Race season is finally heeeeerrrrreeeeeee! When I first signed up for this race it was 100% because of the pig shaped finishers medal. I had planned to treat it like an intense brick workout and just get some fitness out of it. But once I sent my race plan to my coach and got my race packing list out things started to change mentally. The race nerves came to the party but so did the excitement! I was going out of town by myself for a night, staying in a hotel, and RACING the next day! Woo hoo!
I headed to Smithfield, VA the day before the race. It's a solid 4 hour drive with bathroom stops and there was no way I was going to be able to get up early enough to drive that on the day of. I picked up my packet, drove the bike course, and met my teammates for dinner. Virginia race courses never disappoint with the peaceful scenery. I took way too many photos of the bike course, as usual, but I couldn't help it. I love being in the middle of nowhere Virginia.
Then it was early to bed so we were ready to rock and roll the next day. I had a terrible nights sleep with super random dreams that were mostly about work. So odd. Thankfully the race site was only 10 minutes from the hotel so we got up, got dressed, and got moving.
I hadn't set up a transition area in months and it was almost like I couldn't figure out what to do first. Is this all my stuff? Did I forget everything? Is this where I put it? It was comical and I kept getting distracted talking to my teammates and forgetting to finish unpacking.
Eventually I did get it all done and was organized including with my new race number holder for my bike. Not only do I not have to stick that damned sticky number on my bike and ruin the paint, but I look so pro now! Haha.
Once I was all done getting ready (or so I thought) I put on my running shoes and headed out for my 15 minute warm up. I'm new to this whole actually warm up pre-race thing but it worked so well at the Cherry Blossom 5K
I didn't dare not do it at this race. As I was jogging the run course I realized that I had forgotten to get body marked or pick up my timing chip. Uh, duh! Two major requirements of the race. I looked at my watch and knew I had plenty of time, but wondered if my dummy self would forget again once I got back to transition. I ran back to transition and took care of those two things right away. Then I put my running shoes back in their spot, grabbed my cap and goggles, and settled in for the long wait until the start.
And a long wait it was. Because this was a pool swim, each person had an individual start time. Which means getting started on the swim takes FOREVER. Transition closed at 9:40 with the first swimmers getting started at 10. I wasn't scheduled to start until 11:30. And there were plenty of people starting after me - some as late as 12:30. That's a long time to sit around and wait with race jitters. But I made sure to sit and rest my legs and continued to drink water up until the last minute.
Finally it was time to get in the pool. It was a 300 meter snake swim with each swimmer being started 15 seconds apart. By the end of 50 meters I was passing the guy in front of me. Another 150 meters later I plowed by someone else. I wanted to crush the swim and get out on my bike. The pool was kind of gross with the water feeling really really warm. Final swim time: 5:55.
Not sure why I was disappointed but I was. Was hoping for closer to 5:00 which really isn't realistic, but out of the pool and into transition I went.
And in transition I proceeded to make a sandwich. Ok, only joking, but it's a joke about how long it took me to get in and get out. Felt like enough time to make a sandwich. All I need to do in there is lose the swim cap and goggles, put on socks, bike shoes, and helmet, and grab the bike and go. Yet I'm always shaking from the swim exertion and can't seem to do what I need to do with any fluidity. I spent 2:04 in T1
Then it took me forever to actually GET ON my bike. This was the first time racing the triathlon bike I bought in the fall and I'm still very uneasy on it. My goal going into this race was "not to crash my new bike." And the longer it took me to get on and get going the more frustrated I became. But finally I was off. I started furiously pedaling down the road and dropped my arm position down into the aero bars. So far so good. I didn't feel like I was going to crash. Up a short hill and then off down the road. Until. Until I realized that I was too afraid to take one hand off the bike in order to grab my water bottle. This. Was. A. Problem. If I couldn't drink any fluids during the 10 mile bike ride I was going to be in interesting shape for the 5K run. I slowed down a bit and very very slowly eased one hand off the bike and down to my water bottle. I managed to take a few sips without stopping completely or crashing, but barely. I panicked more about future races with longer distances than I did about this one. But I finally put it out of my mind and bulleted forward. It was a problem I couldn't deal with during the race and would figure out later.
Because they had us start the swim separated it really kept the bike course open. I passed a few people in the beginning and a couple of guys in the middle, but for the most part I was out there alone. And I was only passed by one person on the entire bike leg so that was kind of cool. I cruised back in to transition just as my teammate Erica was headed out on the bike. Teammate Madi was already done with the entire race so she was cheering us on and I got to give Erica a shout out. Definitely a highlight to the very wacky start time waves. Final bike time: 32:48
which averages to 18.2 miles per hour. Super stoked about this pace for my first race on this bike.
And then back into T2 for another sandwich, I mean switching shoes and trading the bike helmet for the run visor. In there for FOREVER again. T2 time 1:40.
Madi got a great shot of me heading out for the run. Probably the last time I was smiling on this run course.
This course was hot, hot, hot. The temp was only about 70 degrees, but it was the first hot day in a while and certainly the first hot day that I had run in this year. And there was very little shade. My legs definitely felt a lot heavier after the 10 mile bike sprint then they did hours earlier in my warm up. I put all of my effort into keeping them turning over and just trying to settle in to a comfortable pace. But I could not get my heart rate under control. It felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. Twice I needed to slow down to a walk just to let it calm down a bit. One thing I am pretty strict about with myself is not walking on these run courses. Because the pain is temporary and well within the limits that I can push myself. But on this course I just couldn't mentally overcome my heart racing and the feeling of total suck. When I saw the water station I thought that I must be close to the mid-point turn around. But it wasn't. Then I saw the road end and thought that must be the turn around. But it wasn't. It felt like the longest 1.5 miles ever known to man. But I got to the turn around and thought, "Hey, I haven't been passed by any women. This is really unusual. Maybe I've got a bit of run game." And then I did turn around and there they were. Creeping up behind me. And just like that a handful of women went running by. But thankfully no one in my division. I continued my slow plod back to the finish line.
As I made my way back I started to put everything I had left into the run. I just wanted to be done. In the final chute I went all out and sprinted to the finish line with everything I had. It is always so good to cross that line. Final run time: 31:56.
I chugged some water and collected the prized pig medal. Seriously. This medal makes all of the suck SOOOOO worth it.
Final time: 1:14:21
. And good enough for first place in the Athena Division (women over 165 pounds). I was very pleasantly surprised to get the top honor in my division. I never plan or expect to be anywhere near the podium but it's a pretty sweet surprise when it happens.
Overall thoughts about this race. It's a fun little race and fairly well organized. I really hate snake swim pool races so I don't know that I'd do it again unless they can somehow improve on the pig medal - which is impossible. Best medal ever. Also the post-race BBQ is similarly fantastic. I couldn't eat enough once my stomach settled down and I was breathing normally again. This race is also kind of a long schlep for a fun "tune up" race. But I had a great time in amazing weather. The sun was so intense that the sharpie race numbers served as the only sunscreen I managed to put on. Two days later my numbers were still clearly on my arm. A week later? Yep, they are still there in full force. It will be interesting to see what happens if they are still there when I get my next set of race numbers two weeks from now. Yay race season!!