I am still so pumped up from the race that I’m having trouble focusing! I keep getting excited about a new facet of the race.
So I signed up to race on Mother’s Day- sort of a “toes in the water” race for the season. I started training about a week after my marathon in March, so 5ish weeks in was the perfect time to see where I was and what I needed to do to move the needle. I was super excited about this one because it was at Lake Anna and boasted rolling hills and scenery on both the bike and run- which I’m realizing I prefer to flat and boh-ring.
My family decided to come with me, even though it was an hour and a half drive. Arriving at the scene, Lake Anna did not disappoint. The transition was off to the side leaving lots of open space for spectating- and scenery-gawking. It was gorgeous.
I mean come on.
And I was sporting my new kit from Smashfest Queen so I felt like a million dollars. I got everything settled in transition (including my bike, Barracuda), and we walked down to the beach where I would start my swim.
First thing, of course, I put the legs of the wetsuit on backwards. I don’t know if it was nerves, or just not thinking, but that definitely set a very stressed tone to the pre-race. Luckily, my husband kept saying “it’s okay, you have time” and I really tried to contain the voice inside me that was going “OMIGOD WHY DID I DO THAT THIS IS SO DIFFICULT I’M NOT GOING TO HAVE ENOUGH STRENGTH TO SWIM AFTER PULLING UP THIS STUPID WETSUIT TWICE.” But, with a little help, I put the suit on the right way. Look at my face in this picture, it’s like a mixture of sheepishness from my unnecessary internal panic and relief that I had actually managed to get it on with plenty of time to not only pose for a picture, but stroll down and shimmy in the water a bit to get it just right. I love a new swim cap, though, popped that sucker on first try instead of whipping myself in the head with it a couple times.
So the swim. It started on a long side of a rectangle and you were to swim up until the yellow buoy, hang a right, swim to the next yellow buoy, hang another right, and then swim to shore. I managed a great spot to start in- pretty much in the front because there was such a large area for us all to spread. The water was way chillier than I was used to and I was so grateful my friend Cate let me borrow her wetsuit because I hadn’t intended to buy one until much later in the season when the water cooled down again. I should’ve realized this race would probably need a wetsuit, but, luckily she had my non-thinking back. I don’t know if you’ve ever been inside a wetsuit, but it’s like someone wrapped your entire body with a giant waterproof ace bandage. You feel trapped and stiff and uncomfortable. I wore it for the Patriot’s Half last year (over a mile of swimming) and was fine….but that day? I was like half panicked to be in it. The buzzer sounded and we were off and I was just startled. That’s the best way to describe it. I was startled. I don’t know if it was the cold, the suit, the combination of the two….or the nerves for the race or the other racers so close by, but I was so tense during the swim. I had to breathe every stroke (I only breathe to the right) just to keep from really panicking. Eventually, I got more and more okay, but never really hit a good rhythm with my breathing. My leg was grabbed at one point, and at another I was blocked by a couple girls swimming directly side by side and as a result I then swam almost completely to the center of the block to maneuver (poorly) around them. But, I finally got to the shore. Take a look at this picture if you’d like to know what I felt like coming out of the water.
“But, Rainey, you said this race went really well?” Oh it did. My swim, although it felt terrible and slow to me was actually not a bad pace for me at all. The swims ranged from 12 minutes to about 25 minutes and I finished in 16 minutes 13 seconds. So, not shabby overall either. I had thought my transition was terrible, but it turned out to be pretty quick. I got the wetsuit off pretty quickly and had laid out everything else pretty efficiently.
The bike starts heading straight up a hill. I was still really, really out of breath from the swim so I struggled quite a bit to get started. I’ve always considered the bike my worst discipline of the three, but I was determined to be proud of it in this race.
I let myself catch my breath and then went for it. I picked off person after person after person- completely surprising myself because I have almost never passed people on the bike. The bike ride was gorgeous and was exactly my type of topography- except for one killer, steep hill. I think it was around mile 6 or 7 that you hit it and it ravaged the entire field. NO SURVIVORS. Just kidding, we all made it through, but I have never seen so many people practically stopped on road bikes. After catching my breath from that monstrosity, I went back to my mission of picking off people with the goal of catching one particular girl in a very pretty trisuit. I didn’t know her at all, but I needed someone to “catch”. I spent 4 miles chasing her until finally I passed her and didn’t see her again on the bike. The last few miles are all down hill-ish so it was a great glide down back to transition. I was all smiles when I got in, yelling to my husband- I WAS SO FAST!! And it was- I averaged over 17mph…my fastest bike average EVER.
My second transition wasn’t very quick. I forgot to put the lock laces in my running shoes and fumbled a bit getting those on, but it wasn’t a bad transition overall. Off I went! My daughter even ran beside me for a little bit!
The run went uphill for the first mile. I mean it, all uphill. My legs were a bit fried from the bike, but I just kept plugging along the best that I could.
I wasn’t more than a half mile in when the girl that I had chosen to “catch” in the bike flew by me and said “Great job! I tried to catch you on the bike and just couldn’t do it.” I was FLOORED. Not only had she also used me as a goal, but I had managed to maintain a lead ON THE BIKE. I was so excited that it helped me plug up the rest of the hill with such high spirits- even though she had just shot by me on the run, haha!
The course leveled out about right as it hit the 1 mile mark and I realized my pace up the hill wasn’t what I was hoping for, so I kicked it up a bit. It was mostly shaded, which I was so grateful for because the temperature in the sun seemed to be way warmer than the shade. I kept pushing and pushing and pushing the closer I got to the finish- luckily the course started to go down around then. It was a wonderful run course- lots of shade and either road or paved trail until you got to the finish- which was right near the water. I finished feeling like a million dollars. The run ended up being slightly over what I wanted (30:19), but was my fastest triathlon 5k by almost 2 minutes. My son even met me at the finish and walked me back to the family.
It was my best tri effort yet. It was the first run I hadn’t walked in during a tri and my first time passing people on the bike. I am so pumped that I want to keep saying that over and over and over again.
To wrap up my analysis of the race itself- AWESOME. Beautiful scenery, wonderful support, and best of all is they hired a photographer who not only took gorgeous mid-race pictures, but offered them at a super affordable price. Being able to buy all my race pictures for $20 brought the whole experience up a notch above amazing. Thanks Joe Shrader Photography! If you ever get the chance to do the Kinetic Sprint Triathlon by Kinetic Multisports at Lake Anna….do it. And you’ll get to see me because I will totally be doing it next year.