To race or race to win…

Tempe International Olympic Triathlon, Mother’s Day May 13, 2012

“You’re not trying to win the race this time around as we’ll save that goal for the NEXT time!  However, I do want you to get a sense of ‘what it takes’ to race at your potential, podium in your age group and hopefully podium overall.”  That was the thought leading into Tempe International Triathlon. I had never raced an Olympic distance and was uncertain to how far I could push my body. I was prepared to race and that is all due to planning and training properly. When you start out in a new sport or a new training program you must have a plan and it is very helpful to have a coach. My Coach, Toby Baum with Red Iron Coaching, started coaching me in January of 2012 and creates my training plan every month. Having a training plan is critical to your success.

My race plan, as I stated before, was to race at my best potential and see what happens.


Before my last two races I ate a bowl of steel-cut oats with a scoop of peanut butter and agave syrup stirred in and it worked well, so that was on the menu this morning.  Headed down to race start an hour before the race started and set up transition.  The morning was pretty mellow; did my normal 20 minute warm-up run, got into my wetsuit and the butterflies started swarming (in my stomach that is).


This is where I lack confidence, I am a decent swimmer and am training and working on becoming better every time I am in the pool.  It felt like the whole race field was in front of me because there were only 2 waves starting behind me; the 50+ women and the last wave was the Athena and Clydesdales. So, in essence I was thinking I just needed to worry about everyone in front of me and focus on passing as many people, women in particular, as I could.  I just focused on good technique and tried to swim straight and build my intensity.  As I was approaching the beach I had no idea how many women came out of the water in front of me but I figured I had some work to do on the bike.  I was the 10th woman out of the water.

Transition 1:

As I ran up the stairs I was peeling off my wetsuit and knew I needed to get out on my bike fast. I had the fastest transition time and was very proud of that.  This is where you can make up a lot of time.



The bike course was a 2 loop course, I set out with good effort and immediately was passing several people. There were 3 u-turns on the course which allowed me to see how far in front of me were my competitors.  At the start of my second loop I could see that I still had 2 women in front of me and was pushing it as hard as I thought my body could handle knowing that I had a 10k to run once I dismounted.  My quads felt “loaded” but not fried.  Other triathletes and coaches warned me to not push it too hard because you can blow up on the run; another reason to have YOUR OWN coach is, my coach knew what I could handle on the run and said to me to push as far as I felt comfortable and time would tell what happens.  At this point I was relying on my training and felt good and confident to get off my bike and run well.  I turned in the 2nd fastest bike time (the fastest bike time is who ended up beating me in the end, more on this later).

Transition 2:

As I pulled into T2, I knew I needed to move fast and everything I did correctly was going to get me closer to the 2 women in front of me. Once again, I had the fastest T2 time; my coach prepared me well.


For most, the run is the toughest part, but for me, this is my most favorite part because I excel in this sport.  I took off out of T2 and replayed the record of my coach saying, “let your legs get used to running, watch your pace and do not got out too fast”. I felt great, and settled into a sub 7 minute pace. The run was also a 2 loop course and within the first loop I caught both women I was trying to catch. I couldn’t believe how well I was doing. At the start of my second loop, my coach informed me that I was the first female and to continue to run strong. I had 3.1 miles to go and and wanted to negative split on my second loop. Despite the rising temps and my body getting hot, I maintained pace and ran as hard as I could.  When I am in, what I reference as, the “pain cave” I focus on heel recovery, turn over and tell myself, “this is temporary”.    I rounded the last turn to head up a slight incline to head into the finishing chute and was so proud of myself. I knew my discipline and training had paid off.  With wave starts you still never know where you finish until everyone crosses the line, but I knew I did well.  My coach and I thought that maybe I was first or second.


I went over to check the computers and I saw that I came in second and was a little confused because first place went to a woman that was behind me in the run. Come to find out, like I stated before, with wave starts you never know, I came in second behind a woman that is 53 years old and started behind me. I swam and ran faster than her but she gained on me on the bike. I was so inspired by her and have so much to look forward to.

After speaking with my coach, I realized I raced my best that day and someone with more experience beat me.  So, I continue with my training  and continue to put the time in and I will only get better.

I finished 2nd overall in a race that I had never raced before because, with the help of my coach, I trained properly and I had a race plan.

Thanks for reading and I hope you gained the knowledge that having the support of a coach and training plan no matter what you are accomplishing is pivotal in your success.

Until next time, Happy Training!

About sherianne

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is SheriAnne Nelson and I am happily married to my husband Mike. I’m a mother of three beautiful children ages 9, almost 6, and 3, am a passionate fitness professional, and a Star Diamond Level fitness coach within the Team Beachbody program in Scottsdale, Arizona.