I slept great Saturday night and woke up Sunday hungry--hungry to eat up the course. I had established two goals for myself: PR and place in the top ten of my age group. I was ready to eat those for breakfast. I got to the course early, set up my stuff, and waited around patiently. I would be in the very last wave.
As we headed down to the swim start, I did get a little nervous about the swim, but overall I was excited and ready to tackle the day. I was here last year, had previewed the course again this year, have had GREAT training in the last couple of weeks, I knew exactly what to expect. Finally, my wave was called and we headed down the dock and into the water.
Look how calm I look before this race!
I'm the tiny one about to jump in.
I never know where to line up for a swim start. I know I am a strong enough swimmer that I should position myself nearer the front, but I really don't like the crowds. I am not good at drafting and I don't like to be around other people when I swim. Unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot of time to find the right position as the horn sounded and we were off. And I, of course, was right in the middle of a gazillion bodies. I kinda panicked. I treaded water for a good amount of time and actually said to myself, out loud, "this isn't worth it. I'm gonna swim over to those rocks and quit." But, I didn't. I pulled myself together, found space, put my face in the water, and just swam. And then I started to catch people. A lot of people. People in my wave, people in the wave before me. Before I knew it, the swim was done. I rolled myself onto the dock, started running up the dock, and then error #5 of the weekend happened: I couldn't get my wetsuit off.
See, I'm stuck!!!
I had, stupidly, put my watch on the outside of my wetsuit and the wrist cuff had gotten stuck. Really stuck. So stuck that I screamed at Dave when I saw him near transition, "I'M STUCK!" He and another volunteer pulled and pulled, which really hurt, until my hand popped out. I lost good time and my Garmin had gotten all screwed up in the process. Finally into transition, I had to restart my watch and would just wonder and do a little math for the remainder of the race to figure out how I was doing overall.
Swim - 30:20, 2:06/100m pace, 10/25 AG (All the swims were slow this year. I hear the course was a little long.)
T1 - 3:08 (This may have included the time I needed help getting my wetsuit off. I have no idea where the timing mats were.)
I have to admit, I love hills. I love to ride them. I love to run them. I enjoy the challenge. I love passing people. This bike course was made for me. I have worked for the last year on hills and I knew I was ready for a big bike day. I had something to prove. I started out conservatively, but made a conscious decision on the out and back portion of the course, "Meredith, you have got to go." I popped my bike into a big gear, which I never do, and pedaled as hard as I could. I raced up the hills. I pedaled every downhill. I stopped looking at my speed because I didn't want to freak out about it. Just go hard until the bike is over. I started to do a little math in my head. My goal was to go under 1:30 as last year I went 1:33. Soon I was realizing I was going to be in the 1:20s and before I knew it, I was back to transition in 1:22. Holy crap! I just became a legitimate triathlete.
Have you ever seen me smile getting off the bike?
Bike - 1:22:04, 18.13mph, 10th/25 AG (I was 12th AG coming off the bike.)
T2 - 1:15
Finally, I was out on the run, but things didn't seem to be clicking like they normally do. I saw Dave and said, "I may have spent too much on the bike." He told me I was within striking distance of several girls in my age group. I knew what I had to do: RUN! I didn't have the speed of last year, but I was still dropping 8:00s on the course. I was catching all kinds of people and soon found myself having passed 3 or 4 girls in my age group before the turn around. Right before the turn around, however, one very fast chick in my age group passed me. There was no way I could go with her. Turns out, she averaged 6:50s on the run. Yazow!
In the last two miles, I found myself in the land of men. I saw no women in front of me and knew I wasn't going to place any higher in my age group. I had no idea where I had placed, but I was pretty sure it was in the top 10 of the age group. My last mile was the hardest and slowest of the day. Had I known there was one more girl in my age group only 30 seconds in front of me, I probably could have found the strength, but as you can see, I was very much alone:
Looking very fit.
Run - 50:20, 8:06 pace, 7th/25 AG
I finished the race not knowing how I had done. Dave came running up to me and asked me what I thought? How big was my PR? Well, it was a 6+ minute PR. I had PRed on the bike by 11 minutes. I had made my goal and had finished in the top ten of my age group, taking home 8th place.
Total - 2:47:08, 8th/25 AG
This was a big breakthrough race for me. Finally, I feel like a real triathlete. I put together the total package: swim, run, AND bike. This was a real confidence boost for me. I can do this sport. I'm ready for the next challenge that lies ahead...