I spent all of last week at the beach in NC with my family and drove home on Saturday. The trip took us 11 hours! Bob R. called me around 9 on Saturday night to see if I still wanted to carpool and I still wasn’t home yet. I was so happy and grateful that he was driving up to Rocky Gap – we had a great drive up there and the conversation took my mind off of being nervous for the race. Needless to say, all my bike got for a pre-race tune-up was a quick wipe-down and tires pumped. And as for myself, I got about 5.5 hours of sleep Saturday night before the race.
Swim (.75 miles) – 30:14
I started with the 2nd wave (all women, men 40+ and duo folks who took off running the other way). In my usual fashion, I found the outside edge as fast as I could and then did my best to avoid people. There was a bit of water grass/weeds that occasionally got wrapped around my arms or head, but amazingly, that doesn’t bother me anymore, so I just swam through it all. I felt terrible the first lap and breaststroked too much. I was dizzy coming out of the water and jogged very slowly up the hill and around back to the water start. I think we ran 200-400m between swim laps. My second lap was much better, even though I dreaded getting back into the water. I swam freestyle for the majority of the time and actually felt comfortable enough to notice things like the guy swimming sidestroke next to me. I wasn’t as dizzy coming out of the water the second time and got through transition quickly, eating a packet of green apple Power Gel (no chocolate this time!) as soon as I got on the bike.
Bike (14 miles total, 2 laps) – 44:29 (1st lap); 41:38 (2nd lap)
My first bike lap was rough. I was nauseous and didn’t feel good until the last mile before the run through transition. The trails were surprisingly more technical than I expected – very rocky. Happily, I rode through almost everything because often the more technical sections were the best places to pass people. The course looked like a war zone – there were people on the side of the trail everywhere fixing flat tires. I didn’t see any crashes luckily, but I know that they happened (the race directors had a contest to see who had the worst battle wounds of the day during the awards ceremony). I rode halfway up Evitt’s Revenge the first time through, but the person in front of me got off and I didn’t have the energy to go around him so I walked the rest of the way. My calves were totally cramped by the time I got back on the bike – I’d never experienced the calf cramping sensation before so I decided to drink a lot of Gatorade at that point. The second lap was much better – and my time showed it. I was more comfortable, my stomach was under control, and my legs were no longer cramping. I was even able to smile and talk to the volunteers and other people out on the course. I think I ate another gel (again, no chocolate) after getting back on my bike through transition. I saw Bob just before Evitt’s Revenge and said hello. He seemed to be having fun. Then the guy in front of me got off his bike and I ended up having to walk up the whole thing yet again. I was very aware of the difference between hardtails and full-suspension bikes during this race (not that I didn’t know this before). I still ride the hardtail I bought in 1998 (Klein Attitude). It’s super light and responsive. A lot of people on full-suspension bikes flew by me going down the hills –since they were all rocky descents, I carefully chose my line and went down slowly. But, I always caught the same people on the next climb. So I guess you choose whether you want to descend fast or climb fast.
Run (5 miles) – 45:45
Going into the run, I wondered why I decided to do this race because I hurt everywhere. But as soon as we got onto the trails, I started having fun again. We ran over a lot of the same trails that we’d ridden earlier, and I actually saw some people still out on their bikes. Since the trails were so rocky and rooty, you really had to be aware of where you were putting your feet at all times. My ankle did give out after one rock, but it seemed fine so I kept moving. I ran up Evitt’s Revenge, ever so slowly, and managed to keep going at the top. The best thing about trail running and racing is that you have no idea how far you’ve gone. During the section of downhill trail that was narrow, steep, and rocky, I thought, wow, we must be near the finish (Bob had told me earlier that it was basically all downhill to the finish). I don’t think I was really running, it was more like galloping or skipping. Then I got to the other side of a creek and realized how wrong I was. It was the only part of the race I walked because I couldn’t figure out how to actually run up this hill that was made up entirely of rocks - it felt more like bouldering. And of course, as I pulled myself up over the last clump of rocks, there was a photographer snapping my picture. I just had to laugh! The last mile or so was mostly downhill on roads. With a half mile to go, I saw another woman ahead of me, and I was closing on her. I caught her with a quarter mile to go and told her “good job” – next time I’ll keep my mouth shut! She decided that she wasn’t going to let me beat her, and ended up crossing the line 5 seconds in front of me – and captured the place of 3rd woman overall. That’s racing I guess. I’m hoping to get one of those Team CSC bracelets (Harden the F*%# Up) to help me get through similar situations in the future.
After looking through the results, I was the fastest woman run of the day which I thought was pretty cool. My bike times were also right up there with the top women so I was happy with that. It’s still that swim that gets me! I think I must swim like a manatee – slow but steady.
The post-race food was disappointing. The line for barbecue was so long that Bob and I opted to just eat chips or pretzels, granola bars, and bananas instead. At least we were the first ones to the beer tent! That Pacifico beer tasted great.
So once again, I had a blast doing an off-road triathlon. Will Kelsay, a pro racer, also did the race this weekend and just seeing him being so happy to be there made me smile a lot. He’s traveling around the country in an RV this year doing Xterras to promote off–road racing and I think its working. His enthusiasm is contagious!