I raced the Dickson Endurance Triathlon last month. It was my first tri of the season. It was also the longest and hardest tri I’ve ever done. It is a really long race (between an Olympic and Half Ironman distance tri), and it’s really early in the season for that distance race, which means a lot of training has been done indoors or in the cold. It’s also a very difficult course with lots of steep and long hills. It’s a newer race and it falls in between 2 popular local/regional races, so it’s not a huge race, or most people do the shorter, less challenging course sprint race.
I got 3rd Overall female! Out of 4. And 4th place was actually Masters Overall winner. So yay, overall podium finish, even it was last place. I knew it was going to be a small race with only 7 women officially signed up and I was the only one in my age group. But only 4 of us showed up.
Pre-race: I stayed at my mom’s house because she lives only a couple miles away and it’s about an hour drive from my house. So I saved some time in the morning (and more potty breaks), and I also got to spend Mother’s Day with her. I arrived at the race site early and with plenty of time to get set up in a good spot in transition, get body marked, and warm up on the bike and run. I even had time to pour myself into my wetsuit and get in a warmup swim before they started the race.
Swim (1 mile- 34:15):
Water temp had dropped to about 68 degrees from the rain. But it actually felt perfect, was warmer than the air temp, and much warmer than the local lake I where had been practicing. I wore my wetsuit, and I also wore an extra cap under the cap they gave us, partly to conserve heat, but also I hate latex caps that pull my hair. After they sent off the sprint racers, they did a wave of all men, then after 3 minutes, they sent the 4 of us off.
I really wish they had just done one wave for this race, and included us with the men. That was a really lonely swim. I had nobody to draft off of and any men I caught up to or passed were having trouble so I couldn’t swim with them.
It was also a 2 loop swim. I feel like I had to work extra hard for this swim without any help from drafting and even though the wetsuit helps with floating and speed, my left arm started getting tired from pulling that neoprene.
Then coming out of the water was the longest steepest hill I’ve ever seen that I had to run up to transition. In a wetsuit. I thought I’d never get back up there. And I thought my inner thighs were going to stick together from the neoprene.
Bike (38 miles-2:24:27):
So this is where I went through several stages of grief.
I knew coming out of the swim I was in 3rd among women, but about 6 miles into the bike, the 4th woman passed me and was long gone! It’s a 2.5 loops course around the outside of the park. As I finished the first loop, I heard the cop directing traffic say into his radio “Last 2 on the Endurance race.” I freaked out. I knew I was near the back, but I couldn’t believe I was so far behind and that many people had passed me already. It was a really lonely bike ride for a while, because it’s a small race over a long distance and I was near the back. Then I started getting really sad; I couldn’t believe I’d be the last to cross the finish. I still had a hilly 9.3 miles to run once I got off the bike. Then I got really mad that I was finishing this race alone, and at about 1/2 way through the second loop I started seeing some of the bikers ahead of me. I could tell they were starting to struggle on the uphills. I was mad, I wanted to catch them. I’d get close as they went up hills (I’m a strong climber because I’m light), but lose them on downhills. Finally on the last 1/2 loop, we started climbing the longest hill of the race for the third time. I could see 3 bikes not far ahead of me and I knew I could take them. One by one I picked them off, including the 4th place woman at mile 30 who had left me behind 24 miles ago! Yay! I wasn’t last place anymore. I played leap frog with this one older guy (how all of my races have been going lately) for the last 5-10 miles. As I was riding back into transition (including the worst hill climb of the day) I realized I was beyond last place.
I got back to transition and took off on the run.
This was going to be the hardest part, even though the run is my strongest leg, this course was brutal even without having swam and biked right before. As I was running, I saw people still coming in on the bike. I was SO far away from being last place. I was relieved.
I held off on taking water and a gel on the run as my stomach was still sloshing around a bit after the bike. I finally got some Nuun from my handheld at the halfway point and eventually got a salt packet and a gel. The cups of water they had at the abundant water stop tables was freezing cold and felt great as I poured them on my head a couple times. I ran as much as I could, but still had to walk several hills. I was exhausted and some of those hills were just easier to walk because you could get a longer stride instead of the death shuffle running your toes into the grade of the hill. I chicked a lot more guys on the run. Every single person in this was race was so incredibly nice and positive! Everyone said a “good job” or “looking good” or “way to go” to each other. Every single time. I love this! No guys getting their man-panties in a wad that I chicked them. The last brutal hill back into finish was a killer. I ran as much as I possibly could but walked quite a bit. Around 7.5 miles I was ready to be done. I didn’t want to carry my handheld water bottle, in fact I didn’t want anything touching me at all. Over stimulus anyone? I was so happy to run in towards that finish, and get my chocolate milk and a Coke out of my car, my post-race treats!
Total: 4:30:56 – 3rd Overall
Pretty sweet haul too. Every finisher got a technical race shirt, a pretty nice medal (printed on both sides), and a pair of socks. But I also got a nice plaque, giant tub of drink mix, and the coolest coffee mug complete with its own stirring spoon for my podium finish!
My biggest hurdle with this race was getting in the distance both physically and mentally, as well as testing and managing my nutrition without bonking or hurling. I got through both! I listened to my body and took in fuel/fluids when I needed and more importantly backed off when I needed to. This was my big temperature gauge for the Half Ironman in Muncie in July. It was a shorter distance and better weather (perfect weather actually!), but it was a much more difficult course. Now all I have to do is just add on some mileage and some hot weather coping skills and I’m ready for the flat courses in Muncie next month!