Sunday, April 27, 2014

Race Report: West Point Lake Olympic distance triathlon

I am so very tired from today's race and the 2 hour drive home afterward, but I really don't want to lose what I'm feeling or forget any of the details. So I am going to start typing and hope this makes sense!

West Point Lake park - absolutely a gorgeous place!

I drove down yesterday afternoon so I wouldn't have to leave my house at 3:30 in the morning! I am SO glad I did that. My friend BJ joined me so we could split the room cost. She and I went out for dinner and had pizza at this charming little place that was really out of the way and looked like a dive but tasted delicious! Afterward, we drove out to the venue to make sure we knew how to find it. This was one of the best decisions we made because this morning driving out there in the dark it was hard to find and I'd already been there!

I couldn't get my GPS to pull up the address - this is what the map showed when we pulled up! LOL
We walked around the transition area and checked out the swim start and finish.

Empty transition - it would be rocking in less than 12 hours!

Swim finish - always happy when it's not a huge hike up a hill!

This is the last half of the swim course. Wow, it's so beautiful! The picture doesn't even do it justice!
I have to admit that I was freaked out when I saw the buoys and how far away they are! The course started on the OTHER side of the cove.

Yes, this is really as far as it looks. It was FREAKY!
We went back to the hotel room and hit the bed early.

Flat Niffercoo

Mike the Bike spent the night with me! ;)
I slept about as good as could be expected for the night before a big race. It came in 90 minutes spurts - and then I woke up for good at 3:30. The alarm was set for 4 AM, so there was no point in trying to fall back asleep. I spent the time talking to God and going over my race strategy.

We got dressed and packed up all of our stuff to head out to the lake. We ate breakfast in the lobby of the hotel. Since we'd be finishing after check-out time, we went ahead and checked out of the hotel before we left for the race. It was so dark at 5AM when we left. Transition opened at 5:30 and we both wanted to be there right when it opened. Going out to the middle of nowhere where the lake is just got darker and darker. And then we had to walk a good distance from the parking area to transition. BJ has a hat that has a light on it. I have my visor light, but the battery is dead. From now on, my triathlon packing list will include this light.

Transition set up went smoothly. We hit the bathroom (not the porta potty lol) and tried to exchange my shirt for a bigger size. These are supposed to be Ladies Cut but these are more like Juniors. I was told to come back after the race, but by the time I finished, there were no more in my size. So I will wear the teeny tiny shirt! At home. ;)

Transition - and yes, other folks did show up next to me! LOL
Hit the potty one more time, and then it was Wetsuit time! I got my can of Trislide and getting my wetsuit on was much, much easier. I also think it just helps to do it over and over. And maybe the wetsuit starts to stretch out a little bit, too? Anyway, it was on, and I was ready to head over to the start!

Yes, this is how you look awesome so early in the morning! All it takes is a wetsuit!

BJ and I are rocking the wetsuits and green caps!
They were announcing a water temperature of 59 which seemed impossible because they said on Monday the water temp was 64. It was warm and sunny all week - how could the temp drop by that much? I was concerned about my goggles leaking like they did on Thursday's workout, so I decided to brave the "very cold water" to test them out. I tentatively placed a foot in the water - and it felt great! A little cool, yes - but nothing like the day we did OWS practice at Lake Lanier! I went out futher, did a goggle test, got my arms wet, and then came back out for the meeting. And then... it was time to start!

2 people went at a time every 5 seconds. I like this sort of start! We lined up according to race number which indicated our projected swim time. If people are honest about their abilities, this works out great! I got in the water right before BJ and waded out until I could swim. My goggles started to leak right away so I stood back up and fixed them and tried again. I did my best to remember to relax and not get my heart rate up. The water felt good so that wasn't a problem. But my chest was feeling constricted and that was a bit unnerving. I knew this was a common occurrence but my mind was having a field day with me today. And what was the first thought that popped into my head? How can I do a Half Ironman if I can't even do this distance?? I had barely even made it to the 2nd buoy! @@

By the 3rd buoy, my chest was feeling much better and I was getting into a rhythm. The water was a bit choppier here, and I was swallowing some water, so I started breathing only on one side (away from the waves). I am so glad I've been practicing this in the pool! This one guy kept cutting me off and he was so annoying. I'd just get into a good rhythm and he'd cross over in front of me again. And then towards the end of the swim, we joined up with the sprint distance folks (who started later than we did). That was HORRIBLE! Tired, slow Oly folks were joining in with fast Sprint folks and the water was horribly choppy. I was not a happy camper. I finally made it to the shore and was so proud of myself. I stood up and was very wobbly. I wasn't expecting that!

The pavement hurt on my bare feet but I got back to my transition area, dried off my feet (which weren't dirty at all so didn't need to be rinsed first), and put on my toe socks. I was afraid this would be hard because the toes and wet feet, but it wasn't! I had a pretty fast transition - my fastest ever T1!

Because of the wobbly swim legs, the bike started out harder than I expected. I was afraid I was going to be cold, with the wind and the wet body, but I wasn't (which should have told me what I was in for on the run LOL). The course was listed as "rolling hills" and they weren't kidding. These hills were steeper but shorter than the ones I am used to. It was a beautiful course, though, especially at the turn around/water bottle exchange at Glass Bridge Park. I looked for pictures but couldn't find any. Trust me, it's gorgeous there! BJ and I kept pace with each other pretty much like we do on a group ride. She was very, very strong out there! My Garmin tells me I set a 40K record pace of 14.6 mph! So if that's why the bike seemed hard, I will take it! On the way back to the transition area, a guy who was leaving with his bike (because he was finished) took the time to encourage me. Which was nice. Coming from someone who is finished and leaving before I'm done with the bike! LOL

Fastest T2 time here! That's very encouraging!  Nothing remarkable happened here!

More encouragement from other athletes during the run, more than I've ever seen before. It was fantastic! But my mind was having a FIELD DAY with me. BJ was right ahead of me and we do different intervals so I'd pass her while she walked and she'd pass me when I walked. After nearly 2 miles of this, when I came up on her again, I started talking to her and doing her intervals. This helped distract me from my crazy mind and I asked her if I could stay with her. I don't know how I didn't realize this since I did look at the course map, but we ran on the dam that forms the lake.

Simply beautiful, but do you see any shade?? Yeah, me either. And it was HOT. Much hotter than I have been training in. And I was just running out of steam. BJ and I just kept plugging away and having her company really made the miles go so fast! I'm so thankful that she didn't mind me hanging out with her.

We finally come back to the Finish line and I am looking for the photographers but I see none. In fact, I see NOBODY at the finish. There is a clock, but that is it. When we went out on our run, I could hear someone announcing names as people were crossing the finish line. And there was lots of cheering and excitement. We crossed WELL within the time limits and there was not a soul there. I was NOT a happy camper. It makes me even more glad that I crossed the finish with BJ because she was excited for me to be finishing my first Oly. I'm sorry, but it is NOT COOL to close down the finish line festivities before all finishers have crossed. Typical course cut offs for this company are 4.5 hours for Oly. We were finishing right around 3:36 according to my Garmin - 3:45 according to the official clock.

Oly Tri finisher!!
I have to admit to being a little down at first when I left. There were no medals, and I knew that. But I was really expected there to be a finish line picture of me, and folks there to cheer and be happy for me. Instead, I felt like they thought were were just slow losers.

I had to leave right away to make the 2 hour drive home so my mom could go back home in time for work tomorrow. The drive home helped! Thankfully, my mind actually worked me into a better attitude for a change. Shocking! And when I got home, look what was waiting for me:

My funny 12 year old made me a sign! She cracks me up!

Chocolate. Cake. Enough said!

My mom bought me a new medal holder since my other one is full to overflowing! Hubby will have to hang it tomorrow!

So there is the race report. I may remember more things later but now it's dinner time and I'm really, really hungry! LOL I am so very glad that I did this race early in the season. SO many wonderful lessons learned (will outline them in a post tomorrow) and such a valuable experience for me as I get ready to focus on Augusta. Which is 5 months from tomorrow! WOW!


  1. Excellent! You deserve a medal in my book and a finish line photo!