Tugaloo Oly Race Report

There are some days when you discover that yes, it just might be worth all the craziness...

but first things first, as I write this I am celebrating for my friend Michelle who just became and Ironman, AGAIN!! and waiting for Sharon to make it to the finish line, she's looking strong!!
Also watching new mom, Kim Clijsters in her first Grand Slam final since having her daughter.

Yesterday I raced the Tugaloo Olympic Triathlon. This was my third time to attempt this course and I've always loved this race.

The short version of this race report... IT WAS AWESOME! I didn't meet all of my goals, but I felt like I made the most important ones. Swim went really well, bike was good, I felt week on the hills but tried to make up for it where I could... run was confident. and that is something very new for me.

Lessons learned:
1) Arrive at race with plenty of time... check over your bike (gearing and computer).
2) I actually can drink fluids on the bike without being bloated (cutting my Gatorade endurance mix to half strength and taking salt tabs pre race seems to be helping) Gels are my new friend.
3) A positive attitude is much more helpful when attempting to accomplish your goals.

final results:
Jill Poon Swim: 26:15   T1: 2:07    Bike: 1:16:19
Bike Pace:20.5 mph T2 1:18 Run:48:40 Run Pace:7:51
total: 2:34:37

Here is the super long version of the race report:

I've had a goal of avg 20 mph on the bike course for awhile. My other goal, to not walk on the run; it's a very hilly course and they beat me down after awhile. I wanted to try to be close to a 2:30 finish time... this was pretty ambitious, because it was almost 10 min faster than my last finish time there (2:39:57). I've been anxious about this race for a long time, worried about how I would feel on the bike, worried about what I knew would be a painful run. None of the worry helped, I think I'll try to not do that next time.

The night before the race, we headed up to our friend's lake house closer to the race. That was a huge help, and amazingly AJ slept through the night (well, until I had to get up at 5:15). Alex and I got the kids ready, big thanks to Marc, Morgan, Rudy and Lauren for helping us get everything out to the car.

We ended up getting to the race site a little later than I wanted to, by the time I got my stuff to the transition area, they were announcing that transition was closed. I usually like to take my time and really go over everything several times to make sure I've got it right, but I was really rushed. Tried to decide if I wanted to wear my Garmin, decided not to... I think it would have helped if I'd worn it but I didn't so no one knows. Didn't check my gearing which got me later. didn't check my bike computer, which actually got me later too!

Headed down to swim start after dropping my bag off with Alex and the boys. Swam a bit and was happy with how good I felt in the water. Eased the nerves a bit. Saw Steve Thomas out there, was happy to be there for his first race back after hip surgery!!! The man has a new hip!
Headed up to line up for swim start (it's a time trial start) and wandered around trying to find Kate. I missed her in Transition due to my late arrival and I wanted to make sure that I saw her before the race started. Finally found her, and we chatted for a bit. The race is a Time Trial start, two people at a time, so Kate and I were able to go into the water together!! Kate is a better swimmer than I, so I just tried to hang with her as long as possible. Lost her about halfway through, but I was feeling pretty good. At one point I was breathing every stroke, not sure why, but it felt better so I did it. As I took the last turn back to shore I lost sight of the swim exit, almost swam off course but corrected it and made it in. I was thinking it was a slow swim, but looked down at my watch as I exited the water and saw that I was 2:00 faster than I thought I would be.

And at that moment... all the anxiety left me... I just wanted to get out on that bike course!

Ran up to T1... alex was standing alongside my rack yelling "right here, right here!". As I pulled my bike out, he started yelling "change into your small ring, change into your small ring". The bike starts clipping in on a hill. So I stopped, picked up the back wheel, changed into the small ring, and headed out. Couldn't get my left foot clipped in. Used all the bike handling skills I have to feel around in the cleat to determine if there was a rock wedged in there... didn't find anything but after a few more attempts finally clipped in. This whole thing took about a quarter mile :-D Finally got clipped in, and tried to get in a groove. Noticed my bike computer was on the wrong display and could not get it to show cadence. It was showing Mph so I just decided to go with that... Spent the first 3 miles or so trying to get my breathing to calm down. Those hills were killers, but after about mile 7 or 8 the hills became more rollers, and I was really able to make it spin. For awhile there, it felt effortless. I was having a blast. It was a great ride, no scary road / car situations (although I did get blown around by a couple of trucks out there), no getting stuck behind "draft trains". Around mile 19 I took my gel (it was supposed to be mile 20, but mile 19 was a nice flat and straight, given my lack of bike handling skills I thought this would be a good bet. Gel went down just fine, with plenty of water. I actually finished all the water in my aero bottle (that never happens). The last 5 miles of the bike get really hilly again and my quads were really feeling it but knowing that I was close to my goal of 20 mph avg I kept myself motivated to keep pushing. As I turned into the Transition area I heard everyone cheering (thanks again Rudy, Lauren, Marc and Morgan) and I got off my bike at dismount alex yelled "great ride hon, you did it!" and I knew that I had finally finished that bike in 1:16 (20 mph avg). YEAH! Now all I have to do is not fall apart on the run.

Went in to T2, racked my bike and got ready to head out on the run. I felt like I took my time, (it was actually the fastest T2 I've had a tugaloo) tried to take a deep breath, drank a little from the water bottle I left at my rack, my hip flexors cramped a bit when I was putting on my run shoes.. hat on, headed out on the run. The run also starts on a hill, but I was excited to find that I felt pretty good.

Heading out on to the run I tried to keep myself in check in the beginning. I saw Kate coming in from the bike and tried to cheer her on. The run had some out and back sections so I was able to see her out there a few times. She was looking really strong at mile 3 and I started to have visions of her catching up to me and us crossing the line together. I think about a lot of stuff on the run. Today's songs in my head were "baptized by fire" by spinnerette and "help I'm alive" by metric. The best part of the run today, I never wanted to quit. It didn't even occur to me. I may have been able to run harder, but part of me thinks if I had tried to run faster in the beginning would have slowed way down in the end. I wish I had splits for each mile to see if my pace was as consistent as it felt. It was the strangest feeling for me, to be hitting mile 4 and not feel like I was going to die. Mile 5 came by and all of a sudden I realized that I was still feeling good and I tried to push it home. I had known since mile 3 that I wasn't going to make 2:30. but I realized as I hit mile 5 that I had a good shot at under 2:35 and that motivated me to kick it home.

It really helps to know the course... I knew the final hill was just before the finish, so I pushed it up the hill and headed for that finish line! Crossed the line and was VERY wobbly. They took my chip, handed me a water and let me loose... I saw my friend Steve (go Steve, way to rock it!!!) and gave him a hug, mostly because I needed someone to hold me up :-D We talked for a bit, and Steve noticed that I was wobbly and goose bumpy, so he got me over to Alex and the boys. I sat down, drank my water and tried to absorb the race a bit.
One of the great things about motherhood and having your kids at the race (besides the awesomeness of hearing "go mommy!!!") is that they don't really care what you just did, your back in their world now and they want to play! Jason had me digging in the sand and playing motor bike racing in the woods.

I was feeling great. and it was wonderful having everyone there. It was so nice to hear the "great race"s and the "congratulations". It was such a nice feeling to be proud of myself after a race. This is my new post AJ attitude I think. It makes my world much more enjoyable. When I analyzed the race later I was thinking about what I needed to change in my training to be ready for the next race, so that I could improve; instead of thinking about what I should have done differently in this race. I hope this new more positive me is here to stay because I'm going to need it in the next year.

Found Kate after the race, turns out after I saw her at mile 3 things when downhill fast. She was puking, but managed to tough it out and finish the race and ended up 3rd in her AG! She'll say she wanted to quit and the only thing that kept her from doing it was that she didn't know how to get back to transition unless she just followed the course, but believe me when I tell you... she didn't quit because Kate can't quit... it's just not in her make-up. She's one tough lady! So, Kate, I know you are disappointed with your day, but believe me when I tell you, it was a bad race, not a "bad racer" :-D

Checked the results after I changed, and found that I had finished 10th overall... the results were listed overall, so I had to see how many people were ahead of me in my age group and once the top three finishers were removed, I ended up 2nd in my AG. After coming in 4th in my AG for years, 2nd place rocks my world :-D.

Thanks to everyone who helped me get to the point where I could accomplish this race. Alex for being the best husband and constant source of support and for solving all of my triathlon issues. AJ for being a great little baby, for sleeping through the night before the race and being good for his daddy during the race. Jason for his extra loud cheering, for his flexibility and for remembering his manners and being a sweet young man. The all3sports cheering section (Rudy, Lauren, Marc and Morgan) you guys were awesome!!! Denise for the cheers all around the course, that was great! Kate for going through the journey of post 2nd baby racing with me. And of course my coach Laura Sophiea, for her infinite wisdom, her kick butt workouts, her advice on racing nutrition, and for helping me believe I could do it.


  1. Congrats on your awesome race, Jill. A day where it all comes together was well deserved by someone who worked so hard for it.

    Next time you come blowing by me on the bike, my goal (once again) will be to try (and probably not succeed as usual) to not lose sight of your little butt. I know if I stay anywhere in your zip code on the bike, it will be a great day for me. :)

    BTW -- the word verification for this comment is very fitting for your race report. "hothilla". funny.


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"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift"
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