Sandling Beach Formula 1 Sprint

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I raced Setup Events’ Sandling Beach Formula 1 sprint last weekend and had a blast!  I enjoyed the Old School Aquathon races put on by One Step Beyond and FS Series years ago, so I thought it would be fun to mix it up at the end of the season with something different again this year.  This race consisted of a 5 mile two-loop bike course inside the Sandling Beach Park, followed by an out and back 2k run, 500 meter open water swim, another 5 mile bike and 2k run, and then repeat the swim bike and run one more time (15 mile bike, 6k run and 1000 swim total).

The first bike was a self seeded time trial start, so I got near the front with Bri Gaal and several of my TMS-IOS teammates and headed out on the course a little after 9:00 am (the later start was really nice).  The course was only 2.5 miles long so there were lots of turns, a few hills and three speed bumps in each direction.    Despite these obstacles it was still possible to build some decent speed on the course.

The run was in the opposite direction from the bike course and started uphill, which made it even harder to adjust to running. However, it did have some flatter sections in the middle and a downhill finish!

The swim was nice but very shallow due to low water levels.  It was wetsuit legal (77 degrees I think), but since the swim was not first I don’t think anyone bothered to put on a wetsuit in transition.  The water actually felt perfect without a wetsuit.  It definitely felt different swimming after biking and running.  My arms felt like lead, and I felt like I was barely moving.  The shallow water certainly didn’t help.

Mentally, it was nice breaking up the bike,  run and swim into smaller chunks.  It was easier to focus on each section since they were short, even though there were 7 transitions!  It was also nice not having to worry about cars on the bike course.

I ended up 5th overall female, behind teammates Kelsey and Stephanie who were 1st and 3rd overall. Not bad considering the fact that it has been a very tough summer for me training wise.  Since turning 50 last year, I haven’t felt the same physically, and really struggled with my training in the humidity this summer, especially on the run.  However, now that the weather is finally starting to turn I am starting to feel more like myself and look forward to winter training, and hopefully a better racing season next summer!  This race also reminded me that racing in triathlons is fun, even when you’re not in the best shape.  I hope Setup Events will keep this race on the schedule for next year!

How can I get faster?

Hypothetical conversation:

Triathlete:   Hey Coach.  I’ve done all the basic things to improve my overall time.  I’ve worked on my swim technique, ridden more miles and hills, and done extensive running training including intervals & hill work.  What can I do to get faster?  

Coach:         Do you really want to know what else you can do?

Triathlete:  Yes.  Let me know and I’ll do it!!

Coach:         Get more sleep and lose some weight.

Triathlete:  No, I want to know what ELSE I can do to get faster & stronger!!!  

Ha, ha. It sounds funny but have you ever skipped over those ideas?

It seems we always want some magical technique or workout.   Or maybe just longer, harder workouts.   But when given such a simple thing as “Get more sleep & lose weight”, many triathletes just skip that.

If you are in that boat, I recommend you really think about that suggestion & reconsider.    After the 2018 season, I looked ahead to 2019 and saw some big goals.  I asked myself the same question and really thoughtfully considered getting more rest and losing some weight.  So I started in October of 2018 making sure my eating habits didn’t get out of whack at Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s Eve parties/holiday over-eating.   Not to say I didn’t eat SOME sweets and 2nd helpings at Thanksgiving but I really tried not to overdo it.  Smaller portions of desserts, more prudent choices of what to eat, etc.   My usual routine of gaining weight in the off-season only to have to work hard to lose it early in the following year was broken.   It really wasn’t that hard to do.  It just required a focus & commitment.    I saw the benefits in training and early races in 2019.    One training example:  My spring training includes a triple brick session.   I compared my triple brick stats from 2019 back to 2018.   In 2019, I weighed about 10 lbs less than the previous year and was 14 seconds/mile faster on round 2 (Zone 2) and 3 seconds  faster per mile on round 3 (Faster) with SAME heart rate!!   Your specific weight loss & run speed will vary, but all else being equal, you’ll be able to run faster and with less effort when you drop some weight!   So do it!! 

From a sleep standpoint, I was given a heart rate tool (WHOOP!) to test.   Only after using that was I clearly aware that I was getting only about 6 hours of sleep per night on average.   The Whoop! device has a sleep coach and it was recommending more sleep so I decided to try to get more sleep.  Now I’m averaging about 7 ½ hours of sleep per night.   This is a 25% improvement in sleep time from what I was averaging before.   Not only do I feel more rested, the workouts don’t seem as hard since I’m not as tired.   And as my coach says “Sleep is the best type of recovery you can get!”.   I think this has also made a difference in me not getting injured this year.   I have been doing more core/strengthening work so that has definitely helped, but I do think getting more sleep has an impact on how you feel, your attitude, how your body responds to training and how much it is ready to take on more strain.   So I would really encourage you to try to get more sleep.   You’ll see a difference and your family likely will too! 😊

So getting more sleep and losing weight is something anyone can do.  You just have to make a decision and DO IT!!   I highly recommend it as I’ve seen the results it’s had on my racing this year.  You won’t regret it and will enjoy the many benefits that come your way as a result.  Good Luck!!