This weekend I completed my very first Olympic Distance Triathlon!! Woohoo! Immediately after finishing, I said “That was harder than a marathon!” But now reflecting back, I guess I was exaggerating, just a wee little bit. I hope I don’t bore you with my wordy race recap, but it helps to put all my thoughts down so I can remember everything and (hopefully) learn something for future races!
Assault on Cherokee Eve:
I drove back Saturday night from a wonderfully pampered and super fun weekend at the Greenbriar in West Virginia, so instead of getting up in the “4’s”, I forked over the moolah so I could “sleep in” before a race for a change. This meant 1 hour less driving that night AND the next day. Score! I got a hotel room less than 10 minutes from the race site and Char and Jesse came and stayed too. I got a good dose of carbs from Olive Garden (I haven’t eaten there in FOREVER), by calling it in ahead on the road and getting it to-go. Thank you iPhone for your awesome map search capabilities! Eating pasta while driving was actually pretty easy! I got to the hotel, we filled up and refrigerated our water bottles and the lights were out by 9:30. I think we all slept pretty restlessly…which was highlighted by Char (sleep walking) and turning on the radio at 2:30 a.m. Random.
After not sleeping well, I was relieved when it was finally time to get up. We were in full go-mode by 5:45 and even nabbed free breakfast (bagels w/bananas and PB) at the hotel! I was planning to starve since they had told us breakfast wouldn’t be out before 6:30. We headed off to the race site and were there within minutes. All I remember about the drive is how many potholes were marked off on the road going into the park that I knew I would be dodging later on the bike! After checking in, I was getting my bike aired up to head over to transition and voila…FLAT. TIRE. I had been having some anxiety about flatting after reading this race report but after my initial frustration, I realized that it was best-case scenario. Flat BEFORE the race, when there is professional there to change it for you? Okay. And you are going to tune up my bike a little too? Sweet! AND it took less than 10 minutes total. I was all set up in an ideal location in transition with easily 30 minutes before race start. We hit up the restrooms then headed down the LONG, STEEP hill (more to come on that) to the lake and did a little warm-up. And soon, it was time to start.
The water was about as warm as the last bath I took. And gross. And shallow. The starting waves were 39 and under and 40 and above with males and females mixed. I thought that was a strange breakdown but at least I was in the first wave, which meant not having to dodge the slower swimmers from the previous wave. The swim started and as I promised myself, I did not go out too hard, did not get my heart rate super high and settled in to a smooth and efficient stroke. I thought I started out with about 8 – 10 people ahead of me, but around the first buoy I passed two of them and caught up to two others and formed a little pack of 3. I knew one of them was Tracy, a girl who I knew was a fast swimmer from previous races. I thought her pace would usually be a little fast for me, but I felt good and just stayed steady. When we got out of the water, I saw that the other swimmer in our little pack was a young guy named Cameron, who has won the previous two sprints that I have been at. Cameron and I took off on our ¾ mile trail run, up the rocky, steep hill to the rocky path and then finally to the road back into transition. Seriously, ¾ of mile from the water to the transition is the Worst. Idea. Ever. I noticed about 100 yards in that Cameron was trying to run in FLIP-FLOPS. He eventually took them off and went barefoot. I told him he was crazy as I passed him running barefoot!
Swim – 1500 m, 20:16 (1:21/100 m), 4th Overall, 1st Female
I was exhausted by the time I got to my bike so I was a little slower than usual in transition. But eventually I got all geared up and headed out.
T1 – 5:15 (includes the run up the hill), 12th Overall, 2nd Female
The bike started out badly. My heart rate was high from the ridiculous run in transition and I was a little flustered getting started, so within 30 seconds of getting clipped in, I dropped my water bottle. Major fail. I still had Gatorade, but I knew that for 28 miles in that heat that I could easily finish both. Plus since the plan was a ½ a GU every 30 minutes, I would be washing down GU with Gatorade. Sweet on sweet = eww. But I figured I would lose too much time by stopping so off I went. Lesson learned: I should have stopped (more on that later). The first thing I knew I needed to do was to get my heart rate down and settle in. So I started out pretty slow for the first 2 miles, but it was flat and a little overcast so I got in a rhythm pretty quickly. Until mile 7 – when Char comes flying by. She yells two things – #1 “I dropped my water bottle and only have Gatorade”. Crap?! You too? And #2 – “Let’s go, stay with me.” And off we went…fast. I stayed within a couple of bike lengths of her for the first 2 miles and within close range another 3, but then we hit the hills and she dropped me. Quickly. The course was brutal over the last half I struggled through the hills, wanting nothing more than to be off of the bike after about the first 16 miles. Jesse passed me at 17 and yelled that a bee stung him on his head! Yikes! At an hour, I was averaging 18.5 mph, which was right at my goal pace, but the hills continued and I could feel my pace slowing significantly over the last 10 miles. Plus, I was out of Gatorade completely at about mile 22 and was sweating A LOT, which I knew was not good. Finally, I saw the sign “This is the Last Hill”. Praise the Tri Gods!
Bike – 28 miles, 1:34:29 (17.8 mph), 22nd Overall, 3rd Female
I walked my bike into transition. That’s a new one for me. And then spent some time drinking the only liquid that was in my bag – more Gatorade. Blegh. But this transition was also pretty slow. It helped a lot that Eric (my relay partner from last year) and Carolyn (a Master’s swim coach in Greenville) were in transition cheering me on since they already finished their legs of the relay. They laughed as I made a face as I went by.
T2 – 56 seconds, 18th Overall, 4th Female
They were giving out water bottles at the start of the run. I happily took one and tried to take my next GU during the first ½ mile. This is when I realized how bad it was that I didn’t have more fluid on the bike. I was dehydrated and my stomach was rejecting my attempts to re-hydrate. Immediately after taking the GU, I felt sick and spent the next 3 miles trying not to throw up. My stomach was cramping and it seemed worse on the down hills, so I wasn’t able to pick up my pace like I normally would. At that point, pace was not a concern. I wanted to keep running and just be done. I dumped water over my head at the first water stop and eventually my stomach settled a little and I was at least able to drink the water from the bottle they gave me at the beginning. I did not attempt to GU again, but actually stopped and drank a cup of powerade at the 4-mile mark. I wanted to run all the hills and normally I would NEVER walk in a race but when I got to the second to last hill at about 4.5 miles, I let myself walk the hill. On my way up I saw Barbara, who is in 2nd in the overall standings. I calculated based on my distance from the turnaround that she was well over 5 minutes behind me (she started in the second wave so I had to beat her by 5 minutes), but that still motivated me enough to start running again and finish pretty strong.
Run – 6.2 miles, 52:58 (8:33/mile), 21st Overall, 6th Female (Personal WORST on a 10K!)
Assault on Cherokee Triathlon: 2:53:56, 15th Overall, 3rd Female!!!
Char got 1st place by 32 seconds!! She won it in the swim and transitions, which is an awesome accomplishment for her since those are usually not her strongest areas!