Saturday June 11th has been circled on the calendar for some time now. Back in January when we were asked to join the One2Tri Racing team, Michael and Nicole mentioned that Tri Latta was going to be the big team race. I looked up the race information and immediately panicked. The swim was 750m in Mountain Island Lake. Open water? No wall to push off? No handy dandy lane line to grab in case of an emergency? This sounded like a terrible idea, but with 6 months to train I thought that surely my swim could improve sufficiently so I would be comfortable in the water and not drown. The latter being the most important.
The six months flew by and there it was June 11th at 5:15am. We're standing in some make-shift parking lot at Latta Plantation and I'm wondering how the swim is going to go. I snuck in one open water practice session, which was a success, and a 750m time trial on the long course, but I was still really nervous about the swim. Despite arriving 75 minutes before the start of the race, it took me the better part of that time to get marked, get my chip, and get my transition set-up. Sarah's bike was right by mine and she was nice enough to double check my transition set-up and give me a heads up on the location of the various finish and start lines. After a super quick warm-up it was down to the swim start to watch the Open participants take off.
The race started at 6:30am with the Open wave and then every 4 minutes another wave took off. Chad was in the 3rd wave and I was in the 5th wave. It was great fun watching him fly to the front when his race started and then watching the Open swim finish up. I positioned myself to the inside and tried to be in the back, but people just kept filling in behind me. Once the gun went off I took a deep breath and started the long slog out to the triangle buoy. It was hectic with lots of people pushing and kicking and grabbing, but since I had been warned about that I just did my best to ignore it and stay calm. About 200m in the crowd thinned out a bit and I could swim without being beaten around. I got off course slightly, but not too badly. I was cruising along trying to just stay long and lean when I saw what I thought was a triangle buoy. Since the triangle marked the turn around point, this was a welcome sight! It got very crowded at the turn around, but then spread out again on the way back in. I just kept looking up and willing the shore to be closer. That didn't work, but eventually I reached land and was out of the lake. Since the swim is by far my weakest leg, I knew things could only get better from here on out.
The run to transition was long, rocky but I made it to my bike, put on my shoes and helmet and I was off to ride. Once I was on the bike I made the executive decision to really push the bike. Scott Woodbury had mentioned that the run course was re-graveled during the week, making it even slower than it already was. Since I wasn't going to be able to throw down a monster run time, I might as well try and gain time on the bike. I pushed for pretty much the entire bike and ended up averaging 20.3 mph, which is 1 mph faster than I've every averaged on a ride. My computer had it at 20.5 when I hoped off before the transition, but the run to the mat added a bit of time. Still so much faster than I've biked before, so that was awesome. The long bike taper seemed to have done wonders for my legs.
I took off on the run and passed Chad on his way to the finish about 1/3 mile into the run. We exchanged a high five. He looked like he was flying, which he was. Chad ended up with a 17:55 and the fastest run split of the day. I have no idea how he ran so fast out on the trails. About 3/4 of a mile in someone goes flying by me. Now, I expected to have one or two guys pass me. After all, the masters started after me and some of those guys are fast as all heck. But to my total surprise it was another girl. I was miffed and picked up the pace to try and catch this mystery lady. It didn't work. She was going faster than my legs were able to go. I noticed a 29 on her calf and comforted myself with the thought that she wasn't in my age group, but I was still pissed that I couldn't seem to go any faster. She was the only person who passed me. I passed a ton of people, which was both fun and annoying on the narrow path. Two 180 degree turns and two nasty hills took their toll on my time, 21:05. I later learned that my passer was Dalena Custer. While I have never met her, she is a super speedy runner who trains with Aaron. She ended up with the fastest run time of the day at 20:17. I felt less bad when I realized she was also a runner. No runner wants to be outrun by a triathlete.
I ended up 5th in my age group (32nd overall), missing 4th by 16 seconds. The woman who was 4th beat me on the swim and bike, so I never saw her. Apparently I just spent the whole run gaining on her. If only I had run a bit faster! Sarah finished 3rd in our age group, nearly 2 minutes ahead of me. I was super excited for her and then I learned her husband also got 3rd in his age group- talk about cleaning up! Chad decided to post his fastest bike mph average ever (20.8) and follow that up with the fastest overall run time for 7th in his age group. I was really proud of him. He had a solid swim, which wasn't surprising, but had a big breakthrough on the bike. Sure, we both have a good ways to go on the bike, but we're finally starting to make some big jumps. Another solid year of bike training and we'll be mixing it up for podium spots. My ranks were 122 on the swim, 38 on the bike, and 4 on the run. No one ahead of me swam slower and you have to go all the way down to 60th place to find a woman who swam slower than I did. If I can get my swim down to a respectable time- watch out!
|Everyone to the right of me snagged a|
podium spot. We have fast friends.
After the whole triathlon business was over, Chad and I zipped home to set-up for a fun cook-out with friends. We ended up spending the afternoon sitting by the pool, eating way too much (semi-healthy) food, and enjoying a mimosa or two. It was the perfect way to celebrate my surviving the swim. Oh and Chris, Joey, and Sarah's hardware :)
Chad’s Recap: One of These Things is Not Like the Others...
Our Tri-latta ranks: 172, 43, 1 (Chad) and 122, 38, 4 (Dee). I guess you could look at it as one rank for each of us is really good, or that one rank for each of is really bad. Given the running background we are focusing on where we need to improve. I thought I had a great bike for me, 20.8 mph, and I really like the new position the clip on aero bars and fast forward seat post create. Big thanks to Chris for helping me with that. But despite a big improvement on the bike from my first tri, I still got smoked by 171 people on the bike. That is absolutely ridiculous and completely unacceptable. It is time to learn to love the bike and commit the time to getting better on it.
I knew I would get my butt kicked and Latta did not disappoint. I knew the course was not set up well for me with a 17 mile bike and a gravel trail run. My running is in a really good place right now so a 41st place finish is a good thing to keep my perspective and motivation right. I think I have potential in triathlon, but I won't know without really working at it, and even then it will take time.
Until I get respectable on the bike I am just gonna keep getting beat up. Maybe it is my bias but it seems like many tris are too much set up for bikers, I thought that the sprint distance tri was 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. The extra 4.6 miles of the 17 mile Latta bike didn't help me. Oh well, I was really looking forward to Lake Wylie/Camp Thunderbird tri (750m swim, 10 mile bike, 5k hard road run) as a chance to measure myself on a runner friendly course, until it was cancelled. So now I am trying to find a replacement tri that fits my schedule. Looks like Danielle and I are jumping in the Tri the Midlands sprint tri in Northeast Columbia ,SC next weekend. I was looking forward to a weekend off of racing as that will make seven consecutive weekends of racing with Summer Breeze this weekend and the tri next weekend. Oh well, doing too much is my MO. Right now just focusing on the Summer Breeze.