What do crying, blisters, the wrong race start, a train and 1st place all have in common?! ME & my race day at Tri Toccoa!
Tri Tocca Eve:
Pre-Race (prepare for drama!) :
It was great to sleep in my own bed this time around! I slept great and popped right up when the 5:00 a.m. alarm went off. I had everything packed the night before, so I loaded the bike, filled water/gatorade bottles and prepped my typical pre-race meal of OJ and toast with almond butter, banana and honey to take with me on the road. It is an easy hour-ish drive on Highway 123 all the way to the Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Toccoa, GA which sits on Lake Louise, where the swim is held and the bike edges along for the majority of the route.
I arrived at 6:30, an hour before race time, which is usually plenty of time for transition set-up, check-in AND warm-up at these races. Immediately upon my arrival, all of the smoothness prior to that was forgotten and the chaos began. First, I pull into the entrance and a volunteer tells me that I can go in and drop my equipment off, but there will be no parking and I will have to take a shuttle from a remote lot back to the race. WTF? A shuttle? I have done 10+ races in this series and they are never big and parking is never an issue. So immediately I am tacking on an extra 15 minutes to catch said shuttle and get back to the race start. I pull up to transition and park on the side of the road like all of the other cars and find a spot for my gear (open racking). I get 90% of transition ready, then grab my car to drive the roughly 300 yards over to the check-in area (since I can’t leave it parked in the middle of the road). As I am driving over, I see a bunch of cars parked along a tree lined area with plenty of room for another spot. I (THANK GOODNESS!) left my car there and walked over to check-in. Last year check-in was pretty unorganized, so I was pleasantly surprised to see no lines. I went to the Olympic check-in and told them my name. Nope. Sorry. No Corey Parker. Okay, so I transferred my registration from another race and my friend Jim, the series race director, must have forgotten to register me. No big deal, right? They have race day registration. So they tell me there is ONE PERSON who can answer any and all questions about anything related to the race. Okay, fine so I go over to this race-guru-person who is not only the only person who knows anything, but apparently the only person who knows how to use a friggin’ computer because she is manually entering EVERY. PIECE. OF. DATA. for the late registrations into a computer. Well Miss-Race-Guru-person is not such a great multi-tasker. She proceeds to take the next half hour to enter 4 late entries while stopping to answer every question, from “How long is the olympic duathlon? to Why didn’t I get a t-shirt?” So now it is 7:15 and I have missed the pre-race meeting and still have not gotten my race number. I am at my boiling point and am ready to scream, yell and curse but instead…I cried. <—- Loser. Yes, I know. I am a melodramatic, whiney baby cryer. But this apparently this got Race-Guru’s attention because then she had me registered and out the door in the next 5 minutes. At 7:20. 10 minutes before race start. So I hussle the 300 yards back over to transition, put my numbers on my bike and race belt and book it (barefoot) down to where the swim start was last year. As I am running down the steep hill to the “swim start” I hear “Men in the water for start in 2 minutes.” AND “This is the sprint start. If you are not doing the sprint, you are in the wrong place.” The wrong place?! What?! 2 minutes?! Holy *&^%! I missed the meeting so I didn’t know that the Olympic start requires you to take a SHUTTLE to the start. So I run screaming back up the hill “Where do I got to get the shuttle?!” Lunatic. People thought I was Caaahhh-razy. I sprint back to the transition area where everyone is pointing and see that the shuttle is just picking up a bus load of spandex-clad triathletes. I tried to get on and they told me it was full and to get off! So I waited another 5 minutes with 2 guys for the next shuttle. Clearly the race wasn’t starting on time. But at this point, my heart rate is sky high and I am sweating like crazy. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE a good sweat, but I prefer it to happen after the race starts! And all of a sudden I am thinking, wow, the backs of my big toes hurt. Makes sense since I just finished sprinting on concrete for about a mile. Barefoot running is clearly not my “thing” as I saw in horror on the ride down to the lake, because I had the BLISTERS the size of dimes on the back of both of my big toes. Needless to say, that stung a little when I got in the water!!
Thankfully the men started in the first wave, so I had 4 minutes to just breathe (and let the blisters get used to the sting!!) before my wave started. After seeing so many bikes in transition, I was pretty shocked to see how small the group was for the women’t olympic race. I think there were only 14 of us total and I only recognized about 2 girls from other races. Eventually it was time to go and I put out of my mind everythign that happened previously and the fact that I had not warmed up on the swim. I got to the first buoy way out ahead and soon started catching guys, but it wasn’t long after I hit that first turn that I realized that spotting would be impossible. We were supposed to be swimming to the “beach” that was pointed out at the start, and I had decided to spot the line of trees that marked the end of the beach. But everytime I looked up, all I could see was a big bright orange ball of fire (i.e. the sun) in my eyes. I started to panic, but I reminded myself that (unlike the pre-race fiasco) everyone was facing the sun issues. And I reminded myself about this race report where I learned that when the sun is in your eyes, rely on the splashes from the swimmers in the wave before you to lead the way! I did stop once and lift my goggles just to actually spot the beach. The swim was obviously super short (guessing less than 1000 m), because I was expecting to be somewhere over 20 minutes and when I got out of the water and when I was running up the hill to transition, I saw that my watch said 12:xx. Which doesn’t explain at all why the official swim times were way slower than that!
I love that I am smiling after the swim!! I was having fun!
The transition was back up the hill and across the parking lot, even further away than last year so it was hard to benchmark last year’s time.
T1 – 3:04
I felt much, much better getting on to the bike than I did at my last Olympic Race. I headed out and was less than 2 miles in when I was coming up a hill and saw a car slowing down ahead of me. I was a little confused until I saw the crossing bars coming down and heard “ding, ding, ding” and realized A TRAIN WAS COMING. A train. Seriously?! An effing train? During the race?! By the time I got to the top of the hill and stopped to wait for the train, about 8 of us were gathered there. Me and all men. Good sign. I kept an eye on my watch to try to time it, but eventually was more worried about any women that could be coming up behind us. After about 2ish minutes, the crossing bars went up and the train was gone!
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. Other than two hills at the end, it was flat (less than 800 ft. of climbing!!) and I was able to stay in aero about 90% of the time. I was shocked as I started seeing scary fast (for me) 5-mile splits tick off. I knew that I was averaging over 20 mph going into the last couple of hills and just hoped that I could hold a 20+ pace after climbing. This was by far the best bike I have ever had in a race. I was able to hydrate and fuel appropriately and really felt confident going into transition.
Bike – 24 miles, 1:13:58 (including 2+ minutes for the train!), 20.0 mph (according to Garmin), 18th Overall, 1st Female
See. I am having fun. Still smiling!
I flew through this transition. I wanted to be under 50 seconds to beat last year’s T2 and I accomplished my goal!
T2 – 45 seconds
The run was hilly and mentally brutal since the 10k was two laps of the out-and-back 5k course. As I headed out on the long, slow uphill, all I could think about was how bad that was going to hurt the second time around. I felt great on the flats and was able to really use the downhills, but I slugged my way slowly through the uphills and even walked the last two short, steep hills on the second loop. (I rationalized that I was using the Galloway method…although I am quite sure that’s not how it is intended to be used!) I was slightly dejected at the 1st water stop at the 1.5 mile point when the two young boys there handed me a cup of ice and told me they were out of water. I had forgotten a GU for the run, so I was slightly worried that a bonk was imminent, but I probably wouldn’t have attempted a GU without water anyway. I did stop completely at the 5K turn around to drink two small cups of Gatorade and that immediately helped as I headed out for the second loop. Thankfully in the second loop, at the 4.5 mile point, they had replenished the water. I felt like I finished pretty strong on the downhill on the way back in and was satisfied with the run (and beating my goal of sub-50 min!).
Run – 6.2 miles, 49:50 (8:03/mile), 21st Overall, 3rd Female, 19th overall
Kind of a psychotic awful picture, but that is certainly an “I am soooo happy to be done” face!
Tri Tocca Olympic Triathlon: 2:22:37, 15th Overall, 1st Place Female!!!
Yay! First place!! Yes, I think I will take that gift card. Thank you.