Well, Sunday’s race went much better than anticipated. The things I knew about this race were that the course was hilly and challenging. I really wasn’t worried about it when I registered, but as I got closer to the race, people started commenting more and more about how hilly the course was. So I started to think that maybe this race was going to be harder than I thought, especially coming off of Rev 3 Williamsburg, which is super flat. But hey, who isn’t up for a challenge?
I wasn’t particularly worried about the race, just more reframing my expectations. I can climb hills, but I’m not particularly proficient at it. (That said, I’m pretty darn good at downhills – and you may laugh, but it is actually a skill. Also, gravity.) So I was anticipating closer to a 4 hour finish and well aware that it might not be pretty, especially given my training as of late.
One great thing about this race was the start time! It didn’t start til 7:30, and since we were staying close to the race site, that meant not getting up til 5am! Definitely sleeping in.
VTSMTS always puts on great races, and I love that the swag for this race included a pair of socks. I can always use more bike socks. I also love how they run race morning. It’s low key and always staffed with awesome volunteers.
Race morning was pretty cold – below 60 degrees. But the water was a disgusting 85+. Definitely not comfortable swimming water. Sure, it’s nice to get in and lounge, but if you’re trying to swim, you will definitely get hot very quickly. So when my wave started, I decided to hold back a bit so as not to overheat myself right away. I was still definitely in the middle of the pack and found myself dealing with a bit more contact than I’m used to. This swim course was a bit odd though. The lake isn’t big, so the International course had four turns, most at pretty sharp angles, and the last merging us back in with the sprint course (they started half an hour after the international).
It was generally no big deal until I was nearing the third buoy and got clobbered in the side of the head by a guy in the wave behind me. Definitely not his fault (though I’m not sure what direction he was swimming in for his hand to land on my head) but it was a bit surprising and threw off my pace. But hey, it happens in triathlon.
Swim: 39:42 Definitely not my best. I think it was just the heat slowing me down more than anything.
Transition, nothing exciting happened. Though I have GOT to speed this up.
The first thing about this bike is that you literally have to run up a steep grassy hill with your bike. Not awesome. Then you mount at the top of a hill, soar down, and have to slow for a sharp turn onto the course, where you immediately hit a climb. So that was fun.
The one thing that did bug me a bit was that because of the timing of the two races (sprint and international), I was hitting the course at the same time as some sprint athletes, and it was clear that a number of them didn’t seem to know the triathlon bike rules. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with being new to a sport, and there’s nothing wrong with being slow on your bike. Forward motion is what matters. But there were a lot of people riding to the left, almost crossing the center line. They weren’t passing anyone, they were just riding wide. This is against the rules, but more importantly, it’s unsafe. You want to stay to the right. Don’t ride the shoulder if it’s not safe, of course, but stay right so cars and other cyclists can pass and only move left when you’re passing.
Really, I thought this bike course was pretty nice. There were some sections of road that were a bit bumpy, but nothing too terrible. And the hills were challenging, but I kept waiting for the “one bad hill” that I kept hearing about. I’m still not sure which one it was. I generally knew what I had to do on the bike to leave myself time to get through the run and still hit a sub-4, so that’s what I pushed for.
T2 included the run all the way back down to my rack. If I thought running up that hill was hard, running down was impossible.
On to the run. By this point, I discovered that my HRM wasn’t picking up my heart rate, so unless I’ve become a zombie, I’m pretty sure the battery is dead. That makes running more interesting because I have to go solely by feel. Since it wasn’t too terribly hot out, I figured my legs would tell me to slow down before my heart rate anyway.
This run was two loops with two out and backs. I don’t mind courses like this because you get to see other people on the course, chat it up a bit, offer cheers to people who are struggling. And the hills weren’t as bad as I thought. Nothing too terribly steep.
As always, this is my worst leg, but I’ve just stopped caring about that. I’m not going to be a fast runner, and that’s okay. It’s still a lot of fun.
Run: 1:20:30 (still a sub-13 mile, which is pretty good.)
Total: 3:42:38, well under the 4 hours I prepared for or the 3:50 I hoped for. I’m actually really surprised at how well I did.
And I also landed on the podium (though I was so far behind the first and second place girls that it was laughable!).
Liz and Katie (my awesome Coeur teammate) and her husband and some of their other friends were watching for me to finish and it was so awesome to be cheered in at the end. I forget what that’s like, and it’s always fun to have cheers as you finish. So thank you to everyone who stayed out there to cheer me in. I had an awesome race.