November already? Wow, this is awkward. Hi, I’m Katie, and this is a meeting of Slacking Bloggers (not) Anonymous. It has been nearly six months since my last post. I’ve thought about updating this site several times but then…life happened. Where’s the shrug emoji in WordPress?
Since it’s race planning season and some of my readers are fellow triathletes, I’ll try to do a quick catch up of the race season with a focus on the logistics. No one cares about my heart rate or watts, but whether the race has good beer at the end–this is important. So let’s jump back in time…
My season opener was supposed to be Swimrun Lake James near Asheville, NC. Relatively flat run terrain, lots of swimming, pretty scenery, perfect setup for me. However, my partner tore her labrum (that’s a hip muscle, apparently) and no running for her for the rest of the year. I tried to substitute another partner, but then she got injured. I figured this was a sign and decided not to do that race, and besides, my bike team had its season opener that Saturday in Maryland. And it snowed and the race was canceled. Plus, I got sick from a work trip. So really, all signs were pointing to no sportz that weekend.
Later in April, I did the Rumpass in Bumpass sprint. (Ok, it’s technically the “Rumpus in Bumpass” race but why miss the opportunity for parallel structure?) This is a race where the Olympic distance is Saturday and the sprint is Sunday. For once, I chose correctly, since Saturday was much colder and they shortened the swim. I think my swim was short as well, come to think of it. I just remember it being cold. Then something strange happened–I was first on the bike, and first off the bike, and had a bike escort for part of the run! So pro! But that only lasted a mile or so; a super runner passed me and took the bike with her. Then someone outsprinted me in the finish chute, dropping me to 3rd overall. Boo. But still a great day on a fun course; part of the run is on trails and a field so if you are not a trail runner, be forewarned. I wish the whole course had been trails, tbh. Doing a Kinetic Multisports race is always a safe bet, as their logistical game is solid.
The month started out with co-hosting a community scavenger hunt with Coeur teammate Rachel at Summit to Soul on Capitol Hill. Then came Kinetic weekend, with the half distance aquabike on Saturday and sprint tri on Sunday. This is the second time I’ve done this combination, and the aquabike had not gone well the first time. But this, this would be different. It was not. It wasn’t as bad, for sure, but I still didn’t have my head around the logistics and forgot to inflate my tires pre-race. They weren’t flat but they were pretty low, which is not great for speed. As was the case last time, I wound up 4th. At least I didn’t have to wait around for awards. The sprint the next day was better. Once again, I was first off the bike and got the bike escort on my run. Once again, I lost it soon after that. My run has come a long way (thanks, Coach Liz!) but I still get chased down by the fasties. Third place overall again. Now the conundrum of waiting around for awards or heading out because I had to catch a flight to San Francisco that afternoon. I opted to wait because I wanted to tag Coeur and Rose PT in the podium pic. And the awards were fine. That’s not what made me late. It was the fact Elliott had left the keys in the car AND THE IGNITION ON during the race, and our battery was dead. Oh yes. Thankfully, a DC Tri Club teammate had a jumper kit and we were on our way, very grateful for the lack of speed traps on the toll lanes that day.
In which past KT suckered future KT into swimming 4.4. miles.
No races this month, just lots of travel and training. I explored the Western Maryland Rail Trail (highly recommend; it’s paved and delightful or you can do the parallel C&O canal towpath if you want some mud), melted while running in Richmond, and kayaked the Russian River in Sonoma County. (Oh and had a lot of wine. That’s worth noting.)
Back at it. First up was Swimrun Casco Bay, renamed the Cole Classic in honor of the race’s founder and race director, who passed away unexpectedly this year. The pre-race briefing was mostly a memorial service for him (sweet) and a quick comment about the race course changing that day and the map is just approximate so just have fun (wait what?). Last year, Penelope and I raced the sprint version and found it to be fun but too short. So we signed up for the long course version this year. Then three things happened: Penelope got injured, Rachel stepped in as my partner, and the race course became about 50% longer. Cool. Another change from last year (this time for the better) was flying into Portland and staying downtown, rather than flying into Boston, driving up, and staying with friends outside of town. Even with the hotel, the cost wound up being the same and we had more time for fun. The race itself was fantastic, though definitely much longer than the map had indicated. We also got lost once, which didn’t help. By the end, I couldn’t lift my arms above my head (this ability didn’t return for several days, making it rather difficult to store my suitcase on the flight the next morning). The logistical gods were not smiling upon us at this race; some aid stations were missing food or only had PB sandwiches, the finish line didn’t have much food, it was pouring, there was no shelter, and we had to wait over an hour for a ferry back to the mainland. But once we finally returned to Portland, the sun was out, we ate our weight in donuts and pizza, and all was right with the world.
Except my shoulder and foot. While walking to dinner after the race, my foot started to hurt. A lot. Could I have fractured it? What was happening? And why could I still not move my arms? Back to Rose PT. The good news is that nothing was broken. The bad news is I had very low mobility in my upper back and feet. There was no magic fix for that, just lots of stretching and rolling. It took about two weeks before I was ready to even jog again, which wasn’t the best timing because I was scheduled to race Maine 70.3 that weekend. Elliott and I had already bought the plane tickets, so we decided to go to Maine anyway, but skip the race and make a vacation out of it. Good plan. And I needed to rest up because two weeks after that…
Survival of the Shawangunks, or SOS. This triathlon has been around nearly as long as the sport itself, and some people have done the race every year. It sells out within minutes, and for the past two years, has been filmed for NBC Sports. While technically a triathlon, it’s not your typical swim-bike-run, but rather bike-run-swim-run-swim-run-swim-run, point to point. The bike is 30 miles, the swims total about 2 miles, and running is around 19 miles. (Not to my credit, I didn’t really add it up until the night before, but luckily Liz had done so and trained me appropriately.) The finish line is on top of a mountain with sweeping views, and you can see the finish line from the nearby town of New Paltz, NY. I don’t remember how I first heard of it, but it had been a bucket list race for me and I was excited to give it a go. Having the film crew for such a small race was crazy; I felt like a celebrity while being chased by a drone while running (I was glad it wasn’t a swam of bees, which was my first thought) and seeing a cameraman try to capture the emotion on my face while passing an aid station (emotion hampered by chewing frozen shot blocks, so if I look rather stoic on TV, now you know). After a brief stint in 3rd place overall, I spent the last third of the race in solid 4th place. It would have been nice to crack the top podium but I was mostly thankful to be done and not have to try to sprint the last run segment — 0.7 miles straight up the mountain.
Finally, my very long race season drew to a close. Even though cyclocross was starting up and I had a lot of fun with it last year, I was mentally burned out by this point and just wanted to be done. Luckily, my last race of the season was a continuation of a now three-year tradition: Swimrun NC with Rachel (and Michaela and Amanda this time, plus Penelope in spirit). We visited the same brewery, ate at the same restaurants, made a pilgrimage to the Old Salem farmers market for some Updog Kombucha, and took family photos under the bright red leaves in the park. It was exactly what I needed. This race is also always a delight. The scenery is fantastic, the course is varied (run up a mountain, climb up a waterfall, swim across two sections of a lake, climb down a dam, do the swim/dam thing again, run up another mountain, pose for a photo at the summit, run down another way, two more loops of swim/run/swim/dam, run down the mountain, climb a different water fall, run down some more, divert up the river, swim down the river, and then climb some stairs to the finish line). Rachel and I placed 3rd last year, were bib 3 this year, it was our 3rd year of doing the race, and we placed 3rd again this year. We had hoped to place higher–and were within about a minute of the first and second place teams at the top of the summit–but lost them on the descent. Oh well. It was still an incredible experience. Plus, we watched a Swedish team celebrate with champagne at the finish line, so will be adding that to the tradition starting next year.
November and beyond
Speaking of next year, what is in store? I’m not quite sure, other than returning to NC. I think I’ll try to divide the season into two parts: short course triathlon in the early season, and swimrun in the late season. I tend to melt in the heat (physically and mentally) but swimrun tends to be in the woods, colder climates, and with frequent swim breaks. If anyone has suggestions, please share them!