1st middle distance.
Preparation for my first middle distance race started shortly after 10pm on Saturday, October 19, 2019. I had just finished an Olympic distance brick session at my university gym in Oldenburg. Just earlier that year, I had finished my first ever triathlon, the Neroman Wiesbaden. I signed up the day of the event, and hadn’t prepared at all. I did not anticipate on triathlon becoming a part of my life, but I was hooked by the end. I began running more regularly, trying out interval sessions on the stationary bike at the gym, and swimming (sporadically). I bought a whiteboard and started making training plans.
After that night, I was determined to complete a middle distance race, but it wasn’t until December that I had brought up the idea to Thomas. On New Year’s Eve we both signed up for the Südkärntner Triathlon in Austria for September 13, 2020.
In January 2020, I started working in Frankfurt. With the new commute, new lab, and new project, training wasn’t as easy to fit in. When races started getting cancelled due to COVID-19, I was a bit relieved. I didn’t feel like I would be fit enough by September to complete the race anyway. Once I wasn’t able to go into the lab in March, Thomas and I started training together during lunch breaks, and I was able to find my groove again. With the addition of the ALV Corona Challenges, I was starting to get excited to train and compete again. Eventually I decided I would do the distance come September.
After a last minute change for the swim setting, Thomas and I started our race around 9:15am. Thomas was out first with enough time to set up T1, which included assembling his own bike that we had to fit into the back of our car. I was out of the water, and trying to make my way out of the pool hall which I can only describe as the maze from The Shining.
We set out on the bike. It was a route that I had done at least seven times. I knew the way, I had my nutrition plan taped to my bike frame, and I was feeling good. After we were out of the city, things went fairly smoothly. After the first two laps, though, Thomas had noticed that since we had changed pools last minute, our ride course was about 4km too short. He found an extra loop we could add to fill the distance. One additional climb and 4km later, he sprinted ahead to set up T2.
After hitting some traffic coming back into the city, I got to T2 to see my shoes and a gel ready to go. I set out on the run, running laps until Thomas could join me after putting our bikes away. Not even 2 km into the run, I started to feel a sharp pain on the bottom of my foot that I had never felt before. I stopped twice before fully removing my shoe only to find a small twig. I removed it, but some damage was already done.
The first loop was a classic 9 km loop we’ve both done countless times. I had daydreamed about finishing my first middle distance race so many times on that route, it didn’t feel real once we were doing it. Thomas ran ahead to go get his bike and my nutrition to support me on the rest of the run. At about 12 km in, I was starting to feel the last hours. My foot had never really recovered, and my right hamstring was a bit tight from the ride. I was determined to just keep running, though. It was around this point that it was getting difficult to take on nutrition. The heat was starting to get to me, and I didn’t want to take a gel because I felt like it would get stuck in my throat, so I started drinking a carb mix. The goal was to just keep it down. My knees were in pain, my foot was numb, and Thomas was stuck in line at a Kiosk trying to get me a Coke because the carb drink was too difficult to get down. I started thinking to distract myself from the discomfort. I thought about my time Oldenburg, Atlanta, and Mainz. I thought about my new rivalries/ athletic aspirations I found through ALV. I thought about writing this race report to thank the team for being so encouraging, and for inspiring me to be a better athlete, and I thought about how I’m excited to do all of this again next year. I finished the run in front of the place I had set out on so many. Overall, I am happy with my performance, and I am looking forward to start training for next year.
A special thanks for Thomas Berkemeier for being my coach, race organizer, and support team.
Swim (1.9 km): 38:53
Bike (90.38 km): 3:27:02
Run (20.1km): 2:03:38