I had a GREAT day! I mean in the scheme of competitors I was 420 out of 423 Oly racers and 31/31 in my age group BUT WHO CARES! I actually had fun.
Up to this point I've done only sprint races. Even sprint tri's vary in distance but on average, they are a 500 to 750 meter swim, 10 to 15 mile bike, and a 3.1 to 4ish mile run. What I found this weekend that with a longer distance race, you get time to settle into your zone - something you or at least I, don't feel I get to do in a sprint.
This tri was the BigFoot Triathlon in Lake Geneva WI. We set off Friday for the weekend. We stayed at the campground where the tri takes place - made getting to transition to rack bike very nice!
I signed up for the OLY or Olympic or sometimes called International distance... this is a distance that can also vary in length by USAT rules... once you get to 1/2 IronMan and IronMan the distances are more set in stone... But this race was a 1500 meter swim, 26 mile bike, and a 6.5 mile run. The run was made more challenging in the fact it was a trail run... no nice running path to deal with but a trail which includes uneven surfaces, trees, branches, mud, holes, high grass, etc... note to self definitely do some trail running training to get ankles use to uneven surfaces...
Two wknds before I did a sprint that was a 1000 meter swim and totally freaked by how far that is when its laid out in front of you and NOT in a pool going back and forth. But this time I wasn't really nervous at all, maybe a tad but not like two weekends before where I stood at the swim start and questioned 'what the heck am I doing here' - I had none of THOSE feelings yesterday. I was wave 6 - the older lady wave 35+... :o) and we went off bout 7:30 am - it was a BEAUTIFUL day, not to hot, a smidge chilly at the start, not much humidity, and sunny skies... PERFECT just perfect.
So finally they let our wave go off after treading water for about 3 minutes or so. Mass start with the age group... I know there were 31 in the 40-44, not sure about the other groups, but there was probably 100 or so of us off on the swim at the same time... I just found my spot and went for it - the water was a bit choppy and I had forgotten my Dramamine... believe it or not, I've literally gotten sea sick from choppy waters on a swim before. Bout 1/2 way into the swim I noticed the sky getting black and I just HOPED it would blow over; I was in a good place and did not want this race called. Not long after that thought came to my mind... another swimmer on the return, got off course and literally swam right into me - didn't knock my goggles off but sucked them hard to my face, my eye sockets are still a bit sore today when I touch that area. I didn't get freaked out, just got back into the swim. It was a long way but eventually I was at the end - and believe it or not had swam 500 more meters in the tri, then the previous tri and did it in the same time frame - now granted 39:56 is not FAST - but I was pretty impressed I had swam 500 more meters than before in the same amount of time - I call that improvement :o) - really it was just being so much more comfortable.
The bike is my favorite leg... It was pretty uneventful. The course was not nearly as hilly as Galena but still posed its own little hill challenges... some you didn't really notice as a hill because it was just a small, slow, steady climb. The course was not the best marked bike course and when you are a back of the packer there are not many left in front of you to know if you've gotten off course... At one point I could barely see a biker in front of me, no one behind me I was sure I missed a turn but I plugged on and eventually I was ok and on course after all. Now one thing I had on the bike I've never had before was this cool water bottle called a GelBot. It has this reservoir for your gu/gel and when the pop up cap is down, you suck on it and the gel comes out, then you pop up the cap and you get your water to wash it down! Not that gels taste bad but you are suppose to take them WITH water - ok whoever invented this thing gets points in my book! It’s not easy to tear open a gel packet when you’re on the bike, then what do you do with the empty packet, I don't like the litter along the roadside, and if you are in an Ironman event, you can be penalized for littering, be it a gel packet, dislodged water bottle, etc. While I knew I would not get penalized for littering in this race, it’s just wrong, AND when it’s not a closed course trying to ride in traffic and one hand a gel packet isn't smart - so the GelBot rocks... So even with the hills and slight head wind at times, I averaged 15.7 on the bike, and finished in 1:38:44....
Now the run... I was a bit worried about the longer run after a longer bike. I've run the miles before but never after a 25+ mile bike and NEVER on a trail. What I found is while running, well ok it’s really jogging, a longer race is tougher, but you actually get time to settle into the run, something you don't get in a shorter race. The trail proved challenging to my ankles and I almost met the ground twice but managed to stay upright. At one point I thought there was only one guy and I left on the course... he said something about being last and I said who cares we are both over 40 and out here doing it, who cares if we are DFL (dead freakin' last) 99% of the 40+ population is home sitting on their arse's WE are doing a challenging race, so ROCK ON and SMILE when you cross the finish. He passed me but then eventually I passed him and stayed there. If there is any bad thing about being a back of the packer on the run... is they start to close up the water stations. The last one I was really in need of and they were gone - so I will learn to start carrying my own water for just those reasons. The course was really quite nice but if you are not a trail runner you really have to watch your steps. You are running on uneven surfaces, over roots, trees, branches, rocks, mud, holes... a true challenge to your footing, but I'll just be more prepared for it next year. So as expected it was not a fast run for me... 1:23:46 or a 13:32 pace...but the funny part was somehow I always find it within me to literally sprint to the finish, for those seconds I'm sure I'm running a 6 min pace... but I had fun so I leaped in the air after I crossed the mat at the finish... the photog missed it... I'm there catching my breath and the photog said ms... I didn't get you coming across the finish, can you fake coming across the line again...So I did, we all laughed, and the photographer promised he got me that time.
I really expected to be dead dog tired but I wasn't. I mean I know I didn't just finish and Ironman or anything but I had done twice the distance on every event than in previous races... I think it was adrenaline. I stretched, drank some water, then retrieved my stuff, went back, grabbed a shower, broke down camp and headed for home, looking forward to the Pleasant Prairie Race on Aug 17th when I will do an Oly distance again - all my other races are sprints, but you can bet if I can change the distance to an OLY I will!
End results 420 out of 423 OLY racers, 31 out of 31 in 40-44 age group...39:56 swim (409/423), 3:09 T1, 1:38:44 bike, 15.7 avg (403/423), 2:29 T2, 1:23:49 run, 13:32 pace (417/423), total time 3:48:05!!!