Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tri the Midlands


After way too many races in a row, Chad and I were very excited for an off week from racing. That is until we say there was a small triathlon with an open water swim 90 minutes away on Saturday. We had been looking for another sprint triathlon to do, but they all seemed to fall on weekends when we had another race or a wedding. There was one other option that involved a 4 mile road race Saturday and a sprint tri on Sunday, but I wasn’t really digging that plan. Enter Tri the Midlands. 500m lake swim, 15 mile bike, 5k run. Only 90 minutes away and with a late 8am start time. This meant we’d only have to get up at 4am to get ready and head down to the race site. That somehow seemed reasonable, so we signed up. After we signed up we learned that one of Chad’s old friends from high school, who now lives in SC, was also going to be there with her husband. So our race was going to be a fun mini-reunion as well. Score.

Chad's transition all set-up
Race morning dawned pitch black, as it normally is at 4am when people are supposed to be sleeping. We grabbed coffee and our lunch box of food and headed out the door. Max barely lifted his little head up to give us a goodbye kiss. The drive down was uneventful and we arrived at the race site with 90 minutes to spare. The smaller size of the race made it very easy to get our race numbers and get body marked quickly. We ended up with transition spots next to each other in a very good spot close to the Open athletes. A nice two mile warm-up revealed that both of our legs were feeling pretty springy. That doesn’t always mean anything, but it was a nice feeling.

The race started and I waited patiently for my wave to go. I cheered Chad on as he started 8 minutes before me. Once Chad goes the time really drags for me because I’m alone and nervous.

Before long I was in the water and the air horn sounded the start of my wave. The wave was more crowded than at Latta, so there was a good deal of kicking and shoving going on in the water. That combined with the water being very murky did lead me to panic just a tiny bit. I kept waiting to get some space to swim, but that never materialized. This is what big races will be like, so it is good to start getting used to it now. I was able to have a fine swim and exited the water a little ahead of my goal time. There was a 300 yard run to the timing mat which was added to my swim time, but I count that towards my transition time, so I have a better idea of how fast/slow I really swam. Seconds count when you’re a slow swimmer! Swim Rank: 37/96

I had a decent T1 and zipped out onto the bike course, where I proceeded to get passed only once. Too bad it was by a 53 year old lady! She was flying though and I got her back on the run. The bike started and ended pretty hilly, with the middle being small rollers. I averaged 19.8 mph which is 0.5 mph slower than Latta. I was disappointed at first, but Chad was also slower, so perhaps the course was harder or the preview of Latta helped even more than I know. Regardless, I was passing people left and right, so I obviously wasn’t going too slow comparatively. I hoped off the bike and did my sad run in bike shoes back into transition. Bike Rank: 5/96

I had a slow T2 even though I swear I was moving really fast. I was about 30 seconds slower then I needed to be. But, I know I can figure out how to cut that time. Then it was off on the run. The run started uphill, which was actually helpful because I may dislike hills but triathletes really hate hills. People were already walking, so I was able to blow by people despite a not super speedy pace, and feel good. It is a really great mental pick-me-up. I saw Chad on his way back in just before the 0.75 marker. We exchanged high fives and I told him he looked good and fast, which he did. Since the course was an out and back I kept watching the back for other females, but only saw two. I was fairly confident I heard an Open female finishing as I passed the finish line on my way out, so that put me in 4th overall. There was one huge hill right before the turn around and I frankly wondered if walking would be faster. Then I passed a walker and realized walking would not be faster, just less painful.

Luckily the course went into a nice rolling up and down after the hill and I was able to run strongly to the 2 mile marker, where Chad was waiting with some much needed info. He let me know that I was rapidly gaining on the two ladies ahead of me and that I should be able to catch them. He then took off to cut through some yards and get back to the finish line. I did my best to pick up my pace to try and catch the women up ahead. They both came into view on the next uphill and I made a charge and caught them both on the way down the last hill. From there it was flat to slightly downhill to the finish so I was able to open up a tiny lead. I was very happy to cross the finish line and hear I was the 2nd female. That meant I had won my age group! Run Rank 1/95.

After the race we enjoyed bagels and sandwiches with Kristin and William and hung around to cheer everyone on at the awards. Chad ended up 2nd in his age group with a 1:11:23 and, wait for it, the fastest run split of the day. Chad has now done four multi-sport events and recorded the fastest overall run split in each one. He is good at running off the bike. Kristin was 3rd in our age group and her husband William just missed a medal with 4th place in his age group, but with a 6 minute PR from last year, he was pretty happy.

We then zipped back to Charlotte and enjoyed a lazy afternoon napping with Max. Good times :)

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