Despite all of the bike drama from the night before, I was up at 4:00 on Sunday and ready to race. When I got directions to the race on Google maps, it said it would take me 55 minutes. Being the paranoid person I am, I decided that I should leave myself a little extra time so that I could get there right at 6:00 when packet pickup started. I hadn't really considered the fact that at 5:00am on Sunday there are no cars on 66 (unlike all other times of the week). So I arrived at the race site super early and hung out in my car for a bit until other people started arriving.
I got marked and had my transition area set up relatively quickly so I decided to head over to the pool and see the set up. I was excited to see that the pool was open for warm up (I had assumed it wouldn't be), so I hopped in and swam for a few minutes. I was surprised how few other people took advantage of this. It always takes me some time to get my body warmed up and I hate starting a race "cold." I also wanted to see what it was like to swim in my triathlon outfit since I hadn't had a chance to test it out before.
I was number 47, so I got to watch a number of other swimmers snake through the pool and see how hard it would be to pass (the course went down and back in each lane, so there wasn't a lot of room). The officials recommended tapping feet and passing at the wall. I think these types of swims are tough because people don't always seed themselves correctly. It quickly became clear that although #1 and #2 were strong swimmers, #3 was way too far at the front. And thus the back-up/traffic jam began. As we were waiting, the guy behind me confessed that he had only been swimming for about four months. I was somewhat relieved to hear this because I figured that it would be unlikely that he would be trying to pass me. Eventually it was my turn to start. I was okay for the first 75 or so, but then I started coming up on people ahead of me. I ended up passing several people during the remainder of the swim, including one mid-lane (when I had to squeeze past a guy coming the other way). I would have almost had to stop (or swim over the person), so the pass seemed worth the risk. Time - 5:12 (1:44/100m)
The run from the pool to the transition area was relatively long and I got passed by one guy there. I probably could have run faster, but I was nervous about landing funny on a loose pebble. I definitely could use improvement in this first transition as another girl I passed in the pool came to our rack after me and was out on her bike much faster than I was.
I thought I had pre-set my Garmin to multi sport mode and I put it on during the first transition. I have the 305, which isn't waterproof, so I couldn't wear it during the swim. I figured it was worth the seconds in transition since I like to know my pace. Unfortunately, I somehow messed up the setup and when I hit start the watch was in run mode. There was no way I was going to fix it while on my bike, so I just left it as it was and figured seeing my mile pace (as opposed to speed) was better than nothing.
I felt pretty good on the bike leg, even though to me it seemed hilly. I don't think it was really all that severe (probably accurately described as rolling), but for someone like me who has spent most of her time at Hains Point, it felt like a lot of hills. I got passed by a number of people on the bike, but I wasn't surprised. I did manage to pass a few teenagers (who were clearly swimmers who had started at the front) which was exciting for me. There was also one woman who passed me and never pulled that far ahead. I noticed that I would pull closer going uphill and then she would pull back ahead on the downhills. I've always felt like I am a better uphill runner than downhill runner and clearly the same thing applies on the bike! I'm also pretty sure that I could still be taking better advantage of the gears and may still be riding in the wrong one. I pretty much stuck in one gear for flat and downhill and another one for uphill. I also made a third switch for the steepest hills. I know there's probably a lot more I could be doing. I could tell throughout the ride that I was doing better than my goal speed of 12mph. I just tried to keep pushing and counted down the miles. As I mentioned in my goals post, I had seen two different distances for the course, 11.75 and 12.4. My Garmin clocked it as slightly over 12.4, so it appears the longer distance was correct. Around mile 10 I started thinking that maybe I could finish under 45 minutes, but with the longer course that wasn't possible. Time - 47:04 (Avg. speed - 15mph)
I did better in the second transition since I didn't have to switch shoes. I just racked my bike, took off my helmet, grabbed my visor and race belt and headed out. After being passed by a number of people on the bike leg I was hoping that I could catch at least a few of them on the run.
I probably started out a bit too fast, passed one or two women, and hit the first mile in 8:06. My legs started feeling less jello-y during mile 2 but my pace also slowed. 8:40 During the third mile I was feeling good knowing that I was almost done. I set my sights on a guy a bit ahead of me and worked to try to catch up to him. I got past him just before we came back near the start. Then we had to run around the bathhouse and pool and across a field to the finish. I hit mile three in 8:25 and then tried to gun it to the finish. I wasn't sure how far behind the guy was that I had passed (or anyone else) and I really didn't want to get passed in that final stretch. Time - 25:51 (Avg. pace - 8:20)
My final time ended up being a 1:21:07, which well exceeded my pre-race goal of a 1:35. I was also able to beat all of my goals for the three legs. I was most surprised (and happy) with my bike time. I was hoping to be at 12mph or better based on my training times, so I was thrilled when my average speed ended up being 15mph! Not surprisingly, compared to the rest of the field, this is also where I still have the most work to do. But I knew that going in, so I think that this was a great first effort.
Overall - 70/152
Gender - 19/67 (8th in the swim, 32nd on the bike, 15th in the run)
Age Group - 4/11
The 4th place age group finish is a bit frustrating (since they gave awards to the top 3), but not worth dwelling on. It was, not surprisingly, the bike leg that put me in that position. The first place woman had an average speed on the bike around 17mph and the 2nd and 3rd place finishers were around 16mph. The few minutes they gained there put them ahead of me.
I'm very glad that I decided to sign up for this race! It gives me a great idea of where I am right now and makes me excited to keep training. I even signed up for tri #2, which will be the Culpeper Sprint on July 31!