On Sunday I got up at 3:30 AM to get on the road by 4:00 to head to the Iron Girl Clermont Sprint Triathlon. It was funny to be heading there as my third triathlon, because it was supposed to be my first when it was originally scheduled to happen in May! I was given a free entry back in March before I had purchased my bike, and it was one of the main reasons I bought a bike when I did. I had then decided not to stay the night in Clermont to save money since it wasn't that long of a drive. If I had to do it over again I might have chosen otherwise. It was a dark and slightly lonely (in the sense that there were often stretches of 5-10 minutes without seeing a car) drive. But, I made it there unscathed. It did turn out that it would be my first triathlon not to happen at Ft. De Soto.
I got there and headed to packet pickup, saw Meghann, who mentioned that placing in my age group might be possible, and instantly felt my adrenaline start rushing. I'd gone into the day thinking mostly about making the run part of the day my goal; I wanted to use it as a tempo run and run all sub-9 minute miles. But when Meghann said that, I started thinking that maybe I'd push it and would go for a spot on the podium.
I met up with Tori and then saw Denise, Jenny, and Chrissy all in transition. It's nice to see friendly faces at races; it makes them so much less scary. I setup my transition area exactly the same way I had for my last two, and I walked over to chit chat with the girls.
I mentioned I was hungry, because I'd only eaten two eggo waffles for breakfast over two hours prior by the point, and Patrick (Tori's fiance) magically pulled a Honey Stinger Waffle from his pocket. It was magical, and I'm so thankful! It satiated my rumbling stomach.
We walked down to the edge of the lake to get ready for the swim, and I was a little nervous about the fact that I didn't know anything about the bike course. I had looked at the course map, but I hadn't driven it or seen it in the light. I like to at least know what direction I'm heading so that it isn't a surprise. I knew we were biking around the lake, but that was about it.
Before too long it was time to head down to the starting area to line up. There were four waves of the sprint distance, and the under 35 group was the fourth. Because the swim is my strongest leg (because of my swimming background), I don't like being lined up behind groups that we'll end up catching. I knew it would happen, so I prepped myself in advance.
Then, I stepped to the front, where I always line up, and waited. Patrick got some really good pictures with their nice camera, and I'm so appreciative for those!
|This is me in the zone, and yes, my goggles are purple.|
The first wave went off at 7:30, and then they staggered the rest of us with 3 minutes between each wave. Soon enough, we were off into the water. The air was a little chilly, but the water was really nice. We walked into the water to a mid-thigh level, and a minute later we were on our way. I started dolphin diving immediately until we got a little deeper. I didn't gain any ground over the people that ran into the water, so I need to rethink that strategy.
Then I put my head down and got into a rhythm. I breathe alternating every 3 or 5 strokes, and it was a little less than a quarter mile out to the turn buoy. Before we got to that buoy the leaders of our group were catching the wave ahead of us. The people were pretty spread apart by the point, so there was room to maneuver. I got to the first turn buoy in second place of all the pink caps, turned, and made the goal to catch the girl in front of me. As we kept swimming we caught more and more people from the prior wave and the wave before that. By the second turn buoy to head back to shore, we had caught the later people from the front group. This was the part where I slowed down a little. My goggles fogged up so I popped my head up to wipe those off and make sure I was headed in a straight line back to shore. I was, so I put my head down and kept making my way towards the shore around people. And soon I was back!
|I think my least favorite part of any triathlon I've done so far is the run from the swim to transition. I'm always so out of breath and my legs just don't want to run. It's also when I start getting passed by those that are stronger on land than they are in the water.|
1/2 mile swim: 11:49, 1/21 in 25-29 AG, 3/218 Overall
After running from the swim to the transition area, it was time to slip on my bike shoes and head back out. I put my sunglasses and helmet on, and opted not to wear socks and to get going. I was thankful to have my aero bottle on my aero bars (not sure I mentioned it here...I got aero bars clipped on two weeks ago) so that I could have a few sips of water once I got going.
T1: 2:10, 1/21 in 25-29 AG, 19/218 Overall
The problem was my sunglasses were all foggy and I couldn't see, so the photographer caught me when I had pulled them down to be able to see. It's always a little nerve wracking getting on the bike over the mount line. I'm always worried I'm going to hit someone or get in someone's way and get hit. I'm starting to gather that a lot of biking is like driving a car; you just get more used to it and comfortable with it as you do it more.
And then I got going on the course I hadn't seen in daylight. There were a few rollers at the beginning of the course, but there wasn't anything terrible. And then suddenly we reached the point on the map where the sprint turned right and super sprint went straight, and we faced a hill that went straight up. I looked up and saw a lot of people going very slowly and a few people walking. I was thankful at that moment that I had ridden San Antonio and Nick and Beth had taught me about shifting rings and gears, because I did drop to my little ring a couple of times on Sunday. It turned out there were nearly 600 feet of elevation gain in the 12 miles. Again, I know for you non-Florida people that's nothing, but when a 60 mile ride nets little over a few hundred feet on a normal Saturday, that's serious for us!
I made it all the way up the hill and passed a few people along the way. It's the downhills that I always get passed on! They scare me! I'm afraid I'm going to lose control. But, before we had any major downhills we hit another serious uphill. And during this stretch I realized I was going to be playing back and forth with a girl on a Cervelo who was neglecting to announce her passing. It was frustrating me, so finally I said to her nicely as she was passing that I'd appreciate it if she'd tell me she was passing when she went around. One time I almost swung out to pass someone else and didn't know she was there. Luckily I checked before swinging out.
During the return back to the lake part of the course, there were two really serious downhills that scared the crud out of me. I smelled burning rubber at one point and knew I had to let up or I'd burn my brakes out. Luckily I was almost at the bottom. But, at the bottom of one of the serious hills was a right turn; the only thing that makes me more nervous than going down a big hill is turning at the bottom. I made it unscathed and continued playing back and forth with the same girl. The one drawback I found of the day was that a lot of people just didn't seem to follow the rules of passing on the bike. A lot of people didn't ride on the right side of the road and didn't announce they were passing. I know there were a lot of beginners, so I'm not sure how a race can handle that, but it did make me nervous.
12 mile bike: 40:48, 2/21 in 25-29 AG, 34/218 Overall
When I got off my bike and racked it, it was time to run! I was excited to get off and running, because I had my goal! I love goals! I grabbed my Garmin off my bike and was off and running.
T2: 1:19, 8/21 in 25-29 AG, 117/218 Overall (Yikes...I need to work on this...)
I watched my watch for the first mile to take it slower and easier but still stay under 8:50. I felt great, and the weather was perfection! After all the hot runs we've been enduring in Florida lately, the low 70's felt like a dream. After I passed the first mile I picked it up a little more, knowing that I wanted to run it like a progression run and get faster in the later two miles.
I wish I had actually started my Garmin instead of just using it for pace, because I don't know what my splits are. I know when I had a mile left I could taste the finish line and picked it up. There was a hill that we'd ridden on the bike incorporated into the sprint course, and after that hill I just gave it everything I had left. There was about a half mile to go, and by the time I was nearing the finish I was seeing high 7 on my watch. I think these might be my new favorite picture of myself running, because I can see how much effort and heart I'm putting into it.
3 mile run: 25:11 (8:24/mile), 4/21 in 25-29 AG, 25/218 Overall
After crossing the finish, I got my medal, dropped off my chip, and headed for the post race breakfast. I'm just never that hungry immediately after I finish racing, so even though they had the best spread I've seen with hot foods served by a catering company, I just grabbed a cup of coffee and some watermelon and went and enjoyed that.
I soon found all the Tampa Bay Blogger girls, Tori, Jaclyn, and a few other ladies I'd met that morning. We recounted our tales from the course and congratulated each other on our exciting accomplishment. The results were posted soon, and I found out I'd won my age group!
Overall: 1:21:17, 1/21 in 25-29 AG, 15/218 Overall
I stuck around for the awards ceremony, because they were giving us charms for necklaces. They also gave the winner of each age group a jar of almond butter, and with the price of that at the grocery store, I was almost as excited about that as I was about the charm!
Afterwards I changed clothes and headed to my car to pack up and drive the hour and a half home. I was able to reflect on my day on the drive home, and this is what I came up with.
+I was really happy with my swim and run. I've got to work on bike confidence. That will happen with more time in the saddle and on the roads.
+I've got to work on transitions.
+I really wish people would follow the rules on the bike. That would eliminate a lot of stress for everyone. When you do a triathlon, if you haven't before, ride on the right side of the road and announce "on your left" or "passing" when you go to pass someone. For people more veteran than me, am I wrong on this? Is there a time you don't have to do these things?
+I was impressed by the race Iron Girl put on. They did a great job with all the details like post race breakfast, announcing everything ahead of time, and making sure everyone knew where they were supposed to be. Even though I mentioned a lot of people didn't know the rules or follow them, I did hear the announcer repeating everything before when I was setting up transition. I'm just not sure everyone was listening.
When I got home I started rifling through my goodie bag, and I immediately decided that it was without a doubt the best goodie bag for a race I've ever gotten. Aside from the normal paper, there was a ton of food and useable stuff in there.
I was really glad I did this race to experience a different venue and get more race experience. I won a free entry to a race in a few weeks that I'll probably do to gain more experience before Rev3, but then the next main race I'm shooting for is my first Half Ironman on November 10th!
I must say thank you to Iron Girl! Though they gave me a free entry to this triathlon, they really opened the door for me on the world of triathlon. I can honestly say I'm not sure I would have purchased a bike and be participating in triathlon right now had they not offered this opportunity to me in March. Iron Girl triathlons are all over the country and are great races for people early in their triathlon career. I'm glad to have had this experience and look forward to my next races!