This weekend I accomplished one of my big life goals: completing an Olympic Triathlon! I’m super excited to write this post; I also reached my secret “stretch” goal of a sub-3 hour race and had a blast!
David and I raced in the Austin Tri Rock Olympic race (1500m swim / 24.6mi bike / 6.2mi run) on Labor Day; we’d actually watched a little bit of it three years ago when we’d first started dating and took a weekend trip to Austin. I remember thinking how scary it looked and how I could never do it, so it’s pretty cool to come back and conquer it. The triathlon series is kind of like the Rock n’ Roll marathon series where there are bands scattered along the way. The Austin one had both a sprint and Olympic race, and around 2,100 people participated, so it was a pretty large event.
Monday started early with a 4:15 AM wake up at our Austin hotel. We packed up, ate bagels smeared with Justin’s Almond Butter and braided hair. Well, I braided hair. Our goal was to get to the transition area early and have lots of time to get ready – no stressful last minute port-a-potty lines! We got to the transition area around 5:20 AM, so parking was extremely easy and the transition area wasn’t busy at all. After getting set up and hanging around a bit, we met Mr. & Mrs. Breaux at the start of the race. David was racing too, but his wave started right after 7 AM, and mine didn’t start until 8 AM, so I was really thankful that Mr. & Mrs. Breaux (and their dog, Amber) were kind enough to get up early and keep me company 🙂 I can’t say enough how great it is to have them as spectators cheering us on!
David was nervous – I hadn’t seen him this nervous since he’d proposed! He was concerned about his feet cramping on the swim course. We cheered and I got to see him exit the swim, since he finished before my wave started. Of course he did great, and came out of the water looking strong.
Swim (1500m, 34:00 min, 2:16/100m)
When it was finally my turn, we got to jump off the dock into Town Lake (did you know it’s part of the Colorado River?) which was a balmy 82 degrees, so no wetsuits.
There was a local band playing on a boat next to the start which was pretty fun.
The course was rectangular and very easy to follow, and the water was, well, river water – some plants and stuff, but nothing too bad. I’m pretty happy with my swim, but think it could have been faster; my open water practice swims have been faster. I just didn’t hit a great rhythm and felt that I wasn’t concentrating on my form as much as I should have been with all the other things going on in my head – Where’s the next buoy? Who is passing me? Will I miss the turn? Am I too far left? The adrenaline was messing with me. And my goggles fogged. I always spit in my goggles before swimming, and of course, I didn’t this morning with the jump off the dock start. Lesson learned.
Funny thing is, by around 1200m or so I hit a good stride and felt I could keep going for a lot longer, but then it was time to get out. So I finished feeling pretty good and came out smiling to all the cheering at the swim exit:
This looks like a crappy transition time, but it was a loooong run to the bike start with the bike. It’s actually one of the better ones in my AG. Everything went very smoothly and I don’t think it would have gotten much faster, minus bike shoes with tri straps or something.
Bike (24.6mi, 1:18:30, ~19mph)
My legs are always so pleased to be on the bike after the swim, biking is my event 🙂
The bike course was 3 loops right in downtown Austin. Part of the course lets you bike on Congress Ave, straight towards the capital building, which is pretty neat. I really enjoyed the course – it was slightly hilly, and you got to see three distinct parts of town – South Congress, Downtown, and the running trail / Town Lake area. The course was moderately hilly, but that meant it had some great downhill sections to fly down. On my first loop, someone biked up past me and yelled “Go” (I thought he said “Yo!”) and it turned out to be David, who was on his last lap. I was excited to see him, so I paced behind him a bit for a loop, which was too fast for me, but I just enjoyed that we were racing together. The three loops actually went by very quickly; on the second lap I ate a Gu and drank a sports drink mix continuously. My only complaint about the course was the increasing congestion as the Sprint racers joined in who didn’t ride to the right – it was getting to be more like the crowded MS150 than a time trial. But overall I loved the bike, and had so much fun that I took it much faster than I should have.
Again, I wouldn’t do much different here. I think at one point I heard a band covering Red Hot Chili Peppers (one of my faves) which was pretty sweet since they get me goin’.
Run (6.2mi, 54:45, ~8:48 min/mi)
I started the 2-loop run, and as expected, my legs were a little wobbly since I’d really hauled on the bike. More annoying was that my heart rate was so darn high. I’d planned the first mile at ~145 bmp like my training bricks, but I was way up at 160 bmp. Right as I realized my high heart rate I thought, dang, it’s hot out here. I hadn’t noticed on the bike, but the Texas heat had been steadily increasing, and it was after 10 AM by that point. I pushed on keeping my pace around 9 minute miles, with my HR at 160-ish for the first 3 mile loop and then it crept to 170+ for the last 3 miles – ick! Let me tell you, the heat felt brutal at this point! If you could see my face in this photo it would be bright red:
The course was okay; lots of grassy areas, winding and you had to cross the darn bridge on Congress twice again. There was a pretty cool blues band playing some fun music at one point. I just trudged along and was almost dizzy on the last mile. Normally I have the power to really pick it up the last mile of a race, but not today – I just kept thinking, steady pace to the finish. Finish I did, and immediately after sat on the ground as David brought me cold towels, then showed me over to the ice baths. I was overjoyed to find kiddie-pool ice baths; I jumped in and let my temperature cool down for a couple minutes.
Check out how strong David looks near the finish; he did a much better job pacing himself and I need to be more like him during our upcoming half ironman!
Overall (2:52:25, 8th place AG, 297 overall)
I’m pretty pumped to have finished in less than 3 hours and get top ten in my AG – not expected at all! I guess those early morning training sessions are paying off. David had a great race but was frustrated at getting 31st place in his AG; his 30-34 AG is extremely competitive and had 100+ people in it, while mine only had 40. I keep reminding him that top 1/3 is excellent, and that it’s all about tradeoffs; most of the guys in his AG probably can’t kitesurf or do half the cool activities he does! He did a lot better than he realizes, but he’s just very competitive – in fact, a lot of the guys running in next to him were taken to the med tents for IVs immediately, and he finished just fine.
I learned some good things on the race. First, I only ate two Gu’s – one 45 min before the swim and one during the bike – and it wasn’t enough. I was just afraid I might not be able to stomach anything on the run because I felt so bad. Second, I’m really going to have to back it off a bit, especially on the bike, for the longer distance tri’s and keep my heart rate low.
As far as the race goes, it was so much fun, and I’d definitely recommend it. If you like Austin like I do, it’s a really great urban race right in the heart of the city.
- Pros: Extremely well organized, condensed routes are great for spectators, good swim & bike route, fun music, cool t-shirt (rare!), *ice baths*, lots of post race food / drinks, great med tents
- Cons: extremely large race (this could be a pro or con), higher cost than most, very hot time of year in Austin
Post-race I drank half a coke (hadn’t had one in many years and it was so sugary!), some other snacks, then we headed to Kerbey Lane for brunch. I wasn’t able to eat much right after the race, but became ravenous by the time we were seated and ordered an California omelette and a Texas-size blueberry pancake, which were both quickly devoured.
Cool – so now one big goal is crossed off my bucket list! Now it’s time for a little recovery. Thanks for reading y’all!