What a great way to end my 2012 triathlon season! Thats correct, no more triathlons for this year, maybe a couple of road races to prepare for the Ragnar Relay in January but with no place to swim and the ocean not cooperating by throwing rip tides at us every week, I’ve decided to focus on CrossFit, running, biking and general fitness. It was a beautiful day yesterday at Camp Blanding in Starke, FL for the Sprint and Olympic HOT triathlon put on by Jacksonville’s Hammerhead Triathlon Club. The alarm went off at 4:30 am and the dogs were actually ready to go. Memphis loves to sleep in so it was a surprise to see him anxious to get going so early. My dad, Chelsea, and I loaded the car up and headed west to Camp Blanding. There was a triathlon caravan all the way from the beaches to the base which is about an hour west of Ponte Vedra Beach.
We were greeted by a well lit transition area and well marked racks. Sean, Chelsea, and I got body marked and proceeded into transition. Remember, this was Chelsea and Sean’s first triathlon ever so it was fun to see them experience it all for the first time and explain how things worked despite our previous “mini triathlon” two weeks before. As the sun rose, we chatted, set up our transition areas, checked out the lake, and commented on other triathletes’ attire, a favorite past time 🙂 Transition closed around 7:15 am but we had about 50 minutes before our wave took off in the water due to the Olympic race going first. It was great to see the top guys come in as they flew through the water so easily and were hopping onto their bikes in no time.
Chelsea and I entered the water with the rest of the lavender colored swim caps (finally no pink!) and took off at the horn. I started out fast but it quickly caught up with me as it suddenly felt like I had no energy in my core or arms. My breathing was not controlled but I eventually regained it and continued towards the first buoy.
Once I made the turn I felt better but I knew I wasn’t swimming too fast even though it felt like it! Honestly, I hadn’t swam in two weeks. I know, I know…I just have not been able to get in the ocean. I exited the swim just past 14 minutes and immediately tried to clear my throat. Yeah, my dad has some not so attractive pictures of that. Thanks dad. I took off around the transition area and got my helmet, sunglasses, and bike shoes on relatively quickly and headed out of T1. At the mount line, I clipped my right foot in and pushed off as I normally do. Suddenly, I knew I was in a high gear and tried to down shift but found my bike was in the small chain ring for some reason. I was totally baffled by this and tried to shift out of it and into the big chain ring but it wasn’t happening. At the same time, I tried to clip the left foot in but that wasn’t cooperating either. About a mile in I finally got things situated and started hammering away. I’m still getting used to the triathlon setting on my Garmin 910 as I forgot to hit the lap button. After exiting T1 I hit the “stop” button by mistake and didn’t realize it for several miles into the bike. Oh well, I was on my own to judge pace and mileage! About 3 miles in I came up on Chelsea and realized that she had kicked my butt in the swim! She asked how far we were into the bike but had to yell that I messed my watch up and had no clue. I told her she rocked the swim and took off. The bike had nice, undulating hills and was mostly shaded. The air even felt cool! I really enjoyed the bike ride despite the olympic distance men who were doing their second loop and refused to say “on your left” prior to flying by you as you try to pass someone else. Its rather rude especially when they yell at other participants as they pass them to “stay to your right”. Coming back into T2 I felt good and my stomach wasn’t giving me any trouble. This was a concern prior to the race as I had enjoyed pizza two nights in a row (Thursday and Friday) and had been feeling the after affects throughout the weekend. I racked the bike, switched my helmet for my Gators hat which I had to wear since we decided to show up in the second half of Saturday night’s game against the Tennessee Vols and got my Sauconys on and headed out. By this point my watch was so messed up I had no idea what my pace was but instead decided to go on feel and how other competitors were doing. As I ran, I knew there was a guy behind me keeping pace with me so that helped. Eventually, he passed me but quickly dropped back next to me for about a half mile or so. He didn’t stick with me and I eventually dropped him. Sorry dude, you got chicked!
My first mile was 8:45 and I knew I could go faster despite my calves rebelling somewhat. The second mile came in 8:30 so I decided for the last mile to push. I passed another girl in my AG and made sure to keep her behind me. My last mile was in 8:10. I felt really good throughout the whole run and crossed the finish line a happy camper. The side of my hips were started to get sore the faster I ran but I knew I could handle it since it was a shorter distance.
Sean finished ahead of me and was there with his girlfriend Valerie to greet me. Chelsea’s mom was also there and we cheered her on through the finish. She wanted the run to be over badly but I’m glad she stuck it out as both she and Sean did really well in their first races. Post race, we enjoyed chocolate chip cookies, water, and the swapping of stories.
The results were posted but for some reason I was in no rush to get over there. While I knew I had put my best foot (or feet) forward, I thought there were a couple of girls ahead of me in my age group since I don’t remember seeing too many of them on the course and trust me, I was looking at everyone’s age on their calves!
I eventually went over and found that I had placed 1st in my age group! What?! No way! Yes, I checked the board several times to make sure I wasn’t reading it incorrectly. I was excited and drew high fives from our group. Sean also placed first albeit through default since he was the only one in his age group but nonetheless he beat me by about 3 minutes overall! Chelsea had the fast swim in our age group so we all won something!
Since Sean and I received 1st place, we stuck around for the pizza and awards ceremony where we each got a medal. It was satisfying to know that I could come back from a mediocre swim and have a strong bike and run despite the small chain ring issues and no watch to provide feedback. It was a great way to end the 2012 triathlon season.
It hasn’t been the easiest season but I definitely learned a lot. I know I still want to tackle a half ironman distance race but I also know I want to be able to train properly for it and have a good race. It was tough not being able to compete at Ironman Florida 70.3 in May after I had been training since January but there are always more races and yesterday’s race made up for a lot of it. I’m also really proud of my triathlon newbies Sean and Chelsea for signing up and training for this race. I guess I do rub off on people (in a good way)!
Thanks goes out to my parents who were with me this weekend and have always supported my crazy training and racing endeavors. Also, thank you to my family and friends who showed much love via Facebook and in person post race. It means a lot when others recognize your sacrifices to achieve a certain goal.
Goals for this race:
- Break 1:30
- Place in the top 5
- Go all out the whole time
I achieved all three goals and even surpassed my expectations. Now I’ve got some new goals for next season!
Final Results: Swim – 14:15 (7th/9)
T1 – 1:52
Bike – 41:09 (2nd/9)
T2 – 1:02
Run – 26:07 (1st/9)
Total Time – 1:24:23 (1st/9)
10th overall for all women
60th overall (men and women)/ 171
“When you are going through hell, keep on going. Never never never give up.” – Winston Churchill