We Tri'd It, And We Liked It: MidSummer Olympic Triathlon Review

By Tanya and Carissa

You know those races where all the stars align and everything just falls perfectly into place? Those few and far between races where everything goes as planned and you are reminded again why you dream big, train hard, and persevere through obstacles and injury, and push your body and mind to its limits? Yeah, the MidSummer Triathlon was one of those races.


Tanya: I can't believe how blessed I have been to even get to the start of this race. I never dreamed I would be attempting a triathlon! Heck, I had never even ridden a road bike until six month ago! But it was destined to be. I fell in love with swimming because of reoccurring injuries. I fell in love with biking because I was gifted a bike. My passion for running was reignited through core strengthening and Graston Therapy (shout out to the fantastic crew at West Portland Physical Therapy). I was inspired to Tri it by my Sole Sisters and challenged by my awesome triathlon training partner, the incredible Carissa von Koch. I was offered a entry into the Mid-Summer Olympic Triathlon for volunteering through the wonderful host company AA Sports... and on to the race I went!

Carissa: I kept my training simple for this triathlon.  My goal was to be prepared to cover the distance.  Every week I aimed to be in the pool once for 1500 meters.  I spent two days a week cycling.  One of the days I took a one hour spin class the other day I cycled outside 25-28 miles, often with Tanya. Three days a week I ran, not because I needed to train that much for the triathlon but because I was considering a fall marathon.  Two of my runs were mid distance (5-8 miles).  One run was longer (10-12 miles).  I really enjoyed training like this.  The mix kept me injury free and mentally fresh.  On race day I felt competent and comfortable.

All marked up

Race Day Swim and T1

Tanya: Swim: 32:17, T1: 2:52: After Carissa and I had taken all of the distances head on, including some brick bike/run sessions, some crazy choppy open water swims in the Willamette, and one sighting training at Blue Lake, I was confident in my ability in all three disciplines. The week leading up to the race I was so excited but also really calm!

There is something really peaceful to me about swimming so I was excited to start a race with a swim. On race day as Carissa and I looked out onto all of the colored buoys in Blue Lake indicating all of the swim distances, we concurred that the ridiculously far placed pink buoys must indicate the edge of the swimming area where racers would know not to go beyond. However as the race started we found that as Olympic racers we were to go around the pink buoys! Fortunately for me, my calm demeanor remained from the moment I stepped into the water until the moment I stepped out, setting the stage for the remainder of the race.

Even though I had some trouble finding my strap to unzip my wetsuit I didn't let that setback stop me from doing a little shimmy with the Hawaiian drummers ushering my way into the transition area! (What can I say, I can't fully suppress the dancer in me!)

Carissa: Swim: 33:36, T1: 2:43:  After my last triathlon I had a lot to overcome in the water.  I started my swim last year with an unexpected wave of panic and followed it up with some horrible sighting.  This year I practiced swimming in open water and it made all of the difference on race day.  I solicited prayers for no panic in the water and those prayers were answered.  I did my swim in a wetsuit rented from Athletes Lounge.  The wetsuit was comfortable and worked great.  My only gear malfunction was new goggles that I hadn't had the chance to test.  They fogged up right away and I couldn't sight the buoys.  Thankfully I could make out the other swimmers in front of me so I followed them.  Though I was by no means fast on the swim I shaved close to three minutes off my previous time.

Race Day Bike and T2

Tanya: Bike:1:18:51, T2: 1:38 -  I was a little surprised to see I was in transition before Carissa, however I was sure that my lead would not last long as her strengths are on the bike and definitely on the run! As I set off on my bike I felt great. I was a little concerned about riding in a crowd and being able to correctly adhere to the passing and no blocking or drafting rules.  However I soon found that there was ample space between me and the other racers and therefore this was not an issue. At about mile six, I saw Carissa as I rounded the first turn around.  By mile eight I heard her enthusiastically shout "Good job Tanya! Keep it up!" as she squashed me as roadkill!

I kept my sights on Carissa as we climbed the remainder of the way up with a hefty head wind to mile thirteen and the turn around to head back down to Blue Lake. It was then that Carissa turned on the afterburners and rode off out of sight! I on the other hand, decided to play it safe and let my legs rest on the downhill since I knew my most challenging event would be the run. I even got a little pep in my step as my husband and boys were waiting for me outside the transition area and cheered me onto to start of my run!

Carissa: Bike:1:15:26, T2: 1:23 -  Out of the water and through transition, I was excited to be on the bike.  With my weakest sport behind me it was time to chase down some of those people who out-swam me.  My biggest concern on the bike was safety and any type of equipment malfunction.  I enjoyed racing a flat course and was able to pass a few riders.  Once I was no longer riding into a headwind I picked up my speed for the return.  My heart was full of gratitude finishing up this second leg.  Everything was falling into place for a great race.

Race Day Run and Finish

Tanya: Run: 50:17: I knew it was going to be a hot day and because the Olympic racers started last, we ran at a really hot part of the day. Therefore, I erred on the side of overhydrating and running with my fuel belt containing extra water and electrolyte fuel just in case. I am really happy with my decision, although I felt like I had to pee almost the entire 10k!

At about mile 2.5 my mind said to me, "It's so hot, why don't you just walk a bit?" but I refused to concede. To keep things interesting I asked the water station aids to launch the water at me instead of handing it to me.  I got a kick out of seeing their faces. Apparently that is not something they are asked to do often!

Just before the out-and-back turnaround, I saw a woman ahead of me from my running club. She is a strong runner and I knew that if I could keep her in my sights I'd be able to a keep a good pace. (I didn't have a watch or any other electronic timing device on me). As I came back into the park I was once again energized by the people along the course. I saw the finish line and all of my favorite people there cheering me in... the huge smile on my face tells exactly how I felt as I gave it all I had in my sprint to the finish!
God certainly had my back for this race from His peaceful calm that surrounded me the entire time to the fact that when I went to put my bike away right after the race my back tire was completely flat, but lasted me through the entire biking stage! I just have to praise God once again for my health, the ability to race and for this wonderful experience. I felt great after this race and had energy for days! I am hooked on running, biking and swimming and I will definitely be Tri'ing it again!

Carissa: Run: 47:34: Once I was off the bike and onto my run I had two thoughts: perhaps I went a little too hard on the bike (legs were stiff and uncooperative) and this is going to be one hot run!  The day had heated up and my legs were fatigued from the bike so I aimed to keep an even pace that would sustain me through 6.2 miles.  Without music to distract and motivate me I passed the miles encouraging other runners.  At the half way point I passed another runner who tucked in behind me.  She surprised me by hanging at my heels for the rest of the run (I assume drafting off of me) and offering encouragement.  It really helped me stay mentally focused in those hot long miles.  At the end I heard her pick it up to a sprint so of course I had to beat her across the finish.

Aside from foggy goggles I tried out some other new gear this race, all purchased from Athletes Lounge.  Most important was my first kit (a top and shorts combo made for triathlons.)  I tried on three different kits and found the one by Coeur (top/bottom) to be beautifully designed and especially comfortable.  I broke the never-wear-something-on-race-day-you-haven't-tested-first rule and had no regrets.  I also tried a race belt for my bib.  This could be user error but it was all over the place on my run.  Next time I will wear it tighter. Lastly, I bought a timing chip band as some timing chip straps can chafe the ankle.  This was comfortable and worked great.
Modeling my new kit before the race
Carissa's overall time: 2:40:43, 3rd place in age division
Tanya's overall time: 2:45:56, 6th place in age division

1 comment:

  1. Way to go, Ladies! So happy everything went well for both of you! Great recap - I really enjoyed reading it.