Sunday, September 30, 2012

Race Report: Lake Lanier Islands Sprint Triathlon

If you have been reading my blog in the last month then you know that I was afraid this race wasn't going to happen. That feeling only intensified Friday and Saturday. I prayed a lot, and tried to rest in the knowledge that I would like through whatever happened, but I was so incredibly nervous. My parents wanted to come cheer me on with my youngest child but I asked them not to. I didn't think I'd be able to face them if I couldn't finish. That's not a reflection on them - they certainly aren't like that. But I didn't think I could face the embarrassment with them there.

So at 4:45 this morning, I pulled out of my driveway alone and made the long drive up to the lake. Mom and Dad got up to say goodbye, wish me good luck, and to take a couple of pictures. Packet pick-up and Bike drop-off had been on Saturday so I only had to take my backpack with my transition stuff. Frank spent the night racked - alone and outside for the first time ever. It was very hard to leave him... doesn't he look quite lonely?

So I made it up to the lake by 5:20. Transition was about 3/4 of a mile away and didn't open until 5:30 so I sat in the car and ate my granola bar while listening to Praise Music. I hit the real bathrooms in this parking area before I headed out - only portapotties at transition. I didn't see anyone with their tire pump, so I left mine in the car. I would regret that later.

I made the dark walk alone to transition with lots of other folks. Everyone was very quiet. I am not sure any of us were awake. LOL The transition area itself was more energetic with music playing and the announcer broadcasting warnings about bike-racking penalties and drafting penalties and helmet penalties and headphone penalties. Honestly, he had me quite freaked out. He kept talking about getting disqualified if you got 3 penalties and that really worried me. Not a good way to start my morning when I was already so nervous.

I got my transition area set up rather quickly and had a lot of time to hang out and worry myself.

I looked for two people who I knew were participating in the race and eventually I found both of them, which gave me something to do. LOL Also I hit the portapotties 3 times. I was too nervous to strike up a conversation with anyone near me, which is not really like me. Truly it's hard to describe how worried I was. And then everyone was putting air in their tires. Everyone. It looked as if everyone had brought their tire pump. And mine was in the car. I probably had time to go back and get it, but that was going to add another mile and a half to my legs and I didn't want to do that. Finally, the girl with the bike next to mine asked if I had any sunscreen, so I let her have some. When she gave it back, I asked if I could borrow her tire pump. She was glad to let me use it, and I put a little air in my tires. I don't think they needed it, but I felt better knowing I had done it. Next time, I will bring my pump.

Transition closed and everyone made their way down to the water. I stopped by the bathroom (AGAIN) on the way. Down at the water, I put my toes in and found to my surprise that the water was quite warm. This race was wetsuit legal with a water temp of 74, but it felt nice enough to me. I was afraid I would be the only one without a wetsuit but the folks wearing them were in the minority. The air temp was in the low to mid 60s. I had almost an hour before my wave would get in the water so I cheered for the other waves as they took off.

Once down at the water I started feeling strangely calmer. I don't know if it was seeing the swim course finally and realizing that it wasn't overwhelmingly challenging. Or if God was speaking to my soul, or what. But I felt more and more relaxed as my wave time came. Soon it was time for the purple caps to get in the water.

The horn went off and we were on our way. I lined up at the back and tried to stay out of the way of the flailing arms and legs, but that was a bit challenging. There seemed to be arms and legs everywhere! LOL The water was a bit chilly when I was fully submerged but I warmed up quickly. My goggles did not fog up even a little bit which made the swim go so much better than in my first tri. Also, the sky was overcast so I didn't have the added glare to worry about. Sighting went very, very well. I had to do it more than I had practiced because apparently I do not swim in a straight line, ever. LOL I found myself going much faster than I wanted instead of doing a nice, slow swim. I tried very hard to relax after I passed the second buoy and that worked pretty well because the field had started to spread out. My heart was racing and my breathing was not as even as it is during my lap swims but I don't know if that was from exertion or nerves or excitement.

My official swim time was 10:39 which is more than 5 minutes better than my first tri!

I approached the Swim Finish and made my way over the dock and up the very, very long steep hill to transition. In transition I had to sit down and pull my compression socks on and that was very challenging with damp legs. I spent 6:41 in transition! LOL

I headed out on the bike and I was still really nervous. The bike is my weakest event and I was afraid of the "drafting penalty." I was pleasantly surprised by how less crowded this course was than during my first tri. That really set me at ease since I was worried about crashing on the uphills like I nearly did at my first one. I got up that big hill where the crash happened right in front of me and once I put that behind me, I felt better. My shin started to bother me which reinforces my suspicion that my bike seat is raised too high and that's contributing to the shin problems I am experiencing. The wind was whipping around a bit during a long stretch on what I think was Peachtree Industrial Blvd. but it wasn't overwhelming.

We turned back onto Lanier Islands Parkway and I was pleased to see the road traffic was quite light. At the last tri, there was a lot of traffic on the parkway going into the lake and it was very frightening. Once I hit the 11 mile marker I was feeling great because I figured I could walk with my bike and make it in in time! LOL

As I approached the very steep hill leading back to transition, I heard the beginning of "Crazy Train" playing. That's the song that Chipper Jones (of the Atlanta Braves) comes to bat to... so now I know how Chipper feels. That was positively the best song to come back to! I was feeling a lot more positive now!

Transition time was 2:37, but I wasn't hurrying as much as I could have.

Now it was time to run and while I was nervous about my shins, I knew that I could walk and still finish. I didn't want to do that, but I knew I could if I had to. I really expected the course to be flatter than it was, but we ran on a part of the lake that I hadn't run on before. And they were pretty steep. I walked a little more on those uphills so as not to mess up my shins. The skies were still cloudy and I wasn't getting too hot at all.

I walked for a little while but then saw the finish line and had to run it in, even though there was another darn steep hill! I pushed it out at the end as I made the last push for the finish! I was so excited to have finished! No medal, though, which was sad - but the awesome long sleeve tee shirt sort of makes up for it! LOL

My overall time was 1:49:02 which is less than 2 minutes greater than My First Tri when I was in prime physical condition. In fact, if I hadn't spent so long in T1 battling with the compression socks, I would have beat my previous time completely, which is amazing!  It is encouraging to see that I am as strong, or even maybe stronger than I was before these injuries happened last year. So often these days I feel like I'm starting completely over and I'll never be the same. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll be better!?!

I took a cheesy self-portrait and headed home. :)

I will definitely do this race again next year! It was well-organized and the course was pretty good overall - especially for the lake area. But why they had to put all the parking lots at the top of hills, I will never know. LOL Hasn't anyone ever heard of plows to flatten things out?!?

I am pleased with my swim progress and now I'd like to focus on improving my cycling. I'm not sure how to go about that, but I have plenty of time. I am planning to spend the winter on the stationary bike at the gym once a week and possibly an afternoon ride now and then while it's warm enough. I definitely want to get a professional bike fitting and see if that helps with the shin issues I'm having. :)

Still can't believe I really did it! Having a medal probably would have helped that. :X LOL

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