Pacers St. Patrick’s Day 8K Race Report

Last year, I spent most of the year injured.  First, there were shin issues that just didn’t want to resolve.  Then, in July I fractured a couple bones in my left foot at the Colonial Beach Sprint Triathlon.  Sometime in September, I fractured a bone in my right foot, which I didn’t discover until I was getting x-rays of my left foot because I had re-fractured those previously broken bones by running too soon.  Once I was able to start running pain-free in early November, I vowed to run smartly, follow my training plan to a T, and listen to my body.  I signed up for my goal spring race, the Anthem Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA.  The three previous years I had ran the Townebank 8K, but I decided that since this training cycle was going to be my successful, triumphant return to racing that I would register for the half.  The last half I did was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in April 2013 and I missed running 13.1.  It is my favorite distance. I trained smart all winter; I followed my coach’s training plan religiously.  Even if my legs felt great and I wanted to run longer (or faster), I held back.  I was going to get the Anthem Half Marathon injury-free.

In late February, my local moms running club (MRTT) put out a call for ladies to run on the MRTT team for a local event, the Pacers St. Patrick’s Day 8K.  I didn’t even give it a second thought – I wasn’t going to do any “racing” until the Half because I didn’t want to risk injury.  However, the first week of March my daughter and husband had to travel overseas for a week due to a family emergency. Because I had so much time to myself, when another call came out for runners, I went ahead and signed up.  My training plan for the race day called for an easy 8 mile run (I was in taper for the half marathon, which was the following weekend) so I decided that I would run the 8k and then finish up with an easy three mile run around the Mall since I would be in DC for the race.

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Race Report: Reston Sprint Triathlon

If the Reston Sprint had been my first triathlon there is no amount of money I would have accepted to do another.  Going into this tri (like my previous), I had three goals:

  1.  Don’t drown;
  2. Don’t wreck my bike; and
  3. Finish.

One out of three isn’t bad.

I wasn’t too nervous this morning.  I typically swim in a 25m pool and this snake swim was being held in a 50m pool so that was a bit daunting.  Also, this swim was a longer distance than my last triathlon – 400m.  Still, I have the most confidence in the swimming portion so I was eager to get started.  I waited on the pool deck and chatted with a friend, only occasionally glancing at the pool.  The water was a warm 81 degrees and the air temperature was around 80.  At least I wouldn’t be cold!

Once I finally queued up to start the swim, I focused on the swimmers already in the pool – some athletes had beautiful, fluid strokes; one man was doing a doggy paddle; another man was just walking.  All levels of swimming skills (or lack thereof) were definitely represented!  As I neared the start with about 5 swimmers in front of me, I noticed that people had a choice of diving from the side of the pool or jumping in and pushing off from the wall.  I decided to push off from the wall since that is how I have been practicing.  Once it was my turn to start, I jumped in to get ready.  However, when I jumped in my feet didn’t hit the bottom of the pool.  I kept going down.  Uh-oh!  I had assumed that the pool was 5-6 feet deep – it clearly wasn’t.  I hadn’t held my breath before jumping in so, without thinking, I tried to take in air – except I was underwater.  I came up spluttering and coughing and before I could recover from my miserable entry I heard the word “Go!”

Well, darn!  This wasn’t the swim start that I had envisioned.  I was really looking forward to this portion, but my confidence was shot.  I struggled down the lane, still coughing and trying to recover from swallowing water and getting so much up my nose.  25m down the lane I had to roll onto my back.  I quickly was passed by the swimmer behind me and I thought about quitting.  My heart rate was through the roof, I couldn’t catch my breath and I just didn’t think I could recover.  I’m not a quitter though so I rolled back over and tried to get into a swim groove.  That 50m portion ended and I took a 5 second stop at the end of the lane to calm down and catch my breath.  It was not working so I took off anyway.  I decided to switch to my backstroke (it’s not as good as my freestyle, but I refused to doggy paddle or walk) but that didn’t really help.  Soon enough I finished my second 50m length but I was still struggling.  I let a couple swimmers pass me before I pushed off the wall.  I made it through the next 100m with a combination of backstroking and freestyle.

Finally!  I seemed to calm down.  I caught my breath and could feel my heart rate slowing.  At this point, I had 200m to go and I was confident that I could freestyle the rest of the way.  My form was good and I began to pass swimmers.  According to my Garmin, I negative split the second half of the swim so I climbed out of the pool, confident that the worst of the day was behind me.

I managed to snag the best spot in transition for the ride portion – my bike was the closest to the exit.  I cleared T1, mounted my bike  and was on my way up the tiniest of hills.  I turned onto the bike course and started to pick up speed as a rider came by on my left.  He hadn’t called out so I was a bit surprised.  He passed me and started to cut back over in front of me.  He was a bit close to my wheel, but I thought it would be alright as he would speed up to pull away.  Nope.  He braked, held his diagonal line and clipped my front tire.  !?#?!@?#  I panicked, knowing that I was going down.  I managed to unclip my shoes and fortunately came down in some grass.  I quickly picked myself up, checked that I wasn’t bleeding and hopped back on my bike.  That set the tone for the rest of my ride – I was tentative, slow and fearful of everyone who passed me.

Finally, I made it back into transition.  My bike was quickly racked, I slipped my trainers on and I began the run.  By this time, it was hot and sunny.  The hat and sunglasses weren’t cutting it and Reston is very hilly.  I soon started walking.  I wanted the race to be over yet I didn’t run to end the pain sooner.  Such faulty thinking.  Those were the longest 3.1 miles of my life, I think (pretty close!  It took me 41 minutes to walk).  I crossed that finish mat thankful that this was my second triathlon.  Given the abysmal swim and the bike incident, I would have never signed up for another tri (and I would have earned DNSs for the rest of my tris this season) if this had been my first experience with triathlons.

But here is the kicker:  this race was longer, I nearly drowned getting into the pool, I had a bike wreck (and I was riding a new bike), I walked most of the 5K and I still beat my previous time.  !?!?!!?  I don’t even know what to say…