This past Saturday was my second time racing the Nantucket triathlon. I love this island and how peaceful it is. I try and get out every summer for at least a few weeks to spend some time relaxing, enjoying the feelings of summer and seeing the family. And if I can work in a race, all the better.
After some conversations with Coach K last week, I made the decision to treat this race as a no-pressure-but-go-out-and-hammer-it event. I also made the decision to leave my Garmin on the sidelines. I have always been a faithful Garmin user. I love having the instant feedback of my effort and pace and seeing the data. But after a workout last week where I threw down some gnarly bike and run paces just going on feel, I wanted to see what I could do if I went out and raced entirely on feel.
Sunday morning started at the crack of dawn with a 4:30 wake up call. After a few bites to eat and what felt like enough water to drown a small animal, I was out the door. I made my way down to transition by 5:30, and got my gear lined up. Since this was such a laid back race for me, my set up only took a few minutes and I was left with time to wander around and enjoy the beautiful morning.
This year we were
cursed blessed with low tide. That means that this wasn’t going to be so much of a “swim”, but rather a wading, dolphin dive out and back. The first wave took off and standing on the beach I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Everyone was walking / wading / dolphin diving all the way out to the turn around buoy, swimming around the buoy, and the repeating the walking / wading / dolphin diving back to shore. While most others around me were stoked about the conditions, I was pretty disappointed. Swimming is one of my strengths and I was looking forward to a strong swim to give me a couple of minutes cushion. (Which we all know I need come run time). Because of the swim conditions, everyone’s time was within a minute or two of the rest of the wave.
I love biking on Nantucket, it’s such a beautiful place, and the course was no exception. The route headed west from town, out to the end of the island and back. I hit the bike, headed out of town and spent the next 13 miles weaving my way through crowds of cyclists. With the way the swim worked out, it was almost like a mass start. In a matter of 15 minutes you and 1,000 of your closest friends were out of the water and jockeying for a spot on the roads. This made the ride more about the art of maneuvering than about riding.
And the headwinds. Oh, the headwinds. Heading out of town we were faced with a steady 20mph straight on wind. I know I used to complain about hills, but I think I will take hills over a headwind. At least you eventually get to the top of a hill and get to recover on the down side. With headwinds there is no recovery time. at all.
So I did the best I could do, I geared down got down into aero and hammered away. This was the first time ever that I was racing without any watch or way to track the effort I was putting out. I had no real sense of what pace I was riding at. But I also didn’t have the frustration of wanting to give up because I was unhappy with some numbers on a watch screen.
I came flying back into T2 feeling strong and headed out on the run.
The humidity. Oh, the humidity. (noticing a pattern here?) While on the bike, I was able to get a break from it, but as soon as I started the run, it was back in force. It felt like I was running in a sauna and I just couldn’t get cool. Throughout the course there were a several families out cheering and offering us a spritz with the hoses (lifesavers! thank you!). I felt unusually strong and was surprised that I was able to run the entire course. Historically after a hard bike, I crumble and have a poop run. But because of the humidity, I felt like I was running in place. No matter how fast I wanted to go, my legs simply wouldn’t turn over.
Overall, it was a great race. I am pleasantly surprised and very happy with how I did. The biggest surprise was how I was able to push harder when I didn’t have my Garmin by my side and playing head games. Here are some stats to prove it:
Bike 2012: 50:12 (16.7 mph) 2013: 45:42 (17.6 mph)
Run 2012: 36:20 (10:41) 2013: 35:11 (10:20)
And, to top it off, I was able to take home some extra bling. All in all, a great race. Looking forward to next year!
Did you race this weekend?
Have you ever raced without a watch?