Happy Friday and welcome back to the Small Fry Tri blog!

Well, where should I begin? Let me start with the current “hot topic” around the world, the corona virus. Around the world, everyone has been experiencing the effects of the COVID-19, whether it be a mandated quarantine to stay at home orders. I’d like to take a minute to acknowledge those that continue to work and risk their health through this all: healthcare workers, police officers, first responders, grocery store staff, my lovely mailman, cleaning services- the real MVP during this crisis- and anyone who I may have missed mentioning. Thank you, your services do not go unnoticed.. Unless it’s the people selling 4-packs of Lysol wipes for $2000 online (seriously, look it up) or those hoarding toilet paper. Y’all need a reality check! 

Most of my training hours now taking place in my garage due to COVID-19!

Anyway, I’ve seen online that many people have experienced mixed reviews about the quarantine, some enjoy working from home while others are going stir crazy spending all their time at home with their families. Now you may be asking, “Small Fry, where are you on this scale?” Let me tell you- I am loving this opportunity to work and train mainly from home. It has given me extra time to spend with my family, take on a few new books, build endless Legos, annoy my younger sister who must see my beautiful face everyday, and focus more time on training and recovery. 

Ah yes, training!

Little did I know that after the Iceman Triathlon I competed in on March 1st, my training would change drastically. Before I continue, I need to discuss my underlying intentions for starting this blog. For the third year now, I’ve tried to compete in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco, California. This race is extremely difficult to enroll in due to the high demand and limited slots- the event usually sells out within the first 1-2 days. Yes, I’m serious and no, I did not sign up in time for the 2020 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. However, I was chosen in the second of two raffles. This may be daunting for many of you but when I found out, I was ecstatic and in shock.

Once I realized it was true I quickly text my trainer, Kate, telling her one more to add to the 2020 Small Fry race list! Of course, she was on board with the condition that I got serious about my nutrition- AKA cut the French fries! Long story short, Kate and I thought it would be cool to blog my triathlon training/racing experiences in 2020 leading up to Escape from Alcatraz.

So…

Here I am, 3 full months into preparing for a busy and exciting 2020 race year ahead and boom- the COVID-19 pandemic occurs. Stay at home orders are in effect in most states including Arizona. Along with the serious precautions put in place statewide, many public events are canceled for months on end- including many of my spring events. I have attached an updated (potential) race schedule below for the rest of 2020.

Long story short my excitement for the Escape from Alcatraz 2020 has been cut short due to COVID-19. The event has not been officially canceled however there is a strong inclination that it will be due to the pandemic even though the event isn’t until early June. 

SMALL FRY’S 2020 RACE SCHEDULE

3/1: Iceman Triathlon- Morrison, Arizona 

4/4: Merrill Ranch Triathlon- Florence, Arizona (CANCELED)

5/3: Cactus Man Triathlon- Tempe, Arizona (CANCELED)

6/7: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon- San Francisco, California (PENDING CANCELATION)

8/29: Anthem Sprint Triathlon- Anthem, Arizona*

10/18: Ironman 70.3- Tempe, Arizona*

12/12: Holiday Classic Triathlon- Anthem, Arizona*

*Subject to change. 

Okay so… where does that put my training?!

Small Fry had this amazing race schedule in place and now two, possibly three events (if not more), have been canceled. For me, the training mentality remains the same after this pandemic began: get better. I recall texting Kate after the first two events were canceled. I told her my mindset was unchanged amidst all this, I wanted to improve my game. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing- with the occasional french fry here and there! Although I am not physically able to weight lift and annoy Kate with my “fry nonsense”, I continue to complete body weight work outs, cycle, run, and keep up with my recovery regiment- even adding in yoga! Though the training intensity has slightly decreased without my double workout days, I have had more time to focus on my interval rides as well as my long runs.

Now that you’re all caught up with the past 3 weeks of Small Fry’s life and training changes, let’s talk about my most recent event- the Iceman Triathlon. I previously mentioned that this event was one of my hardest races in the past 2.5 years. I’m going to tell you why after I breakdown each section of the race. So, here we go!

THE SWIM

Ahhh, the swim. In all my past events the swim never concerned me. I’ve always considered myself to be a decent swimmer. I’ve swam in oceans, lakes, and canals- none of which ever bothered me. But, while training for this race I was concerned with the swim for the first time. Given that the event was March 1st, I knew the water would be extremely cold. Kate told me it would be a great race to compete in. All my previous open water swims were not very cold. This race would give me the opportunity to prepare for cold open water environments. So, not knowing what I got myself into, I signed up for the race!

Running out of the water into T1 in my 2XU P-1 Propel wetsuit at the Iceman Triathlon!

Putting on my wetsuit nervously the morning of really tested me mentally. Would I be able to swim at pace? If I slow down will it hurt my time in the long run? Am I crazy to be racing Alcatraz in 3 months? Those were all questions running through my mind as I slowly inched in the cold lake water that morning. It was about 65 degrees F for those wondering.

As I continued to submerge myself in the water, I was content in knowing I could only feel the cold water on my feet and hands- the only places my wetsuit wasn’t covering. Waiting at the buoy’s for the start whistle, all my worries about the swim vanished all thanks to my amazing 2XU P-1 Propel wetsuit from JustWetsuits. If I was not wearing that wetsuit, I would have died of hypothermia. Anyone who knows me knows my body does not stand cold weather very well! 

The start whistle blows and we’re off!

Dipping my head into the water for the first time was like the sound of nails on a chalkboard. A few strokes into the swim I started to notice my breathing was very short and shallow. I was unable to get into a comfortable breathing rhythm and as a result I stopped in place to gather my breath. Like a fish out of water, I tried to compose myself in the best way possible: thinking about the finish line and my post-race meal – french fries. After what seemed like the longest minute on earth, I slowly got myself into a rhythm and cruised the rest of the swim.

I, without a doubt, know that my wetsuit saved me in this race. If it were not for the increased neoprene thickness around the chest and back (5mm to be exact) to keep me warm, I probably would have not completed the race. So, a huge shout out to Just Wetsuits for making sure I could handle this race with the proper equipment. Note to self: invest in a neoprene cap for future cold water races- a definite need for Alcatraz (when that race does happen)!

THE BIKE

Transitioning onto the bike portion of this race was a lot easier than I expected. Yes, I was very cold from the swim and I had difficulties feeling my hands and feet. However, I was eager to get to my nutrition and refuel for the rest of the race. The cycle started out about 1,700 feet above sea level with a maximum altitude increased of about 300 ft. When I reviewed the cycle course map days prior, I thought 300 feet was nothing. I was wrong but so thankful to Kate for putting me through the daunting interval/hill cycling during my training. Besides being cold from the swim and not having sensation in my feet for the first 6 miles of the 12-mile cycle, the ride was a good test of my ability to maintain my nutrition and set myself up appropriately for the run. 

THE RUN

Properly fueled by electrolytes and my Smartie strings concoction, I head off from T2 ready to get to the finish line. Many of you may not know that running is not always my favorite- especially hills.

However running in a triathlon to the finish line and my post-race meal is like running to the bathroom when you really must pee- it’s quick and effortless.
Post-race meal, already one double-double in!

The run course, unlike many in Arizona, was not flat. In fact, it was all hills and definitely not my cup of tea! At this point in the race, my body was going through the muscle memory of running while I was thinking about what to order from In-n-Out after the race (I’m serious). In a race like this, your mindset is just as important as physical readiness. I could have easily gotten bogged down and discouraged by the hills in the course, but I was ready.

The run was another moment where I was thankful for the hill sprints Kate made me do on a weekly basis! She always tells me “it’s all in the process Small Fry” and I have never once doubted her on the crazy and sometimes cruel work-outs she put me through. If only she would let me eat more fries.. I will work on it.

Overall, the Iceman Triathlon was a great and mentally challenging race.

The opportunity to reflect on this race over the past couple weeks has reinforced a motto I always keep in the back of my head during training and race day: mind over matter.

The hills in the bike course were frightening but I knew I was ready for the challenge given my training. With that confidence, I placed 3rd in my age group. It wasn’t my best race; however, I took away many valuable lessons which I will continue to apply through out the season to get better. If not for Alcatraz 2020, then the races that follow!

On Friday (5/1), I intend on discussing my past two Arizona 70.3 Ironmans! Everything from training to race day preparation and post race death- I mean thoughts! These races were quite frankly unforgettable. Stay tuned to find out why!

As always, I would LOVE to hear the opinions of those reading this blog post! If you have any questions, comments, or topics you’d like me to discuss or elaborate on in future posts, send me an email at smallfry@engardathletics.com. I’d love to connect with you!

Until next week! Stay crispy friends,