…in my age group!
As I left breakfast with my running friends on Saturday, they wished me luck at The Marble Falls Triathlon. I blurted out that I’d like to finishTop 5 in my age group. Well, when the results were posted, I discovered that I did, in fact, finish #5 in my age group out of 28.
I had a great time pre-race. This race is still very small and low key compared to many other triathlons. There’s only about 400 participants so there’s really no need for loud music or announcements in the morning. I immediately ran into friends and teammates who were racing…Colleen, Cindy B., Cindy S., Amy F., James B, etc. Amy and I had a hilarious conversation about why the hell we do this even though triathlon is so high-maitenance with equipment, gear and everything else you have to think about just to prepare for a race. We’re sitting there basically humorously bad-mouthing the sport when a photographer came up and caught us in our “candid” moment! I can’t wait to see that photo as I’m sure we both look spectacular!! We’ll be the poster childern of next year’s Marble Falls Triathlon. I think one of the reasons we do this sport is because it IS hard and it does require a lot of focus, energy and versatility as an athlete. As a result of my running, I’ve become a better biker and vice versa. Swimming has helped so that I’m not pounding my knees 6 days a week and so on… All in all, it makes me feel more fit and well-rounded as a competitor.
Swim and T1
The race started at a very early 7:00am. It was great because it still was nice and early before it got way too hot. Cindy, Colleen and I ceremoniously held hands and jumped in the lake together when it was time for our wave. As soon as we got in the water, I lost them in a haze of goggles and yellow swim caps. I was on my own. The gun went off and immediately there was thrashing, kicking, hitting–all in the name of a swim stroke. I could not get any type of position and immediately found myself in the back of the pack as usual. The waves of people were fairly big so it was very difficult to find any space. The water was warm, bordering on too hot. Seriously, it was like swimming in bath water. Well, as usual, it wasn’t my day in the water and try as I might, I couldn’t gain any ground on other people in my wave. I tried to stay close to the bouys and I could see everyone else making much wider turns. I had no one to draft with. I just kept trying to work on my form every chance that I got, but I don’t think it was very pretty. I got out of the lake after the 1000m swim(finally) and hit my watch 26:25–yuck. I was hoping for a 22-24min swim. I got out of the water in good spirits though (mainly because I was out of the water) and immediately heard cheers from Maurice, Shawn, Tracy and Diane C. Tracy tried to snap a quick photo and I shouted, “My Boobs are falling out!” drawing laughter from other spectators. That’s when I knew regardless of what happened, it was going to be a good day. I still had my self-deprecating sense of humor. I ran UPHILL into transition and did my thing…Because it was a small race and wetsuits weren’t needed, this transition time was pretty fast…1:40. I mounted my bike and began to take off. As I was leaving I saw Shawn and heard him say, “Go out there and start picking them off!” By “them” he meant every possible female I could pass. That’s what happens when you start from behind on the swim. Barring no unforseen issues, I had nowhere else to go but up from there.
Swim Age Group Rank: 22 out of 28 (ouch)
Bike and T2
The 23-mile bike consisted of lots of rolling hills and a couple of good climbing hills, including a nice long climb up the bridge not more than a 1/2 mile into the ride. As always, I tried to ease into it, but I also kept myself aware that this was a shorter race and I didn’t have a whole lot of time if I was going to try to make up for lost time. When I could open it up and pedal in the big chain ring, I did. I pushed hard. On some climbs, I definitely dropped it in the lower ring, but tried to keep a quick cadence and pass those who were slowly grinding up the hills. I was passing people and loving it. Please God–no flats! The roads were in great shape and the entire ride pretty much took place on shoulders or one lane of major highway roads. We even entered and exited on the same ramps that cars were on. Luckily, the patrol folks and volunteers were doing a great job of monitoring traffic so I never felt unsafe. Plus, it was still pretty early and even the church-folk were still drinking their first cup of coffee. On the way back of this out and back, I tried to drop the hammer as much as I could. I took one power gel on the ride and drank one bottle of water. My bike was riding great. My seat is a little too high, but I was getting a lot of leg power. Perhaps that means I just need to change the angle of the seat. Oh well…in any event, I came riding back to transition and hit my watch. 1:12:45 Holy crap!! Much faster than I thought. It equated to a 19mph average…sweet. I was back in the game and had 4.4 miles to catch as many females as possible. T2 was 1:04, which I shoul’ve and could’ve sped up by about 10 seconds. Oh well…
Bike Age Group Rank: 4 out of 28 (great surprise!)
All I can say about the 4.4 mild run is “God Bless my Gazelle Training.” Without this group, there is no way I could’ve averaged the 7:09 pace that I was able to average for 4.4 miles. It was an out-and-back course through a small neighborhood and park. There was some shade and three aid stations for water and gatorade. Mile 2 was a little tough for me because there was a slight climb. Other than that, the run course was relatively flat. I can say this, my heart was beating like a newborn. At one point, I tried to take a deeper breath and couldn’t find air. Luckily, it passed and was able to keep moving at that pace. I took another power gel at Mile 1,which boosted me towards the end of the race. This is a race where you make the final turn and finish on a steep uphill gravel path. It’s not exactly the safest surface when you’re exhausted. I saw one final female I could pass (or attempt to) about 10 yards ahead of me at that turn. I wasn’t going to bother, but at the bottom of the hill, there was an unknown voice yelling, “Go get her! You can catch her!!” I don’t think it was anyone I knew, just a racer who was finished. I lit up and gave it everything I had. As I climbed the gravel hill, I could still hear the girl at the bottom shouting for me. “Go, Go, Go!” With about 3 yards to spare, I passed her just before the finish line!! I was so excited and immediately hunched over to catch my breath which was somewhere at the bottom of the hill. I finished the 4.4 mile run in 31:28.
Run Age Group Rank: 1 out of 28 (WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Total Race Time: 2:13:23
5th out of 28 W 30-34
46th Female overall out of 164
Bottom Line: I feel great about the race overall. Either I have to figure out what the hell keeps holding my swim back or I have to switch to Duathlons!! (Run-Bike-Run)
Congrats to Amy F who came in at 6th place in our age group!! Maybe we’re not hating this sport so much afterall! Also, congrats to Cindy B, Cindy S., Colleen and my T3 teammates. I hope to swim as good as all of you someday! Thanks to Shawn, Tracy and Diane for yelling your hearts out!!