The 2013 tri season is well underway. It opened for me last Sunday at the Capitol View Triathlon.
Cap View is a Madison favorite, offering sprint- and olympic-distance courses to a wide range of participants. One year I saw a woman whose bike had a basket. That’s the kind of field I like to see at the races: come one, come all.
This year I took a break from my trusty purple and green to give credit to an important friend and key sponsor of the race – Endurance House. I’m a member of their “Redefining Your Possible” team, which focuses on triathlon training. I’ve done plenty of triathlons before, but took this opportunity to make some new friends, add some new group workouts to my calendar, and learn. There’s always more to learn.
There were a lot of Endurance House uniforms at the Cap View Tri. It’s fun to arrive in the early morning and greet fellow athletes by name as they roll into transition. One of them was Jess, from my TNT San Diego team back in 2011, who not only continued running, but took up triathlon, too. Cap View was her first race! She jumped right in and did the Olympic distance – way to go, Jess!
(Jess’ stuff is covered in the photo because the weather threatened rain all morning, but gave way to beautiful sun and warmth just as the race started).
The breeze made the swim a bit challenging for me: I usually breathe to one side then the other – every three strokes – but the waves hit my left side across the back of the triangular course. I adjusted and breathed to the right, but two strokes felt too few and four too many. By the time I settled into a rhythm, it was time to turn. That’s the way swimming goes sometimes.
The little waves didn’t bother Dione: she had a breakthrough day. She was due in her season for an awesome swim, and she got it. What makes a swim a breakthrough? It’s different for everyone, but it often comes as a swim that feels calm and fun. She came out of that water ready to rock her new racing bike, and did exactly that.
The bike course is what I might call standard Wisconsin fare. Mostly small country roads with good pavement conditions. Traffic is ordinarily low, but on race day the course is completely closed to cars. What’s nice about Cap View is that the bike course has a few good long flats, but also includes gentle rollers and a few significant climbs. The Olympic and sprint courses share an out-and-back, which serves as the stick of the olympic lollipop when the sprinters turn around. The Olympic course’s extra loop, meanwhile, features a large hill: first down (maximum speed 47 mph!), then back up (minimum speed, 7 mph!)
Back at Governor Nelson State Park, spectators line the road as returning riders pass the finish line on their way back into transition. From there, it’s a different kind of run than usual – the course is entirely unpaved, soft underfoot with a mix of grass trails and woodland paths, again with a mix of flats and hills.
The run was my breakthrough. I typically do well in the sprint distance because I run hard through the 5k. Here with a 10k for the olympic distance, I didn’t want to go too hard – but at the same time wanted to run my best. Honestly, when you get right down to it, and when you train with long sessions and have experienced the marathon, what’s really all that different between 3.1 and 6.2 miles? (I know, I know; you might think this is crazy talk.) This is how the run unfolded for me mentally – as long as I wasn’t running completely wide open, I gave myself permission to go fast as long as I felt reasonably relaxed.
And wouldn’t you know it, the miles ticked away as I traversed the winding course, minding my footing, greeting other runners, observing nature in its summertime greatness, and quietly contemplating the sacred effigy mounds quietly preserved in the forest at the trail’s edge.
It’s real summertime, and life is good. I hope you’re finding your own opportunities to enjoy the season – whether it’s a special project, something active, a way to make friends, or a way to relax. For me, triathlon is all of the above, and it feels like home.