HOLY HILLS!!Saturday, June 9, 2012 was my first triathlon of the 2012 racing season (excluding the Magnolia Triathlon back in March in Covington, Louisiana). The Holiday Lakes Triathlon consisted of a 500 meter swim, a 25 kilometer bike and a 5 kilometer run.
Saturday started with a 4:00 am alarm clock and a 90 minute drive to Holiday Lake by Brooklyn, IA. We experienced a beautiful sunrise on the way to Holiday Lake and came to the realization that we LOVE mornings!! There are fewer people out and about, the mornings are so calm and peaceful and the sunrises...well, those are truly priceless!!
Packet pick-up was open just before 7 am. As I was getting ready to pick up my race number and timing chip, I realized I didn't have my photo ID or my USAT card...WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?! I am a certified USAT Coach and know better than this!! Luckily I was able to pull my USAT information up on my iPhone, but I still had no photo ID...the "ladies auxiliary" that was working packet pick-up and body marking were very nice and let me get my race number and timing chip anyway. They also had no idea how to body mark triathletes. As the first triathlete to get body marked, I explained to them what to do with each person they body marked, and made sure they correctly marked a few more people before heading back to the car to get everything ready for transition.
The transition area opened at 7:30 am and the triathlon didn't start until 9 am. Perfect!! This would give me plenty of time to get my transition area set up, test ride the bike to make sure everything is working properly and get down to the water for some pre-race swim practice. While test riding my bike, it was noted that the road just outside of transition was recently chip sealed...UGH!!! There was still plenty of loose "chips" on the tar and places where the tar was seeping through. Good thing it is only for the first 1/4 mile and the last 1/4 mile of the bike ride!!
After getting my bike back in transition and making sure everything was set up just right, I made my way down to the water's edge and began the arduous process of putting on my wetsuit. If you haven't ever experienced putting on a wetsuit before, I use the analogy of trying to stuff sausage into a sausage casing...it is quite the chore!! There were many people down at the swim start who opted out of putting on their wetsuit for the short 500 meter swim, but I decided to put mine on as it would give me practice for upcoming races this year. After swimming out and back a few times, I was very comfortable in the water. As more people entered the water to do a pre-race swim, the amount of slimy seaweed floating in the water increased tremendously!! YUCK!!
At 8:45 am the race director had everyone get out of the water to do our pre-race meeting giving us all last minute instructions and helpful tips about the course. At 9:00 am the gun went off for the men's wave...and they were off. As I looked around the beach, there weren't many women and team participants left. This would make for a nice swim with little contact!! At 9:03 am the gun went off and we were off!! As I was swimming, I remember thinking, "This is GREAT!! I have had no contact with anyone." I found my rhythm and swam at a very comfortable pace. As I approached the shore, I began mentally preparing myself for transition.
Upon exiting the water, I immediately began stripping off my wetsuit as I ran up the hill into transition. After getting out of my wetsuit much faster than it took me to get into it, I was changing into my bike gear and hitting the road. The bike course was very hilly with a strong headwind to the first turn around. I just dropped into aero and stayed low, knowing I would be turning around and getting the wind at my back at some point. I was very happy to make it to about mile 4 before seeing the first triathlete on his return leg of the bike. At the first turn around on the bike, there were a couple of great "men's auxiliary" volunteers cheering participants on and encouraging us. As I turned around the orange cone, I decided now I would really push!! Why not?!?!? I did have many hills to climb, but I also had the wind at my back...Let's see what I can do :) After the second turn around point, I would have the wind in my face again for a couple of miles before turning back into transition, so I decided to make the most of the wind at my back while I could!! With the wind at my back, there were some descents that I was able to get my speed up to 37.4 mph. I felt like I was flyin'!! After the second turn around, I had about 2 miles of headwinds before the turn back into transition. With only a couple of miles to go on the bike leg, I dropped my chain completely off a my derailer while trying to shift in preparation for an ascent. UGH!! I got off my bike and quickly put the chain back on before getting back on my bike and trying to pass the three people that just passed me. No one had passed me on the entire ride until now. I was determined to catch them and pass them again!! I caught two of the participants pretty quickly as they were struggling up the hill, but the last one was a little stronger and was right in front of me going into transition. I decided I would catch her on the run since I didn't catch her on the bike.
When I got into transition, I quickly racked my bike, wiped off the bike grease from my hands, got out of my bike gear and into my run gear and was off on the run!! The last 3.1 miles were in front of me and I had NO idea just how hilly this run would be!! As I began the climb out of transition, I decided to walk and take in some much needed water and nutrition (breakfast was a long time ago...). You know the saying, "What goes up, must come down." Well, down we went and then up and down and up and down...you get the picture. There was not one flat section on the entire run!! There were multiple hill climbs that were at 19% grade, which meant there were also descents at the same grade. I was able to walk up the steep hills faster than I could run up them and decided this was a good strategy to help conserve energy. The whole run was also on the recently chip sealed roads, so this made for some unsteady footing on the ascents and descents as well.
As I crossed the finish line, I was very thankful that the race wasn't any longer, I was wondering what sadistic individual designed this course and I was happy to be done!! There were other Zoom Performance athletes participating, so we decided to get a group photo at the finish line showing that we all conquered what was a VERY CHALLENGING course!! The only flat part of the whole race was the swim :)
I got some food and checked the results board only to find out I got 3rd in my age group!! YIPPEE!! I really had to work hard to earn this medal!! I finished with a time of 1:41:05. I was pretty happy with that considering the course!!
I really enjoyed the challenge that this course brought and will definitely be doing this race again...just not next year...next year is Ironman Coeur d'Alene :)
Total Time: 1:41:05 for 18.95 miles
Swim: 10:09 for 500 meters
Bike: 57:50 for 15.5 miles (with a dropped chain)
Run: 30:15 for 3.1 miles (straight up and straight down)