I knew not to have super high expectations...but at the same time, I am very competitive and feel that the right mindset can boost your performance to come close to those high expectations.
Coach Jen had me send her a race plan, detailing how I envisioned the race going and how I would prepare to have it go that way (or what I would do if it wasn't going that way!). I cc'd both myself and Ryan on this as well since I think it is SO important to share your goals with others.
If you don't share your goals, you have no one holding you accountable and no one to help support you in reaching that goal. I am the "Run Coordinator" at Life Time in Vernon Hills (shameless plug, come join us!!) and had a goal-setting seminar a few weeks ago. I encouraged all of the runners to set goals and email them to me/someone that will hold them accountable. Having these goals also help you, as an athlete, strive to reach them for many reasons, but primarily because you have that proud, energizing, exciting feeling post-goal completion.
I had a few goals coming into Muncie. I had looked up previous results and knew around a 4:45 is what generally wins my age group (25-29). For me, being a weaker swimmer, that would only be doable if I was to break 40minutes on the swim. I cross-checked my competition with other races (have they done Kona? Cabo? how did their times compare?) and decided that I could potentially win my age group if everything came together on race day.
I also looked up my time compared to Eagleman. Now, Eagleman 2013 was an awesome race: it was flat, fast, and, though it was hot, the heat did not bother me. I was in really good shape, so I didn't want to overestimate how well I could perform at Muncie, especially since the bike (and run) at Eagleman is MUCH flatter.
I told Jen that my reachable goal was to break 4:50, my challenging goal to break 4:45. I didn't care about winning my age group since I would not be taking the 70.3 Worlds slot anyway, so it didn't really matter to me about placing, but rather the effort I put forth.
My plan to achieve my goals:
-40minute swim....I predicted I would go 37 minutes
-sub 2:40 bike...I predicted I would go 2:37 since I went 2:35 in Eagleman
-1:24 run...I was hoping to have the fastest amateur run
I told myself that I was going to break 4:45. I knew that would mean having a darn good day, and that my biking and swimming weren't where they were at during Eagleman since I had only been back in the tri world for a few weeks, but I'm also a super competitive person and wanted to challenge myself.
We left on Thursday after I was done teaching summer school and arrived at our hotel around 8pm. After grabbing some food, we called it a night.
The bread made this place way worth it.
Ryan was working the expo, so I got a good little workout in before heading to Starbucks to work on grad school, summer school, and Life Time training stuff. I swam for 10 minutes with some pickups, biked for 30 minutes on the course with some pickups, and ran for 30 minutes with some pickups. The awesome part about this race is that Ryan and I did PowerMan Muncie here a few years back, so I knew exactly what to expect on the run course and was pretty excited about that.
After Ryan was done working, he picked me up and we headed to Scotty's Brewhouse for some bison burger and beer. I couldn't help myself and ordered the beer flight to taste some locally brewed beers.
4:30am wakeup call (3:30 IL time) was definitely not fun, but parking can be very chaotic at this race so Coach Jen and others had advised us to arrive by 5am. We struggled a bit to get moving, but made it to the race by 5:30am.
Morning nutrition: I ate a banana and a PBJ PowerBar around 5am and drank 8oz of water/G2.
Since Ryan was working it, we got in pretty quickly and parked close to transition. I mixed my bike bottles, pumped up the tires, checked everything was good to go, and dropped my bike off in transition.
I visited the porta potties twice before the race to make sure I felt good going into the water. This is important to note as it later factored into my race performance.
Ready to hop in!
Thumbs up for the first race back (or being wetsuit legal :))
At 7:20am, my wave of females 18-34 jumped in the water. I made sure to position myself higher up than I normally would since I did not do that at IM Cabo. I have to remember that in Ironmans and 70.3s, I actually am a decent swimmer compared to the others toeing the line. This isn't Kona, and I'm not the slowest swimmer so I need to start closer to the front to better position myself. I started a few rows back, on the inside since I focus on taking the shortest path during the swim.
The swim course was great: 9 buoys were marked going out, about 100m apart from each other, we turned right and swam for another 2 buoys before making our last right turn to knock off another 7 buoys. I had a new race strategy to use during the swim that was actually perfect: at the Lake in the Hills open water swim on Wednesday, Jen had me go 50 strokes hard/50 strokes easy for one of my 1/2mile loops. That one turned out to be my fastest loop, so I figured I'd try that during my race and see where it put me.
Ryan was SHOCKED!
Running to my bike. No time to walk!
Smiling after my good swim!
Splits-- 13:47, 12:44, 10:48
The transition from the water to our bikes was uphill, thankfully carpeted, and I breezed my way through a bunch of people to get to my bike. Since I registered the Tuesday before the race, my bike was racked with randoms rather than my age group (something I sadly was unaware of until post-race), but it was in a good location and I made it out of transition quickly.
2:57 T1 transition.
I had my shoes already clipped onto my bike, so mounted quickly and tried to take off. As Ryan noticed, I tried to get my feet in my shoes too quickly rather than focusing on taking off on my bike. This is definitely something I will work on before Steelhead as I want a flawless race there (Muncie was simply about getting back into triathlon).
My first 5-mile split was 13:44. I remembered from Eagleman that most of my splits were low 13's, so the fact that I split this close to that, being only my first split, kept me confident that I could even hit the 2:35 bike split from Eagleman (which would be huge for breaking 4:45).
My times were going well, I was hydrating and taking in nutrition...maybe too well. It was uncharacteristically mild weather for this race (usually 100F, maybe 80F today), but I had planned my nutrition based on the usual temperatures. At mile 25, I found myself really having to go to the bathroom.
Saying hi to Ryan and Erin!
I'm pretty sure I don't stop smiling when I'm racing....
...except for when I'm making weird faces like these...
Call it gross, but I would venture to say most longer distance triathletes pee on their bike. I did in both Kona and Cabo and have no problem with it. However, during Muncie, I could not get myself to go. Around mile 30, fellow Illinois triathlete Amanda W. passed me on the bike. I tried to go with her, but couldn't, so knew then that stopping at the next porta potty was a priority. Luckily, that was around mile 33 or 34, so I didn't have too long to wait.
I actually timed myself to see just how much time I was losing out. 2 minutes I was in the bathroom for... not even taking into account the fact that I had to slow down, get off my bike, get back on my bike, and wait a few seconds for the bikers stopping at the aide station to pass.
I got back on my bike PISSED and rode like a madwoman. My watts and speed dramatically increased over these last 20ish miles and I got off the bike in 2:37, which is what my prediction was. Only 2 minutes slower than Eagleman, and 2+ minutes were tacked on from my bathroom break, so to say I was pumped and ready to run would be an understatement.
Jen has me working on improving my cadence and watts on my bike. Both she and Ryan have commented a few times on how shocked they are that I can run so well off of the bike considering I'm pretty much just grinding my way through.
A good cadence to ride at is 90rpm...my overall average was 79 (though part of that was due to other circumstances...so even let's say 81). My watts average, again decreased from my pit stop, was lower than Cabo and Kona, which isn't good since Muncie is a much flatter course.
Bike nutrition: I probably hydrated too much. I filled my front aero bottle three times and nearly finished. I also ate a package of Gel Blasts and a PBJ PowerBar throughout the ride. My cage bottle consisted of 5 Vanilla PowerGels, 2 scoops PowerBar Perform, and water and I finished probably 80% of that since I didn't want to have to stop to go to the bathroom again.
2:37:40. 3rd/58 females 25-29. 296th overall (passed 100+ people!), 39th female (passed 50+!)
Splits--13:44, 14:12, 14:24, 14:20, 13:20, 13:16, 15:01, 16:07, 13:19, 12:15, 14:04, 3:33... can you tell where I stopped for the bathroom? jeesh.
Transition 2 was smooth as I found my rack and traded my bike for my run stuff. 1:31
It's time to run!
Finally! After a quick transition, I was out on the run course and loving life. I flew by people within the first two miles, and saw the Pro men coming back in and congratulated the few that I knew. Unfortunately, my urge to pee had come back and I stopped at mile 2. Let's just analyze my splits for a second here... most of my splits were around the 6:30 range, and mile 2 was 7:53. Yep, I was in the bathroom for 1:29 (timed it again)....pay attention since this is important later.
I was in a groove and feeling pretty good. Miles were clicking like crazy, and at mile 5ish, I passed Bishop Racing friend Clint, who gave me even more encouragement and excitement to push hard. The course is an out-and-back, so I knew where the 2-3 girls in my age group were and knew 2 were for sure reachable.
Unfortunately, since I registered so late, I didn't realize that the 6xx numbers were actually my age group, but thought numbers 15xx were my age group (since one girl who was 28 was 15xx). So I did miss one girl when I was counting, but luckily I had Ryan tracking on his phone as well.
Miles 8 and 9 felt really hard mentally and physically for me, but I saw Coach Jen who shouted encouragement that kept me pushing hard. Just after mile 10, I saw Ryan and he told me there was 1 girl right in front of me that I could catch and another one that could be reachable.
Well, I most certainly was not going to let my rockstar husband down.
Game face on, I made myself get mad from having to stop to pee since that could cost me in the end (in terms of placement). Right before mile 11, there was a slight uphill and I made my big move. The girl did try to come with me, but I did not look back and just kept pushing. Ryan took a pretty nice picture of the move.
PUSH, Jac, PUSH.
Ryan kept encouraging me to dig deep and push hard in hopes of catching the first female in my age group. Unfortunately, I came up 1:11 short... remember how long I was in the bathroom? Yep. Dang.
Sprinting to the finish!
1:25:55. 2nd fastest female run/1st fastest amateur. 2nd female 25-29, 95th overall (passed 199 people!), 14th female including pros, 4th female amateur.
Splits--6:19, 7:53, 6:14, 6:23, 6:29, 6:23, 6:34, 6:39, 6:44, 6:34, 6:32, 6:17, 6:13, :35 (6:03pace).
My overall finish was 4:45:26. I was BEYOND happy with this time since I lost 3+ minutes from having to stop to pee. My time in Eagleman 2013 (where we qualified for our first Kona from) was 4:48, so on a harder course and with stopping for 3+ minutes, I was very pleased with my results.
While I didn't win my age group, I was not upset since I was not planning on taking my 70.3 World slot anyway...but I was bummed to see that it was such a small time difference between the two of us. Luckily, I still had the fastest amateur run split (2nd fastest including the pros), which is something I always strive for with my running background.
Overall, this was a very good race back. I felt proud of my swim, excited about my bike, and content with my run. Once I can figure out the whole peeing-on-the-bike thing (or just hydrating better so I don't have to!), I think I can turn a few heads at this 70.3 distance. But for now, I'm continuing to work on that swim/bike combination that is key in these shorter distance races for me.
Thanks as always to Ego p/b Sammy's for my awesome bike and gear, PowerBar for supplying me with top-notch nutrition to keep me flying, Saucony for shoes that help me rock the run, Coach Jen for an awesome first tri back, and my crazy supportive husband for pushing me to my limits (and then rocking his own sprint tri the next day on little sleep and lots of driving...this guy is superhuman).
Not at all relevant, but check out this sweet car/alienship we passed driving home!