Race day eve came fast after an uneventful week (minus Tuesday’s flat). After work I ate an early dinner and spent the rest of the evening packing and prepping for the early start the next morning. I was already looking forward to seeing how the race was going to play out, among both the men and the women. So many locals were signed up to race, Captain Visor jokingly called it the “World Championship of Charlotte.”
Since the race started at 6:30 I planned to get up 4 AM to enjoy a LUNA bar and a cup of coffee (with Trader Joe’s soy hazelnut creamer – my favorite!) Race day I try to eat “my breakfast” 2 hours before the gun goes off just to make sure I have to ole digestive track rolling. The only thing I wanted to do differently this race morning was to get on my spin bike to warm up the legs a bit. I have been noticing on training rides that is takes me a ridiculously long time to warm up – 30 mins or more. With a bike split goal around 44 minutes, I just did not have the time to wait for the legs to come together during the race. I think I only ended up on the spin bike for 8 minutes but I think it helped nonetheless. Off the bike and in the car, my excitement was starting to turn to anxiousness as I drove to the race site. Luckily, once I got to the race site I simply did not have time to be nervous. I just had enough time to rack my bike, set up my transition and pick up my chip on the way to the swim start.
Swim (11:17) – Standing at the start, the water felt too warm and I felt a little too sick to the stomach but when the gun went off, I was all in – and so was everyone else. The swim start was just as chaotic as ever but I was surprised at the number of people who went aggressively out to the front. It seemed like there were several people ahead of me but all of a sudden there were none but one. Like last year, I ended up following behind Brad Perry’s ridiculously large lead to be the second person out of the water. Almost 30 seconds slower than last year but the swim was definitely hotter and maybe longer?
Bike (43:55) – I went into the bike portion of the race anticipating my bike split was either going to make or break my entire race. I had an aggressive goal for my bike split so I was excited to see if I could do it. I took the 2.5 miles through the state park conservatively. I stayed in my smaller chain ring to spin out my legs and to bring my heart rate and temperature down from the swim. Maybe I did not need to spin out for quite the entire 2.5 miles as I was passed by at least 6 guys but it seemed to workout for me in the long run. About 1.5 miles out I was passed by HaycraftGTWD. He bet he would pass me at mile 1. I bet he wouldn’t pass me until mile 2. I think 1.5 means no one was the winner here. I did have to laugh (slightly) as I noticed the tiny letters, “H-T-F-U,” scrolled across the butt of his tri shorts. I found the bold statement in their plain white 1 inch block letters amusing. I guess HaycraftGTWD is a fan of acronyms. Feeling inspired, I think I am going to get “B-A-M-F” in big bold letters across my butt – at least I have a little more surface area to work with.
The rest of the ride was just fun. I eventually got passed by two more guys. These guys didn’t quite pass me with the gusto the other guys did so I made it my mission to stay with them. Every time you get “sorta” passed at a race you have to decide which would be more detrimental to your race: staying behind another racer (in accordance to USAT rules) or going back and forth with another racer. So when Farrah passed me and then immediately slowed down, I knew I would have to pass him back. But when Acks passed me and continued to hold pace, I just tried to follow his lead. He eventually dropped me and Farrah passed me back again when we entered back into the park but at least we did not waste an extra energy see-sawing back and forth the entire ride.
Run (21:10) – My run started with a brief conversion with Farrah. He slipped me a compliment on my swim and bike and then exclaimed, “Girl, I hope you can run!” I think my response to this was to hang my head and whisper, “no, not really.” My laments were brief, however, as Farrah continued to egg me on and as I was realizing I had not seen another female in transition or coming in on the bike. Waiting to get run down is no way to win a race!
The 3.1 mile off-road hilly run went by remarkablely fast. After the first turn around I saw Giant 1 heading towards me with a big smile on his face. I saw Vespa biking into transition and was later chided by him for wasting my energy cheering for him. I saw Mancess and YMCAisSXE looking comfortable and strong as they made their way through the field of competitors. I crossed the finish line with what felt like fresh legs, elated not only because I was the first female finisher for the day but also because I hit all of my target splits.
Last year Giant 1 told me one of his goals for 2011 was to get a picture of us at Latta, both with first place trophies. Well there is definitely something to be said for having aspirations. Great work Giant!