The last six weeks have not been ideal for training away with from home most weekends. Coming into Philly Escape Tri, I had a few good sessions under my belt and knew that I would have a chance at fighting for a top spot. The Olympic race was Sunday and so we drove up the day before to Philly. Growing up around Philly, I had always biked along the Schuylkill on Sundays with my parents, but this would be my first time racing along its’ banks. Our Airbnb was one and a half miles from the race start which was perfect since transitioned open at 4:30 AM and the Pro start was at 6:30 AM.
I was feeling good on Saturday had a great Italian meal for dinner and I went to bed fairly early. In the morning, a few of the other people staying at the Airbnb told us that the swim had been canceled due to high water levels and debris in the Schuylkill River. When I had been at packet pick up the day before I had noticed many trees in a lot of gunk on the top of the water and I figured this might be a possibility. This was a huge disappointment because I knew my swim was very competitive and I would've been able to hang with some the top contenders. Instead the race was turned into another duathlon: which is not my forte. The race director decided to split the second run into two runs of a 2 mile start, then 40 K bike and a 4.2 mile last run.
We made our way to the start line, I set up my bike and knew that I would not have to worry about a wetsuit which was comforting. The thing I knew I had to execute was my warm-up and my first run. I've had a tendency to go out to way too fast. This time I decided to throttle my pace back to manageable 5:55, right around my threshold pace currently, so that I could perform on the bike.
The Pro race started we could see immediately but some of them we're going under five minute per miles for the first 2 mile leg, it was nuts! The Pro women wave went off and then it was a mass start for the 40 and under. I found myself in the middle of the pack trying to maintain good form and good speed. I felt smooth and saw Tori right before the transition, probably in 80th Pl.
I grabbed my bike and exited the transition area. The cat and mouse game was about to start. I had a smooth controlled start to the bike, I knew you didn't want to go above 90% of threshold for the first few minutes while my leg still warmed up. The bike course was two 20K loops along the Schuylkill banks with a lot of technical climbing turns. The course also ended up being very crowded one the second loop once the whole field of athletes was out. There was a constant worry of being called out for drafting when it was really nothing we can do about it. I would drop back then surge on the downhills. I found myself in a pack of eight or nine that just kept passing each other throughout the race. When we got to the second loop, the pace group had gotten smaller to maybe five. At some point going up narrow hills just before the Boathouses, we were five or six wide and some were walking their bikes up and almost blocking the road catching us off guard and breaking some of the momentum. I made a choice push the last 3miles to the finish and see if I could set myself up for a decent finish.
I entered T2 and tried to make it a speedy as possible. I started my run at the same pace as my first run and stayed solid until mile 3. The lack of run volume over the last few weeks surely didn't help, I started having a foot issue that felt like a pinched nerve in my big toe. My pace load from a 6:05 to a 6:25. What I'm not proud of is getting passed in the last 100 yards but I wasn't going to risk injuring myself over what had become another training duathlon race. I crossed the line in 1:43:34 for 30th Pl. including Pro and Open fields and 4th in Age Group. This was definitely the toughest field I've raced all year and it felt refreshing to be hurting so much. It has me very motivated going into my next half iron. I was glad to see a few familiar faces once again and to have Tori cheering me on. Looking forward to a strong training block in July!
Next time I’m going to have Tori write my race report, I think she may have more interesting things to say.
1:43:34 (R1: 11:54 T1: 1:06 B: 1:03:38 T2: 0:57 R2: 26:01)