Photo credit to Keely
Triathlon number one for the season complete!
This was the first year (I believe) for the Kinetic International distance. I’ve done the sprint here before, and the course looked the same as Giant Acorn (though I think the bike course is reversed from the last time I raced it), so I had a general idea of what I was getting into. And then the weather forecasts started to roll in.
Once again, I started the season with a cold, rainy triathlon. But this year, I knew what I was getting myself into. I was much more mentally prepared for a miserable experience, and I think that preparation made a world of difference. Also, it wasn’t that miserable. But I was prepared for this to be a slower race than normal.
Race morning, the temperatures were in the upper 40s, and it was raining. Great. Awesome. At least the 60-something water would feel warm. Gotta find the bright side, right? I got in the water as early as I could, probably at least 45 minutes before my wave started. That’s the great thing about races at Lake Anna – you can get in the water super early and just sort of splash around until your wave starts. It’s perfect for people nervous about the open water.
I was in the very last wave, which didn’t worry me too much. This was an international and a 70.3 distance raced together, so that meant I had no risk of being the last finisher.
When my wave finally started, I struggled to find my groove at first, most notably because it was impossible to see the buoys. The rain had stopped for the most part, but it was foggy and just hard to sight. Not a big deal all in all, but annoying. The swim course was a big rectangle, so once I made the second turn to go back towards the shore, things were much easier, though at that point, the wind picked up and there was some significant chop to the water. I can handle that as long as I can tell where I’m going.
And though it felt like it took forever, I was finally out of the water and on my way to T1.
One downside to races at Lake Anna is the long distance to transition. It’s paved, which is nice, but it’s just a long uphill run. Barefoot. And since it had rained so much, once I got to transition, everything was just a huge mudpit. I bet the bike tracks were at least an inch deep, probably more. So that was hilarious to deal with. No running for me – I didn’t need to find out how much padding my wetsuit would give me if I fell.
I stripped out of my wetsuit, getting it super muddy in the process and tried to clean my feet off to get my socks and shoes on. (Yes, I wear socks on the bike leg. I get blisters otherwise and it’s worth the few seconds it takes me.) I also watched a guy cursing at his wetsuit because he was stuck in it.
I opted to not put on my arm sleeves since the rain had stopped and I would rather be cool than overheat. Plus they’re so annoying to put on while wet.
I definitely wasn’t hurrying in transition, which is probably something I should work on for next race.
On to the bike leg. I was worried that because my cleats were so filled with mud that I wouldn’t be able to clip in properly. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad, but future me had some serious shoe cleaning ahead of her. I headed out on the bike, which starts with a lovely uphill. Having done the course a number of times, I was ready.
The roads were still a bit wet but not too bad, though I was still glad I had slightly underinflated my tires, especially on some of the speedy downhills. I had a goal pace in mind and found myself just below it, but I think I tend to overestimate my goal pace in general. I was also struggling with some tightness in my quads because I was so freaking cold.
I was pretty pleased with how I hung in during the bike, though I wished I had brought some cookies for a snack. I forgot how much I like snacks on the bike. Snacks are one of the best parts about biking!
T2 went much better, though again, no running through the mud, so it was a slower trek.
And on to the run. This I was familiar with. It was a two loop course (though they tacked on a tiny bit near transition – I guess the old course was just a little short) with a grand uphill on each loop. Hooray. I didn’t even bother to try to run it, knowing it would shoot my heart rate up way too fast, so I just power walked it. The downside to that is that there are tons of spectators there. So I just chatted and said I was getting my moneys worth out of the course.
At this point, my upper hips/butt muscles were very tight (actually, using the internet I think maybe it’s my gluteus minimus? Anyone?) and I hoped I wouldn’t be fighting this the entire run. Thankfully it just bothered me on the hill and then faded.
Because it was still cool, I was able to set into a good rhythm. Not quite as fast as my most recent half marathon, but that wasn’t done on bike legs, so I was pleased to find a good groove. I got tons of compliments on my Coeur team kit – it will be on sale next season! It was awesome to feel so good out there.
The volunteers were spectacular. As I was coming through, the pizza lunch delivery had just come for them, and I kept threatening to steal their pizza. The tables were manned by kids with adults supervising, and these kids were great. Sometimes, kid volunteers get sullen or bored, but I loved the enthusiasm these kids had.
Finally, FINALLY, I was cruising in to the finish.
Total time: 3:51:38
Not my fastest, but far from my slowest. I was thinking I would be around 4 hours with the weather, so I’m quite happy with this. And I knew I had a good shot at placing Athena this race seeing as there weren’t a ton of entrants. I was hoping for second. First was unexpected and a delightful way to start the season.
Now I need a trophy shelf in my pain cave!
After the race, I got back to transition to retrieve my poor, muddy bike, and noticed they had put down straw in transition. SUPER nice. Of course, my bike still had chunks of mud all over it. That was a problem for future me too.
And my new tip: Use a blue IKEA bag as your transition mat (or stick it under your mat/towel). Then when you’re done, you can throw all your gross gear inside it and haul it back to your car and contain the crazy amounts of mud. When you clean your gear, just hose down the bag too.