Five Race Reports, One Article

Since racing a half ironman in 2012 and 2013, I have felt a little drained on triathlons and training. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it and plan on doing triathlons for a long, long time, but I knew I needed to switch things up.  So, this year I had planned to do shorter distance triathlons and maybe some XTERRAs.  Instead, my year has been hijacked by…LIFE! Things like the birth of my nephew, getting a new job, house shopping, and other hobbies have sidetracked me from training and racing.  I have been racing here and there and instead of giving you a full race report for each, I’ll just give you a quick summary of the event.

Oliver Jackson

My adorable nephew, Oliver Jackson.

Little Rock Half Marathon

My training for the Little Rock Half Marathon wasn’t the greatest because I encountered several obstacles leading up to the event (vacation, sickness, bad weather, etc.)  Before I knew it, it was March 2nd, race day, and I knew I wasn’t going to be running any kind of PR.  On top of that, the weather forecast was terrible!  The warmest part of the day was going to be at the start of the race and from there on out the weather would be deteriorating with temperatures plummeting and a light rain changing to sleet.  Taking into consideration all of these factors, I seriously considered just skipping the race all together, but that really isn’t in my nature, so of course I toed the line.

Things were going pretty well and I was enjoying the few spectators that braved the poor weather to cheer us on.  The weather while I ran really wasn’t too bad and by taking off my hat and gloves a few times I was able to regulate my temperature.  By the time I hit mile 11 or so, I started to realize that I might be able to actually run this thing in under two hours, so I started to push it a bit more.  My legs were definitely burning at this point, but I pushed on.  Unfortunately, I crossed the line in 2:04:03.  Pretty close to two hours, but I was still pleased due to my lack of training.

Little Rock Marathon Shirt & Medal

The half marathon medal that measures in at 4 in wide and weighs a little more than 14 ounces.

Throughout the race the temperature dropped 20 degrees and I was definitely happy to be off the course.  Friends of mine that ran the marathon weren’t as lucky.  Their race was cut short when the weather deteriorated further and some runners were pulled off the course.

Capital City Classic 10K

The Capital City Classic 10K which is held on the first weekend of April every year is a staple race for me.  I love this race because it’s laid back and due to the flat course, it’s fast!  This year was no different.  I went into the race with no expectations, but I pushed as much as I could.  When all was said and done, I completed the 6.2 mile course in 52:40 which was an 8:24 min/mile which made me feel good about Memphis in May.

AIM High Triathlon

I didn’t race in this event, but you know who did, my boyfriend, Phil!  This was his first triathlon and I think it was a great one for him to start out with because  AIM High in Bryant is geared more toward beginning triathletes.  Things like a small field (there were only about 120 or so participants), a pool swim, a friendly bike course and a flat run make this an ideal first triathlon.  This event is also organized by my triathlon club, All in Multisport, so there are a lot of friendly faces around.

Phil - AIM High

Phil on the run at AIM High in Bryant

I was there to cheer Phil on and repay him for all the times he has supported me at different events.  I jumped in a few places to volunteer while waiting for him to come back from the bike and run and it was great to see so many people completing their first triathlon.  Phil had a good first showing and finished the 400 yard swim, 13 mile bike and 3.1 mile run in 1:13:59.  This placed him in 6th out of 16 in his competitive age group.  I’m so proud of him for tackling his first triathlon and I know it won’t be his last.

Memphis in May Tri

Another staple in my racing schedule every year is the Memphis in May Triathlon.  Phil and I headed over to Tunica, MS on May 16th (the day before the event) and arrived at Harrah’s Resort.  It was kind of sad because Harrah’s has been hosting this event for the past four years and earlier in the year they had announced that they were closing the Tunica location.  (Read more here about Harrah’s Tunica closing.)  It is a great venue for a triathlon because the small lake we swim in is right in front of the hotel and transition is to the side of the building.  I’m unsure of where the triathlon will be held next year, but I can only hope that another casino will take over existing buildings so that we can continue to have the triathlon there.

It seems like it’s been a theme for me this year, but again, the weather wasn’t looking good for the race the following day.  The sprint tri had already been raced early in the day and the transition area had been turned into a giant mud pit due to rain and all the foot traffic coming in and out of transition.  More rain was scheduled overnight and into the morning and it was going to be quite chilly.  That night I prepared myself mentally: it is going to be muddy, it is going to be wet and it is going to be cold. Get over it and do the best I can.

The next morning, at 55 degrees, I set up my gear in the least muddy spot I could find in transition and then huddled under an awning with the other athletes to put on my wetsuit (the other benefit to it being chilly).  Next thing you know I was off and swimming.  The swim was a little rough for me and I got a little out of breath.  My hand also got kicked in the last 100 yards of the swim and I slightly jammed my finger, but after I got out of the water I was too cold to even think about it.  I shivered my way over to my transition area and was about to put on my wind breaker but Phil (who was standing on the outside of the transition area) advised against it.  I did what he said and carried my bike out of transition, through a large puddle (which was helpful for cleaning off my feet) and got on my bike.

Exiting Transition

Exiting transition before the bike of the 2014 Memphis in May Olympic Tri.

Everything except for my feet warmed up quickly on the bike and then I was able to calm down and I settle into a nice pace.  Although, due to the wet roads, I was cautious in the turns and while passing people.  I think this probably affected my bike pace, but you know what isn’t fast…crashing.

When I got back to transition I battled through the mud pit (also known as transition) and quickly changed out my bike gear for my running gear.  I waited to put on my shoes until after I got out of transition and sat down on a curb to put on my shoes.  It was then that I realized that I had left my Garmin on my bike.  I thought about going back into transition to get it, but then I heard this rational and clear voice, Phil.  “You don’t need it.”  So, I carried on and ran off without it.  In some ways, it was kind of freeing to not have it on because I just ran the pace that I could run.  Due to the cooler temperatures I felt pretty good on the run and was able to push harder and run faster than usual.  When all was said and done, I completed this Olympic distance triathlon in 2:53:04.  It was under three hours which was good, but not quite as fast as I had hoped.  Considering the conditions though, I think I did just fine.

MiM Medal & Results

My finishers medal and results receipt from Memphis in May.

Firecracker 5K

The Firecracker 5K has been a Fourth of July tradition in Little Rock for 38 years and it also happens to be a super fast 5K because of its net downhill course.  Another great benefit to me is that the start of the race is just a few blocks from my house.  The cooler temperature trend continued for this race and it was a comfortable temperature at the start of the race.  There was also a record amount of participants, I’m unsure of how many, but there were A LOT of people! Again, I didn’t really have any expectations for this race, but figured that I would push my body as much as I could.

The trick about this race though is that everyone thinks about all the downhill.  They don’t think about the hill that is in the last mile of the race.  For me, U think about that hill the entire race.  I pushed on the downhills, but I knew so save some energy for that last push.  Sure enough, when the road started to incline, the runners around me started to fall back.  I kept pushing.  I looked down at my watch and I couldn’t believe it.  I was really close to breaking 25 minutes which has been a goal of mine for awhile.  This gave me even more incentive to push.  The  road began to crest and turn to the finish and I kept pushing and my stomach started to churn.  Keep pushing.  Unfortunately, this unicorn eluded me again and I finished in 25:11.

After walking around a little bit to cool down, I grabbed some watermelon and hung out with some friends before we walked the two miles back to the start.  Yes, our home was up there, but Go! Running was also serving up chicken and waffles with whipped cream and berries!  There is almost no better incentive for me than food! This is a great way to kick off Fourth of July and I would highly recommend it for anyone that happens to be in the Little Rock area for the holiday.

What’s Next?

I plan on training when I can and I hope to be ready for Tri Arkansas on August 16th.  I have also added a Strava feed (in the right hand column below the Upcoming Events section), so even if I don’t post anything, you can still know that I’m out there training.

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