Late Friday we headed west to Asheville for my second Olympic Tri (1500 meter swim, 40K bike, 10K run) at Lake Logan. We got to our hotel around 10pm and headed out before 5am to travel the 45 minutes from Asheville to Canton. It was a rainy morning and so much cooler than it's been in Durham. I was really nervous about the swim, but hoped I could improve on my first Olympic time (2:43:42), thought it's difficult to compare triathlons because the courses can be so different.
The swim was a clockwise rectangle (with turns around the yellow buoys on the horizon) in very cold water. I was happy to have invested in a full wetsuit.
Knowing I had completed a 1500 in open water before helped calm my nerves a bit in comparison to the first one, but I was still fairly anxious about the swim. Once we started though, it was a different story. My other open water swim was at Kerr Lake, which was clean and clear, and the open water aspect didn't seem to bother me. This time, I couldn't even see my hand in front of me, and I had a bit of a panic attack... heart rate: max. breathing: nearly hyper-ventilating.
Not good at all. Somewhere between the first and second orange buoys I seriously considered waving in the kayak and accepting my first DNF. I switched to breast stroke for a bit and tried to get my heart rate and breathing closer to normal. I was feeling a little better at the first turn buoy and things got progressively better on the second half of the swim, but I couldn't wait to get out of the water. I guess the stronger second half helped to make up for my breast-stroke and panic-stricken first half, as I made it back to the transition area in under 31 minutes. Certainly not fast, but 2 minutes better than the last one.
My transition time was not stellar, and I need to work on getting out of the wetsuit a little more quickly, but I was just so happy to have made it through the swim I didn't really care! Another fairly long transition run with the bike, and off I went. It was my first ride with the new aero helmet, and I stayed in aero for pretty much the entire race. There was a really steep downhill right off the bat, and I had to brake because of other cyclists, turns, and wet roads. It was nice to get off to a speedy start without much effort! The rest of the bike course was flat to rolling, with only a few turns, and I hit 21 miles right around the one hour mark, which is a huge improvement for me. Unfortunately we paid for that steep downhill later, climbing back up around mile 23. I lost a bit of time there, but so too did everyone around me... no one looked particularly happy during that climb over an hour and a half into the race! I still managed to finish averaging over 20mph for the first time... not sure if it was the course, aero helmet, cool weather, improved bike fitness, or a combination of all of those; but I'll take it!
The second transition went pretty well, and I was out on the run well ahead of my first race. The run course was an out and back with a gradual climb (200 feet of elevation gain) to the turnaround and then a descent back to the finish. I ate a gu and drank some water through the first mile, I focused on keeping my breathing and heart rate under control as I settled into my run. The next few miles I just tried to stay relaxed, knowing I could push going downhill on the way back. Mile splits to the turn: 7:55-7:46-:7:58. Picked up the pace on the way in (thank you, gravity) to run 7:30-7:13-6:57. Even with the downhill back half, I think the sub-7 last mile means I didn't push hard enough earlier. But it was only my second race at this distance and finding out how hard I can work without hitting a wall or having too much left at the end is something that takes time and practice.
In the end I finished much better than expected, despite the miserable swim:
Overall: 2:34:43 (24/125 women)
Swim: 30:36 (81st)
Bike: 1:14:31 (31st)
Run: 45:45 (8th)
Congrats to Nicki and Evan on their age group awards!
And of course a big thanks to my wonderful husband, who got up at 4am and stood out in the rain all morning to cheer me on. I am so lucky to have such a supportive person in my life!