This past Sunday I completed my first ever Olympic distance triathlon, and my last tri of this year. With about 14 sprint tris under my belt, I decided it was time to try the next step. It was a cool sunny morning. I went through my usual morning routine, and left in time to make it to the Portage Lakes State Park by about 6:45 am. The sprint races were scheduled to start at 8 am with the Olympic races beginning at 8:15. My wave (all women) was planned to start at 8:31 with only the 50 and older men going after us at 8:33.
After getting checked in, I collected my gear from the van and began setting up my transition spot. In addition to my regular set up, I laid out a long sleeve jersey and put a gu in the back pocket. I also filled up my new bottle. Thankfully, Erin spotted that I had the sponge in wrong and showed me how to fix it. That's what I get for trying something new at a race. :)
The first racers began about 15 minutes late, which pushed everyone back. Just before transition closed, I pulled on my wetsuit and grabbed my gu and water. As I was making sure I really had everything ready, an announcement was made that transition was closing in 90 seconds! Jen and I quickly jogged to the exit before our timing chips got messed up on the timing mat. We all made our way down to the beach for the start. It was nice seeing so many familiar faces - plus Matt and the boys showed up just before I entered the water for a quick warm up.
Eventually it was time for the women. Not wanting to get run over, I lined up in the back of the 41 ladies. When they blew the horn, I took my time so I wouldn't get kicked. Very quickly I was surprised by the long vine like weeds that felt like they were wrapping themselves around my arms and legs. More than once I had to pull one off of me. Yuck. Thankfully when we got to the deep water, the weeds were gone! About half way through the first lap of the swim course, I finally felt like I was in a good groove. I was taking my time and trying to stay steady. Knowing I had to go through the shallow water and weeds again was looming in back of my mind though. For the second lap, I made sure to stay in the deepest water possible without going off course. The sun was bright and right in my eyes while trying to sight. Once I was back in the deep water again, it was a smooth swim around the buoys and to the water's edge. I checked my watch when I hit the sand, and it said 29:00. Wow! I thought it might take me 35 to 40 minutes for the 1500 meter swim. I took my time up the hill to transition, which took another 1:40, putting my total swim time at 30:40.
I also took my time in transition, about twice as long as I would in a sprint. Knowing I had to be on my bike for about 23 miles, I wanted to be comfortable. I made sure my feet were dry, put on my long sleeve jersey, and put on my bike gloves. T2 time was 3:36.
Just like the swim, my plan for the bike was to go steady, but not too hard. I didn't want to use up all my energy in the first lap and be miserable in the second lap. I wanted to finish the bike portion and still feel strong for the run. About half way through the first lap I pulled the gu out of my back pocket and had another first - eating a gu while riding. Also, the water bottle Matt installed on my aero bars the night before was working perfectly! I just had to lean forward a bit to reach the straw. I'm sure this saved me time since I didn't have to slow up to get out my regular water bottle. At the end of lap one I was averaging 16.4 mph on my bike computer. I felt really good and decided I could probably pick up the pace a bit for lap two. I had also passed 7 women near the end of that lap. I later passed two more on the second lap. On the first big downhill on lap two I made it over 30 mph. Yikes! A man passed me while going down the hill, and then tried to turn right at the stop sign at the bottom and wiped out pretty badly. Thankfully a cop was there and ran to help him immediately. I was able to go around the two of them and make my way up the next hill. I later saw this man after the race and he said he was able to finish the whole race, but he was headed to the emergency room just to be safe. I finished the bike course in 1:22:59 (about 10 minutes faster than my estimate.) My bike computer said that was an average of 16.5 mph, but the race site shows 15.9. ? Oh well. I felt good and was happy with my ride.
T2 was uneventful and took me 2:12.
I was a bit confused about where to run as I left transition, but quickly got on course. I took another gu with me, but it took about all of mile one to get it down. Even though I took my time on the bike, I was having trouble keeping my heart rate down so I could run well. I had to keep slowing down and walking some. I also battled with some pain in my left shoulder. It was really nice having a fellow CTCer nearby to talk me through a good bit of the run. (Thanks so much Jim!) I think the only mile I ran well was the last one. I missed some of the mile markers, so I gave up on keeping track of my times. All I know is that mile one took me 10:34 and my total run time was 1:09:08, an 11:09 pace. Very slow. Several of the women that I passed on the bike passed me back on the run. I only finished before 6 of the other women, putting me in 35th out of 41. Again, it was so nice to see so many familar faces at the finish line! :-)
My total time was 3:08:33, 15 minutes faster than my estimate. Other than having trouble running, my day went pretty well. Looks like I need more time working on bricks.
Now, I have to decide what I want to do next year. Of course there is the debate about the Cedar Point Rev 1/2, 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. With the training that I could do between now and September 12, 2010, without an injury, I feel like I could finish. Between the entry fee and the hotel cost for the weekend, it's not cheap. Plus, since it does cost so much, I feel like I'd have to skip a lot of the smaller local races next year to make up for the cost. I would probably just do an early summer sprint and a midsummer Olympic. I don't need to put us in debt for my racing fees. I'm not sure if I want to give up all the small fun races though. I enjoy looking forward to lots of little weekend races. Since I now know so many others that are signing up for Cedar Point (and all of those cheering me on to sign up), I think I'm leaning towards doing it. Having so many others to train with, race with, and share this whole experience with would be amazing. When I return to teaching the year after next, I know my training will suffer. I suppose that would be the time to just enjoy small local races. We shall see.