USA Productions was the group running the tri, and they had scheduled a sprint and an oly for today. There was about an hour between the start of the oly and the sprint, with the oly heading out first. But I arrived at the race site about an hour before *either* of them started in order to get a parking spot, and a decent transition spot. The good thing was they segregated the transition into oly and sprint, and because I was so early, there was still a ton of room on the sprint distance side. I grabbed an end spot on one end of the transition. This made my transition from swim to bike a bit long, but my transition from bike to run SUPER speedy.
I did all my pre-race prep, squeezed into my wetsuit, and headed down to warm up for the swim. The water was warmer than the air and was amazingly clear. There were two women's waves for the sprint, 34 and under and 35+. Yes, I was in the next to last wave yet again, with the relay/Athena/Clydesdale division going off last.
I planted myself close to the front of the swim pack. My goal was to get out in front and find some feet to sit on. The gun went off and immediately my heart was in my throat. I wondered to myself if that gasping, breathless feeling at the start ever gets easier. I didn't find any feet to sit on, but was setting a good pace and before I knew it I was heading around the buoy and in towards the finish. Once my hands were brushing the sand, I popped up and hustled in to transition.
Wetsuit....off. Bike gear...on. Out onto the course. I tried to settle into a hard push on the bike from the get go, but it was pretty crowded out there. There were a few places where I had to pull up and wait to make a pass, but for the most part I was able to keep moving at a good clip and even passed quite a few people. I just wanted to keep pushing on the bike, even if it meant my run would suffer a bit. A good bike split, that's what I wanted. The biggest problem I had on the bike was launching my bottle of sports drink before I was even 1/3 of the way thru the course. Uh oh. That was not going to help my run either. There was no aid station on the bike course for the sprint, so there was no way to replace the lost fluids/calories. Ah well, nothing to be done but keep on moving. Feet out of the shoes before coming in to transition, jump off the bike at the dismount line. Throw the bike on the rack, stuff my feet into my shoes, grab the hat and the race belt and go!
Uh oh. Legs don't want to go. Yeah, I'm pretty sure the lack of fluids on the bike caught up with me. I grabbed two cups of water at the 1 mile aid station and took a gel and not long after that I started to feel a little better. Except for those hills they put on the trail. Ooof. Ran and ran, and ran some more. And started to worry that I was on the oly course somehow. I asked a couple people who were running near me, and they were thinking it was the sprint course too, so I wasn't the only one. When my Garmin said we were at roughly 2.25 miles, I finally hit the turnaround. Oh man, this was supposed to be a 5k run. Turned around and thought to myself....there must be a short cut back through the park. I kept running, and running. I passed an aid station table that hadn't been set up at all, and laying on the ground beside it was a sign that said 2 miles. I kept running.....and running. Finally, after another couple small hills, and a little down and back section, I was told the finish line was 'just down the path around the corner.' Having run a different race at this location, I knew it was true and the finish line wasn't far away. My Garmin put the run at just about 5 miles. Hmm....maybe they meant to say 5 miles instead of 5k.
But no. Turns out we should have been turned around at that aid station that never got set up, where the 2 mile marker was. And it further turns out that not only did some people run that extra section, but that they also got sent down part of the oly course, so they ran more than 5 miles. And additionally, when the organizers realized the mistake, they started turning people around earlier on the course. So there were at least 3 different distances run, all for the sprint race.
In the end they dropped the run times from the award determinations, since they couldn't really say who ran what distances. They were very apologetic about it, with the race director giving a little speech, and he obviously felt very bad. The good news is that they have already decided not to have the oly and the sprint on the same day next year. Just logistically too problematic.
Anyway, when all was said and done, I was 3rd in my age group with the run times. But after they dropped the run times, I moved up to 2nd in my age group, just sneaking past the woman who had been in 2nd.
The highlights of the race:
2nd in my age group on the swim, at 10:25. Altho I'm pretty sure it was short of the 1/2 mile advertised. I'm certain that I've never swum (swam?) a 21 minute mile in my life.
A good strong bike, finally! The bike felt good, I passed a bunch of people. And while I would have loved to have averaged 20mph for the 14 miles, I came in around 19.8. But after the less than stellar rides I've had lately, I'll take it for sure.
At 31 seconds, the fastest T2 time in my age group! Hey, those seconds add up!
A good solid race to help get me ready for the half iron coming up in just about a month! Just over a month....how did that sneak up on me so fast?!?
This week is a big week of workouts, with my longest ride to date on Sunday. Lucky for me, I'm going to have some excellent company.