Sunday, June 2, 2013

Race Report: Southern Indiana Triathlon

Last post, I think I mentioned that I've been spending a lot of my time training for a sprint triathlon. Mostly I've been trying to get better at running, an activity I've generally classified as Not Fun. I've also been riding my bike plenty, because I like it. I've always been comfortable in the pool, which is why I chose triathlon as a way to motivate myself to exercise more. See, I've tended not to make working out a priority, so unless I have a goal of some sort, I can't be bothered to show up at the gym. Or get up off the couch, for that matter.

Anyway, today was Race Day, and so I dragged myself and my long-suffering husband out of bed at Oh Dark Thirty so we could go to Jeffersonville (Indiana) for the Southern Indiana Triathlon. I was signed up for the sprint distance, which was a half-mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and then a 5K (3.1 miles) run. The transition area was scheduled to open up at 5:30am, and I wanted to arrive early, so I could get a good spot to rack my bike and set up my stuff. We got there a little later than planned, but still before sunrise.

Over the last week or so, I'd been checking the NOAA's website to try to find out what the water temperature would be for race day. When I first realized I should maybe figure this out, the posted readings showed that the water temperature was about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty freaking cold. Wetsuits are allowed in triathlon, so long as the water is 78 degrees or colder. I was pretty sure that the water wasn't going to gain ten degrees in 8 days, so I rented a wetsuit for race day. It arrived early in the week and I decided that it would be wise for me to try it on and try it out at the pool. It was the funniest thing I've done in a long time! First I lubed myself up with Body Glide and then spent the next 20 minutes or so tugging it up my legs, around my hips & gut before I could get my arms through the sleeves. A kind friend gave the zipper a good yank, and I was ready to head for the water. Once I got into the pool, I swam a few easy laps to get the feel of the suit and determined that I was ready for the half mile in the river.

If only that were so! This morning I couldn't make up my mind about whether to wear the wetsuit or not, as a race official had told me the water was, indeed, 78 degrees, and I wasn't sure I really needed it for such a short swim. About 30 minutes before the start, I decided that I did want to wear the suit, so my husband went back to the car to retrieve the suit that I'd had him stow less than an hour before. I'm so glad I did! My swim turned out to take about 27  23 minutes, which was longer than I'd planned. I think the current was a little faster than I was expecting, due to the rains over the last couple days. I had to work a little harder than I expected to overcome that, in addition to avoiding getting clobbered by the other swimmers in the open water. I had hoped to finish the swim in 20 minutes, but I guess I can be grateful that I finished it at all. I saw at least one of the men swim back to the shore just as my group was about to set off.

After I exited the water, there was a nasty hill to get from the riverbank to the transition area. I wish I'd paid attention to that when I was scoping out the course last week. I took that hill at a walk and then made my way to my bike to start that leg of the race. This part felt good! The course was nearly flat, and I actually passed a couple people while I was out there. I even remembered to put a Gu packet in my bento, so I had a little fuel for the second half of the race. I was so happy that I actually got to complete the ride - last year I had a catastrophic flat on this course and had to DNF.

For the run, my only goal was to complete the 5K without taking any walk breaks. I did pretty well for the first mile, but some soreness in the arch of my left foot made me take a short break. After that little break though, I was able to get back to my snail's pace of a run and complete the course. I never really think about how having encouraging people along the course can make the running easier, but I have to admit that it helped me at the end. Once the finish was in sight and I got a few atta girls from the spectators, I was able to find a little burst of speed (if you can call it that) to get to the chute. I don't remember my time - it was a little longer than I wanted it to be, but I wasn't last, which is really all I was shooting for. What's really cool, though, is that I actually placed in my age group! Mind you, there were only three of us in our age group, so we were all going to place, but I would be lying if I said I cared. I'm completely giddy that I got third place in my age group! I think I would have been heartbroken if there had been a fourth person. What's frustrating now that the race is finished is that I could see the second place finisher for the whole of my run. I'd actually passed her on the bike course, and she passed me halfway through the first mile of the run. I only lost track of her with about half a mile left. I think she only beat me by about 2 minutes over the whole race. I'll get her next time.

So that's the race! I'm probably going to sign up for another race soon - there's another one in Jeffersonville at the end of July that looks promising, mostly because it has an Athena division (for women 165 lbs. and up). I have been enjoying my run workouts lately, so maybe I can pull off a 5K personal best next time. Thanks for sticking with me, Friends.