Sometimes you won’t be as ready for races and you hope for. And sometimes races don’t go as smoothly as you hope for. But in the end, it should always be fun, and there’s always the next one. That’s one thing I love about the sport of triathlons: the learning experience and then the testing of mind and body on race day.
Yes, I call it “The Swim” and I think it will go down in history for this race. To say the current was swift would an understatement – it was strong for a barge!
Even though we were able to watch other triathletes start before us, we still underestimated the speed and power of the current. My plan was to compensate for the current by swimming at a diagonal, however, that was not enough.
First, I kept hitting floating bodies that were being washed downstream toward me as I fought for ground. Every time someone came past, I’d lose a few strokes and too much ground. After fighting it for too long and getting tired, a support kayak told us to stop fighting the current and swim directly across the river. I did just that. Then, although I was close to the river’s edge with less current, it was still too much to go against. I eventually got as close to the shore as possible, and it was then that I finally started to gain distance.
Rounding the buoy and coming back across the river was the next challenge. Again, I angled myself to compensate for the current. And again, this time I ended up about 40 yards past the exit. At least there was less current to fight as I made a line at the edge of the dock and pulled myself out of the water. Everyone getting out was saying things like, “That was the worst…!” Myself included.
While running up to T1, some friends surprised me by shouting out my name and cheering me on. “Wow, what a difference that makes!” I thought and I slogged up the hill from out of the water. Thanks to Chris and Lauren, our good friends that decided to sneak in and spectate without telling us ahead of time.
As soon as I got on the bike, I knew it was not going to be a great race for me. My initial thoughts were to make up for lost time after the swim. But that was not going to happen. It felt as though I had no gas in my legs, and I immediately knew that was a result of hiking Half Dome (18.24 miles, 11.5 hours of hiking, and 5440′ elevation) three days earlier and still being sore from it. “Oh well, push through and do my best,” I thought.
A mile into the bike course, my helmet strap popped off. At first I thought that I had never snapped the buckle fully. When I went to reconnect it, I discovered that it WAS snapped together but the strap came out of one side. Luckily, I was able to ride with no hands for a minute while I wiggled the strap back through the buckle and rode on.
Lesson learned: Check ALL your gear before the race!
This was my first race that I’ve ever been yelled at. A friend of mine was gunning for first place and I was keeping my eye out for him on the other side of the bike course. Upon doing so, I unintentionally drifted toward the middle of the lane. Even though we had two full lanes of highway, it ostensibly was not enough for someone to pass me. I heard an “On your left” and next thing I knew a very intense looking triathlete yelled “Stay to the right!” arms waving wildly. I do apologize to that fellow triathlete, and at the same time wonder why he felt he had to pass so close.
Lesson learned: stay to the right side of the course.
At Transition Two, I hustled in with my bike, racked it, and went quickly to my running gear. Upon putting on my first shoe, I discovered a mysterious clump that was jammed inside the toe of my shoe. What in the world!? A compression sleeve was wadded up in there causing needless seconds of my transition time.
Lesson learned: Check ALL your gear before the race! (I think I’ve said that before.)
For my run, I felt strong but not fast. By this time it was getting hot, so I grabbed a cup of water right out of the transition area even though I don’t usually do this. The run was too quiet. I felt like a lone wolf out on the run as I passed maybe one or two people and was passed by one or two. Just the quietness of my thoughts.
Although there were a few quirks this year, I also love a hometown race. It’s fun it get out and race in your own backyard.