I have been excited about this race because I have never done it before. Now that I am into my 5th season of doing triathlons, I have done most of the local ones numerous times. That isn't a bad thing, but I loved the idea of doing one I hadn't before. Granted, this involved a 4 hour drive to Vernal, in Eastern Utah, but I am always game for a road trip. Given the fact that our children have now reached the ages of being in a million different activities, Joshua had something on Saturday and Ken had to stay to get him to it, so I was solo for this race. However, I was meeting Kim there, and other members of SLTC would also be there.
Once I got to Vernal I checked into my hotel and then went to meet Kim at packet pick up. We then drove up to T1, some 20 minutes from town to do bike check in. Two things hit me at this point, knowing this was the bike course we were driving. First...this is surprisingly pretty. I had several preconceived notions of Vernal, and this was not one of them. The swim area looked like a mini Lake Powell. This takes place at the Red Fleet State Park, and it is very pretty. Second....holy hills! There is a huge steep hill coming out of T1 that isn't very long, but it was very intimidating looking. But at the same time, what goes up must come down and I could also tell this was going to be a very fast bike course as well.
I asked one of the volunteers how many people were in my age group since this was a Regional Qualifier for Nationals. He looked it up and told me 12. Being a Regional Qualifier, the top 2 for every age group for the sprint distance would go to Nationals. I knew that if I was smart about my race, followed Ben's advice, and also pending no getting off course (hence the Daybreak mess) I might have a decent shot!
Now to the actual race!
They allowed a swim warm up so I got in the water and swam easy with some sprints in there. I felt really, really good. I also was in love with this lake! So pretty, water was clear, and temperature was perfect. The course would be really easy to sight. I was super excited!
The swim is a deep water start off of a boat dock. They only had four waves - Olympic Men, Olympic Women, Sprint Men and Sprint Women. This put me in the last wave. As we waited for other people to go, a guy from the sprint group said he heard it was good luck to do a cannonball into the water before your swim wave started. Well, I needed all the luck I could get, so I did my cannonball. Pretty fun because you rise to the top pretty quick in a wetsuit :)
I then treaded water until it was time to go, then I just went when I heard the horn. I felt fast, but I didn't feel like I was working very hard. I was passing many people and caught up to the sprint men and Olympic women waves. It never was a very crazy swim except around the buoys where everyone was turning, but it went well and it went fast. I loved every part of this swim..it felt fast and at the same time I knew I wasn't maxed out. Before I knew it, I rounded the last buoy and was headed into the boat ramp to exit the swim. Final swim time was 13:23 for the 800 meter swim. This is a swim PR for this distance for me! It was also the fastest swim for any of the sprint women :)
This transition involved a .2 mile run up a hill up the boat ramp and into transition. I thought that because of that I would have a slow T1 time, and also because I felt like I had a hard time getting my dang bike shoes on. Final T1 was 2:23,
The initial hill out of transition wasn't as bad as I thought. It was just a matter of grinding your way to the top, and it wasn't that long either. It does suck that it is literally right out of transition though, so there is no warming up, or chance to get momentum before you are climbing it. It was followed by a short down hill, then up another one before you hit the main road coming out of State Park. I felt really, really good on these hills. I passed a few guys on these climbs and one of them wasn't too happy about it. He said, "As if my swim wasn't bad enough, now I am getting passed by girls." What. A. Tool.
I was happy to be to the top of the second hill, because I knew at that point it was basically downhill into town. The down hill was sweet! I looked down at my watch and I was easily with hardly effort ding 26-27 mph. Very cool! I tried to keep spinning my legs even though it would have been very easy to just coast. these easy miles. Even when we headed into town, there were a few more rollers, but we had good momentum that they were no big deal. I felt good the whole time, I tried to stay tucked into aero and push as hard as I could but still being aware of the fact that I would have to run shortly.
Final bike time for the 13 miles was 43:22. Fastest bike split in my age group.
This was cake. In and out in 52 seconds:)
I was the first female to hit T2. It was pretty sweet knowing that I had a lead on ALL of the other women, but I knew I would have to bust my butt to keep it, and the run isn't exactly my strength. I left T2 and headed out onto the run course, which, if you ask me, is the only lame part of this race. You literally run a half mile from T2 down to a round about. Then you run another half mile down one side, turn around a cone, then run back to the round about, repeated 3 times (to where the run course looked like a T) until you head back home. It was mind numbing and boring. I was so glad that I was doing the sprint and not the oly, where you would have to run that twice. Ugh! Surely they can come up with something better for the future, especially after such a great swim and bike course.
Anyhow, I really felt like I was pushing, so much so that I felt I could puke. It wasn't until the top of the "t" of the run that I saw another female. At that point I had about a mile left of the run. I had a good lead, but I knew I may not be able to keep it, she was FAST! And here goes the story of my life..getting passed on the run. This would be the case for the next mile as I dropped from first overall to 4th overall, or 1st in my age group. The first two women that passed I couldn't have caught. They were cruising. However, the 3rd girl that passed only beat me overall by about 18 seconds, so I can't help but think maybe I could have tried harder? I honestly felt I had nothing left to give though, and she deserved it! Final run time was 28:26, or a 9:03/mile pace. Dangit! So close but not quite the sub 9 I had hoped for.
I was elated to know that I was first in my division. The three women who passed me all congratulated me and me them for a great race. We all talked about how we qualified for Nationals and whether or not we would be going. (Of course I am!). We talked about our training, coaching, etc. It was great to be there with great women/athletes. I found several other people from my club and we enjoyed the post race food and waited for awards. I was thrilled to see that my overall time was 1:28:25!
This was a great race. I was thrilled to have all the pieces finally come together and get my first 1st place for my Division. However, I still don't think this was my best race. My swim was awesome, I wouldn't change anything there. My bike was good, but I still think I could push harder. My HR shows I was in Zone 3 for most of the ride, so I probably could have pushed more. How much more is to be determined, because I still don't want to sacrifice my run. I still really want a run with a sub 9 pace! However, it got the job done and I am thrilled to be going to Omaha in August! Now to just wait for the email with my registration link!
What's next? I do have Echo Sprint tri in a week. I honestly couldn't care less about it now that I have qualified. If nothing else it can be a good training day, but we'll see.
Happy Training and Racing all!