After deciding not to find a hotel close to the race site and instead drive out the morning of, the alarm went off at what should have been the shockingly early time of 3:50 am. But which wasn't actually a huge deal since I had been woken up by Bam at 3:45 am. Yes, she is just *that* helpful of a pooch. I had most of my stuff packed up, so that all we needed to do was put the bike rack on and load up the truck. Jeff was going, along with a friend of his from work, to play golf while I was out there putting in some miles. Got all loaded up and we hit the road....about 15 minutes later than I wanted, but the GPS said we'd still arrive pretty close to 6:30, which was when transition opened. And that's even after I made a quick stop at Mickey D's so the guys could grab some fast food breakfast. I had my almond butter and honey toast which I ate on the way. Breakfast of choice on race day.
The guys dropped me off and I headed over to check in/transition. A few things struck me right away.
- Very low key. This is a small (just over 200 entries, I think) local race. And it's paired with a kids tri, which was just awesome. Those little kids were rockin' it. A little scary was the kid with the aero wheels on his bike. Super serious.
- Transition was *huge* for the number of athletes. There was probably 4 feet between me and the guy who set up next to me. And no, someone didn't squeeze in between us. No need. Space aplenty.
- I received my race numbers at check in, but no timing chip. Ummmm. Yep, this was the first tri I've ever done that didn't use a timing chip. I was pretty interested to see how this was going to work.
Into T1, yank off the wet suit, stuff my sunglasses and helmet on my head and take off. My shoes were attached to my bike, and I'd put them on while on the move. In and out in no time.
Off on the bike, which to be honest, had more rolling hills than I remembered. And since I was mostly cruising along close to the 20 mph range, a *lot* more tailwind than I had hoped for. Not that I don't love a good tailwind. It's the head wind I have a problem with. The one that smacked me in the face just after the turnaround. The turnaround where I followed a couple of folks pretty closely thru the u-turn and the police officer yelled out to me "Don't let them get away! Go get those guys!" That gave me a good laugh. About the only laugh on the way back. The headwind and rollers started wearing on my legs and my attitude. The last straw with the attitude was when a woman passed me (no not that), immediately followed by another woman. Okay, not a big deal, she's probably trying to pass that first woman. Um, yeah. No. She was drafting. As she continued to draft for a bit, I yelled out "How long are you going to draft off her?!?!?" But she didn't respond. Now, I know a lot of first time triathletes do this race, but she was wearing an aero helmet, which leads me to believe this isn't her first time around the block. I let myself steam about it for a few minutes but was able to talk myself out of wasting the energy any longer than that. The other issue of concern on the bike was my front tire. It had this weird sort of bulge happening. I had asked the guys at the shop about it and they convinced me it wasn't a big deal, and while I was still a little freaked out about it, I made it through the entire bike without mechanical incident. Always a win in my book. Back into the park and out of the wind (finally!) for the last stretch of riding. Out of my shoes and into T2.
Throw the bicycle up onto the rack, swap helmet for hat, stuff on my socks and run shoes, grab my race belt and gel and head out.
I had read a couple of reviews about the run course, and mapped it out on mapmyrun.com so I thought I had some idea of what was ahead. But the course ended up being a bit hillier than I expected. Mapmyrun had the total elevation change at under 50 feet. Flat. But the actual route has about 400 feet. Not a huge amount, but enough to feel those last couple of rollers in the legs for sure. There is next to no shade, and even at the early hour it was a bit toasty out there. There are also a couple of miles that are run on single track (or is it double track if it's wide enough for 2 people?!?!). I love running on single track. But as a bit of a klutz, the uneven terrain does require me to pay attention and place my feet rather than just running along. At a couple of points along the course I started getting a little lightheaded and a little chilly. Dehydration. So even though I had been practicing drinking only water on my long runs, I added in some sports drink at the last two aid stations. It seemed to help a bit, but in the last two miles, my legs were *done*, and my pace slowed. I was so glad to see the finish line.
After I downed a few glasses of water and electrolyte I went and floated around in the lake for a bit. It felt so good on my tired legs. I could feel my right hamstring wanting to act up so I made sure to do a fair amount of stretching too before the guys made it back to pick me up.
Oh! Timing! So here's how it seemed to work. There was a number (like a tiny bib number) that I had to safety pin to my wetsuit pull string. As I exited the water, a volunteer grabbed the number. So that's the swim timing. There were also volunteers at each entrance/exit in transition that would yell out bib numbers to another volunteer who would record them. Then the run, of course, was timed from exit of T2 to the finish.
A few lessons learned from this race:
- I need to either make sure to bring my aero drink bottle on the bike, or learn to drink from my bottles in the cages *while* aero. I didn't want to get up out of my aero bars in the headwind on the way back and so came in off the bike under hydrated.
- The aid stations on the run may be a bit far apart for me to be able to rely solely on them during the half iron. Then again, maybe if I come in off the bike better hydrated it will work. My last long run was fueled on 'schedule' with the posted aid stations for the half iron and seemed to work out ok.
- If something seems "off" about your bike....get it checked or change it prior to the race. That tire was on my mind more than I needed it to be on the bike. And guess what...in a case of honestly *awesome* timing, it was flat when I rolled it back to the car after the race. I'll take the tire in and have it checked, but will most likely just replace it before the half iron.
- Don't stress over the stuff you can't control. Yes, I let myself get worked up briefly over the cheater, but I actually kept it together pretty well battling the wind. I just need to remember this for the half iron, when the last long section (15-ish miles maybe?) will be on that same road back towards the park and into the wind.
- "Hand" tallied race results take *forever*. I made the guys wait around until I could get my official finishing time but I almost gave up.
Coming up this week.....a swim clinic on Friday! Based on this quote from the registration: "Are you tired of working so hard to swim so slow? How would you like to swim FASTER with less effort? This clinic is just what you need!" I'm expecting big things!