I’ll start off by saying that I came into this season with a much different perspective than I did to 2012. For those of you who didn’t read last year’s report, I’ll summarize it by saying that I was dumb enough to sign up for an IM when I had newborn twins and a 17-month old at home…in addition to a full-time job and a busy husband. So, I guess we’ll call last year more of a survival/social event than an actual “race”. It turned out much better than I expected, which led me to wonder….”how much faster can I get if I train the right way??” My goal this year was to improve upon my performance at Lake Placid 2012 and possibly land in the top three of my AG. A big goal, no doubt, but then I’ve always subscribed to the life philosophy of “Go big or go home…” At the end of 2012, I chatted with Coach Patrick about how to structure my year to get me faster and fitter for 2013. We laid out a plan (that initially freaked the hell out of me, to be honest), and I was on my way. The highlights of the plan were:
Arizona training camp:
Can’t say enough about this. Hard work and a helluva lot of fun. I learned a lot about myself, my fitness, Trevor Garson’s tire changing skills, Joanne Strauss’s amazing SAG support, and my inability to ride for 4 hours without sunscreen. I would also say that my most valuable lesson came after I returned home….the work you do is only as important as the recovery you ALLOW yourself to do afterwards. I felt great out in AZ, but thought I could jump back into training when I came home. Recovery is truly the key to improvement.
“Mini” Big Bike Week in April:
I put three days of high(er) volume riding together early in the season. Which wasn’t fun in Michigan at that time of year. Think high 30’s, low 40’s, 20+ mph winds, a little rain, and a new bike that I was just breaking in.
Oh buddy, that was interesting. Deserving of its own race report. Low 50s, non-stop rain, flooded bike and run course. I was hoping to test my fitness here, but the conditions were the limiter. A great learning experience, though.
Lake Placid EN Camp in June:
Just a great weekend of hard work, getting familiar with the course, meeting new EN team members, and finally seeing the real difference between my bike fitness from 2012 and my fitness going in to 2013. I’ll leave it at “work works”. Or maybe it wasn’t the work and more that I just REALLY wanted to catch Joe Manning when I saw him cresting the Bears JUST ahead of me on day 2, lap 2. (I obviously didn’t “catch” him, but I landed in the hotel parking lot not far behind him!)
Final RR on the course (this wasn’t in the official “plan” for me, but I love LP, so I couldn’t resist another trip there):
I planned to do the final 112/6 on the LP course over the July 4th holiday. I made it to LP, but I did not complete the entire RR, and there was a HUGE learning opportunity created for me (prepare for a slight tangent here). I finally realized, hard-core, that any given training day isn’t a sole product of that day’s variables, but a product of the entire week leading up to it. Meaning, if you train hard all week in hot weather, work a crazy schedule, have kids’ activities all over the place, sleep 5-6 hours a night, then get in your car, drive for 9 hours consuming coffee while dodging the Canadian traffic-control aircraft (thank heavens for sunroofs), and land yourself in LP the evening before planning to ride 112 and run 6….well…let’s just say that the outlook is formidable. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. I wondered the whole first loop of that ride what was “wrong” with me, and I eventually had to be rescued at mile 95 of the ride from the parking lot of the Chocolate Factory (TOTAL coincidence I swear!!!!) by Brenda Ross and Jess Withrow when I realized I had stopped sweating, my hands were kinda numb and pale, and I couldn’t even hold Z1 power without panting. I was so dehydrated, I barely remember the ride back – some conversation about Brenda’s Uncle Bob?? – and I didn’t pee that day from 5:45AM to 4:30PM, despite bombarding myself with fluids. Lesson: what you do on race day is only as important as what you did leading UP to race day.
So there you have the background that set me up for Lake Placid 2013. Except for one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. The fact that my left thigh decided it would rather sit this one out than be an active participant in triathlon this year. (Yep, I get it buddy. You’ve been put through a lot. But don’t think that you get to take 2014 off, too.)
Not really sure what happened (still don’t know), but somewhere around the end of May, I had severe pain running through my left thigh when I ran. It showed up one day out of nowhere. For the month of June, I ran twice per week – one “long” run, and one shorter run of about 7 miles. Not one run or one STEP was pain-free. It pretty much sucked. I saw two doctors, two different PTs, my coach, a chiro, and my mom. (If your mom can’t fix it, no one can. I know. I’m a mom.) I was lucky enough to get hooked up with Leigh Boyle who had me doing a foam roller/trigger-point medieval torture routine almost daily which I attribute to being able to run AT ALL on race day. She also advised that I stop running. Completely. Almost 3 and a half weeks out from race day. Tell me that wouldn’t scare you??? Will I forget how to run??? It’s super complicated, right?? What if I start going SIDEWAYS?? My muscles might forget how to run a straight line! (Yes, I’m making fun of my former self. I’m a believer now. Hallelujah!)
My doc threw in a last-minute MRI to make sure it wasn’t a stress fracture. All good there, so I was OK’ed by modern medicine to “push through the pain”. (Let’s all pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that I was HAPPY to hear that. Might need to check the wiring…!) So, yeah….showed up to race day not having run at all in close to a month. I’m not going to say I had the highest level of confidence on race morning, but there was really nothing to lose, and I had told myself I was going to give this my all.
Good thing I have two legs.
Listen to Kori’s Race Report Podcast
The morning was uneventful. The way I like it. The new swim start was fairly uneventful, too. I will say that I am a less-than-stellar swimmer. I freak out in crowds, lose focus easily, start having conversations with fishes due to a severe inability to have my head underwater for over an hour…..etc. I did make a somewhat (arguably) good decision to swim on the inside of the buoy lines, which let me be almost on top of the cable, which led me to several collisions with the actual buoys. I sooo wanna be one of the kayak guys sometime. They must’ve laughed to the point of tears watching all of us get into boxing matches with large floating triangles. I do also want to apologize to the kayak that I swam into. Yes, you read that correctly. I swam headlong into a kayak. See, the kayakers apparently were trying to keep us outside the buoy lines so that Andy Potts had clear water on his second lap. They apparently are unaware of how determined Kori Martini Retzbach is. You can beat me with a paddle, ram your kayak into my head, but you will NOT get me to swim back into that churning mass of humans immediately to my left. No sir. Besides, then I wouldn’t have been able to body surf on Andy’s wake as he rocketed past me. (Sorry, Andy!)
So, outta the water in just under 1:18. Last year was 1:19. (Thanks, Andy!)
Here’s where I put my game face on. Let’s face it….I’m not “racing” the swim. At least not this year. But, I knew that once my feet hit dry land, GAME ON. I chose my wetsuit stripper, and ran around everyone into T1. There was no chatting up my volunteer. I grabbed by bag, ran into the tent, and was TELLING her what to do. I’m glad it wasn’t the same lady from last year, who I become buddies with while casually making my way through T1. She woulda been like “I see we’re not friends anymore!” this year. Ran out, screamed my bike number, and was met at almost the exit to T1 with my bike. I very cautiously mounted and headed out into the light drizzle.
I gave myself a power range to stay in. No higher than XXX on climbs and no lower than XXX on descents (as gearing would allow). I rode this course smarter this year than I ever had before. I was passed on the early uphills and gained a lot of ground on the back 20 by using the descents and flats to my advantage. I used the Perform on course and PowerBars/gels that I had with me. Lap one was super uneventful, but I LOVED coming into town and seeing Eric (husband), our three friends, and the team on Mirror Lake. Just a fantastic feeling. I did not stop at Special Needs, which was a scary place this year. Just kept cruising. My nutrition plan stayed on track, my power stayed within range, and I felt phenomenal. Lap two brought more wind, but I was expecting it. I wish I had something creative and great to say about the bike, but it just went according to plan. 5:45:xx bike split. Last year was a 6:16. Holla.
I looked at my watch when I came into T2 and was like, “Huh??”….I’ve never come into T2 that early in the day before!!! I really wanted to cap that with a solid run, but I won’t lie: I felt like my thigh was a time-bomb just ticking. The bike never gives me a clue as to how it will feel – it doesn’t hurt when I ride. Only when I run. Great for the bike. Lousy for the marathon. Again, I was moving through T2 like my pants were on fire. I headed out onto the run course and thought “Wow….I really feel great!” No stomach issues, my leg didn’t hurt (yet…yeah, I wasn’t getting off that easy), and I just had all kinds of energy behind me. I ran “strong but comfortably” out of town. I didn’t have my Garmin on. I didn’t want it. I know that sounds sacrilegious, but sometimes I think data can work against you. Knowing that I had an injury, I wanted to run by feel, not by some number that wasn’t really applicable anymore after a month of no-running. I didn’t feel all that bad during the first 13 miles. I had a run-in with some tingling fingers, but Coach P reminded me of the miracle cure that is Coke, which fixed that quickly. Heading out for loop 2, I saw more people cheering, yelling, clapping, blowing air horns, ringing cowbells for Team EN than I can even comment on. It was AMAZING. Coach P was dedicated to getting us to that finish line. Coach R was all over that course on a (very cool, very awesome, very cheap) mountain bike, yelling splits to our front runners so they knew where they stood and who they had to run down or avoid being run down by. It was incredible. I’m telling you, our team was WORKING that day. It was so great seeing Joe Manning, Teri Cashmore, and John Withrow at every run turnaround point. They were all just KILLING it.
On to the last 12 miles….heading out of town for lap 2, I started to get the notification from my thigh that all systems were no longer go. I kept telling myself to NOT LIMP. I knew it hurt, but I didn’t want to start jacking up my run form for 14 miles. I do think that we have an override system that tells our bodies to compensate in times of pain, so I couldn’t completely run symmetrically. I managed to keep up this mental pain block for awhile, but when I was heading back from the last River Rd. turnaround, it was almost too much. I saw Kim Ashworth and Dottie Caitlin on my trip back into town and was given a little encouragement. I could feel the leg(s) starting to fall apart a bit. From mile 18 on, it was a study in pain management. My right calf was now starting to threaten to cramp (a result of compensating I’m sure), and I was having a little therapy session with it in my head. Something along the lines of “We all have times in life when we are expecting to endure hardships that are not necessarily part of the original plan. It’s not always fair. It’s not always right. BUT SUCK IT UP!!!!!” I had a choice…run faster and go into a seriously bad cramp, or back off and run slower. I made the safer decision. Maybe that means I’m not super-tough. I’d like to think it allowed me to get to the finish without WALKING. There are only two times I walked that course (other than the aid stations, as prescribed): the last ski-jump hill and the last Lisa G hill. My form was out the window at this point.
Coming into the last few miles, I saw the only female in my AG that passed me on the run. She was 7th, I was 6th. We went back and forth twice. I kept trying to counter her attacks. On the last pass, she went like she MEANT IT, and I just couldn’t get my legs to respond without my calf wanting to cramp. I was determined to survive to the finish. I ended up with a 4:12:xx run. Actually, 7 minutes faster than last year. On a bum leg. Could it have been better? Absolutely.
But, I am not going to complain.
I came into the oval and crossed the finish line in 11:25:31. 7th place AG. This finish was 43 minutes faster than last year. I crossed the finish line and found a whole HERD of people there! Joe, Rob, Cleve, Coach R, Coach P, Eric, Dr. Stu, etc. A HUGE thank you to Coach R for making sure I was OK, grabbing me post-race fuel, and hooking me up with Eric easily. Having your coaches there is an experience I can’t truly do justice to in words. It’s awesome.
Overall, I’m happy with my day. I think I executed how I wanted to. My limiter on the run was my injury, not my nutrition or execution.
Some other side notes on my season/race:
- I have plenty to work on. It would be less encouraging if I did everything right and had no issues yet couldn’t hit my goal. I KNOW what to work on. Body comp (I was exactly zero pounds lighter this year than I was at Lake Placid 2012), swimming (I swam MAYBE 6 more total times this season than 2012), and strength work (I have a theory on how I became injured). I’m excited to have made the gains I did this year. I am excited to make those same gains in other areas for next year.
- No, I have not learned to pee on the bike. I held it all the way from swim exit to T2. I swear, I tried. I’ll get it eventually.
- There is definitely a benefit to my chaotic daily life. Not many things can “shake” me on any given day. If you’ve gotta get training done, 3 kids under 3-yrs dressed, out the door, dropped at daycare, and yourself to work all before roughly 7:30AM, you deal with a lot of uncertainty and a lot of problem solving. Managing my way to a finish line on raceday can’t be nearly as difficult as changing a diaper in the back of a (super cool, turbo-charged) minivan, taking three small kids on a plane, potty training twins, or planning out our monthly calendar that looks more like an NFL playbook. Despite the fact that I basically “spazz out” in the few days prior to race day, I’m always eerily calm when ready to toe the line.
- I owe my husband, Eric, a huge huge thank-you. He has been so supportive through training, traveling, racing….he’s picked up the slack at home when I was too tired, busy, etc, and he spent all of race day tracking me down, encouraging me, and pushing me to that finish line. Well….he tracked me down until Rich jacked his bike and Patrick stole his phone. Then he kinda just looked like the kid at recess that got all his $hit stole by the local bully. Haha!! (In reality, the coaches had a helluva time making sure everyone everywhere had what they needed to be successful and any small part played in that was huge on race day.)
Thank you to everyone on the team for the support and encouragement. I’ve made so many great friends this year, and I feel like one of the luckiest triathletes in the world to be able to enjoy my hobby with the best group of people around.Onward and upward. Lots of fun still to be had in 2013. Nothing but a positive outlook for 2014!
Did Kori’s Race Report psyche you up? Ready to join TeamEN? Sign up for the waiting list right now to get an invite for a free 7-day Trial Membership when we open our doors on October 7, 2013!