Since we wisely decided to bag Augusta 70.3, I was on the look out for a sprint or Olympic distance tri that we could sneak in before the weather got too cold. An email from Set-Up Events alerted me to a new tri in Rock Hill, South Carolina, a mere 30 minutes away. The Tri for Abbey had a short swim (500m), a really short bike (13.5 miles), and a hilly 5k run- PERFECT. We checked the participant list and saw our friends Kristin and William from Greenville had registered as well. Even better! After checking out the other female entrants and some prodding from Chad, I decided to register as an Open female.
Race day dawned cool and clear. We arrived early, set-up our transition, and went on an easy bike and run warm-up. During the run warm-up we noticed it was beginning to rain lightly, but weren’t too concerned since the rain stopped quickly and the weather channel had promised me no rain. Apparently they lied.
Before the swim start the announcer let us know that the water was very shallow and to be careful and stay to the right coming through the final two buoys. The gun went off and since I was racing in the Open category, I took off following the one Open male. There were two other women who registered as Open, but neither started the swim with me. The nice part about racing Open was that the water was clear and I wasn’t being kicked in the head. Being a poor swimmer in the first place, those things really stress me out and cause a bit of panic, which is dangerous in the water! The water was cold and most people were in wetsuits, but since we don’t have wetsuits, we were just wearing our tri kits. Luckily, the pool we train in was recently cleaned and refilled and they have been unable to get the water temperature up, so all of our training swims for the past 2 weeks have been un sub 78 degree water, so the 76 water temperature did not feel all that bad. I’ve been working really hard on my swim and it has been improving nicely, so my plan was to go out and swim a straight line and a good time. Things were going well until about 75 meters from the finish. Suddenly I could touch the bottom of the water with my hands; in fact I was pushing off with my hands. Panicking, I jumped up and tried to run, but that was clearly slower. I tried swimming again then tried running again. Nothing seemed to be working. Then to my right someone went flying by. It was the first guy in the wave that started behind me. Once I saw him, I remembered we were supposed to stay to the right coming through the two final buoys and I was more towards the center, so I moved more to the right and the water was deeper. Thank goodness! I was able to get swimming again and finish up the swim without incident.
I zipped through transition ok and ran down to the mount line. Again, I had problems clipping in, but soon enough I was off on the bike. About a mile into the bike I noticed that the lever keeping my front tire attached was not locking in. Instead of panicking immediately, I decided to watch the lever and see if it came more undone or just stayed as is. A few more miles down the road I decide it is definitely coming undone more. I unclip and try to kick the lever down with my foot. Alas, my 31” legs can’t reach and all I manage to do is flail around like an idiot. I finally stop the bike, reach over and push the lever down to lock it in place. Right as I’m doing this, Chad passes me. He asks if I’m alright then continues on his way scratching his head once he hears that I’m ok. I’m sure he was wondering why on earth I decided to stop mid-race. So now that the front wheel isn’t going to come off, I’m back in business and looking to make up some time. That is until the rain started. Not 2 minutes after I stopped the skies opened up and it started pouring. Not being the best bike handler in the world I wisely slowed down pretty dramatically at each turn. It just didn’t seem worth the risk to wipe out. Plus I was frustrated with having to stop so I was getting cranky and ready to just throw in the towel. But, as the bike was only 13.5 miles, I knew I couldn’t be that far from transition and the fastest way for me to get off the bike and end my misery would be to actually bike, so I pushed on and consoled myself with the fact that everyone was biking in the rain and probably just as miserable as I was. The rain stopped about 1 mile from the finish, and I took a wrong turn during the final half mile just to ensure there was no way I posted a respectable bike split. Finally I was off the bike.
T2 was slow. I was being slow and pouty and it showed in my time. I need to learn to take my shoes off on the bike so I can run barefoot instead of in my bike shoes. I cheered for Chad twice as he was leaving transition, but he did not hear me and instead spent a large part of the run wondering what happened to me. Thankfully nothing!
The run was great. It was a simple out and back rolling course. There were 2 sizeable hills, so we had to deal with them a total of 4 times, 2 smaller hills, but a downhill finish to help improve your spirits at the end. I immediately started making on ground on the one guy in front of me that I could see. Since I don’t race with a watch, I don’t know how fast I’m going and instead just try to run as fast as I can and not worry about the pace. I passed the first guy about a half a mile in, then another guy just before the turn around at 1.55. Chad passed me on his way in around 1.25 and was relieved to see me running. I told him he was closing on the two guys in front of him. He did not believe me, but I was right, he passed them both. I was able to track down two more guys, one at mile 2 and the final one with just under half a mile to go. I zipped into the finish with a 19:50.
I ended up first overall female and Chad ended up first in his age group and 3rd overall. We both posted the fastest run splits of the day. I was really excited to win my first Tri. Although it was a smaller race, I’m still proud of my win and really enjoyed racing Open. We will see if I decide to race Open next year or stick to Age Group for another season. No matter what, it should be a blast and I’m looking forward to picking out the race schedule for 2012!