August 13, 2017
The alarm again went off in the middle of the night. I stumble out of bed and get the coffee going. I then attempt to get today’s set of temporary race number tattoos properly applied. I get all 4 on me without any screw ups. Hooray for small victories! This day was off to a good start!
Then I opened the weather app and groaned. This was headed right for us.
Well, it is what it is. I had arranged for a late check out from my hotel, so I had plenty of time in case of race delay. It was also just a sprint. I wouldn’t be on the course long enough to care about a bit of rain.
I get my gear together and head out to the race venue. I’m early (again) and the first one in the parking lot (again). I get the closest spot to transition. Then, instead of playing angry birds, I keep refreshing the weather app. Looks like the storm is heading right at us and should hit right at the starting gun. The rain is already pretty steady. It wasn’t a downpour, but a steady drizzle. It would be a sloppy race.
Transition opens and I go get my gear set up. After yesterday’s race, participants doing both events were permitted to just move our bikes to a back rack and leave them in transition. I found my bike, swapped out the race sticker and found my new racking spot. I then got my gear set up. Organizers specifically prohibited any bags from being left in transition (including clear plastic bags). So, I had to leave my running shoes, cycling shoes, and socks out in the rain. They would be soaked by the time I needed them.
Water temperature was even warmer today (82.5F), so wetsuits were again prohibited. This was not a surprise. My wetsuit was in the trunk of my car just in case, but I hadn’t used it all season.
Even though this is a huge triathlon (1184 participants, 1083 finishers), it felt small. This was mostly because it was being held the day after a race that was over twice as big. Half of transition was empty. There were a lot less athletes so far fewer support crews, volunteers, and spectators. The weather didn’t help that. It was still a big event, but it was obvious that the main event was yesterday’s race.
I headed back to the car and followed the weather updates. We got lucky. The system started to break apart and shifted north. The drizzle would continue, but no lightning or rain delay. The race got underway on time. I had a bit of time to kill since my wave didn’t start for another 80 minutes so I just sat by the waters edge and watch the other waves start their race. The drizzle and the wind was keeping me uncomfortably cold. The air temp wasn’t bad, but the combo got unpleasant quickly. It would by nice on the run, but cold on the bike. Finally, it was my turn to line up.
Once again, we lined up on the dock, got a quick warm up swim, then lined up with one hand on the dock for our in-water start. Again, I let everyone have a 3 second start so I could (mostly) stay out of the chaos. Again, it worked. The waves were spaced out enough that I was mostly on my own out there. It was quite calm and serene. That said, I was surprised at how sore my arms were from the day before. They had no energy at all. Still, it was only half of the distance today and the turn buoys came quickly. Before I knew it, I was at swim exit. The ramp was very slippery and a couple of volunteers were there to help haul me out on the water. The water temp was much warmer then the air temp and I could feel the wind cut into me instantly. It would be a long bike ride.
Swim Split – 20:32 (2:31/100 yd)
Windy, drizzle, and sloppy. That was transition in a nutshell. Wet socks going onto wet feet and into wet cycling shoes. Delightful! Another slow transition.
T1 Split – 4:39
Well, the good news was that we did not have to deal with “The Hill” today! The bike course was the same out-and-back course as yesterday except that the turnaround was at the halfway point of yesterday’s course. “The Hill” was just past the turnaround so was omitted from today’s race. That was a very good thing. The Hill was terrifying enough in good weather. I can’t imagine riding it in strong winds, slippery roads, and wet brakes.
The course would be bad enough with a lot of slick spots and poor riding conditions. The rain was continuing but the wind wasn’t a factor on the ride out. What was obvious was how much less crowded the bike course was. Less then half the riders, few spectators and less volunteers made this feel almost lonely at times. Just as my arms were fatigued on the swim, my legs had no energy on the bike. Every mile was a struggle. I was happy to see the turnaround again…but was then treated to pretty significant headwinds. I had warmed up by this point so the wind and rain were not overwhelmingly cold, but it did make the ride back uncomfortable. I also noticed the smaller hills today with the leg fatigue. I have to say that I was pretty happy when I spun back into transition.
Bike Split – 1:47:34 (15.9 mph)
Starting to get the hang of transition again!
T2 Split – 3:05
The run course was the same as yesterday. This part of the course was not as deserted as the bike, but was much quieter then the day before. It was a simple out and back which we did once (instead of twice yesterday). With only half the participants doing half the distance, it was much quieter. There were fewer volunteers and no spectators once we left transition. The legs were as wobbly as ever leaving transition but found their form quickly enough. The cooler temps were welcome for this stretch of the race (although the ice-towels that were so welcomed yesterday were ignored today). The run course was perfectly flat with 4 aid stations along the way. Overall, an uneventful 5k.
Run Split – 32:28 (10:27 min/mile)
As I got to the finishers chute, I was all alone, the racers were very spaced out and I had nobody around me. The red carpet and the finish line beckoned to me but it didn’t look the same as yesterday. The rain and dreary skies made it look a little less special. But it was still something that I wanted to savor. Again, there were a lot of photographers and I lined myself right down the middle. Head up, bib straight, tri top zipped up, and a big smile. Who knew if yesterday’s photos looked decent. I wanted to have a few photos to remember this moment. I was ready for my closeup. I started down the chute and crossed the finish line.
Finish Time – 1:47:34
Water, medal, chicken salad sandwich, and a copy of my results were obtained while waiting for transition to open.
It had been a good weekend. I looked at my results and I wasn’t dead last in my Age Group today…so I’ll take that as a win. I knew that I would likely never qualify for this event again, so I let the memories of this weekend sink in. Yes, I had been invited to this event. I may have been out of my league but I earned my spot at the starting line. I may have been one of the final finishers, but I still felt that I earned my spot fair and square and that I belonged here…at least this one time. From where I started six years ago, it still seemed to be an impossible achievement. I took a few more moments to remember the details. I then grabbed my bike for one last photo and I loaded my gear for the long drive home.