This weekend I did the Gillie Girl Triathlon, an all-women sprint triathlon with proceeds benefiting the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. This was my second time doing this race - I did it in 2014 with my friend Carolyn.
I spent Saturday night at my friends' house which saved me an hour on race morning, since my friends only lived 20 minutes from the park where the race was held. I got to visit with them a little bit Saturday night and had a great sleep there. I woke up around 5:50 (very early for me!!), ate some oatmeal, got dressed and headed to the park.
It was really crowded when I got there - ended up being about 300 people doing this race, plus lots of spectators. I checked in and put my stuff in transition, which was a free-for-all in terms of finding a place. I like it better when the spots are assigned by your number...it's really hard to find your stuff if there's no organization. There were already lots of bikes in there so I squeezed my bike and things into a free space and tried to make a mental map of where my things were.
Somehow I managed to bump into Amy, which was surprising since there were so many people there. We chatted for a bit and then Nick showed up just in time for me to hand him my backpack with all my extra stuff in it.
Swim - 800m
I did not get a chance to get in the water during warm-up, but I heard a lot of people say the temperature was pretty warm. In the week prior to the race the rumor was it would not be a wetsuit legal race so I was planning on not wearing my wetsuit. It rained late Saturday night which cooled the lake down and it did end up being wetsuit legal. The lake is really tiny - so tiny that you have to swim around the lake, get out and run on the beach, and then get back in and swim another lap. Since I've done this race before I knew the water would be warm, shallow, and not wavy, so I decided not to wear my wetsuit.
I was in the third swim wave. We waded into the water about to our knees and stood there for about 5 min before our wave was to start. I ducked down so I could put my face in the water and check my goggles, and the water felt a little chilly but I knew it would be fine once I started moving. I lined up right in the front, which I usually never do in any type of race, but I've learned to make sure I don't get stuck in the back of the pack because it's really hard to get around people.
I was surprisingly not nervous at all waiting to start. Probably because I've done this race before? I think a lot about races in the days leading up to them so I usually have a decent metal plan and try to not get nervous because that screws everything up. We got the signal to go and it immediately got a little crazy, as expected. I fell back a little so I wasn't right out in front (the two people on each side of me ended up basically squeezing me out) and I didn't want to swim on top of people because I know that makes me nervous. I stayed calm through the hectic beginning and found my groove pretty quickly and just had a pretty easy swim. On the 2nd lap of the swim I was mixed in with people from the wave behind me on their first lap, and it was difficult to figure out who was in my wave and gauge how I was doing compared to others. We had navy swim caps which didn't stick out much in the water which made spotting people a little harder.
I was glad I did not wear the wet suit. I noticed right away the lack of buoyancy I'm used to in lakes while wearing it, but, I think I would have been too hot with it on. Plus, it takes extra time to take it off.
2014 swim time: 0:15:.40 (wearing wet suit)
2016 swim time: 0:16.16
As I was getting out of the water heading to transition I heard Lynne and Jami cheering for me! I didn't see them before I started but I could definitely tell it was them. I got into transition and couldn't find my bike!!! Ahhh!! There were so many bikes in there and everything looked the same. The rows didn't have numbers or colors or anything. I knew the general area but I just couldn't find it. I always feel disoriented after quickly getting out of the water, which doesn't help. After what seemed like forever, I finally spotted my towel and stuff on the ground. Note to self: put a bright colored towel or something on my bike next time!
I wore different bike shoes than I normally do, because my shoes have ratchet straps on them which are slower to put on and can sometimes get stuck if I tighten them too much. I wore a pair of Nick's old bike shoes that only have velcro straps (yeah we can share shoes, and clothes).
2014 T1: 0:02.30 (due to taking off wetsuit, putting on bike shorts, just generally being a wetsuit noob)
2016 T1: 0:01.44 (no wetsuit, can't find my bike)
Bike - 14 miles
Clearly this is my favorite part and my best leg. I've been working on biking harder this year (seeing the effects of TNR!) and after doing a bike race earlier this year I've been learning about how hard I can push myself and pace myself. In previous triathlons I tend to hold off a little on the bike knowing that I'll be running afterwards, and I don't like running. But I've realized that even if my legs hurt for a few minutes once I start running, it goes away quickly, and it does not slow me down running. I don't run fast anyway, so I'm better off going hard on the bike and making up time there.
The bike course is quite flat. I passed a lot of people, and I did not get passed by anyone. I really didn't have any idea how many people in my wave (wave = age group) had gotten out of the water before me so I wasn't sure how many were ahead of me on the bike. We had our ages written on the back of our calves, but they wore off of some people during the swim so I couldn't read everyone's age. I passed enough people and created decent gaps between us that I was pretty sure there weren't many people in my age group ahead of me.
I have been practicing quick dismounts off my bike (it can be tricky getting off quickly because the cleats on the bike shoes are really slippery). Practice paid off and I was able to dismount, without falling, while I was still rolling so I never really had to come to a complete stop. I heard a spectator near me say something like "now that's how you get off!" or something like that. It's exciting when you learn new skills.
My bike computer said I averaged 19.3mph
2014 bike time: 0:45:25
2016 bike time: 0:41:20
Pretty uneventful. Bike shoes off, sneakers on, put on race belt and grab water bottle.
For some reason I don't have T2 times for either year.
Run - 3.1 miles
My least favorite part. The run is fairly hilly. It starts off in the park then goes out on the road for about a mile, then you turn around and come back the mile on the road and back through the park. I haven't run on hills at all this year so I felt very slow on them. I was also really hot. Towards the beginning of the run there is a fire truck that will mist you when you run by. A "mist" from a fire hose still gets you soaked though.
There were lots of spectators on the course - lots of people outside their homes playing music, cheering, etc. There were also a lot of water stops with volunteers cheering, so at least it wasn't a boring run. Amy caught up to me on the run so we chatted for a few seconds and she continued on. I was keeping an eye on peoples' calves, looking for people in my age group - since the course loops back around, I could see people ahead of me who were returning to the park. I didn't see any 25-29 people, but like I said, some numbers had worn off. I felt like there couldn't be too many people from my wave ahead of me.
Once you get back into the park it's flat (yay!) and you can see the finish line and lots of people cheering, which makes the last part pretty easy. I crossed the finish line and got a finisher's medal, a small glass, and a Gatorade.
2014 run time:0:26:45
2016 run time: 0:28:48
This race has a really great atmosphere. There was a rescue group with a bunch of reptiles you could touch/look at, vendors, bounce houses, live music, and free food. The chocolate milk was flowing (and it was so, so good). I hung out with Nick, Lynne, Jami, and Lyra most of the time, and met up with Amy and fellow WRR Cynthia to see how their races went.
We hung around for the awards and I ended up getting 2nd place in my age group...so my assessments during the race were accurate! I got a long sleeve tech t-shirt for it. After packing up all my stuff, Nick, Jami, Lynne, Lyra and I went out for ice cream. I got a m&m flurry made with chocolate/vanilla twist ice cream and it was so good.
2014: 1:31:36, 7 out of 25 in my age group. 44 out of 320 overall
2016: 1:30:19, 2 out of 24 in my age group, 25 out of 286 overall
I was a little disappointed that my overall time only improved by a minute, but after thinking about it, I was pacing myself for this race based on the people I was competing with, aiming to place in my age group, which I did, so, I can't be too upset. I think I would have raced a bit differently if I had known that there were people in my age group ahead of me. So, overall, very happy with how the day went.