Taper week went off without a hitch although truthfully it was more like “rest and don’t do much of anything week” as I felt like I needed sleep more than anything else. I took Friday off work as CR was already off. We had a 4 hour drive to the race and I would much rather do that at my leisure than have to rush out the door after getting home from work on a Friday night.
After sleeping in Friday morning, I started packing for the race. The thing about this being the first triathlon in almost a year is that my gear seemed to be tucked away in places that required a little digging to find. The last time I saw my tri suit was June of 2010. I think I actually must have accidentally donated one of my tri tops as I could not find it Friday morning. Luckily, I had a spare. Once I located everything, we packed up the car and headed out.
Four hours later we were at “the Farm” for packet pick up. The site of the race is actually a neighborhood. They have a really nice pool area overlooking a 65 acre lake. The lake has a 2.3 mile trail that goes around it which makes a nice location for a triathlon. The pool itself is easily one of the nicest neighborhood pools I have ever seen. They had three pools side by side, a lap pool, a leisure pool and then a kiddie pool with the mushroom sprinklers and fun water gadgets. The pools all overlooked the lake and had a real resort feel. After packet pick up, we thought about heading to the beach just to see it for a minute but the 30 minute drive didn’t seem all that appealing at the time so we opted to eat dinner and call it a night. We are real partiers.
(Check out my new 4all by Jofit outfit, BTW. Love this for traveling. I was in the car for four hours and it was wrinkle free once we got there!)
Did I mention this race was uber small? I believe there were about 75 participants in all. What that means to me, is no race day worries about getting there at the crack of dawn to deal with parking. Hooray! A short 10 minute drive to the site and we were ready to go. Rick was extra excited as he was expecting the race to have the crazy wake up times of Disney races. He was quite relieved to find out we did not have to be there at 4 AM. :)
I got my transition area set up and milled around for a few minutes before putting on my wetsuit. The water was 74 so could have probably done without it but wanted to give it a try since I had never raced in one before. I knew I would likely use one in Augusta and wasn’t sure there would be another chance to have water temperatures low enough between now and then. I popped in the water for a super quick warm up and was amazed at the extra buoyancy. Almost like having a pull buoy.
A few pre race instructions and we were lining up for the race. I wasn’t particularly nervous as my wave had very few people in it. The men went first and 3 minutes later, the ladies and relay swimmers were off. I positioned myself at the front and just tried to get away from the pack to get some space. Since there were so few racers, there really was no drafting or following of other swimmers. I thought I did a decent job of sighting as I don’t remember getting too far off course at any time. I just remember thinking the swim was going by more quickly than I thought it would.
(I am the one by the arrow in case you didn't recognize me...)
Swim: 1000m, 19:45
I ran up out of the lake, stepped on the timing mat and BOOM hit the concrete. As quickly as I fell, I popped back up and kept going. Rick said my head hitting the concrete made a pretty loud boom and given his history with head injuries he was quite worried. We actually have it on video, I will have to try and upload it this week. It hurt like crazy but as I do not like being the center of attention, I just kept going. I am not sure if it was that or stripping off the wetsuit but my transition time was a bit slower than I would have liked.
With the exception of a couple of small overpasses, the bike course was flat. I think aerobars would have been a big help here as this was definitely a chance to go all out. My head was aching for the first 5 or 6 miles then I settled in and set my sites on other things like why can’t I get my bike into the big gear? LOL. I don’t think I have ever had a road this flat to where I even needed that gear. Must work on that on my trainer. I just kept going in the mid gear and went as fast as I could. I had a few people pass me, mostly men but considering they had a 3 minute head start on me going into the swim, I felt OK with them taking that long to pass me. One guy caught me at about 16 miles and told me good job and that it had taken him forever to pass me. I would have preferred that he didn’t pass me at all but I’ll take that as a compliment. ;) I really need to work on drinking on the bike. I got away with it in this race but for anything longer, not drinking will not be an option. Overall, I didn’t feel great about the time but I can see things I can do to improve so that is a plus.
Bike: 18 miles, 1:01
The next transition was uneventful. Mostly CR was glad to see me back (apparently he had all the paramedics on alert in case I passed out due to my head injury on the course). I knew this was a trail run so I brought my older shoes and did not have yankz so I spent more time than I needed to tying shoes. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed out. I thought the transition time was decent.
I brought the bottle of water and a packet of GU on the run knowing that I would need it after not having taken in much on the bike. I hit the sandy trail and just tried to find a good pace. The solitude of the run reminded me a bit of Chickamauga. Not much around but me and the trees. I was thankful it was a double loop as I had a better sense of where I was on the course and how much further I had to the finish. Being near the beach, there were little swarms of gnats here and there so mostly just tried not to inhale too many of them :) I think at this point, everyone was kind of holding their own. I don’t recall being passed much and only passed a few people myself.
Run: 4.6 miles, 43:30
Total time, 2:08. Imagine my surprise when they called my name for 2nd place in my age group – woo hoo! (there were more than 2 people in my AG but not many more…)
Post race, CR was telling me how worried he was about my head. He had the paramedics on alert and asked them to check me out which I declined until I took my helmet off and realized that my head was bleeding. They said I had a decent gash but that it was not actively bleeding at that point and gave me a ice pack. I had a headache for a couple of days but feel better today. It is bruised and hurts to the touch but am pretty sure we can take the neurologist off speed dial ;)
All in all, it was a fun race. I loved the location and the race support was very friendly. The lake was clear and lovely. No snakes or alligators that I could see which is always good!