I'm still sore! OMG it was tough. I finished though, and I wasn't dead last. Yeah! I finished 91 out of 108 females with a total time of 2:47:26, there was no Athena division.
The weather - Compared to my hometown desert climate it was cold. It was 55 degrees and cloudy. It had rained the night before, and threatened rain that morning. It never rained during the race and warmed up to the mid to upper sixties by the time it was over. I think the sun was shining partly when I finished, but oxygen deprived me cannot remember. It was humid too probably at least 50%.
The swim - I was not nervous before the swim. I'm taking this as a warning sign for future events as I've been extremely nervous before other swims and did fine. This swim I had a few moments of major freaking out. I did not have a wet suit. I hem hawed around too much this summer trying to decide whether or not to rent one. Once I decided to rent one, the local (Lovington) dive shop owners were indisposed with personal health issues and the race local (Fort Collins) rentals were all booked. Horsetooth reservoir web site claimed a surface temp of 73 degrees. It probably was pretty close to that, but at the cool air temp it felt frigid. I was in the last wave so the water near the shore was pretty churned up. It was an in water start. When the gun went off I stuck my head into total brown out. I don't know if it was the dark water, or the cold water or what but I freaked. I couldn't even do a full breast stroke for a while because that meant sticking my head under water. So I did a head above water breast stroke, side stroke, little back stroke, and a lot of self talk. At the quarter mark I was able to do the full breast stroke, but was still freaking a little with the freestyle. I passed a few folks, some who started in the wave before me (each wave had different colored caps). My body acclimated to the water temp and I was able to freestyle breathing every stroke at about 50 meters from the turn around. I free styled most of the way back to the shore. They had shortened the advertised 800 meter swim by about 100 meters but made up for that with the freaking long run up hill to the transition area. This slicker than goose poop, muddy trail up was counted as part of the swim as you crossed the timing mat at the entrance to T1. Swim time – 21:31.
T1 - Transition area was not great. They had too few bike racks (a lot unstable) for the 206 participants. My area was in one corner of the orange construction fencing used to corral the transition area. My bike – leaned up against the fencing. Anyway… My feet were covered in sticky, gooey, black mud. I opted for no socks as I didn’t get all the mud off at this point, and didn’t want crud in my socks during the run. Also opted to ride with my gloves, but didn’t ever practice putting them on damp hands while also pushing the bike. T1 time – 3:29.
The bike - The whole 12 mile course was single track, which means narrow trail that makes passing or being passed rather treacherous. The first 1.5 miles or so was uphill (WTF!). The trail was muddy from the previous rain – not sloppy muddy like my mud bog post, but sticky none-the-less. My legs were burning, and I was not having a very good time. I kept thinking, what did I get myself into. The bike consisted of two loops, with the second loop being smaller. The first half or more of the first loop was mainly up hill with some flats and a few downhill sections. The second half was mainly downhill. The trail was tough. There were bike parts all over the place – mostly pieces of petals or reflectors; I did see a cog wheel from someone’s rear derailer. I was passed, but I passed a few. I fell once, almost fell a couple of other times. One guy was desperate to pass me but had trouble – actually bumped my butt when he chose me over a tree. The downhill part was fun but scary. Lots of switch backs and blind turns. You never knew what lay around the turn – huge rocks, slick wooden bridge, crashed bike, or dislodged fence. The first half of the second looped just totally sucked – uphill again and really tired legs. The second half was better as it was the downhill portion and a little more familiar. I pushed it a little on this down hill. Though – 20mph on a single track trail – kind of terrifying. Bike time - 1:30:17.
T2 – My feet and hands were so numb from the bike, I had trouble getting my socks on. I was so wet and cold everywhere and a bit disoriented. T2 time – 1:58.
The run - Uphill out of T2, give me a freaking break! Then a slight uphill along a dirt road to the trail head probably ½ a mile. Then 500 vertical climb in a half mile, no way was this going to be run. Some of it couldn’t possibly have been run even by those that still had their legs after the bike. There were sections of just rock. I think it was more than 500 vertical feet or more than half a mile. Screw it! I walked, no I hiked it. Then downhill, which I ran or just sort of skipped down hoping I didn’t blow out a knee or an ankle. Then approximately 1 mile to the finish line on the dirt road, the same dirt road where many of the other triathletes had parked most of which had already finished the race and were packing up their bike and changing their clothes or actually leaving. “Good job” “You’re almost there” “Don’t give up” I know they were being good sports and all, but do you know how much it sucks seeing and hearing these folks when I felt like throwing up? I really wanted to walk a portion of this last leg, I was so freaking spent. But was I going to walk by all of these people who already finished – NO! So I did my shuffle run to the finish. So the last few hundred yards, the run path takes you around the awards area. They had free BBQ and beer and everyone was sitting on the grass eating and chatting and here we stragglers come running around all of this, smelling the BBQ wanting to puke. But I kicked it a little and finished, almost tripped over more of that stupid construction fencing – then started hyperventilating. That was fun. Jeff was there and calmed me down without using a paper bag. Geesh I was tired. Run time 50:12.
Scenery - Beautiful!
It was a hard race. I had several moments where I seriously considered quitting, but I’m too darned stubborn to quit and I’m glad I didn’t. I would like to do this race again, but with a little different training. I’m glad I did some training sessions on those cow trails, but I needed a lot more hill training. Wet suit is a must for this one. Upper body strength training – my forearms were toast after the race and are still sore today – from hanging on for dear life on the bike. My shoulders and neck are also sore and stiff. I think every fiber of muscle in each leg – especially the glutes, IT band area, and outer calves are sore.
My heart rate monitor calculates calories burned. Total calories burned = 3,465.
I’m wanting to do the Cotton Country Tri in Levelland on September 16th, that’s a good sign right? It should be a cake walk compared to this one, plus I should be on my new road bike, but today the thought of any training is not very appealing. I have to see if it will work logistically – as September looks to be yet another busy month in the Byrd household.
My brother-in-law took some good pictures of the event and of my fan club - will post them later.