It’s hard not to get a little melancholy about the last race of the season not only because it means the end of the summer, but because you’re at the peak of fitness and then you have to shut it down. Not really, but things do change in the off-season so that you’re fresh again come spring and you can do other stuff you enjoy. As a recovery on Sunday, I went to NYC to meet up with friends but before they woke up I took an amazing yoga class at Jivamukti, my absolute favorite place to do yoga, which reminded me how much I really love it and need to do more of it.
When I woke up for this last tri of the season it was raining cats and dogs and I contemplated either a) going back to bed or b) meeting up for breakfast with my friend Fran (my crazy tri travel-mate). We texted at 4am and agreed not to be idiots if the rain didn’t stop, because at that point it started to rain harder. Crap! But, as anyone living on any type of island will tell you, things tend to blow over so the weatherman is never really right. By the time we had driven to Montauk and parked, there was just a drizzle but it was fairly warm. Of course we decided to go for it. And besides, I was prepared: hot hands, a hot thermos of tea, rain goloshes and a banana.
By the time we set ourselves up in transition the rain had stopped and the air felt warmer than in years past. However, the water, that usually feels like a warm blanket, was cold. Not exceedingly cold but let’s just call it more refreshing than usual. The gun went off and I sprinted out hard. As is usual for me, I am not fast enough for the front pack but too fast for the back pack so I sort of end up in no man’s land trying to push myself. I had a great coached swim on Tuesday night and tried to focus on that. I’m a comfy long distance swimmer (otherwise known as the pace-car) and I’ve been trying to get out of that. Almost immediately I passed the stragglers from the group in front of me, then mid-way through I passed some different colored caps. I knew I was having a great swim and that kept me strong and focused. When I came out and was changing in T1, a woman who swims 2 lanes faster than me had just come out too, which really gave me a positive boost!
Since I started in the last group, I knew I’d be able to pass some people on the bike. It’s mentally tough when the men are behind and you are getting constantly passed–it really does something to your head even though you’re not competing against those guys. So playing catch up was fun and I focused on increasing my cadence. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a headwind on the way out, and even more surprised not to have the double headwind. Usually in Montauk, I’m reminding myself “its windier in Kona”, which you know it is if you’ve ever ridden on the Queen K. Today it wasn’t windy and unlike last year, there was no carnage of people with flat tires as happened last year. And I was warm and the hot hands place on my aero bars were really nice so I’d still do that again if I needed to.
The run is my favorite run probably because it’s in Montauk and also because I always run my fastest and I also know each nook and cranny and when the best time to accelerate is. Immediately out of T2 I was feeling in my groove and so happy but I was on the hunt. I’d just passed someone in my age group on the bike and hoped my acceleration and speedy transition would hold her off or at least scare me into a solid pace. (No socks on a sprint!) Last year I did this run in honor of a very dear friend going through a hard time, but this year I felt like I had to do it for me. Even when it’s a sprint, I’m always thinking about Ironman and that one day I’ll do one–of course my dream is Kona so I’ll lottery again and again. And maybe one year when I’m not so jammed for time, I’ll do a different one. About half-way through the run I was ticking people off until the woman I thought I’d left behind went flying by me! I tried to hold on and not let the elastic snap but she was easily pacing 30 seconds/mile faster than me. But I wasn’t sure if she did that for me or it was her pace so I vowed to stay strong to see if I could out-kick her at the end if she slowed. At this juncture I passed a friend of mine like she was standing still, which made me know I was really hitting my pace. I couldn’t talk–just touched her elbow and tried to catch that woman. My track work from the week before was paying off!
In the last 1/4 mile I lost sight of her, but powered through to the finish. I took 6th and was about 2 minutes faster than last year with improvements in the swim, bike and only 15 seconds slower than last years personal best run! Kudos to all the speedy 40+ year old women in my age group who are total badasses getting older and faster! (I actually looked for the woman that passed me to thank her but didn’t see her.) It was a fantastic finish for the season for me and also for my friend Fran, who came back from her bike crash in Timberman to place 1st in her age group. Even if you’re the only one in the 60 year old age group–first is first!
Looks like next year I’ve agreed to go to REV3 Quassy in June and we’ll see what else comes my way. And I’m so glad I opted for the sprint, because on Sunday it rained the entire day in Montauk and would have been miserable with the cold front that blew through. Instead, yoga and hanging out with a old friend in NYC was in order. What a great weekend!