I travelled to Cohasset, Massachusetts, a couple weekends ago for a sprint distance triathlon. I was excited about it because it was actually my first ocean swim race! I mean, I’d been in the ocean before, but never racing, and actually never in the Atlantic.
I flew into Boston on Saturday and drove down to Cohasset (45 min south) for packet pickup. I found the hotel and built up my bike to take it for a spin and make sure everything was ready to go. I realized Saturday evening around dinner that I hadn’t packed any race-day food, so I found a local sporting goods store and bought some clif bars and a couple gel packets, just in case.
I changed my pod (pump infusion set) just before bedtime, but on race morning, I realized this was likely a mistake. I woke up in the high 200s—274 actually. Obviously, that is not where I want to be on a regular day, let alone on race day. So I bolused and then held off on eating anything immediately, to give my number a chance to hopefully come down where I wanted it. The race actually had a “late” start compared to what I am accustomed (8:45 wave start for the pros with me entering the water around 9, when most races the first wave is usually in the water by 7:00 or 7:15), so I had time for it come down…if only it would!
I drove to the parking location and rode my bike with my gear the 1.5 miles down to the ocean-side transition area. I have to give props to the race organizers. They ran a great show and had everything organized and orchestrated really well! I found my spot in the transition area, got my bike racked, and got body marked (race numbers are written on your arms and legs with a magic marker).
My number was on its way down (126) and I started eating to combat any potential low prior to the race start. I should have bolused more for the food though (it’s always a tough line to follow between how much food and insulin you need prior to a high-intensity race!), because I was on my way back up towards the mid-200 mark at the pre-race meeting, just before the race start.
I bolused (against my gut feelings to not do that just before a race) because I didn’t want to try racing in the 240-250 range—I lose power and feel very sluggish when I race with my glucose high like that. Thankfully, the bolus was the perfect amount!
I finished putting my wetsuit on and when it was time for my wave to line up, I ran into the ocean to get acclimated to the water quickly before coming back out and getting lined up on the beach. The gun went off a short time later and the race was on!
Despite having jumped into the water, re-entering the water I realized how chilly it actually was! Trying to aim for the first buoy and get out in front of the other racers was my primary focus though. I had a good line and made it to the first buoy in good time, but found myself on the inside of other racers (closer to the buoy). This made for a bit of a traffic jam, and after the turn, I felt like the rest of my swim wave was going off and leaving me. I tried not to think about the other racers too much though, and just worked on getting around the second buoy so I could aim back towards the beach.
I swam as long as I could until the water was only about an arm’s length deep as I approached the shore. I shot up onto my feet and hustled towards the transition area. My wet suit came off quickly, and I grabbed my cycling gear once I made it to my spot in the transition. Because this was only a sprint, I chose not to test (taking up valuable time) since I knew what my number was before the race and I knew what kind of food and insulin I had on-board.
I took a swig of Gatorade and ran out of the TA with my bike. Once I hit the mount line (after you cross this line you can get on your bicycle), I did a flying leap and took off pedaling. I had clipped my shoes onto the bike so I could
work on getting my feet into them while I was riding (trying to save time).
The bike course was mostly flat with a few little rolling hills. The first and last sections of pavement were a little bumpy, but no worse than Oklahoma roads, which I’m used to :-) I was able to attack pretty well throughout most of the course, and did my best to pick off as many people as I could. Since it was only a sprint distance, I could push myself a little closer to ”red line” for longer, so I spent much of the bike and run course teetering at this edge…my legs and my lungs were definitely “talking” to me by the end, but I was having such a good time I didn’t notice too much.
I rounded the last corner of the bike course right along the ocean again (a very scenic and awesome race venue btw!) and pulled my feet out of my shoes. As I approached the dismount line, I jumped off and hit the ground running! I was the first biker on my rack to come back in—potentially a good sign for my position in my age group (since all of us are required to rack our gear next to each other).
I threw on my socks, shoes, and visor and was out the door again, this time for a 3.2 mile run! I tried to use the same tactic of looking for someone in front of me, and picking them off. Because I was one of the individuals at the front of the group though, there wasn’t much from which to choose. A couple of older guys in the 30-34 age group passed by me, so I tried my best to pick up my pace and hang on their heels. This worked a little bit, but they were definitely much stronger runners than I was, so I eventually was dropped. I passed the halfway point and knew I was entering the home stretch!
The last big turn on the run course actually re-entered onto the bike course as well, so there were bikers to the left side of the road, and runners to the right. It was fun to see all of the different types of people cycling past me, pushing themselves as well :-)
I started to pick up the pace over the last little riser and pushed as hard as I could as I came into the finishing chute. I crossed the line and wobbled over to one of the volunteers who took my timing chip off my ankle. I found my spare glucometer and did a quick finger stick….160! Great! I was pleased with my glucose after the race, and I felt good about my performance as well. However, I didn’t really know how well I would do compared to others in my age group…
After a short time, they began posting the preliminary race results as we were waiting on the rest of the racers to finish. My overall time was a 1:04:33. Not too bad! For sprint distance races I always aim for somewhere around the 1 hour, to 1 hr 10 minute mark (depending on pool vs. open-water, and 2 mi run vs. 5K, etc). Then as I looked across my stats at the category…it said 2! I couldn’t believe I had placed 2nd in my age group!! Wow. I knew those were preliminary, so someone could still be on the racecourse who may end up with a better time than me. I tried not to get too excited…
When the awards ceremony rolled around though, my name was indeed called for the 2nd place age group finisher in the 25-29! It was a fantastic feeling. When I looked back on the finishing results, the 1st place individual actually only beat me by 17 seconds…ugh. That’s it! All these thoughts race through my mind immediately about “if only I had not taken an extra swig of Gatorade in the transition, it could have saved 5 seconds” or “if only I had held onto the heels of those better runners out on the run course, I could have shaved another 10 seconds off the run...” It also makes me question my diabetes management as well…”if only I had started with a better number, I might have had a better performance…” (I have to laugh at my competitive "type A" personality that comes out on occasions such as
I could dwell on the coulda/shoulda/wouldas all day long though, but it does not change the fact that he had a better race than I did. So instead of dwelling on things indefinitely, I will make a mental note of those 17 seconds, and resolve to race better in the future!
The really big news from the weekend came when I realized that this race was a special USAT (national triathlon organization) qualifier for this year’s Age Group Nationals, in September!! Because of my 2nd place AG finish, I qualified!! I was speechless. I’ve never qualified for a national race like this, so I was ecstatic!!
So now I have a new race to look forward to later this year! Moreover, a new race to do better with my diabetes management! All-in-all, the Cohasset Triathlon is a great race, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a great race in the Boston area.