Michelle Takes the Kinetic Half Iron Triathlon
From Washington, D.C. the Kinetic Half Iron distance triathlon is a local early event, which is a great way to kickoff the race season. Hosted the Saturday before Mother's Day we have made it a fun family weekend on the lake in the past. This year was a girl’s weekend away with fellow triathlete and cycling friends. May weather is extremely variable in this area. Last year race day temperatures were wet and 40 degrees, this year the heat was up in the high 90's on the run.
The morning started out beautiful and calm. Not a ripple on the water, 72 degrees. All the women started in the same wave, which made for a frantic beginning, but once I settled into my stroke I was relaxed and in my groove. I grabbed an old pair of goggles out of swim bag. Mistake, there was something stuck on the lenses, which was annoying. The sun’s angle made buoy spotting on the return difficult which slowed me down some, but not impossible.
Into transition and out for the bike, the morning was still early with perfect temperatures. The ride was two loops of Virginia county roads. "Rolling hills with buttery smooth pavement" as the race director, describes the bike course. Knowing they were forecasting the hottest day of the year my focus on the bike was hydration and nutrition. I guess I drank too much; my eyes were peeled for a porta potty stop by mile 25 of 56. My tri-bike is not equipped with a power meter so I rode by feel. I can see Robin shaking her head now..... I did feel my legs throughout the ride and my HR felt steady, but then the ride was over and it was time to run. T2 went smoothly, applied sunblock, ate a salted caramel Gu and was able to make a quick pit stop before heading out to run. I never did stop on the bike. Temperatures were rising up into the 90's at this point. The run course is a hilly 4 mile loop X's 3. Boring yet well supported with volunteers and fans. Out for loop one, I could feel my legs, but was able to run the first few miles. My legs were slow and the heat was getting me by the end of this loop. Little did I know at this point I was first in my age group. Shuffling along, hydrating and getting ice to cool down at each rest stop I gave myself permission to walk. At the start of loop two I was passed by a woman in my age group. "Kerry Ann from Vienna, VA" I heard the announcer call out. I was so excited; she looked great zipping on by. I plodded on and let the heat get in my head. I don't take salt tablets; never have and I didn't want to start during a race. I did discover the salted Gu which has 3x's the sodium as my usual chocolate. I think these saved me in the heat. I took a second one mile 6.5 on the run. Half way through loop 3 I noticed another woman my age pass by. She caught my eye, not for her age rather her uniform. She was wearing a one-piece speedo bathing suit with running shorts. I was excited for her as a likely new triathlete. Maybe it's just her style, but I was impressed. While I was running my legs were tired and the heat was draining. I wanted to quit. I'll be honest what keeps me going are my children. I couldn't bear to report a DNF without good reason such as injury or health risk. So I walked on the run and kept moving forward. I was okay with that and happy to have finished, as it turns out I finished 3rd in my age group. My training partners and I came in within two minutes of each other and I got to report in to my kids "I had a great race".
A few things to think about for next time. When I reported in to Robin my legs were tired on the run she asked if I went out too hard on the bike. Without a power meter we will never know for sure, but I did PR in a half marathon two weeks prior. Probably not a great idea if this was my A race. Maybe I should experiment with salt, and be more mentally prepared to run in the heat. And of course, get a power meter for this bike!
I do love this early season race. It keeps me motivated to move in the winter. I feel stronger heading into summer, and it's a beautiful weekend at the lake with family and friends. Thanks Robin for keeping me going.