Camp St. Croix
June 29, 2013
Two women that I work out with at the Y asked me to do this Sprint Triathalon. I don't get a ton of time in the water or on the bike until I am done teaching mid June. This was earlier in the season than I had wanted to race, but since it's a fundraiser for a Y camp, I was in.
I've been enjoying training and feeling confident in all 3 sports. Not nervous at all. Then I got an email with race prep instructions. "You must wear athletic sandals or shoes for the 400 meter run up the beach. No barefeet allowed." ummmm, what? As if there isn't enough gear for a tri, now I need another pair of shoes?! I call one of the Irongirls and tell her about this. "Oh yeah, I've heard about that hill." ummm, WHAT? "I think you even have a separate time for the hill. It's not included in transition."
I spent the next hour looking at the race times from last year's event. Yep, there is a hill time. And it was taking people 2-4 minutes. That's a serious hill! Looking at the race times would have given a more experienced triathlete an idea that this was a tough course. But for me, silly over confident me, I thought about how well I was going to do. I knew it was a small field so I thought maybe the competition was light. I did consider that maybe last year's weather was really bad. But it seriously never dawned on me that it was a super tough course. I just couldn't wrap my head around the top male finisher's times. Their times were close to what I thought I could do. 1:20ish.
I calculated some times.
A goal: 1:24
B goal: 1:30
Race morning: felt good, a little bummed that it had poured all night and was still raining, but figured that's better than blistering sun. We packed the whole family into the van. This was DH's first time spectating a tri. And since it was at a Y camp, DD was going to spend the morning with camp counselors. She was super excited and told me she was a "little nervous to sleep in a tent." So cute!
DH dropped me off and I saw some volunteers that I knew from the Y. "The bike is tough. Be ready to use your gears. It's lots of rolling hills. Only 1 really tough one though." Sure, whatever, I thought. What's wrong with me? Isn't this when most people would get really nervous? I shrugged it off.
Then I got to the transition area and saw a whole bunch of this:
And that's when I kinda start to worry. Whoa was I off based about the "light competition" theory. I set up my stuff, took lots of deep breaths, and walked around on my own. I've never done a tri without a friend so this was new. And I liked it. I went where I wanted, I kept my own head calm.
And I know that fancy pants gear does not = fast. Sometimes it just = money. But time trial bikes and aero helmets are usually signs of serious triathletes. The pretty bikes, I love em. The aero helmets... gulp. They make me panic.
My 2 friends gathered the athletes at a flag pole and did a camp style song, game and triathlon athem. It was adorable and the greatest way to calm any nerves. Until...
We walked down this.
Walking DOWN the beach path was seriously intimidating. It was steep. It took awhile. It was wet and slippery from all the rain. Did I mention how steep it was? The man & woman with the fastest hill times get a free entrance to next year's race. I contemplated going for it. That is, until I walked the plank, I mean path. Now I see why you need shoes.
My number one goal for the swim was to stay calm and stick to my breathing plan. When I lined up with my age group I went right to the front and tried to ignore the fact that I was 1 of 3 in my age group without a wetsuit on. yikes! Don't panic. Annnnnnd go! I love the swim start. My plan was to stick close to the buoys and breathe to the right so I could sight the buoys, not straight ahead. It worked for the most part, but I did have contact with far more swimmers than I ever have before. That's part of the deal when you hug the buoys, I guess. And I got at least 3 huge mouthfuls of water when a wave would smack me right in the face. That was no fun and I had to breast stroke a few times to get centered. But I never freaked out. I went back to my "You're a swimmer. Count to 10. Do not look up until you get to 10." And it worked. But it was still a challenge. Swimming in a river is much different than a lake. duh! The current. (Hey! Maybe this is why the times were slow.) And on the last stretch heading back to shore with the current helping you along, I didn't push it too much because I knew that crazy hill was ahead of me.
Swam until I touched sand, then got up and ran to find my shoes for the hill. I sat down and took a few deep breaths. Then I ran for the hill. And, oh.m.geee. was that sucker tough. I ran at the beginning and passed quite a few people, but was breathless fairly quickly and had to walk. It didn't help that it was slippery. I started to run again at the end and was incredibly winded as I came into transition to find my bike.
I saw DH with DS sitting on his shoulders and they made me so happy. I yelled "The hill!" And he yelled back "I've heard!" Everyone was talking about it. I like how such an individual sport can be a bonding experience by the crap we all go through together. "That sucked"! "Ya! Me too!" high five.
Then as I was running my bike out, I heard my daughter's voice and I turn to see her with a group of kids all jumping, screaming and holding signs: Go Mom! Go Dad! The camp counselors had made signs with them. How cute is that?!
One woman passed me early in the bike and I did my best to keep an eye on her yellow shirt. I told myself I'd pass her later. (never happened!) But just having a mental image to follow helped. There were more hills than I expected. And, yes, I know I had been warned. I am not a good listener. Hills mean changing gears, which last year I was nervous about. This time I wasn't at all and I felt good. I got into the down hills and didn't break in fear. I even yelled "weeeeee!" outloud on one big hill, which made the guy passing me lol. My max speed was 36.7 mph which is my top speed ever. win!
About half way through the bike I checked my average speed and it was 18.1. My goal was 18-19 so I told myself to push it. Unfortunately at this point we were biking through wide open corn fields. Nothing to block the wind. I felt like I was pedaling through quick sand. Giving everything I had and going 14 mph. Not good. I did my best, but it was a struggle. And there is the balancing act of pushing it just the right amount on the bike in order to save your legs for the run.
Back into transition. I love transition! I sat down to change shoes quick and I hear the MC "Here comes our winner! In 1:16!!" And lots of cheers. Well, there goes my 1:30 goal. ha! Nothing like hearing people finish before you've even started the run. Whatever. I saw the family again, which helped and I was off. I always feel quick off the bike. And now I know that I also look ridiculous! in a good way, right?
And that was the last pavement I saw on the run. Trails through the camp. Beautiful trails. But guess what a night of hard rain does to a trail? Yeah, not the easiest running conditions. The first mile went well. I was pushing it and could hear someone right behind me. I said something about the muddy trails (I had slipped a few times) and the guy was so nice. "I'm not sure if there is drafting in running. But I love this! Keep up the good pace!" I told him that hearing his steps were helping me too. While it was a hard run, I was having a good time. High fiving all the volunteers and doing my best. My buddy passed me when we hit a set of hills. oh well. I knew I was slowing but I couldn't go any faster. At one point I reminded myself how miserable I felt at my last race a month ago. That day is not today. I smiled and ran as hard as I could to the finish.
Swim (1/3 mile) 13:58
Bike (15.5 miles) 52:36
Run (3 miles) 24:34
4/18 Age group
I may not have met my time goals or hit paces I'd like to see, but I feel great about this race.
I stayed calm and went back to my breathing plan even after being rattled by waves & other swimmers. I came in 3rd in my AG without a wetsuit!
The 16.9 pace is my slowest to date, but it was a windy ride with hills. I was comfortable switching gears.
8:11 pace, not the 7:50s I wanted, but with trails & mud I'm pretty happy with it.
I know I've said it before, but tris are so much fun. There's a lot going on, various goals, always more to learn. This was a great learning experience. A race I will definitely do again. I wanna win that hill! (My 2:19 tied for 1st in my age group!)
This is how I really felt afterwards.