Crashing thunder and streaks of lightning accompanied the sound of my alarm clock at 4:15 AM on race morning. Great, the opening triathlon of the season was going to be in a downpour, I couldn't wait to get to transition to set up my gear. (insert sarcasm...) But I got up, ate oatmeal, got dressed, grabbed my pre-packed bags and hit the road, along with the pounding rain. Fortunately, I racked my back the night before so it was already loaded and I always get everything I need for the tri packed and ready the night before the race.
By the time I got to the race site, the rain had slowed to a drizzle. Steph and I met up and walked to check in to get our numbers, timing chips, and swim caps. Then it was off to set up our gear in transition, we had to be all set, completely ready, and out of transition by 7:15 AM. I was more excited for Steph to experience her first triathlon then I was about my own race. That was a good thing because the rain was not my preferred weather condition, LOL.
I aired up my bike tires and put on my backpack with all my STUFF and walked to transition. I laid everything out and covered my socks, bike shoes, running shoes and towel with a plastic bag so they would stay dry until I needed them. I even put a plastic bag over my helmet to keep it dry during the swim. Then it was off to get body marked, get my wetsuit on, and wait for the start.
Amazingly, it stopped raining! Steph and hung out chatting and watching the Olympic Tri participants swim their loop in the lake. It was gorgeous, calm water, so very peaceful. We had fun watching and killing time until our sprint distance wave starts. Hers was at 8:30 and mine at 8:35, since we were in different age groups.
It was actually fun to line up with all the women in my age group. Everyone was chatting, voicing their nerves, encouraging each other. It was inspiring to see them, some mentioning their kids, lots of them strong athletic women who were likely to have outstanding races! I missed my friend Kim, who I usually do tri's with, she had a conflict this weekend. But we always start in the same wave and get to stand there together waiting to SWIM!
the SWIM: And we were off, even though this is my 10th triathlon, I forgot what the first few moments are like in the triathlon swim. Everyone scrambles to find their pace and position to get to the first buoy. (often you get kicked, pushed, and grabbed, although surprisingly, not today!) This is when I work my nerves out, push out the anxiety, and find my own rhythm. Once I got around the first buoy and away from the crowd, I felt better and much more comfortable. I just swam along to the second buoy, then the third and then it was time to head in toward the finish. The water was 71 degrees, practically 10 degrees warmer then last year's race and not in the least bit cold. I got to that last little stretch and suddenly something sharp was poking my underarm, ouch! Don't think about it, just keep swimming! ouch again! I finally had to reach in the neck of my wetsuit and pull whatever "it" was up to the front of my suit so it wouldn't poke me anymore. I was afraid it was my timing chip so I didn't discard it and toss it into the water. It was, wait for it....my energy gel!!!!! It had come out of my shirt pocket somehow, and worked it's way up my suit, it was a sharp painful little sucker, but funny!
Transition 1 and the BIKE: I went as fast as I can, like always, which ends up not being very fast, like always. But I really do try. I got out of my wetsuit into my bike gear and onto the bike! Then I was off on the bike and flying as fast as I could possibly go. Immediately I took in an energy gel while I started the opening stretch. I tried to stay in as high of a gear as possible for the whole time, sometimes in my top most gear and pedaling as hard as I could. Other times, I shifted down for a slight incline but tried to keep a strong steady cadence, not grinding and pushing on the pedals, but smooth circular pedaling. I have much to learn on the bike, but I'm trying. The sprint was an out and back course, very simple, the road isn't the greatest but it was a little better than last year, due to some patching. I have to say, I managed to pass a lot of people and no one passed me, crazy. However, I'm in one of the last wave starts so that makes sense. Into the bike finish...
Transition 2 and the RUN: I'm always much faster in T2 going from bike to run, but still slower than my fellow competitors! I ripped off my bike stuff and jumped into my running shoes, grabbed my water bottle and out to the run course. By the way, it still is not raining and the sun has just come out. I took off, feeling fatigue in my legs but pushing through. I could tell I was not moving as fast as I did on the run last year when I somehow managed to run sub-8 minute miles for the whole thing. But you just do what you can do on any given day and there it is. My first mile was 7:55, 10 to 20 seconds slower then last year's miles but I just kept moving. My eyes were constantly scanning the on-coming runners for Steph and there she was, already on her way in after the turn around! We cheered each other on and kept on going. I hit the turn around, woo hoo! Second mile was 8:13, no problem just keep the pace, I saw my friend Karin and she yelled "Go Kirsten!" She was competing the Olympic distance and doing great as always. My third mile was 8:16 and then a surprise, my friend Melissa was yelling my name from up ahead which made me pick up the pace for the finish. She has done this for me in at least 4 races and I love it! I didn't even know she would be there that day.
The FINISH: I crossed the line in 1:30:08, turns out it was about a minute faster than last year, I'll take it! Even more of a bonus, I actually got THIRD in my age group! I was ecstatic about that! Even though one of the amazing power houses in my age group was an overall winner which allowed me to place, I'll take it! I was slower on the swim than last year, faster in T1 than last year, faster on the bike than last year, same in T2, and slower on the run than last year. It all comes out to slightly faster than 2009, so again, I'll take it, with a placque to boot for the memory. Wow, a great day!
And Steph wrapped up her first triathlon by placing second in her age group with an overall finish of 1:27:47! Of course we hung out to get our awards.
My final splits for the day were:
Half Mile SWIM 17:19
T1 3:17 (guys, I've NEVER gotten under 4 minutes here!)
20K BIKE 42:08, average pace 19.7 mph, max speed 33.8
5K Run 26:12 (my Garmin said an 8:06 pace for 3.26 miles, but race results say 8:27)
Most of the girls in my age group can get through T1 in under two minutes, how do you get a wetsuit off that fast?? I think next time I'm putting wet feet straight into my socks and shoes, no more towel drying...Yeah, I'm sure that's the secret. ha ha!
This was our FAILED attempt at a self portrait and we thought it was too hilarious to delete...