Yesterday was my big triathlon of the year, the Greater Cleveland International distance triathlon. As I awoke at 4 AM to prepare for the day, I thought of a few things: 1) Why did I think this was a good idea when I signed up very pregnant in December? (it is all TriSara's fault) : ) ; 2) Getting up at 4 AM used to be harder before having my little guy (actually felt rested because he didn't get up to eat until 4:30); 3) Nursing/pumping adds 30 minutes to the normal get-ready routine; 4) This is the least anal I've been about getting my stuff together ever (normally, I am checking and rechecking that I packed everything) and 5) Would the swim actually happen this year after being canceled the last two years?
I showed up early, got body marked by TriEric and set up my transition in the wrong rack. I thought the two racks encompassed all of the 16 applicable numbers, but it turns out that the first 8 went on the first rack, where I put my bike and unfortunately I was in the last 8 of numbers. Doh! One of the gals was a real biatch about it, so I moved my bike (so much for getting there early to get a good spot) to a spot with excess sand around it. I did meet a cool girl named Amanda from Washington, D.C. I also noticed how many Team In Training people were there - good for them and great for us to have actual cheerleaders on the run course because of them.
After setting up transition, I headed to my car for an abbreviated pumping session. I only got 15 minutes of pumping before having to head out to the pre-race athlete's meeting. Then, it was off for the long walk to the swim start. Luckily, I ran into Daisy and Dave and we were able to walk together. That was the extent of my warm-up.
For the swim, the race director had decided to put males and females together, so we were just going by age group. I was a little nervous about that, but it turned out to be fine. For once, I was in the 2nd wave instead of the last one. The lake was turning choppy and we had to swim against the natural current. The race says that the swim is .75 miles, but I don't believe it. Based on swim times, it was either longer than that or the treadmill effect and waves affected everyone equally. I had hoped to get out in about 30 minutes, but instead took just over 37 minutes. At this point, I was last in my age group (of course, I didn't know that). As a side note, I got to see my friend Suz randomly as I got out of the swim as she was cheering for a couple of her friends doing the duathlon. And, I was excited to see my hubby and little boy just before the transition area (Will was sporting a onesie my hubby made that said "Eat my Mommy's Dust" and had a picture of a bike on it).
T1 was way slower than it should have been, because I couldn't get my wetsuit over my timing chip. The chip was really clunky large and we were told to wear them outside the wetsuit. I wish I had thought to take it off first before removing my wetsuit. Oh well, live and learn.
So, 2:16 minutes after entering transition, I took off on the bike. The first 5 miles were terribly congested with sprint duathletes. Eventually, there was some clear road though thankfully. I did keep trading spots with this one older dude, because he would pass me and then slow down. I eventually gave up and stayed behind him (at a legal distance), because it wasn't worth the effort to pass him. I just wish he'd been able to keep up a consistent speed. But, maybe it was good in the long run, because I stayed conservative for the first half of the ride, which is more uphill than downhill.
After making the hard left at the bottom of Chilicothe, I saw Amanda from D.C. I thought first "I should catch up to her and tell her about the big, steep hill coming up" and then thought "I should want to catch her just for competition sake". LOL! So, as I passed her I warned her to get into her small gears quickly after getting onto that hill (she told me later that she was very grateful for this advice). When I went up that hill, it was actually way easier than usual - could be adrenaline or could be it is a good time to pass people. Towards the end of the hills, I told one guy who was struggling as I passed him "Happy fun down time is coming" and he said I made his day. The rest of the ride was uneventful and I managed to not get stopped by a train this time. I did the bike in 1:16:07, which was good for a 19.5 mph average and put me solidly in 5th place in my age group (again, I had no idea). I was the 4th fastest biker female that day!
T2 went much better at 1:05 and I was soon on the run.
As I exited transition, Matt and Will were there (I swear Matt was all over the place on this race) to cheer me on again. I really had to pee, but told myself that I didn't have the luxury of using the facilities if I wanted to break my goal of 3 hours. I had no idea how fast I'd be able to run and every second would help!
I dropped my Hammer Gel as I was coming out of transition, so I knew I needed to get calories in another way. This meant Gatorade, which I usually don't use on the run, but I was fearful of bonking. They did have Hammer Gel on the course, but by the time I got to it, my mouth was so dry and it sounded seriously unappetizing.
The plan for the run was to just make it to the next mile marker or aid station and I was only allowed to walk the aid stations. I saw Daisy running back with an amazing 2nd female overall finish. I saw a ton of people from the club including a guy named James who I ran with for a few minutes. It turns out that his son was born in the same hospital as mine on the same day!
The aid station run by Fleet Feet was cheerful amidst the industrial road background (unfortunately they didn't have lubricant for my chafed arms) and the aid station run by the Willoughby South track team was amazing! They had a pirate theme and their coach (another club member) ran next to me with a pirate map showing me the way to the finish.
Oh yah, and of course, I was running - uphill and down, in the shade and in the open. My miles were consistently around 9:30-10:00 minute pace with only the hilliest mile slightly over 10 minute pace. From miles 4-5.75, I just chanted in my head "get to the shade". I was boiling at this point, but knew I was almost finished. Eventually, I made it back to the shady path and to the finish line with a 6.2 mile run time of 1:00:30 (9:46 pace). I must have looked bad, because EH immediately got me ice to put in my shirt. I'll admit to feeling a little light headed, but after some cold drinks it was much better!
Oh, and did I break the 3-hour goal barrier? Yes, I did! I finished in 2:57:03, which was good for 5th out of 10 in my age group. My International distance PR is 2:49 on another course. I haven't done the International distance triathlon on this course since 2004 when it was my first International distance triathlon and I think I did that one in 3:07.
Overall, I am quite pleased with how the day turned out. I am just over 4 months post-baby and was able to perform at an acceptable level for me. I do wonder sometimes if I should be a duathlete instead, because then I'd have a better chance for hardware. However, I like doing all three sports even if I'm not good at all of them, so a triathlete I shall remain.
This is likely the end of the triathlon season for me. The next two weekends, Will and I will be cheering Matt on at the Vermillion and Lorain triathlons. Next up for me is Dances with Dirt baby, yah!