After body marking and setting up my transition, I saw all my Trimarni campers start to roll in. They all looked SO good in their new kits. Karel and I sported our new kits as well, but Karel surprised me with our own brightly colored custom Canari kits (Pink and Green).
After 3 days and 8 workouts at camp, they were all excited to race but a bit nervous as to how the morning would turn out. We assured them that this race was all about dusting off the rust as the first race of the season and taking smart risks and applying the information learned at camp.
I spent a good 20 minutes getting myself warmed up on dry land before putting on my wetsuit. Karel spent at least 30 minutes jogging around to get his blood flowing.
After putting on our wetsuits, we made our way down to the water to get into the chilly lake for a warm-up (it was around 68 degrees). After warming up, adjusting the wetsuit and goggles and getting myself comfortable in the open water, I exited the water to line up with the first wave of women to start at 7:30am.
Not knowing what to expect as this was my first triathlon race since August, my focus was to just stay present and to go through the motions of racing so that I could shake out my nerves and get myself more comfortable in the race environment for my upcoming more important races.
I have to say that it was a great feeling to be surrounded by so many of my athletes/campers and also to see so many familiar faces out on the course. My most favorite part about racing is being around the other athletes as I have made so many friendships thanks to the sport of triathlon.
Gadget - Garmin 920
The water was dark and a little choppy. The course was a large counter clockwise rectangle and with the sun slowly rising, we didn't have to worry about swimming into the sun. There were plenty of buoys to keep us on course but I found myself zig zagging a few times due to the chop. My athlete Stephanie is an excellent swimmer so we both found ourselves swimming next to each other (and sometimes hitting each other - let's say love taps) for almost all of the swim. There was one lady swimming right in front of us for the entire swim and I couldn't get myself to catch her or stay on her feet. To be honest, I didn't feel too good in the water. I didn't feel speedy or slow, just so-so. I guess I needed this swim to just go through the motions. Regardless of how I felt, Karel beat me out of the water! He has been working really hard with his swimming and we swim a lot together so I am glad to see that he is feeling more confident and comfortable in the open water. I guess I need to really step up my swimming game!
I exited the water in 2nd (women were first wave at 7:30am) and just in front of Stephanie. I had the wetsuit stripper help me take off my wetsuit and I ran into the transition area.
I did a quick transition and ran with my bike to the mount line and then started up the hill to star the bike portion. I was actually most excited for the bike portion of the race as 1) I have improved my power and skills a lot on the bike 2) My bike is much more "aero" thanks to Kare, so I wanted to test it out for the first time 3) I love riding my bike.
As I started the bike, I yelled behind to Stephanie "Great swim!" and I was off. It was only about a mile down the road that I caught the first place female and I found myself riding behind the police car, who was leading the race. I received no draft from the police car as he was way in front of me but it was a really neat feeling to have that escort for the entire bike.
Since I know this course really well, I had a lot of confidence on the course. I knew every turn, hill and descend, which made it much easier to execute on this course. My race strategy was to go hard on the bike and see what happens to my legs on the run. Karel wanted me to ride hard and he believed that I could still run well off the bike, even after a very hard effort for 40K.
For the entire bike, I pushed hard. My quads were burning and my glutes were working but I felt strong. Since Greenville gives us such challenging riding, Clermont is such a different riding terrain for me and I really wanted to take advantage of the gentle rollers and smooth pavement.
The highlight of the bike course was seeing Karel after I made the first turn around. Whereas I usually get a smile out of Karel, he actually lifted his head up and gave me a loud yell. I am not sure what he said but I could tell that he was so proud of me to be in the lead, behind the police car. Let's just say that marrying a cat 1 cyclist meant that one day I would be a strong cyclist. Well, that day has finally come and I owe it all to Karel.
I gave myself one littler breather to loosen up my legs after the 2nd turn around but besides that, I pushed hard for the entire ride and wowzer, did it hurt!
I made sure to stay fueled and hydrated since I was going into this race after 4 days of leading our training camp (8 workouts) so I sipped on my 220 calorie bottle of INFINIT throughout the race - always making sure to take several gulps when I drank. I now have my bottle cage between my aero bars as Karel recently moved it from my frame (to be more "aero") and I have to say, I really like it as I find myself drinking more often and it's very easy to grab.
I stayed in the lead of the race until about 1/2 mile before T2, when I was passed by the first place male.
Throughout the entire bike, I found myself thinking "I won't be able to run after this.....stay present, don't think about the run!" I was thinking this over and over and I tried to stay as present as possible on the bike. When the time came to get off the bike, my legs didn't feel too wobbly, which was surprising!
Sunglasses: Oakley women radar lock with vents
I tried to get as much of a lead on the bike as I could, along with any extra "free speed" in transition, as I worried about any fast runners behind me. While I would love to call myself a fast runner, I feel my strength is in endurance racing and as a resilient athlete, I feel I am great at not slowing down.
I put on my running shoes and fuel belt and jogged out of transition while putting on my race belt. I had my sunglasses sitting on my trucker hat so I was able to grab the hat (with sunglasses on it) and put on my hat and then sunglasses as I began to run.
The first mile of the run felt ok but certainly not great. The best part was having an amazing female lead escort on the bike, leading me on the course. Not only was she super supportive to me, cheering me on but she was encouraging everyone around to give me a cheer. She really made the run a lot more exciting for me. It felt a big windy in my face heading out to the first turn around, around 1.5 miles on the trail. Around mile 1, I hit a very low spot and I felt extremely uncomfortable running. I was having trouble breathing with a pain in my ribs, my heart rate monitor was uncomfortable and I just felt blah. I kept trying to focus on good form and to help me out, I would count "1, 2, 3, 4" with every foot strike to find a good rhythm. Oddly enough, all my pains went away when I hit the turn around and I suddenly felt good again! I saw Elyse and she gave me a huge smile and I cheered her on. The first place male was way ahead and when I saw Karel, as the 2nd male, he gave me a cheer and told me to stay steady as I had a big lead.
To be honest, it sure didn't feel like a big lead as I felt like Elyse was coming for me so for the next few miles, I didn't look back as I just stayed focused on what I needed to do to keep my lead for however long that I could.
Although I never felt tired during the run, I experienced a few moments where I felt like I was running low on energy. Thank goodness that I had my fuel belt as I needed that extra energy between the aid stations. I didn't grab anything from the aid stations but instead, grabbed my sport drink flask or water flask as needed throughout the race. I also used my water to cool myself as I found myself getting a little warm near the middle of the run.
After the final turn around, which seemed to take forever to get to after seeing mile 4, I saw Karel and he said "damage control." Not sure what he meant by that at the time but when he passed me again, he just told me to enjoy the rest of the race. Karel passed me around mile 5 and he was quickly out of my sight. It was great to see him so much on the course and to have him pass me, which never happens.
-New Wave Swim Buoy
-Veronica's Health Crunch
-Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge