What happens when you run a trail 50k one weekend and a sprint triathlon and triathlon relay with a couple of friends the next weekend? A lot of fun!
The Battle of Buckhorn Sprint triathlon was on my radar as one of two races near me that were being billed together as the Triangle Doubledown- two races on one weekend. I ended up signing up for both just several days before race weekend since I wasn’t sure how recovered I would be post 50k. I signed up for the sprint individually and for the Sandling Beach 50 as a relay team with my friends Mary (swim) and Lindsay (bike). To be clear, I had not done a triathlon in over a year, my last race being Ironman Chattanooga. I did no training for this race. I have done zero swim workouts since IMChoo. I have been on three bike rides that weren’t commuting to work since IMChoo. (Keep in mind I was in Uganda for four months of the past year.) Obviously, I’ve been running a lot, logging 40-50 mile weeks most of the summer, and running everyday on my new runstreak.
So how did the race go?
On an absolutely gorgeous morning, the air temp was about 60 degrees and the water temp a nice 76 degrees, meaning no squeezing into a wetsuit, hurray! I put in a moderately respectable no-training swim time of around 15 minutes for 750 meters, the first 150 meters or so were a reminder of full-contact triathlon swimming. I went out too fast to avoid too many flailing arm and legs and ended up a bit winded but found a groove. Turns out that going back to swimming is kind of like riding a bike, which leads me to the bike!
I recently took a bolt out of my tri-bike shoes and need to repair a strap, so I had my normal road bike shoes which made my transition a tad longer than usual with having to put on socks and adjust the non-velcro shoes. Pretty soon though I was out on the right turns only course (thank you race director!) It was a nice rolling course through country roads, with a few nice flat sections, and a good little climb (which was a KOM segment on strava I was 10th female on!) I averaged 18.5 mph over the 17.1 course, not too shabby for zero recent bike training.
The run was a 5k well actually, it was .04 mile short of a 5k on my watch. I honestly can’t remember the last time I ran a 5k race (whether triathlon or stand alone.) I pulled off sub-8 minute miles, finishing the run in 24 minutes 15 seconds, with a slight stomach cramp starting about halfway in. I wasn’t worried about the run, but it is nice to know that with all my slow and long distance trail running (like a 7 hour trail race 7 days beforehand,) I can pull off an almost sub-24 minute 5k after swimming and biking!
Buckhorn in summary: My muscle memory still remembers how to triathlon. Also, my body is able to recover spectacularly from all the running I’ve been doing (even with all the sugar I let it have last week post Table Rock!)
Sandling Beach 50 with team “We Signed Up This Week”
This was a bizarre race morning for me because I didn’t have to bring all my triathlon gear! I did bring Mike and Tucker to this race since I knew I’d be waiting around for a bit while Mary swam and Lindsay biked. Luckily Mary brought her boyfriend and their new pup too! There was a bit of concern when I got a call from Lindsay who said she was on her way but that she had forgotten something. All I heard was “bike” but it turns out it was “bike clothes.” She had packed two bags and left the one behind because she was wearing sweatpants on a chilly morning. Mary was able to bring a spare bike kit for her to wear, I was just glad she hadn’t left her bike…
We got all squared away at race check-in and then had time to just hang out with the dogs on the beach waiting for the swim to start. At 8:30am Mary was lined up to start the two-loop swim. She actually got out of the water after the first loop which was nice and gave Lindsay an idea of when she should get ready in the transition area for the bike leg. Another loop later, Mary was running up the beach and into transition, Lindsay was off for her 40 mile leg and I had some time to kill.
The temperature warmed up and Tucker calmed down and I started to get race ready and stretch/warm up. It was a weird feeling to just hang out in the transition area while the bikes rolled in. Just as I started to worry about Lindsay, she appeared in front of me, I grabbed the timing chip from her, strapped it to my ankle, and took off.
Honestly, it felt kind of unfair to be doing the run leg as a relay team, I passed a lot of people who had just ridden their bikes 40 miles on a hilly (and windy) course. But I tried to dole out the encouragement, smile a lot, and set a solid pace. And by solid, I mean, kind of quick. I started out aiming for 8:30-8:45 min miles. Then I realized that with all the short hills I could pull 8:30’s on the uphills and let my legs and lungs recover while still putting in sub-8s on the downhills. I guess you could say that I have a lot of hill training of recent. I passed two of the three relay teams that had gone before me and kept trying to scout out the third but knew she had started at least 25 minutes before me. I got a little pissed that I didn’t see my teammates, dog, or Mike any of the 3 times that I went near the transition area, (and even more pissed that they weren’t at the finish line) but I was going a fair bit faster than anticipated. Because I did the same 4.5 mile route twice, I knew whether the hills were and was able to do the second half faster than the first. With a nice downhill to the finish, I was able to do the 9 mile run in 1:13:01 by my watch, at an 8 min 5 second mile pace.
Our relay team ended up finishing in 2nd place! And I ended up with the 3rd fastest female run time on the day, only behind the 1st place relay team runner and the overall female winner. Considering I had done a 50k the weekend before, and a sprint triathlon the morning before, I was thrilled and surprised by all of it!
Sandling in summary: I’m faster than I think, and relays are a pretty fun way to do triathlons with friends!