Race: Tri the Parks Series, Richard Russell Triathlon (Intermediate Distance)
Location: Russell Park, Elberton, Georgia
When: Saturday, August 13, 7:30am
Distance: Intermediate/Oly: 1500 meter swim (0.9mile), 22 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run
The Expert and I were racing this puppy together. The race venue was about 80 miles away. A solid 1.5 hour drive.
We planned to leave at 4:30am, which would put us there by 6:00- one hour before transition closed, and way before the start of the race. We get in the car, and I look at the clock: 5:00am. Crap! Thirty minutes late getting on the road? What happened? Automatically, we are behind the 8-ball.
At 6:25am, we think we are going to make it. Timing is a little close, but we’ll be fine.
However. The wrong turn. “Where are we???” I’m starting to screech and wring my hands.
The Expert says, “I don’t know. You have the directions!”
“Well, this isn’t right!”
“What does the paper say?” he asks.
“I don’t know!” I screech (more screeching).
“You don’t know? You don’t know?”
We pull over.
I’m supposed to turn on my navigation, but I don’t have a cell signal on my AT&T service. The Expert announces that he left his cell at home. Well, that is just SUPER! SUPER!! I’m screeching. He finds his phone. Luckily (really the only lucky thing thus far), the Expert has Verizon, and he turns on the navigation. Go two miles and turn left on, says the Navigation. We have 9.9 miles to go.
It’s 6:40am. And we have 9.9 miles to drive. 9.9 miles. And transition closes at 7:00. Did I mention that we didn’t have our race packets or timing chips or anything yet?
Turn right on Jack Rucker Road.…. We turn on Jack Rucker. And a word that rhymes with Rucker comes to mind. But it’s not Rucker. Jack Rucker Road is a dirt road. And gravel. And dirt. I think I hear music from Deliverance.
The Expert has had it. Something about the dirt road flipped his lid.
It’s 6:42am, we both have to pee, and we are on a dirt road. With bicycles. And I start crying.
“Why are you crying? Why do you cry before every race?” he asks me.
“Because… this is a deeeeesaaaaaaaaaster….. I-I-I-I just want….”
“You have to stop crying.”
“I can’t stop crying! We aren’t going to make it,” I screech.
“You got that right.”
I look at the clock. It’s 6:45am. And we are on a dirt road. Still. Finally, the dirt road ends, and we have about 2 miles to the park. Zooooom.
“By the way,” the Expert says, “I am never doing a triathlon again. This is a RIDICULOUS way to spend a Saturday.”
“Fine,” I screeeeeech. “Not like we are doing a triathlon today anyway!”
Park Entrance. A line at the gate. We are five cars back. 4,000 Year Old Gatekeeper lady giving everyone the history of the park.
“That’ll be five dollars,” she says.
I throw $20 at the Expert. ”Tell her to keep the change. Let’s GOOOOO!” (The Expert waits for the change. Of course.)
We are riding the bikes down the hill, backpacks in tow.
“Crap,” the Expert shouts at me, “I forgot my water bottles.”
I throw up a little in my mouth, “What???”
“Go on. I’ve gotta go back.”
“No, I’ll wait,” I say.
I go. I pull up to the registration table.
Here comes the Expert.
We have our race numbers, our bodies marked and our timing chips.
We made it. Transition was open. We made it.
By the time I got everything set up, the race was ten minutes from starting. I forgot to put on my helmet number and my bike number (I didn’t realize that until after I got home and saw the numbers in my race bag). I scurried to the potties. And down to the beach.
A guy named Mike was down at the beach, said “hey, I love your blog” and we got a little pre-race chitter chatter on the books – which helped with the ridiculous amount of panic I had felt from the crazy ride in.
By the time the race started, I felt like I had already done a race. The Expert was in the second swim wave (the green caps) and I was in the third wave (the pink caps).
“GO!” I watch the Expert start swimming. Three minutes until my wave.
The course was a 750 meter triangle shape, and we had to do it twice. Swim the triangle once. Get out of the water, walk about 20 feet, and swim it again.
“GO!” And the pink caps were off. About 200 meters in, my left goggle was completely flooded. Crap. I float up for a minute, release the water, and start off. It fills up again. I decide to swim one-eyed. Approaching the beach, I realize I forgot to start Constance (my new Garmin 310xt). All that money, and I can’t remember to start the watch.
Out of the water. Run twenty feet, empty goggle, dive back in.
The swim to the first buoy (for the second time) was annoying as all hell. This green cap dude insisted on swimming like we were long-lost Siamese twins. Now, I know that swim starts get bottled up, you crawl, kick and jump across people. But this was Loop Two. The whole lake was our oyster. There was plenty of space. And this dude wanted to kick, punch and snuggle up to me like a warm blanket. I took a few kicks. I made a concerted effort to pull to the side, pull forward. But there he was. I took about sixteen more kicks to the legs, to the feet, to the ribs. I tried to move away again. He moved towards me and kicked me some more. Then I got mad. [Insert whatever you can imagine I would do.] He moved.
I was swimming like I was in la-la land. I definitely wasn’t there. I felt slow. And foggy-brained. Headed back towards the beach, I see the Expert swimming near me.
Then, another green cap dude swam in front of me. No, really. I was swimming towards the beach; and he was swimming parallel to the beach. He swam across me. Scared the life out of me. I thought he was a sea creature (yes, a sea creature in the lake). I watched as a guy with an oar tried to get his attention. But dude was just going fast and furious across the course.
Out of the water. Uphill run to transition. I opted for an uphill walk instead.
I decided to also opt out of socks on the bike. I was soaking wet and I hate having wet socks. So I chose none. Right out of the gate, a climb. Not a horrible one, but a climb nonetheless. But nothing like the climb at Mile 2.
Holy guacamole. That hill was gnarly. And here comes the Expert. Nicknamed “quadzilla” by Coach Monster for his massive legs… oh, the Expert loves the bike. He gives me some motivation. I decided that I’m not letting him drop me.
The bike course was fun, but quite challenging, I thought. Three or four hills brought some serious pain, and the rest of the rolling hills were just moderately painful. The downhills were fast. Good course.
The Expert stayed ahead of me. I would see him, look back, trying to drop me. And I would think, “You aren’t losing me, mister!” However, he stopped to lend a C02 cartridge to a guy with a flat, and I caught him. He never quite lost me after that.
As I pulled into T2, the Expert laughed and screamed across the bike racks, “I can’t get rid of you!”
I said, “That’s right! I’m like lightning!”
The Expert takes off on the run. I’m about forty yards behind. Oh, and the run started with a half mile trail run. For the love. No more trails.
The run was a two loop course. In other words – do 3.1 miles, then do 3.1 miles again. Run the half mile trail. Again.
I tend to like the “out and back” formats much better. You run, turn around, and run home. The loops are demoralizing. ”I just did that loop. Now I have to do it again?” Repeating territory should not be allowed. It’s contrary to my “always move forward” motto.
I catch up to the Expert. He says, “And here she is!” We run together for a little bit, people flying past us. I say, “Hey, we’re like Macca and Raelert!”
The Expert says, “Which one am I?”
“I think you’re Raelert, because I’m about to lay down the hammer,” I say.
We both laugh. [Neither of us are laying down anything like hammers.]
We pound some fists, and run our own races. I felt really great on the run to start. Really good. Best I’ve ever felt running. Until I see a sign.
I thought I was at least 2 miles in. Ugh. Something about that deflated me a little. 5.2 to go? 5.2 TO GO???? Errrrrrrrr….. That, and the fact that the entire run was uphill. Both ways. All loops. Uphill. Uphill. And the race description had the freaking nerve to call the run course “flat and fast.” You call that flat and fast? Then, I am also flat bottomed and fast.
I plod along. My feet going plop plop plop. I get a rock in my shoe. I pull it out. I shuffle along, and I walk sometimes, but I am hanging in there.
I see the Mile 4 sign. And I started to get cold. There is something completely ridiculous about running in the Georgia heat and feeling cold. I think I was under-fueled. Or I pushed too hard trying to avoid getting dropped by the Expert on the bike. Either way, I was suffering. This was probably the hardest race to date, suffering wise (discounting the trail race from hell, of course).
I see some Swim Bike Mom friends, Elizabeth and Kimberly on the run, blowing by me. Nice to see familiar faces at the race! These girls are awesome, BTW.
The Expert and I pound fists as we pass each other going opposite ways on the homestretch, saying “run and done.”
About 3:25:00, I roll through the finish. The Expert isn’t too far behind. A good race for both of us.
What I learned:
- Some people are fast. I am not. And oh, well.
- Get to the race early. Leave one hour before I think I need to. Or stay over the night before. Otherwise, may lead to ultimately quitting triathlon or divorce.
- Fuel, fuel and fuel some more.
- I am improving. Period. I ran St. Anthony’s somewhere around 3:22:34; today was about 3:25:00. St. Anthony’s was (really) fast and flat. Today, was tough (the swim was double long as St. Anthony’s) and I only fell about 2 minutes behind my time in that race. This bike course was craaazy to me. It was an improvement. And that is enough to keep me moving forward.
“So. You would have bet against me doing this?” I smirked, “What about you?”
He laughed, “Oh, I would have bet a million bucks that I would do it.”
I laugh too, “Of course you would. And that’s why we call you—”
“—I love you,” he says.
“I love you, too.”
(More later…along with the “ugly” race photos!)