Luray was my first international distance triathlon. David Glover, the race organizer, is also one of the organizers of the "She Does Tri" camp which I attended this spring. I knew the race would be a great opportunity to see some friends from "camp", and get my first international under my belt in a great venue. My family and I traveled up the day before (I enticed my 6 and 3 year olds to come by offering up a trip to Luray Caverns). My husband has never seen me race before (he was on Daddy duty when I ran the Marine Corps last year), so I was really excited. The caverns were a blast (especially now with a high-tech self-guided tour). We went by Lake Arrowhead so I could show them the race site (I had the opportunity to swim, bike, and run there a week prior to the race), and had a great pasta dinner at the Luray firehouse (my husband is a firefighter and my son obsessed with all things firefighting). The cabin we rented was beautiful, and my pre-race jitters were calmed as I sat on the deck that night and looked at all of the stars with this wonderful breeze blowing.
We took 2 cars so I could be out of the house early on Saturday. My daughter woke up as I kissed her goodbye and said "Finish strong, Mommy" (I started saying this to her when she was about 4 and would run out of steam at soccer practice- I had it printed on my Road ID for a little motivation). I saw several tri friends at the race site, so that provided some distraction. They skipped a rack when setting up transition, which was of course mine. They ended up putting us next to the relay rack, right at the Bike exit/entrance (but furthest away from the swim entrance and run exit- I don't think this hurt because I had the shortest amount of time possible pushing my bike through transition).
I had some basic goals for the race:
1. Finish (and, as per my co-workers, "Don't die on the swim"..I told them water wings are not USAT approved)
2. Push it hard on the bike
3. If 1 and 2 were met, try to complete the event in under 3:15
Swim- 1.5km 39:18 (152/183...ouch!!!)
I am a slow swimmer, and I know it. I have been trying to work on this, but my goal for this race was to finish the swim with some energy left. There is lots to work on for next year. I felt comfortable for the whole swim (I thought of it as a "Pac-Man" shape), but there was a bit of trouble sighting with the sun. I was in the last 5 or so from my wave out of the water, but knew I could pick up some time. There was a run over the sand, through the grass, and up a flight of wooden stairs to transition. Several people were taking their time walking up the steps on the left, but I took them two at a time up the right side (have to make up time where I can).
T1 02:14 (63/183)
It was a long run to my bike rack, and the relay bikers were hanging out in a pack. I yelled to them as pleasantly as I could, letting them know that I needed to get to my bike. They didn't slow me down, but probably thought I was a bit rude.
Bike 25 miles (1:30:03- 16.7mph)
The bike course is hilly, with a lot of false flats. You feel like you have lost all steam on the flat, and then realize you are actually going uphill. I actually like the feeling of chasing down my age group on the bike, so my swim left me with lots of incentive to pass females ahead of me. I had a great time on the bike, and felt good the whole way. There is a decent hill in the last 2 miles which gets your heart rate going just in time for the run. I got a little oomph on one of the flats from three horses galloping along a fence next to me- a beautiful sight. I saw my husband as I was coming into transition, so that was very exciting.
T2 1:08 (34/183- woohoo!)
I actually took a few seconds to drink water in transition, so I am happy with this time.
Run 10K 57:49 (9:19 miles 85/183)
My kids hopped off the playground equipment to cheer me on at the run start. I know there are USAT rules about outside assistance, and I didn't know if this was against the rules, so I actually didn't slap hands with them (of course then I felt like the meanest mom EVER! Next time I will be slapping all the hands I can).The run course is brutal. There are some big uphills, but running the same out and back course twice requires some serious mental strength. My strategy (based on my previous run there) was to push a little harder on the way out, knowing the worst uphill is on the way back in. I did a fair amount more walking than I would have liked (which makes me happy with the pace), but my heart rate was way up there at some points (I agree with Michael that there was time spent in Zone 5). I met another woman at the end of the first loop and we pushed each other for the second loop. I took in some hammer gel on the second loop, and definitely kicked it up a bit for the last couple of miles. I walked up the big hill again (did I mention all my S.I. joint pain? It was definitely locking up at that point), and perhaps was a little too relaxed because I knew I could meet my time goal. With about 0.4 mi left, I passed a volunteer who was cheering for each number he saw. "245, are you finishing?" I said yes, and he said "Finish Strong!". Needless to say, after starting the day with those words from my daughter I figured I needed to live up to our motto. I really kicked the last 0.4 miles (I even got a compliment on my stride), and passed several people before the finish. I know the race announcer (a former pro who coached at tri camp), so when he said my name I threw my hands up and had a big grin on my face as I crossed the finish line. I was overwhelmed by the joy of finishing (I seriously thought I could cry), and excited by the prospect of working to improve at this distance. I later talked to one of the other competitors (an elite female and tri camp coach- are you sensing a theme here?) and she said the bike at Luray is more challenging than Columbia, but the Columbia run is harder. I guess I will find out next year. Overall, I am happy with my performance and totally addicted to this sport!!! I got the opportunity to volunteer at the sprint the following day, and had a great time on the other side of things.