My folks agreed to take the girls, Doug and I signed up for the race and were looking forward to a good date night last night before the race this morning. We had a family birthday party in the afternoon and my folks were late leaving from it. So, we didn't hit the road sans kids until after 7pm. Probably I shouldn't have had the margarita and enchiladas for dinner. We skipped dessert because it was race eve. On the way home we stopped at Target to get a new trashcan (because I broke the old one) and some liquid bandage for Doug. He cut his thumb clear through his thumbnail while making lunch yesterday and was worried about getting lake water in it. We got to bed at about 10pm. I got up about an hour later and set my phone to wake me at 4:30. Annie kept scratching, whining and waking us up during the night. Sigh.
We got on the road only a little late (5:40) this morning and arrived at the lake at about 6:30. My tummy was acting up and I got to the ladies' room not a moment too early. Little did I know that my nervous tummy would be the least of my worries.
I ate my immodium and munched some sports beans while setting up my area. I met a nice man who won an award in his age group. I didn't catch his name and I'm sure he thought I was an idiot. When he asked how the race went while we were in the t-shirt line after the finish, I just stared blankly at him. "OK, I guess?" I had no idea. The race was just crazy.
The swim was a triangular course running counter-clockwise from the beach (buoys on the left), east into the sun and then back to the beach. Dee Dee warned me that the lake had a spongy, muddy bottom and dropped off fast as you left the beach. Good to know. We found out later that the swim was around 500 yards (instead of 400) because they had a hard time securing the buoys in the deep water. Anyway, I secured my Garmin in a baggie beneath my hat and practiced turning it on while bonding with the other ladies in my wave. Wave 1 (Doug's wave) went off. Before the first buoy, one guy (a very fit-looking guy) returned to the beach. Hmm, his googles must have broken, we thought. This might have been Wes before he gave it another go. Wave 2 went off. We saw two guys clinging to one of the canoes, but blissfully unaware, we worried about our placement for the start. One woman said to breathe to the left to avoid the waves. This flew right over my head. I can (mostly) do either side, no problem. The waves comment didn't register at all. Then we started. The breeze that was gentle on the beach turned ugly. The women who were near me and I exclaimed at each other in amazement. Holy shit - there are waves in the lake. Big ones. Are there always waves in the lake - I can' remember ever seeing them before. As I motored along with my side-stroke recovery stroke, I heard one woman proclaim that she was going to do breast-stroke. OK, I thought, because I'm trashing my legs with all of this kicking. After what seemed like an eternity of flailing, we got to the first buoy and turned into the sun and the waves. I worried about Doug but comforted myself with the thought that (1) he was wearing his wetsuit, and (2) his stroke may not be pretty, but he can tough it out fine in recovery mode. I worried about Wes because he didn't have his wetsuit. I tried to do freestyle, but couldn't see and kept breathing the waves. Side-stroke was too taxing on my legs, so I settled into the breaststroke. Wes said there were 1-2 foot swells, but I estimated 2-3 feet during the swim. When I was in the troughs, I couldn't see the sun. I am a drama queen, though. Anway, it seemed like that long leg before the last buoy would never end. After the turn and midway through the final leg, I resigned myself to a crappy time. "Just think of it as another workout," Doug always tells me, so I abandoned hopes of kicking ass and just tried to get to the finish. The waves were at my back, so I finally did freestyle. I couldn't see where I was going and the guys in the rescue canoe hailed me and pointed me back towards the flags because I was way off course. They keep the canoes on the outer edge of the swimmers but I must have missed them because I swam way wide of the buoys and the canoes.
I found out later that Doug had to hail two canoes during his swim because the guy in front of him was in bad trouble. The people in the first canoe were idiots and weren't trying to help - just yelling at the guy, but the second canoe was able to pick him up.
I was molasses in transition - always am. I did put a shirt on, though, so that I didn't freeze. I exited the transition area to start the bike straight uphill. I realized about a mile into the bike that I had never turned on Garmin. Oops. Turned it on finally at the 2 mile mark and had my Cliff gel at mile 3. Mental note, make sure that I don't leave the timing chip under my sock ever again. Ouch. The hills out of the park just never ended. I thought there would be more downhill on the second half of the course, but no, it was just as hard. I saw Doug just before the turn. He was in a group that was just after the super-fast leaders. He looked good. I yelled to a woman who I thought was Dee Dee. She looked good too. After my gel, I drank a few more hits of Heed drink and water. Nothing helped. I was sucking. I tried to gain as much speed as possible on the downhills to make it back up the other sides. On the way back into the park, I played cat and mouse with a guy who was 64; he kicked my ass. The last person I passed was a woman in an orange tri-suit who I only chased because she was in my age group. I totally would have given up on her otherwise.
Back into transition, I racked my bike, shucked the shirt and left with my race belt and visor in my hand. I left transition to return back uphill for the run. Chuh, chuh, chuh. It was just as hilly as the bike. I tried to shout encouragement to the other racers because this was a much more positive race than the one in Cordele. It was all "go girl!" and "looking good!" and "you can do it!" I love that about triathlon. I told one dude (blue and aqua tri suit) "we can do it, let's go as we went up a hill." Little did he know that I really was muttering "I think I can, I think I can" as I passed him. A couple of studs in tri-club suits passed me but no women and I made decent time. I passed that darn orange tri-suit woman only to realize that she was a man. Oops. Still, a rabbit is a rabbit, just the same. Garmin says my first two miles were in the 7:30 min/mile range, which is great. After mile 2, I sped up to bring it home. I reeled in the woman with the long red hair (winner of the 25-29 age group) and sprinted in. Doug cheered me in from the bike area. It was nice to be done.
Whoo, this race was exponentially harder than any other I've done (in my limited experience)! Doug agreed so it wasn't just me having a bad day. I finished the swim in approx 12 mins and the total in 1 hr 25 mins and won second in my age group! The official scores were posted onsite and said that my run was 21:XX and a 6:XX per mile pace which would be a PR for a 5K. I'll update with official numbers when they appear. Unfortunately, we think the run was short so I wasn't quite that fast, but still. Hardware. Can you believe it? Just wait until next year!
Edited to add:
Official results: 12:19 swim (4 in AG/15 in women); 2:11 in T1; 47:24 bike (3 in AG/12 women, 16.5 mph); 1:37 in T2; 21:37 run at 6:59 min/mile pace (2 in AG/4 women) for a total of 1:25:05.35 (2 in AG/6th woman). I've also posted a report on Beginner Triathlete in the "Race Logs" section. For those of you who do triathlons, the format of these reports (whether you choose to make them public or not) is really helpful to identify your strong areas and where you could do better.