My pace has been all over the place lately so I had no idea what to expect from myself, but when I looked down after the first minute and saw 7:45, I knew I needed to rein it in a little. I backed off and settled into the low 8's and kept on cruising. I remember the run being super hot the last time I did this race, but fortunately this year the sun was hidden behind the clouds for nearly the whole race. 

I wasn't sure I had the mental strength to hang on to my pace, so early on I gave myself permission to back off if need be. It's not like I was out there for a 5k PR or anything. My main focus lately has been on the bike and I was already really pleased with how that went, so anything good that happened on the run would have been a bonus. 

The run course is an out-and-back as well, so at about a mile on my way out I passed my friend on his way back, and he told me there was a headwind the whole way back. Lovely! My pace was hovering at a comfortable 8:10 and I was a-okay with that. I was anticipating I'd slow down a lot when I turned around and started running into the wind, but I was so focused on getting to the finish at that point that I barely noticed.

The last turn took longer to show up than I was expecting (isn't that the way it always goes?). There was a water stop so I stopped for a second to get a drink and douse some water on myself before finishing out my last half mile. I hadn't seen anyone in my age group in a while, other than one of my friends who I knew was a minute or two ahead of me, and I was honestly kind of happy to not have to battle it out until the end. My pace slowed a little in the second mile and of course with the water stop, but I was still holding ~8:15 near the end and had no intention of letting up. Somehow the last few minutes of a 5k seem to fly by for me and before I knew it, I was at the mile 3 marker.

I'm being completely honest when I say I had no time goals for this race (I rarely ever do for a tri, tbh), but I had done some mental math beforehand and was thinking that I'd probably finish in the 1:10-1:15 range. I was hoping to be closer to 1:10 but you never know what race day will bring. Near the end of the run I realized I would actually most likely be under 1:10, so I made sure to get to the finish while the clock still read 1:09:XX. I was so focused on getting in under 1:10 that I didn't even realize I had been on target for a multisport 5k PR - like, by a lot. I finished the run 2 minutes faster than I ever have in any other triathlon or duathlon!

Run: 25:06 (8:14min/mi)

Total time: 1:09:36

It turns out that the girl I was neck and neck with on the swim and bike won our age group. So all I have to do is take 5 minutes off my 5k time and I'll have a shot of winning too. No big deal, that's only like a minute and a half per mile off my current 5k time. I'll get right on that.

But in all seriousness, I'm really happy with how I raced this one. I stayed calm and cool on the swim - maybe it cost me a minute or two, but I can live with that. I surprised myself by being powerful but in control on the bike. And I felt tired but strong on the run, and persevered even when it got hard. Not that I'm in it to win it (or I would have quit a long time ago), but I finished 5th in my age group...the same place I finished at this race 2 years ago, but with a 10.5 minute course PR this year. That just goes to show how much tougher the field gets every year! More stats: I finished 23rd out of 152 women (top 15%) and 118/408 overall (top 29%). Despite all that, I didn't go home with a cool plaque or wooden owl statue this time, but I felt like a winner all the same.

Plus, after I finished I headed straight back to the beach where the race started and enjoyed this view for the rest of the day. Now that's #winning.


  1. Congrats on all those wonderful personal victories! I don't need to say it again, but you are incredible. Every time I hear about a new accomplishment of yours in the water (or, frankly, any time you do anything well in the water) I'm in complete awe, because that's so far outside my realm of ability haha. Oh and that first fast mile feeling...not that I've ever run one in 7:45, but I know that mix of feelings! First it's like WOW AWESOME LOOK HOW FAST I AM and then it's like GIRL CHILL, you still got plenty to go.
    All the applause to you for a kickass race!

  2. Congrats! That is so awesome. It's great to see how your training is paying off, and you're just getting stronger and stronger!

    PS: heard from my doctor this AM and it's not a stress fracture! She didn't say what it is, but I'm thinking stress reaction like you had?

  3. dang girl, look at you go! seriously, you're so awesome. i can't believe how much faster you were this year compared to 2013. next year you can beat that girl lol. congrats on such a good race!

  4. Congrats!!! That swim was great, you training off :) So nice you are able to compare your results from 2013 and see how much you've improved (in all areas). Very inspiring #Wannabeliketracy! hehe