I’ve been looking forward to competing in the Triangle Sprint again. Last year, the day before race day, I registered for this race, my first ever in-person triathlon. There’s been a lot of training in the past year, and I was excited to return to the same course to see how I’ve improved.

Today was a great race day. Water temp was 81 degrees, and water was calm. There was some cloud coverage, and temps were no longer in the 90s. I spent the morning talking with other racers, including a trio who were doing their first triathlon. Then it was time to get in the water.

Bike racked. Transition area (mat) set up). Ready to race!

***Swim*** My swim felt strong. I got into a rhythm right away. I was a little wary about those who were breaststroking since I was kicked in the face by a breaststroke kick in rough water last race, but otherwise, I was quite at ease in the water. I was surprised to find myself near other swimmers the entire race, and I did a little drafting. I went out strong, like a 400m time trial (it was a 750m course). I had an aggressive pace but one I could maintain. When we rounded the second turn buoy, two things happened. First, I realized that I was in a sea of 3 color caps - purple (my wave), blue (the wave ahead of me, which left 3 minutes earlier), and white (the wave before that, which left 3 minutes ahead of blue caps). Second, I hit 500m and turned it up a notch. It was time to go harder, and it was also time to start kicking and getting the blood flowing in my legs. I went hard until I needed to stand up and exit the swim. I was pleased with how well my breathing was under control and how I got my legs under me for some jogging to transition. Overall, I'm super happy with my swim and had negative splits.

Transition went well. I had two kinds of Skratch chews with me for this race so I practiced putting some in the back of my kit since that will likely be what I do for my 70.3. Like always,I forgot to turn on my bike computer first thing but did get it on before moving to bike exit.

***Bike*** I went out hard. This is a sprint, not a 70.3 My coach wanted me to practice getting comfortable being uncomfortable, to really push myself. In a 70.3, I stay in my Zone 2 (tempo) heart rate on the bike. For this, I was pushing high Zone 3. The bike felt strong. I played leapfrog with a couple people - them passing me on the uphills, and me passing them on the downhills and straights. I was pleased that by the halfway point I had left behind some of the people I had been doing that with and still was in sight of the others. There was a fair bit of passing, being passed, and out-and-back so that I got to do lots of cheering for my fellow athletes, which made it fun and took my mind off the hard work I was doing. What I could have done better. (1) There was one straight away that I felt like I needed another gear. I was spinning with no power. Shortly after, I realized I had shifted from my big chain ring to my small on the last hill and forgot to shift back into the big ring so *did* have more gears. (2) 2/3 of the way into the ride my watch beeped at me that it was going into power save mode. Instead of hitting the lap button at bike start, I had hit the stop button. Sigh. There goes my Garmin data for the first 2/3. At least I would have my bike data (or so I thought....). (3) I still want/need to get stronger on the hills. A different cassette? Stronger legs? Better shifting? All of the above? What went right: I pushed hard and stayed in it. I kept my cadence up, including on most of the uphills. I let myself be uncomfortable *and* I had fun. Overall, I'm super happy with my bike. Was it negative splits? That is unknown. Sadly, my bike computer had issues today too and even though I had it on the entire ride, it didn't save the file.

Transition was short and uneventful. This season, I'm so much better at putting my visor and race belt on as I'm running out on the course. I did have to stop a moment a minute into my run to fix my shoes, but otherwise, transition was good.

***Run*** This course is along the road and then goes into the trails. It's not technical, but it isn't paved and has rolling hills. I went for it. Again, I usually stay in that Zone 2 (tempo) heart rate zone for a 70.3, but today I was hanging out in Zone 3 a lot of the run and even saw some Zone 4. Again, the course had some out-and-back to it, which meant I got to do lots of cheering for folks. I definitely have come to love out-and-back triathlon courses for this reason. I felt strong on the run. I never faded, never had issues keeping HR up or pace down. I had beautiful negative splits. The course was a little short (same last year), so I might have been able to push a little harder a little sooner, but overall, I was happy with how my run went.

Back at my bike having worked hard and had fun!

OFFICIAL RESULTS (compared to same course last year)
Swim (750m) - over a 9 minute PR!!!
T1.- 35 seconds faster
Bike (25k) - over a 4 minute PR
T2 - 31 seconds faster
Run (5k) - 1.5 minute PR
Overall - over a 16 minute PR

I am thrilled with how the day went. I let it hurt. I embraced the discomfort and pushed hard. My nutrition and hydration plan was solid and carried me through with no GI issues. I had some electronics hiccups, but I was happy with the execution of my race. I still have more work to do, especially on the bike as well as continuing to get my run speed back, but I have made HUGE gains in the past year.

I love this sport - the comradarie with the other athletes and pushing my body to see what I can do!

The icing on the cake was a first place win in the Athena category. Second place was 11 years younger than me and 4 minutes behind me. After we were on the podium (third place didn't stay for awards), she commented on the time difference and how she will need to work to catch me next year. But she won't be the only one working over the next year!

Athena awards (3rd place iddn't stay for awards)

Rest day tomorrow, then it's time for my 2-week overload to prepare for my first 70.3 of 2022!