Race Report: Muncie, IN Sprint Triathlon

When I planned out my season -ending in the Half Ironman in Muncie, IL in July – I added a couple of preparatory events to get my feet wet.  One of these events, and the starter of my season, was a May Sprint Triathlon in Muncie IN.

The family and I traveled to Muncie the night before and stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in the town of Muncie, a couple of miles from the Pleasant Creek reservoir.  After checking in, we went to the reservoir to check it out and get some open water practice in my new wetsuit.   Once I was suited and ready, we headed to the water and I jumped in with some other triathletes who were also getting their open water swim in.  The water wasn’t too cold (which I was worried about after hearing reports of 64 degree water) but it was completely murky.  I mean a full-on wall of dark green with some light green specks to liven it up.  I couldn’t see anything.  I would take out my head to breathe and get a face full of sunshine and blue sky and lightness – then I would put it in the water for a face full of green, watery nothingness.  It freaked me out.  I forced myself to keep swimming but I could feel my heart rate just pumping out of control.  After a couple of laps to get used to the water and the conditions, I got out – seriously worried about keeping my head on my shoulders on the swim portion of the triathlon.

After the swim, we went to Olive Garden to eat and definitely ate too much of an eggplant carbo-rich meal.  I went to bed early after stretching and checking my gear.

The day of the race, I did my usual routine – woke up ~2-2 1/2 hours prior to the race to eat my usual dish of oatmeal, fruit and coffee.  I started my water intake and stretched.  I checked my gear once again and then the family and I headed to the reservoir.  We got there right as they opened transition (~7am) and after getting body-marked and putting my gear in my spot, I went to get another open water swim practice in.  The fact that I had freaked out was weighing heavy on my mind, and I wanted to get accustomed to the water as much as possible before the swim started.   I got into the water with a handful of other triathletes and swam some laps.  It was MUCH better than the night before.  I didn’t freak out about the water or the wetsuit tightness.  I kept my heart rate under control and got used to the conditions as much as possible.

Before we knew it, it was time to start.

The Muncie organizers had a very different swim starts from any other triathlon I’ve done.  They asked people to self-place (by asking others around what pace they were swimming at) and then they sent us in, one by one, in 5 second increments.  I loved this start!  First, my family was RIGHT there next to me and could see me go in (or flop in, as the video my husband took later revealed) and second, you weren’t besieged by a thousand arms and legs.  I had all the space I wanted around me.

Since this was a practice triathlon – here’s what I learned:

Swim (7 minutes, 1:45s/100yds)

1)  Practice bilateral breathing – I had only practiced breathing on one side and guess which side was being hit by the swells? So the first dozen strokes, I got facefuls of water (if a wave hit me) or I didn’t get any air at all, trying to avoid the wave.

2)  Practice breathing every 4-5 strokes as well as every 2 – the combination of not being able to breathe every time, plus the tightness of the wetsuit meant that my heart rate went up since I could’t do a great job at hitting my regular stride.

3) Sighting – after I exited the water, I looked at my Garmin and realized I zig zagged like no-one’s business.  I ended up doing 200+ more yards than I needed to.  In a Half Ironman, this could add up to a LOT more.  I need to do more Open Water swims to get better at this.

4)  Glare- there was a lot of glare going back to shore, I could barely see.  I need to either get glare-free goggles or follow someone’s bubbles who I hope is going in the right direction.

Side note- I swam into not one, but TWO people who all of a sudden went from freestyle to backstroke.  It was like smashing into a wall full of arms and legs.  Not sure how to avoid this except sight for both buoys and backstrokers.

Bike (46:10, 16.3 mph)

I jogged to the transition area and had no problem taking off my wetsuit, thanks to a generous application of lube around my ankles and feet.  I then stepped into my pre-prepped bike shirt ( I swam in a sports bra and tri shorts) and had no problem pulling it up and zipping it.  It already had my nutrition loaded into the back pockets so after putting on my shoes (no socks) glasses and helmet I was ready to go.

I had a great bike, went faster than I expected given Muncie’s rolling hills.  It’s basically up and down the entire route.  The road is not great so there was some bumpiness but give the spacing in the swim, I didn’t see that many other triathletes.  What I did see were cars, lots of cars.  They don’t close the bike course, so you are constantly being passed by confused vehicles in the small 2 lane road.  I stayed on top of my nutrition – (1 applesauce every 30 minutes, water with Nuun electrolytes) and felt strong.  I took applesauce because my stomach is not a friend of Gus.  I am slowly training it, though!

Run (34 min, 11:01 min/mile)

The bike to run transition went smoothly, I took off my helmet, put on socks and shoes and then just took my bundle and ran. The bundle included my race belt, hat and some sports beans.

I definitely felt the effects of the bike in the run.  I can’t describe the feeling of dead legs better than I felt like I had a rubber band around my ankles and couldn’t really do anything more than shuffle.  The run was tough because I didn’t bring my handheld water and the water station was a lot further than I needed it to be.  I usually bring my water because I like to sip constantly vs. gulp at the water station.  You can believe that I will bring it for the Half!

The run was painful and a definite head game – there was a lot of “what? this hill? this hill is for babies, I can do this hill on my hands” (in my head), while the rest of my body was like “stop, right now, this is stupid” or sometimes “I wonder what the normal people in the world are doing right now? sleeping? eating? – I wish I were sleeping or eating right now”.

At the halfway point I got my legs (mostly) back and was able to do more than shuffle.  Right before the finish line, there is a big, long and steep hill.  Why is it that there is always a big, steep hill before the finish line?

As I was coming to the finish line, my two boys ran to meet me and we finished together!  The picture even made it to the triathlon “finisher” email.

What better way to finish?

What better way to finish?

All in all- I did the sprint a lot faster than I had expected and learned a ton – which is exactly what I was hoping for.  I realized that:

1.  Lots of work to do on the swim, although this is my strongest suit and I ended up in a really great place among my age group, I still have a lot of wrinkles to figure out.

2.  I felt strong after the bike, but I have a feeling I need to take it easier in Muncie in order to not die in the Half Marathon afterwards.  I had an ok bike and was in the middle of my age group.

3.  Running is not my strong suit and I need to expect a big mental game for the run.  Need to build up mental endurance and have good legs after the bike in order to keep it together.  My goal is not NOT walk (except in water stations).  My coach has me doing a lot of aerobic runs because my heart rate was high in the run.  I also need to dial up the fuel in the run to help me keep the energy tank full.

All in all -it was a fabulous experience and I would recommend this tri to anyone!  Next: an Olympic Triathlon in June for more practice!

Side note- the reservoir is perfectly set up for kids, they have a playground right next to the Finish line (so my kids just played around while I ran) and the beach is very close.  They also have nice bathrooms and the parking was also close, so my family gravitated between the three places with no problem.  They could also go to the car to snack whenever they wanted to without having to lug around a big cooler.  For the Half Ironman though, I hear that if you park in the Reservoir parking lot, you can’t really leave (and that it gets full quickly).  Something to think about!

Now, off to more training!

Me and "Cebrita" (Little Zebra)

Me and “Cebrita” (Little Zebra)


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Dennis on June 4, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Maw! Te amo!


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