Cycling, Marathon Training, Race Preparation, Running, Running for Charity, Swimming

Olympic Tri (My Way) and Race Recap: Athleta Iron Girl 10K

So sometime last night, when I was tossing and turning because I couldn’t fall asleep, I came up with this plan…

I’ve been really annoyed lately that I can’t find a nearby triathlon that works with my schedule so i decided to do my own thing. (Story of my life.) I decided that since my 10K was going to be timed, I might as well take a stab at doing an Olympic-distance triathlon on my own terms before trying an actual Olympic-distance race. Or perhaps eliminating the need or desire to register for races in general. I wanted to see if I was on to something, so I decided to do a reverse Olympic triathlon.

So, with a few winks of sleep and some terrible GI issues, I showed up to Green Lake Park for the Athleta Iron Girl 10K start line.

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It was cold (by my standards)! It was also windy! I was sad that I didn’t follow through with my thought to bring my arm warmers. I figured that I I would warm up anyways during the run, so I tried to cozy up to hundreds of other runners to stay warm. By the time I was at mile 1, I was glad I didn’t have my arm warmers.

In terms of the race, there was one big issue right off the bat: It was a 2-loop run for 10k’ers. I hate HATE hate loops. I hate knowing what I’ll have to experience again. That’s one thing that bothers me about a lot of Ironman races is that they end up looping around multiple times. I’m not sure why but I just find it demoralizing. I much prefer a point-to-point course and I’d rather deal with the hassle of shuttles than looping during a race.

The first 5K was fun. We had the road to ourselves. There were a lot of walkers and for the most part, they had studied up on runner’s etiquette and knew to stay to the right of the road. I started out with the 11:00min/mile corral but it proved very slow for me, so I weaved around until I settled in with a pack at the 3 mile mark. The rest of the ladies who were continuing on to round 2 for the 10K all seemed to keep a good pace. I was massively hurting because of stomach distress issues — I didn’t need to stop, but everything felt crampy and tight. Something about this liquid diet just isn’t sitting well with me so I’m trying to re-introduce less mushy foods into my diet as my gums/teeth/pain will allow.

Because of this, the second 5K was particularly difficult. I kept wanting to aim for negative splits. I wanted to outdo myself at run the 10K at an hour, or at least under my fastest 10K time. It wasn’t in the books this time but I’ll know what to do differently next time. (The biggest thing will be NOT scheduling major dental surgeries in the middle of training seasons!) I finished with a surge, something that I don’t remember doing since the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas last year. It felt great to finish strong.

As I waited in line with my complimentary meal kit for a free cowbell, the oldest runner made her way past the finish chute — she was 82. Amazing.

Now that I have another medal, I really want to figure out a nice way to hang all of them in my apartment. I’d also like to start a bib collage. I think it’d add a bit more personality to my space.

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I was pretty exhausted after the 10K, especially with all of the digestive issues. I just also felt a bit tired, but I chalked that up to nutrition issues. I fueled up as much as I could so that I could continue with my diabolical plan of 25 more miles on the bike and 1500m in the pool. I set up my bike trainer, put on a movie, and got to work.

The longest ride I’ve ever done was probably a little over 15 miles, so 25 was a bit of a stretch. I gave myself permission to take stretch breaks, to grab water, and to have a GU when it was necessary. The movie ended about 40 minutes before I reached 25 miles, so I relied on my iPod to keep me company. A part of me wanted to hop on a video call but I had no clue who would actually want to chat with me in the middle of a workout. Plus, if I were able to chat, one could argue that I probably not working hard enough anyways.

In the same fashion as the 10K I surged my final mile and a half and felt good…exhausted, but good. I hopped in the shower for the third time of the day (once before the 10K to wake me up, one after the 10K to clean myself off, and now to clean myself off from the ride).

I tried to set my expectations for my swim. I was insanely exhausted and very stiff. I downed a shake (my general sustenance of choice these days) and took a nice long shower. I stretched and sat down for a bit, tried to bring my heart rate down and just relax. What I really wanted to do was lay down, but I knew that if I did, I would fall asleep.

And then I just said to myself, F it! It’s MY tri and I’ll do it in whatever way suits me. So I took a nap and it was glorious. The only contingency with this nap was that I could NOT skip my swim, no matter what. As insurance against this I wore my swimsuit underneath all of my clothes.

I woke up on my own and felt refreshed. I was still a bit groggy, but I combed my hair back, grabbed my swim bag, and headed out to the bus to get to the gym.

The pool was completely empty when I first started. It was also freezing. On Sundays, apparently they shut off the heat since they clean the pool late at night. I guess perhaps they also don’t get too many guests either, so it makes sense from an energy perspective. I had prepared for the cold with a nice cold shower beforehand. I began to do a few laps (backstroke to start) and eventually people started to fill up the pool.

It seems like the evening dynamic is much different than the morning. In the morning you get a mix of 50% women and 50% men. This evening, I was the only female. There were probably about 20 men in the pool area in general — about 7 or so swimming (one shared a lane with me) and the others were in the hot tub, sauna, and steam room. I got a few gross looky-loos from creepy old men but kept pushing forward anyways. If anything it gave me an incentive to swim faster and harder.

A guy had jumped into my lane and began sharing it with me (without asking!) but I found him to be a nice companion. He wasn’t too fast or too slow. He was right around my speed, so we were able to alternate laps around the pool. At any given time we would pass each other in the lane, so it really kept me swimming freestyle rather than resting with the backstroke. Whenever I share a lane and backstroke, I usually end up with a nose full of water. At least this way I could be incentivized to freestyle and finish my distance at a good pace.

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The last 800 meters was the hardest, but again in similar fashion I tried to surge in my last 200 meters. After I finished I was so elated that I didn’t even feel tired. I rinsed off, pulled on my clothes, grabbed the next bus and headed home. I ate a bit and treated myself to some Thai food delivery. (It was decent-to-awful, but it’s the thought that counts.)

All in all, a good day. I’ve quite literally never did this before, so I’m happy to check this off of my to-do list, even if I didn’t technically race. I know what it feels like (albeit with a nap in between sports) but now, for sure, I know exactly how hard the 70.3 can be.

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About Amara Poolswasdi Hulslander

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