The week leading into One Last Tri my body was feeling sluggish. All week I felt like I struggled through my workouts. My nagging hamstring pain that usually wears off a few blocks into a run seemed to stick with me throughout each run. My workout notes for swim, bike AND run looked like a week taken out of my notebook from a year ago. When race announcer, Jerry MacNeil, asked how I was feeling race morning I gave him a shoulder shrug. I know my body has felt heavy and tired before many races where I’ve performed well, but the stats on this week weren’t looking great.
I signed up for One Last Tri to make the season last as long as possible. At this point my big races were done and I could really concentrate on having fun while racing. Sunday morning was a cool 45-ish, but I was well prepared for this with multiple layers of pants and shirts, a jacket, a sweatshirt, a hat and mittens. I got to transition around 6:30 when it opened, quickly dropped my bike and headed back to the car to stay warm for a while.
As the sun started to peak through the clouds I headed back to transition to get in a bike warm-up. It was pretty chilly and windy out on the bike so I put toe covers on my shoes, gloves in my bike pouch and left a cycling jacket on my transition mat for the ride. Once my bike was ready I did a short run on the lake trail and stretched out a bit more.
After some race announcements everyone walked the few hundred yards over to the beach where we would be starting. There was at least a hundred yards of “lake” only 4-6 inches deep before getting to water deep enough to swim. I meandered out to the drop off for a brisk warm-up swim. Not long after I dove in they were calling us back to the start line on the beach. The long course elites lined up behind the timing mat, the race director said, “OK are you guys ready?” With basically no response from the athletes she said, “OK… GO!”
We were off without much warning, sprinting awkwardly through the shallow waters. My heart rate jumped up so quickly I felt more like I was in the 200 yard dash. Three guys, who were obviously better runners, got ahead of me right away. Once we got to a little over a foot of water I did a dolphin dive and was stopped, abruptly hitting the sand sooner than I expected. After a few more poorly executed dolphin dives I was able to start swimming. I set my sights on the few guys that had escaped in front of me. Once I was in the lead, the buoys were still hidden by the reflections of the sun rising directly in front of us. Unable to spot the buoy to the left or right of the sun I decided my best bet was to swim directly at it. About 50 strokes shy of the buoy I finally caught a glimpse of the point at the top of the buoy. At last I could put my head down and concentrate more on swimming. Rounding the first buoy I didn’t even check to see where the others were at, I had lost too much time running and sighting. Nearing shore, the swim exit was through a shallow mucky area filled with reeds. I was happy to be on grass running into transition after navigating through that mess.
Once at my spot in transition I quickly determined it was warm enough to ride without a jacket now that the sun was up and the clouds were gone. I grabbed my bike and headed out for a longer than usual ride (26 or so miles, I still need to get my GPS data). The roads were open to traffic but basically empty, so you didn’t have to worry much about cars speeding by you. The first half of the race was a bit rough; one of the roads had a crack almost every ten feet so there was the constant annoyance of, bump… bump… bump. The second half of the race was a little smoother but we were riding back into the wind and over some rolling hills to add a little extra challenge. We connected up with the short course bikers for the last few miles. It was nice to have a little extra motivation, cheering each other on.
Dismounting my bike at transition my feet were a little cold but not completely numb. I ran through transition and tried to get my feet into my shoes as best as I could. Running out of transition I could hear my friends and family cheering me on. As I started my run I told myself it’s just a mile longer than Square Lake and much less hilly so it should be no problem to run about the same pace. As my feet thawed I got into a good pace and tried to hold steady.
Arriving at the short course turn-around I set a goal to maintain my pace to the long course turn-around. Hitting mile 2 I was still feeling pretty good but not too long after I rounded a corner and saw something I did not expect: a hill. The hill wasn’t massive but it was a long steady incline that I was not anticipating. As I reached the top I was sure the turn-around had to be coming soon. I was relieved on the following downhill when the leaders were in sight. That feeling quickly changed when I saw another long ascent up ahead. While it was unexpected, I quickly reminded myself that we were all tackling the same course. I also knew Diane Hankee, a strong runner, would be hunting me down so I had to keep my head in the game. Finally reaching the turn-around I looked at my watch to check my time. Maybe 20 seconds later I glanced at my watch again and it looked like it hadn’t moved. I thought maybe I didn’t get both transition start and finish for T2 so I stopped my watch temporarily and restarted. I later realized I wasn’t looking at the right numbers, that’s what you get for not knowing how to work your new watch. When Diane passed me (going the other way towards the turn-around) I wasn’t really sure how far behind she was so I did my best to maintain. Hitting the short course turn around with about 1.5 miles to go, I wanted to push myself as much as possible to the finish. I was still feeling strong so when I reached the last few hundred meters I turned my pace over another notch and sprinted to the finish. I stopped my watch but had no idea what my time was because I had briefly stopped it mid race, which apparently messed up all my splits.
I was so excited to be greeted at the finish line by my two best girlfriends, Jill and CeCe (and baby Dominic). The majority of triathlon talk they hear from me is probably through my blog so I was thrilled they could come out to actually see what I do and experience the wonderful Minnesota triathlon scene.
My sister Lisa had also raced and won the sprint race with a stellar run time. Her girls usually ask momma why auntie beat her, this time they said, “Auntie, momma beat you.”
After the crowds had cleared and the last finisher had crossed the line, the Lendway crew was still hanging out, chatting with Jerry. At this time I was finally able to ask the timing system manager if I could get my splits. He pulled up the results with splits; I glossed over my swim and bike and moved my eyes right to the run. I felt strong throughout and knew I pushed the pace but I hadn’t even broken 41 yet this season. When I saw my split started with a “3” and not a “4” I was ecstatic, just barely but I was sub 40 for the first time ever, 39:56! I still don’t know if I believe it. I’m happy to say I was able to check one off one more of my season goals and very glad I raced One Last Tri.
Sadly I think this is truly the last tri of my season. Fall will be very busy making plans for next year. I may not have race reports but I’ll have plenty to write about in the coming months. Happy training if you’re still doing so, otherwise I hope everyone is enjoying some well-deserved time off! Hope to see everyone at the MMA’s at Gear West on October 25th! Check out the race results. View more photos.