Let’s just set the scene here for a second. Overcast skies. 48 degrees. Slightly windy. 2000 racers. Hilliest transitions. Even hillier bike/run course. Did I mention it was 48 degrees?
Ok so picture that scene. Got it? I’ll get started now.
C and I arrived at the race around 6:15am. It was pitch black and freezing cold. C was wearing about 4 layers. Cold. C (aka my pit crew) checked my bike and put air in my ties. I gathered all my things and headed to transition.
I basically had to undress to get body marked since I was wearing about 3 layers. After that, I climbed a never ending hill to my transition area. It was a three tiered parking lot and you better bet I was on the highest, most furthest away tier.
After getting all my gear laid out, I helped sweet Becca (we were 1083 and 1084!!!) get her things together. Then we gathered up our wet suits, goggles caps and BodyGlide and headed into the hotel to defrost.
While inside with my team (taking pictures and joking about how crazy we were for racing in this weather), I managed to work myself into a mini panic attack that might have involved a tear or two. I honestly don’t know what happened. I managed to psych myself out to the point where I thought I might actually throw up. It was bad. C has no idea what to do with me when I’m like that. It wasn’t pretty.
Once I managed to calm down, get my wet suit on and get a hug from C, things started looking up. I almost forgot that it was 48 degrees outside.
The waves for the Sprint distance seemed huge. My wave included Female 29 and under, Males 29 and under, Clydesdales, Athenas and Para-triathletes. Luckily, we didn’t have to stand on the dock for very long before they let us jump in the water (treading water start). The water was a good 20-30 degrees warmer than the air so it actually felt better being in the water. I took several deep breaths, assumed my position on the very far right of the pack (I breathe to the left) and then we were off. I felt like I was passing tons of people as I headed to the first buoy. I couldn’t get a good draft but I was committed to not stopping to breast stroke or back stroke (baby steps here, people!). There was punching, kicking and lots of crooked swimming. I made it to the second sighting buoy and thought I was doing really well until I saw blue caps from the next wave start passing me. Ugh.
The transitions on this course are HILLY and LONG. Like at least 2 min long! On top of that, I took my time trying to dry myself and add a few layers since it was frigid. Definitely had a VERY long T1 time. Then, RIGHT out of T1 you are on a hill. In fact, most people just walked their bikes up that hill and then got on at the top since there were lots of crashes. That’s the route I took and I’m glad I did.
BIKE – 12 miles
Within 3 minutes of being on the bike, my fingers went numb. This, as I’m sure you’re guessing, makes shifting and breaking very hard. The bike was probably where I struggled the most. I was scared to go too fast because I didn’t have breaks and the faster I went, the colder it was. And let’s talk about those hills. Honestly, I would coast down one hill and then struggle right up another. The whole time I was thinking, “What the heck am I going to do when I get to the dismount line…I can’t brake?!”. And guess what…the dismount is at the bottom of that huge hill that I walked my bike up out of T1. So there was that…
I was pretty quick here except that I struggled to get my bike shoes off and my running shoes on…numb fingers and all. Then I struggled to get my race belt on.
RUN – 5K
This is where I excelled. Even though the course was hilly, I feel like I kicked some butt on the run. I had my fastest mile pace ever (10 min/miles) which was a great confidence booster for me. You may not think that’s very fast but let’s take into consideration the hilly neighborhood and my numb toes. I wasn’t even sure where the ground was most of the time. I think the cooler temps helped me push on the run as well. I pushed hard on the last mile and felt like I had a great finish.
My overall time on this race is irrelevant because most of the time I was just trying to survive. This was a very tricky course and tough conditions, but an accomplishment nonetheless. I’m not sure I’d do this course ever again though…
It doubles as a bottle opener!!