I debated doing the race for weeks prior and I didn't sign up until the day before. In the beginning I had said I would only register if the weather report was looking good. A week out, and the report was sunny and dry. Each day as I checked it got worse and worse until by Friday it was rainy and cold so I was talking myself out of the event. I am a very fair weather athlete and typically only go out for rides or runs if the sun is shining. I then decided that this is NOT the attitude of a true triathlete, which is what I would eventually like to consider myself, so I must push through and prove to myself I can compete in inclement weather conditions.
Morning of the race and the weather is in the low 50's and raining. I am feeling okay that I can do this. Then the race announcer starts talking and lets just say he didn't instill a feeling of confidence in me at all. The first announcement was that the water temp was a chilly 52 degrees and due to the "possible hypothermic conditions" the swim portion would be shortened to 1/4 mile. Now this sent all different thoughts into me. I had some disappointment with the shortened race. Swim is what I have been working on the hardest these past 4 months and is definitely my strongest event so making that shorter isn't going to benefit me. BUT 52 degrees is COLD. I have done a few swims in Lake Meridian which has been low to mid 60's and I have thought that was too cold. So I was a bit concerned about staying warm. THEN the announcer begins to talk about the bike course and how they are "treacherous conditions" with the wet, slick roads. I am a bit embarrased to even admit this but I have never even gone for a training ride in the full rain so I am feeling more nervous about this section and possible crashes in my future.FINALLY the announcer stops talking and it is time to get started. I choose to start out in the lead pack and avoid the pile-up of legs and arms in the middle. Adrenaline must have kicked in because the water didn't feel as bad as I expected. It was a bit shocking to the face and took me a bit to even out my stroke but overall the swim felt good and strong. I wish we could have swam the whole 1/2 mile.
I exited the water at 8:30. My goal for the 1/2 mile swim was a sub 16 minute so this was a bit slow for that pace but I was happy. I came out in seventh place for all women which I was very pleased about. Unfortunately, I let any advantage that gave me slip away in the transition area. I was extremely worried about being cold on the bike ride so took my time prepping for the ride.
You can see from this picture the racers behind me in their short sleeves, probably no socks, looking like true athletes. I was a total dork and had full gloves, socks, beanie under the helmet and a long sleeve jersey. I even had toe warmers in my shoes! I can say that I am very glad I went to these steps. I was definitely not too warm the entire race and felt comfortable. I hate being cold so I know this was a smart move for me but not too wise for my time perspective. My transition time was an embarrasing 5:21.
Overall the ride went very well. I was fairly cautious at the beginning worried about slippery roads but started feeling good and pushing a bit harder. I was eyeing some competitors ahead to use as motivation. Typically, I could catch them going up hills more than on the flats. Bike time was 43:50 which is 5 minutes faster than the same course in September. I probably could have shaved more time off of that with better conditions/confidence. But I am pretty pleased with the time.On to the run. The transition for this leg was much better but still a bit slow in comparison to others. My feet were feeling quite numb by this time so there was an element of pain involved there but not as bad as my September race. The run is definitely my nemisis and the area I need to put more focus on. 4 runs in the past month probably doesn't qualify as training. I know if I can convince myself to up my training in this area I can see drastic improvement (and possible enjoyment??) in this section. I started the run at exactly 1 hour into the race so set a goal of hitting the finish line by 1:30. This really wasn't a very tough goal to hit but seemed a good one for me. And I crossed the finish line at 1:29:43 so hit the goal. Now if that would have been a full sprint triathlon I would be pretty pleased with the time. But due to the shortened swim it probably only shaved 4-5 minutes off last year's time at the Black Diamond Tri (same course in September).
A big thanks to my personal cheering section! I insisted they didn't need to come stand out in the rain for 2 hours to watch me pass by a handful of times but have to admit it was wonderful to round a corner and have them cheering me on and giving high 5's. It helps give me an energy boost and keep me moving forward. Tom says I need to be smiling more so I guess I will set that as one goal for the next race.
It was also great to have a large group of Raise the Bar teammates present at the race. It feels good to see familiar faces and jerseys along the race course and hear a "Good Job RTB". I have appreciated the workouts I have been able to join this year and have realized how much I have missed being on a team and having a "coach" to help you train. It definitely keeps the motivation level up and the people are all so inspiring and supportive.
Goals moving forward: Along with smiling more during the race I have the following goals set. My next race is set for the middle of July and then another in August that I am hoping to hit my top goals for the season. Overall I am very pleased with my swimming and need to focus on the bike and running portions for the next 2 months. So that means upping those workouts and getting more miles under my belt. I also need to really push my transitions in the next races. I know I can easily shave off 3-4 total minutes in the race by streamlining my transitions. I would love to see a sub 1:30 time for a full sprint tri in August. I am considering upping my distance and doing an Olympic distance in August but I think I really want to focus on the sprint this year and getting faster and put the Olympic distance goal for next year.