Well it's been really hot here compared to back home in NH where it has snowed a few times but that was to be expected. I did my openers this morning and now off my feet for the rest of the day so I have time to write my blog!
Day 1: Downpour!!
Plan: Put bike together, run the run course and either drive or ride the bike course, watch the Red Sox play the Tampa Rays
After Steve and I put my bike together and had to problem solve the seat post clamp bolt I tightened too much and broke. We rented a bike for Steve from St. Pete Bicycles but due to the high demand for rentals for the race he ended up with a hybrid which was much better than the Barclay bike he rode in London! We tried reserving a road bike but couldn't because of the race.
Gina dropped us off at the race venue to check out the 6.2 mile run course; Steve riding and myself running. I started with a 10 min warm up followed by some agility drills - to get my legs warm and ready for fast running. I did some intervals at race pace. During which the skys opened up, like really opened up. It was raining so hard we go lost! The course is marked with orange spray painted dots for cone placement and they seemed to disappear in the heavy rain. The course is an out and back in a neighborhood with alot of side roads. Some dots mark road closures some the actual course. We told Gina we'd be back at 12:30 and it was nearly 12:45 pm when we realized we were lost. We asked for directions and got a funny look, us being completely soaked and out in the rain. As we made our way back Gina came and found us, a little worried but she figured we had taken cover, nope! It could rain on race day so why not train in it! The streets flooded so I was running through deep puddles and rivers which of course soaked my shoes with water and street debris. This created and opened a blister on the back of my foot, not great for having to race in a few days.
Because it still looked like rain we decided to drive the 24 mile bike course. We followed the course map provided online and we were off. All streets in the city are by number both east and west and north and south but the east/west streets don't reflect that. 1st Street South actually runs north/south and then there is 1st Ave which runs east/west it was very confusing for me. Some of the streets are one way and are not distinguished on the course map because they will be closed on race day. We had to navigate around those and make do. There are quite a few turns which makes it's a technical course. Steve and I practiced taking corners at speed while pedaling so it will help. There is a long section where the pavement is rough which makes it hard to drink from my water bottle that has a long plastic straw. It is mounted on the front of my bike so I don't have to pull it out of my cage. So I will prepare to drink before that section because I don't want a straw up my nose! It took us nearly 2 hours to drive the course but very worth it. We decided to ride it with intervals the next day.
Gina bought tickets to the Red Sox game while were running! I've only seen them play once so this was a treat, I was worried about sitting in the sun all evening but the stadium is a dome so that wasn't an issue. We were about 20 rows up from the Red Sox dugout! Thanks for being spontaneous Gina!
Day 2: Sunny
Plan: Ride the course, pick up race packet and swim the course
After looking at the bike course map I decided it would be better to write down the directions to take with us. Gina dropped us off at the venue and was to meet us back at the hotel around 1. Steve and I planned to practice cornering in the Tampa Rays stadium parking lot. Gina drove to the Gulf Coast to check out a restaurant on the beach. After we negotiated the bike course we broke it into sections and discussed the plan. This is really good for me to break it into pieces. It doesn't seem as long and keeps my mind occupied on the tactic for each part. We ride through a golf course community which has big speed bumps actually speed humps. Steve told me to ride them at 20 mph to see how it felt. There is room to ride around but in case there are riders around me I needed to know how it felt to ride over. There are also raised reflectors sprinkled throughout the course, yup he had me hit one of those too, just in case it happened during the race. Can you tell he has a ton of racing/riding experience? He thinks of everything! Once we got back to the venue we headed to the stadium parking lot for some cornering practice. Due to the cold spring weather in NH I have only been on the road three times before flying down here so it was great to get this practice in. We rode back to the hotel after covering nearly 35 miles. Hit the showers/pool and enjoyed smoothies from the Ninja Pro that Gina brought down.
We drove back to the venue and checked out the swim course. It was not completely marked and it was hard to tell exactly where it started but I think we swim about 3/4's of it. The last ocean swim I did was in Maine and it was cold, not here! The current water temp is 83º so wetsuits are not allowed. Steve wore his to keep him higher in the water to swim fast enough so I could draft off him. The water got pretty choppy half way through but earlier we had watched a video with tips for dealing with rough waters. I tried my best to keep them all in mind as well as all the things going on thinking about technique. It will be difficult but everyone is dealing with it so I just have to stay focused on my race.
We headed to the athlete tent to pick up my race packet. I registered in the Open Elite (now Open Age Group) so I will not be racing in age group this time. Yes I am nervous and have been since I registered a few months ago but it will be somewhat of a good test to see how I do against the next level of competition. I say somewhat because it's early season, this is my first race but I know what I have to do and I just need to execute it the best way I can.
From there we headed to the Gulf Coast and had dinner on the beach. Salmon with sweet potatoes and veggies, lobster mac and cheese for Steve and a shrimp salad for Gina. She wanted us to see the sunset but we were pretty tired and needed to get back and sleep. We'll be going back for that sunset before we leave for sure!
Day 3: Sunny
Plan: Openers, transitions, bike drop off, a quick walk through expo and rest for the afternoon
Openers are a brick session. Ride for about 20 mins or so to get legs warm, yes even in 85º they still need to be warmed up, then 3x 3 mins hard efforts with 5 mins easy spin in between then ride back and switch to a 10 min run then agility drills followed by 2x2 min hard efforts with 2 mins in between sometimes 4 mins depending on how I feel. We drove to the venue to do this on course but the Meek and Mighty Tri was using the same course. We had to park the car on a side street and Gina was going to move it closer to the venue after the race ended and I was going to call her to find that location when we were finished running to practice my transitions. Steve and I re-routed around the race and went the "bottom" part of the course for openers. I did the best I could and had to obey traffic lights and stop signs so it was a little frustrating to get up to speed only to put the brakes on and sit and wait. I switched to my run shoes and took my jersey off, I was cooking. I did buy the water proof blister bandaids and they held through the bike but not the run. I ran for 10 mins and it started peeling from the bottom due to my shoe rubbing. Steve pulled the map out of the plastic baggie and we put it around my heal to protect it from my shoe. It worked for the time being. I ran my hard efforts in the blazing sun and realized my phone was in my jersey in the car that Gina moved. Steve and I got to the venue and knew she'd be near the pool but not exactly sure where. It didn't take long to find her and she told us she sent me a text with her location. I laughed and said my phone was in the passenger seat right next to her when she sent it!
I ran through T1 and T2 a few times because I haven't done them since September. It went well and hopefully it will go a little smoother tomorrow! Gina made lunch for us in the park before I dropped my bike for the night in transition. We walked through the expo again and then back to the hotel for a nap and relaxation. Dinner is home made tonight, chicken and veggies on Gina's camp stove.
Race start is 6:50 for Pro men, 6:53 for Pro Women and Open Elite (now Open Age Group) start together at 7:03 am tomorrow! You can track the race live here. My race number is 117 in F Open. At the time of this post we are not entered into the system so I'm not sure how this page will display tomorrow. There is a search option for my name or bib number so that might help.
Mega thank you to Gina for navigating through the city, parking, waiting around for Steve and I to train, prepping the food, shopping and moral support.
Huge thank you to Steve for creating the workouts and doing them with me on a hybrid bike, working on my bike, researching videos and tips for better racing and checking in with me about how I'm feeling.
I've been updating my Facebook page with photos and videos click here to take a look!
Bed time soon and mentally prep for race day!