Phoenix Triathlon TEAM
Local News from the Road
You CAN Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too!
Delicious sugary goodness. That is cake at it’s finest. Cake can come in all shapes, sizes, flavors, or even as an alternative rock band. In 1996, Cake released a song called “The Distance”. The beats and rather robotic lyrics were guaranteed to stick in your mind like cake frosting. Thus, when I jumped into multisport a few years ago, this song was at the top of my iPod playlist for my long runs. It was motivating for a while, but it had fallen by the wayside until earlier this month.
In the midst of teaching, packing for San Diego to race the UCSD Moores Spring Sprint, and getting my race strategy down, I had a great conversation with Ken Lewis of Tri2XL Coaching, who also runs the Thursday evening spin session that I attend. We discussed racing short course, where I tend to gravitate year after year. You see, I’ve struggled with whether to go long course with a 70.3 (I am actually registered for one this fall). I realized that as much as I enjoy training long, I just can’t see myself racing long distance. Ken was very supportive and reminded me that sprints are still races. You are still pushing yourself and coming across the finish accomplished. I told him about one situation from Kona last October, where I heard an athlete say that they don’t do sprint or Olympic distances because “those athletes don’t know what they are doing on the course or in transition.” I just didn’t quite get why some look down upon non-Ironman triathletes. Does it really matter what distance you choose? You go your distance, you go your speed, you do your race. No?
After spin and chatting with Ken, I was focused on my upcoming trip. I was more excited than ever for two reasons: I was putting my foot down and deciding that short course is for me, no matter who says otherwise, and my swim had finally been coming together with the help of Coach Frank Sole. In fact, Coach told me two weeks prior to the event that I would “swim the fastest 400” I had ever swam. It was hard to believe. I had all the makings of a race where I could be happy with all aspects, not just the bike and run.
That sugary goodness of “The Distance” returned to the radio in my mind intermittently until race morning. Cake was better than ever, the chorus in particular:
“(S)he’s going the distance, (s)he’s going for speed…”
In this case, the distance was a 400-meter swim, 9-mile bike, 5K run. For once, I would be going for speed in the water, not just survival. As for the bike, I planned to hammer, and open up on the run. Speed was on the agenda.
The swim start was perfect. It was cloudy, around 60 degrees, and the water temperature was 63. I’ve grown to love swimming sleeveless in San Diego in the chilly salt water, but I have no idea why. With two minutes to tread water, I was working with my Garmin. There was too much cloud cover and I couldn’t get a satellite connection.
When the horn sounded, all I could do was swim. And swim I did! I was catching people and passed a few. I felt like I was gliding. “This can’t be” is what went through my mind several times. Next thing I knew, I was running up the ramp and unzipping my wetsuit heading into transition. Had I really swam that quickly?
Once I was settled in on the bike and pedaling away, I checked in with the Garmin. I had been right. My swim time wasn’t logged because of the connection problem. I managed to get it working to at least approximate the rest of the race. I was strong and averaging 18 mph, so the bike went by in a hurry! The race was tasting that much sweeter…
It was then go time on the run. Speed is relative for some of us out there, so looking down a few times to see an 8:36 pace being maintained for a period of time made me smile. This really was it. I was going “my” distance and pushing the speed.
When I crossed the finish, it was the perfect end to a beautiful birthday weekend. The celebratory cheesecake I had at dinner the night before represented more than turning 34; it was a celebration for a new chapter in racing – the perfect combination of dark chocolate, graham crackers, and a cherry on top. I was having my cake and eating it, too.
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