Siesta Beach Olympic Triathlon

Very mixed emotions about this triathlon.  I’ve been trying not to let excuse after excuse pop into my head when analyzing my performance.  Overall, I learned a lot of lessons and know I did my best.  Well, here’s how it all went down…

First, let me start off by mentioning I treated my body poorly this past week.  This means minimal sleep, inconsistent eating, random training, and maximal stress.  I hoped my training base would carry me through to a good race…and it did for the most part.  Lesson: Don’t let the week before a race negate all your hard work; treat your body right!

Friday evening my boyfriend and I traveled down to Sarasota for packet pick-up and to check out the race venue.  A good friend from the TriKnights, Colleen, let us stay at her place which was exactly 10 minutes from the race site (awesome!!!).  I was stressed to say the least because I had one last paper for the semester due at midnight and was already exhausted from the previous week.  Please just let me focus on the race!

Normally, packet pick-up is uneventful but I got a very sour taste in my mouth from my   experience with the employees.  I’m sure they were stressed about putting on the race and tired of people complaining about this or that but there is never a good excuse for poor customer service.  Especially when the race is $150, which I still feel is ridiculous.  I also found out from several other athletes that they’ve been consistently treated the same way by a few of the employees/volunteers at other races. 

So, I’m standing in line waiting to check in with my USAT license and driver’s license.  The two women checking people in were rude to the athletes when they weren’t familiar with the check-in process.  One athlete didn’t know what a USAT license was, so obviously she needed to purchase the day pass or annual license…but there was no reason to be rude, strike one!

Next strike, the race shirt.  I love race shirts…I always have ever since I started swimming when I was 8.  They bring back memories and are good conversation starters.  Also, it’s a way to promote a race I really enjoyed.   They were out of smalls.  So next size was a medium that I could literally swim in.  This has happened one too many times this past year.  It all comes down to planning appropriately.  Maybe I wouldn’t have said anything if the woman was nice and apologetic but she was rude.  “We need to order two months in advance and we had 200+ racers sign up last week.” Well, you should go off of last years numbersand how many correct shirt sizes you ran out of last year too.  I didn’t see anybody marking down when a wrong size was handed out.  Her other comment to me, “You should have showed up earlier.” I live in Tampa, so I apologize for not getting there right at 4 pm.  Besides, there is still packet pick- up tomorrow morning so I’m definitely not the last athlete. I ended up giving them the shirt back.  For no reason other than I didn’t appreciate her turning it into the athlete’s fault.  Ok, rant over, I feel better.

Good conversation with friends and a delicious Pad Thai made me  excited to race the next morning.

And it was a beautiful cool morning.  I loved setting up my  gear and warming up with the beach sunrise in the background.


It was good to see Meghann before I started my run and know she was ready to race.  I’ve really enjoyed seeing her progress as a triathlete as she trains for her first HIM.  It’s a fresh perspective on a sport I’ve been in love with for 5 years now.

Swim (1,500 meters)

The swim felt long since I do so many sprints.  My Half Ironman seems like a lifetime ago.  The water was warm but not too hot and there were some waves but not too strong.    I lost everybody in my wave around the 200 meter mark and it took me almost 500 meters to catch the next wave, so I was kind of lonely.  I had to keep reminding myself, this is a race and I needed to get as far ahead as possible because I’m weaker on the bike and run.  Oddly, I felt a side cramp throughout the swim and I had the worst Charlie horse in my right  foot.  Strange, I usually don’t cramp on the swim; something was off with my nutrition and electrolytes.  Open water swim tip: Use the shoreline  to help you stay in a straight line.  When you breath take a peek at how far out you are from the shore.  Swim five to ten strokes and look again.  You should still be the same distance from the shore.  This will only work on out-and-back swims.

Total swim time: 23:50 not great but not terrible.  Had the top 5 swim for male and female though. Woot woot.

Bike (24.9 miles)

I lost my watch 😦  I forgot borrow one and had no clue throughout the entire race how I was doing.  Being so time oriented makes me feel like I’m racing blind.  Thankfully, I had my bike odometer to help  me….or not.  It wasn’t working, argh! Well, I just rolled with it and tried to gauge my speed by how I felt.

It was a two loop course and I loved cycling through the area.  The course was not closed to cars though.  We were  in a bike lane the entire time and police were at most intersections directing traffic.  Drivers were not happy about this and a few times I had to take my mind off racing and watch out for backed up traffic or reckless drivers that pulled into the bike lane.

The second loop went much better than the first because I knew how much further I had to go and was able to judge my speed.  As always, a few strong women flew past me on the bike.  I’m jealous of them being such so awesome on the bike.  Towards the end one girl from my age group passed me…she was definitely strong on the bike.   Regardless, I knew I worked the bike hard and was dreading the inevitable hot sandy run.  Right as I was finishing the last lap, I saw Colleen and her boyfriend.  Colleen was such a super spectator.  Hearing her scream my name and do a rock star pose immediately lifted my spirits as I was heading into transition.

Total bike time: 1:14:32 only slightly faster than St. Anthony’s Olympic bike split.  I still need help with my bike speed. 

Run (6.2 miles)

I had been dreading the run because it was on the sand with no break from the Florida sun.  No true complaints though because it tested me as an athlete.  We don’t race triathlons because they are easy. Coming out of transition I saw the girl from my age group about 400 meters ahead.  I could catch her…I’m running faster right now. I forced myself to keep a steady pace and slowly catch up.  I passed her around mile 1 and she held on only 5 feet behind me.  Less than a mile later she was shoulder-to-shoulder and passing me.  Immediately my competitive side came out and I pushed harder.  I wasn’t giving up and then my energy faded and my body screamed “No!”.  What was going on with my body?  Run harder. 

And the cramps came charging in…my ride side clenched and took my breath away.  My spirits fell.  I have a hard time shaking cramps away and know from experience they only get worse.  The only relief was when I splashed cold water on my shoulders and chest.  Sipping water and taking a gel only made things worse.  Running only made my cramps worse.  So I did something I’ve never done in a triathlon…I walked.  I stretched out my side and ran some more until the cramps came back.  The first 3 miles were the longest of my life.  It only made things worse knowing I’d have to do the whole thing over again.  I started praying around mile 4.  God give me strength, God give me strength, God give me strength.  It helped keep me going.

Colleen’s cheers helped too!  She kept telling me I looked great (even though I felt like crap).  You can’t see it but I’m smiling despite the pain. The last few miles I felt better and tried to recover some of the time lost but I knew my run was going to be really slow.

Total run time: 54:43 This is about 6-8 minutes slower than my usual run but honestly I’m proud I didn’t give up at mile 3.

Total Olympic time: 2:36.13  2nd in Age Group, 8th Female, tough tough race

It was great seeing my boyfriend, Colleen, and her boyfriend after the finish.  I met Theresa, who did the sprint, and we were able to watch Meghann finish.  Read her race report.

I had fun talking with friends and waiting for awards.  Another side note, they ran out of water at the finish line.  Yeah…wondering why my $150 went into the unnecessary flat screen TVs to display our results and not into sufficient water supplies.  What’s wrong with paper results tacked to a board?

Yay for great friends made through triathlons.

My boyfriend has an awesome wheel set.

Colleen running off with his wheel.

All done!  Ready to EAT!

I LOVED the turtle they had for the race.

It was fun catching up with friends and testing my body.  I will not, however, be adding this to my race calendar for next year.  I understand it’s difficult planning an event but between the shirt size issue, rude customer service, running out of water, and a few other little things I wasn’t impressed enough to spend that much money again.

Every time I race, I’m re-motivated with training.  Can’t wait to hit the bike hard 🙂

Can’t wait for Top Gun triathlon next week in Ft. De Soto!!!!  I had so much fun last year.

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9 Responses to Siesta Beach Olympic Triathlon

  1. 5th out of men AND women in the swim? That is amazing. Plus, I think 19+ mph on a bike is still pretty speedy.

    Regarding “excuses” – I think it can be valuable to look at “reasons” a race didn’t go well, and it sounds like that’s what you did. When you do that, you figure out what to do differently last time. The way you approached it, it wasn’t whining, it was insightful.

  2. Colleen says:

    I obviously had to return his wheel to him because it’s not 650c. 🙂

    It was great spending time with you both.

  3. It was nice meeting you this weekend Courtney! I’m glad I’m not the only one that was less than impressed with the staff at packet pickup! While I didn’t experience any outright rudeness, the staff were very short with just about everyone in the store, and definitely not as friendly as any other event I’ve raced. And quite frankly, from a logistical standpoint, packet pickup and check-in/body marking on race day were set up pretty poorly. It was nearly impossible to figure out just which line you needed to be in & everything was so close together it was like a mosh pit!

    Definitely a hard race – I’m still struggling with the motivation to recap my own event because I’m so upset with myself & my completely mediocre performance! I’ve definitely learned a lesson with this one & know I have a lot of work to do before my next race.

    • Courtney says:

      Glad I got to meet you too! Hopefully we’ll see each other at a race soon! Don’t get too hard on yourself. We need a bad race every once in awhile to keep us motivated. At least that’s how I think of it.

  4. Shay says:

    great job courtney!!! There is nothing wrong with walking, though your competitive self tells you otherwise. The DNF is the one that hurts (of course unless it will cause bodily damage if you continue on). It’s all about getting to the finish line; whether it be , ironman, half, oly, sprint, 5k etc. I think that’s the point of endurance sports. Being the fastest is fun, but to finish is where it’s at. I remember St Ant’s tri in 09 I think it was. I went into it after coming off of a cold and a year of not racing lol. That was the year they cancelled the swim. So, from the get go, most motivation and excitement of the race was already gone, especially since we didn’t start until like 2hr after we were supposed to. So I had an ok bike, but when I was coming into the t2, I started contemplating whether or not I wanted to even go on. I know that running was going to be a disaster. So i stood in transition for about 5min, almost giving up and just calling it a day. As I pulled my shirt out of my transition bag, I started to watch all of the other athletes around me coming into transition and leaving transition onto the run. One by one they would come in and i’d watch them go out. And it wasn’t just super fast people doing it either. They’re were old, young, overweight, rookie, people continuing on with that drive to finish. The very least I could do was to walk it. Plus I wanted to get my medal lol. So I had a nice run/walk 10K. In the end, i imagined how awful I would have felt if i were not to complete the race. We all have bad days
    Nice Medal by the way!!! See you at top gun!!!

    • Courtney says:

      Thanks Shay! I remember watching that race. I agree that most times we learn more from the bad races than the good ones. The lesson to keep going even though you just don’t feel like it is a really valuable lesson. I love seeing the people that aren’t pro triathletes…they are usually more inspiring anyways. Yes, I will see you at Top Gun. 🙂

  5. Meghann says:

    Umm… girl – you rocked it! I was bummed about the shirts too because they were pretty cute ( i know you didn’t like the brown – but I was a fan 🙂 ) but I grabbed the XL and gave it to Derek. Maybe it’s a blessing because Derek is obsessed with the tech tees and will wear it more than I would have worn the small.

  6. Pingback: Top Gun Triathlon | Passionate 4 Life

  7. Pingback: How to clean a really dirty bike | Passionate 4 Life

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