|at the finish and seeing my kids! best race motivator ever.|
Before the race, I did a little google searching. I saw a lot of commenters really lambast this race - especially the swim. They claimed the lake was very dirty, had debris in it, and snakes and snapping turtles. I was like OMG. I found fellow South Jersey girl, Maria's, blog and her recap of Devilman. I emailed her and asked for her thoughts. She confirmed that the water wasn't the best, but it was ok, and to be prepared for a chaotic and crowded swim. Above all, she was encouraging and awesome. I now read her blog every day and am cheering her 3rd place among women finish at the Bassman Tri and will be cheering from afar as she kicks butt at Ironman Lake Placid and hopefully qualifies for the Ironman World Championship in Kona. We Jersey girls ... we stick together!
In any event, after the confidence boost from Maria and just having grown up in South Jersey, I was reasonably confident I'd be OK on the swim. I grew up swimming in lakes in South Jersey. I was hoping that Mary Elmer Lake, East Lake and Sunset Lake would be great preparation. I'd never swum in Cedar Lake (site of Devilman), but surely it couldn't be *that* bad. And if it was, I had on a wetsuit.
Speaking of wetsuits, this race was also a lot of firsts for me: first swim in a wetsuit on a race; longest swim in a race to date; longest bike in a race to date (though not by much - my Olympic tri was 39 miles of killer hills) and longest run in a tri to date. I was ready. Ray To Go.
On race day, I got to the race location at 5:45 and registered. I sought out my spot in transition. It was freezing. So freaking cold. The weather was supposed to be warm and sunny but it was in the 40s. I was kicking myself for not bringing my riding gloves. Some nice woman loaned me an extra set that she had brought, but they were too big, and I didn't want to risk it. The women around me in transition were really nice. I find most people at tris to be extremely awesome and supportive and encouraging. I set up my piles of stuff and was totally ready. I put on sunscreen and then my wetsuit immediately after - everyone was doing that b/c it was absolutely freezing.
Around 7:15 they announce transition is closing at 7:30, and we all needed to make our way down to the lake for a debrief. The woman near my bike in transition was from my area up here, and we were chatting. She was so nice. We hung out before the race, which is always nice. When we got down to the lake, some nice man offered us a spot on his towel to stand. Thank you nameless man with the New York accent! The towel helped me regain feeling in my freezing feet. Also at the lake, I heard guys near us chatting: "um, did the race organizer grow up in this area? Because we are in the middle of f*cking nowhere." Ha ha ha. Yes, sir, you are. This is my hometown.
The organizer gave the debrief - told us about the course, etc. Before I knew it the 39 and under men for the sprint race were in the water. The sprint people went first in the water b/c they only had one loop around the buoys. Then it was Half Lites. First men 39 and under. Then men 40+. Then all women. And here we go!
Swim [.8 mile]: Women's Half Lite start was 8:30 and it was 8:30 sharp. It happened very fast. I got in the water and it was like 65 degrees, which was warmer than the air. The lake, thankfully, was fine! Sure, it wasn't the nicest lake I've been in, but it was, well, a lake. The bottom was mushy, but it wasn't anything nasty. And I didn't see any creatures, but then again, there were a ton of swimmers already in the lake who probably scared off any critters (thank you Sprint swimmers). After what felt like 10 seconds in the water, the man told us to GO and HOLY GOD. The lake was small, so unlike any other race I've done, it was a thrash fest. I got kicked, people grabbed my legs, I got splashed. It was totally chaotic and crowded, just as Maria warned. I was prepared. I did OK, but I had my typical early swim panic and couldn't settle down. I would alternate between my back, my side and a sort of modified freestyle. Then after I passed the second buoy, I finally calmed down and settled into a good stroke. I did the second lap much faster than the first and felt good. I should have done the swim in 25 minutes. I did it in 31:51. Not bad. Room for improvement, but considering my Olympic tri time was 25 minutes for .6 mile and this was .8, I am pleased. And I am signed up for a bunch of open water swim clinics this Spring and Summer. I am determined to get rid of these initial panics. I am a strong swimmer. It's time that my time reflects that. Swimming in the wetsuit was totally fine. I am so thankful I had it: that water (and the air) was cold. I had practiced once before at the 50 meter pool at the local YMCA.
Transition 1: Out of the water and I started pulling off my wetsuit and my goggles and cap. I am actually decently fast at transition. T1 took me 3:10 and I was 86th out of like 227 people! I took the time to dry off my feet and put on my socks and bike shoes, helmet and glasses. Also decided to wear my biking jersey (short sleeves) and arm warmers but no gloves. All of these things were good decisions. I grabbed some energy chews to eat on the way out of transition and off I went. It was a long run in bike shoes to the mount/dismount area.
Bike [40.3 miles - my Garmin said more like 41.3]: The first few miles were pretty chilly on the bike. The sun hadn't come out yet and I was wet from the swim. I wanted to keep my pace steady and try to reverse split. I knew I had two loops of the bike course, so I paid attention to the course to see where I could push hard on the second loop. My goal was around 17 mph, and I think I was more like 16.7. Not bad though. There were no hills but a very strong cross wind for about half of the course. The wind at times was so strong I thought I'd be blown off the bike! I was careful to keep drinking my gatorade/water mix. I also ate a bag of chews - half the bag on loop one; the other half on loop two. My goal was to not be passed by any women. I think two women passed me. Not bad at all. My bike time was 2:28:44. I was thrilled. Especially considering my bike for my Olympic tri was like 2:44 and that was a mile less, but it was also really hilly. I had wanted to bike around 2:20 but figured 2:30 was about what I'd do. So this was good. I have work to do, but once I was about 10 miles in, I was pushing harder and know I can go faster. It's just a matter of getting my butt in the bike more often.
Transition 2: I was thrilled to see the dismount area. I was ready to be off that bike. I dismounted and ran to my spot. A little demoralizing to see how many bikes were already racked up ... but I knew i wasn't really racing those people - this was all about and for me. I took off my helmet and bike shoes, threw on my sneakers (yay for special triathlon laces) and my visor and off I went. I did well in T2 too: 1:35, which was 54th!
Run [8.8 miles]: I wanted to keep my pace even and steady and hopefully do it in 9 minute miles. I wanted to negative split too - run slower in the beginning and make up time on the second half. This didn't really happen. Instead, I was pretty consisitently running 9;15 miles, and my pace was just about 9:15 on the nose. I was happy with this, considering I had swum nearly a mile and biked 41. I did stop at every water station: just like at the marathon, I stopped running, walked, took in my gatorade or water and then started running again. I'm glad I did this. My race belt had holders for Gus and I took in a Gu at mile 2 and then mile 6. I would eat it as I saw the water station and then chase it with water. The race had water and Gatorade at every mile, which was nice (it was an out and back, so they only had to have 4 stops). The Gatorade was disgusting - like bubble gum flavor. vomit. But I did not really care and needed it. A challenge on the run is not being able to use an iPod. Most (if not all) triathlons do not let you use music. So running is quiet. But it's also nice: you interact with your fellow racers and encourage one another. I also, having read some of Maria's tips, decided to break the run into manageable bits. Running almost 9 miles after 2 and a half hours on the bike is a daunting thing. So I broke it into 2 mile segments. After 2 miles I was half way to the turn around. Once I hit mile 6, I was just 2 miles from close to the finish. That helped tremendously. I finished the run in 1:22:22. I probably could have pushed a little harder on the run. But I am still pleased.
My parents told me they wanted to come to the finish, so they brought the kids. That was awesome. I was so happy to see them and my son raced me to the finish line. So, it was a great race! I had fun the whole time - save the first 5 or so minutes of the swim when I was freaking out and secretly wanted to grab a kayak and quit - the entire race I felt strong and good and pumped. I will definitely do this race again, and I think it was fabulous training for my half-iron in September. I know I could have done another swim loop, I could have pushed out another 16 miles on the bike and my legs were ready for more running at the end of my run. Except for some shoulder soreness, butt soreness and sunburn, I feel great today.Yay for great races!
Up next: Upper Dublin Sprint Triathlon in a few weeks. The Upper Dublin spring was my first ever triathlon last year. I want to beat my time from last year by quite a lot. You can bet I'll post a recap here! After that, I have another sprint tri in June and then it's all training for the half Ironman in Quakertown in September, including a trip to Lake Placid NY in mid-July to give the Ironman course a whirl (not the whole thing, just a loop of the bike course (56 miles), a mile in Mirror Lake and a decent long run on the run course. That's right, friends: I'm seriously contemplating Ironman Lake Placid in 2014.
See you swoon,