I arrived at the race site with plenty of time to spare, checked in, set up in transition, chatted with some friends, and got in a brief swim warm up with my TMS-IOS teammates. It was my first time in the wetsuit since October and my first open water swim in just as long, so I was a bit apprehensive about that but felt ok during the warm up and the fact that it was only a 750 meter swim helped to calm my nerves.
The race was an in-water start and though it was cool, the water temperature was not as cold as I'd expected. I found a spot off to the outside, a few rows behind Cari, Doracy, and the other fast swimmers. The plan was to accept the fact that I'd be way behind the leaders coming out of the water, but just try to swim comfortably hard. It took a while to feel "comfortable," but after making the first turn I settled in and swam what I thought felt like a reasonably steady pace. My sighting could use work, and in the end my garmin said I'd added an extra 72 meters, but I was out of the water in under 15 minutes. To my surprise, the majority of bikes were still in the transition area when I got to mine, so I already knew that meant a marked improvement over previous seasons when I was in the bottom third or so coming out of the swim. I'd hoped to swim in the 1:40s/100 yards, and officially I averaged 1:51/100 with the run to the timing mat, so overall I was happy with that.
I had a bit of a hard time getting out of my wetsuit, which was no surprise given my lack of recent practice, but I made it out onto the bike without any major holdups.
This was my first race with the new bike and gear, and I was excited to get out there and see what I could do. The 15 mile bike course had a few rolling hills but nothing terrible, so the plan was to just keep my power in the 180s and pick people off. It was an out and back course, so I tried to count the women in front as the leaders came back, and it appeared to me that Doracy was the 1st woman, followed by Cari, two other women, and then me at the turn around. After catching the women who I though were 4th and 3rd, I came into T2 thinking our team had a shot at sweeping the podium, as long as I didn't blow it on the run. I ended up right on target, averaging a 187W and little over 21mph on the ride, and my biggest concern was how the knee would feel out on the run.
The run was also an out and back, with more incline on the way out and then a nice gentle loss of elevation on the way back. Though I typically hate running up (even if "up" is only 50 feet per mile), for some reason I prefer that off the bike as it helps my legs settle into running. Unfortunately the bike was not enough to quash the knee pain, and the first mile of the run was fairly painful. I felt like I was barely moving and limping along, but told myself it was only a 5k and it would all be over soon. Thankfully toward the end of the first mile the pain level was down to a 2 or 3, so I was able to pick it up a bit and settle into something a little under 7 minute/mile pace. When I saw Cari I realized that I was too far from the turnaround to have a shot at catching her, but also knew there was an NC State girl not far behind me and I was not about to give up my position, so I managed to find at least a little more speed to finish strong (7:31-6:57-6:52-6:25 pace for the last .17). Even with the knee issues, it turned out to be the second fastest female run of the day, so I did take some encouragement from that.
|My first race representing the TMS-IOS Elite Team|
We hung out for a while after the race, while several of my friends and teammates collected both overall and age group awards. As expected, the race confirmed that I need to work on my swim and transitions, but I was pleased with my effort on the bike and am optimistic about my running potential for coming races, especially if I'm able to run pain free. All things considered, it was a great start to the season. Next stop: the USAT Long Course Duathon National Championship!