Salem Spring Triathlon Race report 2013
I was grateful after so many chilly races this year to compete at the Salem Spring triathlon on a gorgeous, sunny, warm day. Couldn’t have been better for June 1st. What also couldn’t have gone better was discovering that sometimes you can actually break some of the cardinal rules of triathlon – and still be successful.
I decided to take one of James Lawrence’s suggestions (aka Iron Cowboy/World Record Holder/Salem Spring rabbit – how is he going to keep up with all of these nick names??) for this race and use wax ear plugs. If you could have seen me coming out of the water at my first triathlon in Palm Springs last December… or coming out of the water during the pre-race class James taught before the race, you’d know why I decided to break this rule. Drunken sailors had nothing on me!
Normally, you wouldn’t want to try something new, because it may not work, slow you down, break something, etc. Luckily for me, I enjoyed a little peace and quiet before the race, had no pain in my ear form the cold water, and successfully made my way from the lake to T1 without falling over into the green fencing I’d help put up the night before. Yea!
Broken Rule #2 – go through the course before the race
This one actually hurt me on the bike. Now I’ve biked up Suncrest before – on a road bike that was heavy and way too big for me. I’d heard about “a hill” on the Salem course. But I was not expecting that big steep hill after coming around a corner. I was still recovering and trying to get into my rhythm from the first little hill coming out of T1, which I erroneously thought was “the hill”. Embarrassed, dropping my head in shame, I had to unclip and trudge up the last few feet of that hill. I overheard one of the police officers at the road crossing goading the cyclist in front of me, who was just standing there catching his breath – “C’mon! Don’t just stand there, get back on your bike and ride!” As soon as I made it to the top of the hill, I jumped back on and took off. I was NOT going to let that happen again! Next time around, I made sure to get enough momentum going to make it up the hill without stopping. Sure I was panting like a Rottweiler on a hot day, possibly foaming at the mouth, but I made it!
Broken Rule #3 – stay focused during the race
I’ve read that’s its good to have a plan, stick to it, and stay focused and in the zone if you will. However, by the time I got to the run I was so worn out from an 885 meter swim (according to my Garmin – I may have gone slightly off course) and from navigating the hills and feeling like I was on a slalom course avoiding the potholes, gravel, and man hole covers during the bike, that my plan (to beat Eric Oscarson – weight loss extraordinaire who I greatly admire and look up to) went out the window. I found my mind wondering to admire the beautiful houses along the course, wondering about the families who lived there and how they felt about all of us dropping who knows how many pounds of sweat right outside their windows bright and early on a Saturday morning. I was kinda wishing I was the one mowing the lawn at one house instead of wondering what it was about triathlons I had found appealing an hour before. I was relishing the wonderful feeling of wearing my Altras for the first time in a race. Lastly, not being a math person, I was calculating that next Saturday, I’d be doing quintuple the distance on the bike that I’d just done, quadruple the run, and more than double the swim – and wondering how in the world I’d do that.
To get my mind off the Boise Half Ironman next weekend (my first of that distance), I decided I needed to focus on something. So instead, I remembered why I was doing this in the first place – because I want to accomplish things I never could be before. I was also there representing the Ironheart Racing Team, which supports athletes who have had heart problems, and encourages healthy heart living. And I wanted to inspire others to do hard things. So, each person I passed on the run, I decided I’d encourage them. So I did. And it felt great. In my heart, I hoped they’d keep going, finish the race, and keep working to improve and go on and do more triathlons.
Broken Rule #4 – if you have something left at the end, it means you didn’t give your all during the race
This one just doesn’t stand up in my book. Because I did give my all during the entire race. There’s just something about kicking it in at the very end to finish strong, get a negative split, and fly across that finish line that pushes me to run as fast as my short legs will carry me (okay, okay, maybe it was also because I was worried my boyfriend would chase me down and keep swatting my backside if I didn’t sprint – I sprint faster than him so I knew I could outrun him… hee hee). But that little sprint put me across the finish line at 1:42:59 – one more second would have been the next minute (lame). And I finished exactly two minutes slower than my amazing Ironman, Eric (although I ran 0:1:42 faster than him. Yes I know he went faster than me on the swim and bike – only by 0:1:46 and 0:1:47 respectively, but still.
Broken rule #5 – check with your doctor before participating in any physical activities
Well, I didn’t ask my cardiologist about this specific race, but he did clear me for a triathlon nine days post ablation surgery in April (and I placed first in my age group at that one), and for the Ogden Marathon a couple weeks ago (My first marathon. Worst. Race. Ever.), and for the Boise Half Ironman next Saturday, a week after Salem Spring. Now, I figured if I could do those, I could do Salem. I learned that recovering from a full marathon takes a bit longer than I had anticipated. After Ogden, I had no desire to do any form of physical activity for about a week. And that probably affected my performance at Salem. Thank goodness for the motivation I had from trying something new in a race and having it work, succeeding on that hill not having been through the course before (at least the 2nd time around), losing my original focus and finding something better to focus on, and saving the best sprint for last.
So bring on Rock Cliff! And I’ll try to stick with the rules at that race. Well, most of them anyway…