I can’t say enough about how awesome this race was! It was a nice cool day (72*!) and the location of the race and course were beautiful!
I am very happy with the way it all went down. So without further ado, let’s talk about the race!
Char and I left right after work Friday to head to the race. Other than running into a little traffic, we got our packets without much trouble, then headed downtown Asheville to meet our friend, Phil, & his daughter, Alexandra, for dinner. Alexandra is 17 and Lake Logan would be her 2nd International Tri!
We carb-loaded and had a glass of wine to relax the nerves** at Vincenza’s, then headed to the hotel to get everything ready and were in bed by 10:30.
**This will now be deemed as the key to racing success.
5 a.m. came quickly, but we were on the road with our peanut butter/banana on a bagel by 5:30. We rolled into the race site at about 6:10 and fumbled around in the dark trying to get our tires pumped and stuff together before walking our bikes over to transition. Note to self: bring headlamp for early morning race starts.
I was happy to see there was plenty of room to rack my bike at my designated area. I got transition set up quickly but wasted time messing with my cadence detector trying to get it working (unfortunately I never got it). It was already 6:45 and the start was quickly approaching by the time we got body-marked and shimmied into our wetsuits down at the lake.
THE BEST THING I DID ALL DAY was use the last few minutes before the start to jump in the water and swim about 100 m out and back. The water was freezing and it took me several minutes to get comfortable with putting my face in it and still breath normally.
Char, Alexandra and I were in wave 4 (39 and under women), so we had several minutes after the start before we took off. We found Alexandra and convinced her to get in the water with us to get comfortable with the temperature.
Shortly after, we were treading water at the start and the gun went off.
Despite the time in the water before the race, I was still cold and was having a hard time judging my effort. I usually take off too fast and fade, so I tried to keep the effort steady. It sounds strange, but for the first 400 m or so, I couldn’t tell if I was swimming too hard or barely coasting at all. It was a really weird feeling.
By the time I got around the first yellow buoy, I felt like I had settled into a good pace and just kept pulling. I came up on a lot of swimmers from the previous waves and was careful not to swim over them or get kicked. I did get knocked in the face by an elbow that I never saw coming, but after a quick stop to get my composure, I was swimming again.
The swim went by quickly and finally the yellow buoy on the bridge was above me. At that point I hit even colder water (!!) in the river and tons of debris (GROSS) right before seeing the platform to get out.
1500 m – 21:06 (1:24/100m); 4/127 female, 1/20 age group
T1 – 2:27
There was a longish run (200 – 300 m?) from the swim to transition. I jogged, but tried not to get my heart rate up too much. Once in transition, I pulled my wetsuit off and tried to get rid of the wet grass all over my feet before putting my socks on, then grabbed my bike and ran out.
As I ran past Phil out of T1 he yelled that I was over 2 minutes ahead of the next green cap in my wave! I smiled huge and told him thanks…it was a huge boost and good motivation to see how far I could get before getting passed on the bike by women in my AG.
We had to run our bikes a long way to the mount line and I was nervous about all the grass getting in my cleats. I must have gotten some in there because it took me a several tries to get clipped in once I was on the bike.
The bike started with a significant downhill, but the road was wet so I was extremely conservative. Eventually I settled in, got into aero and pushed as hard as I could. My strategy was to go all out on the bike and gamble on the run. I knew I was riding hard, but I hated not having my cadence because I rely on it to gauge effort and select gears.
Around mile 9 or so I got passed by a girl in my age group and I kept expecting Char to come up and pass me too, but mile after mile, it was only guys that were passing. (The downside to be a strong swimmer and not as strong on the bike is that you spend the whole ride getting passed!!)
Because of my Garmin splits, I knew I was riding 20+ mph (my goal) and tried to remind myself to race my own race and not keep worrying about when Char (or anyone else in my AG) was going to pass me. I was amazed that I got to mile 20 and was still in 2nd place!
Coming into the final two miles, on the only real challenging hill on the course, I downshifted and felt my chain drop. I tried to stay calm, switch back into my big gear and pedal slowly and IT WORKED!! I finally managed to get it back on without having to stop (unlike my last race)! I whooped loud and pushed to the finish.
As I rounded the last corner on the bike, Char came past me and yelled: “I guess we’re going to run this thing together, huh?!” I laughed and we rode into the dismount line side-by-side.
The pic is blurry, but perfectly shows us coming off the bike together!
Chatting the whole way into transition…
24 miles – 1:10:12 (21.2 mph!!!), 10/127 female, 3/20 age group
T2 – 1:03
I racked my bike, changed my shoes, grabbed my number belt and visor then waited for a beat for Char and we headed out together.
Phil and several other friends were cheering for us and laughing as they saw us run out together…they all expected a blood-bath of competition from us on the run.
We established from the very beginning, though, that neither of us were interested in killing each other in trying to race to the finish. We also both reassured each other that it was okay to open it up and leave the other one at any time.
Char seemed to be setting the pace, so I let her pull me. I knew I was pushing harder than I would be if I were running alone. It was a slight uphill, but was hard to tell that, so I felt like I was putting out a lot of effort to keep the pace and feared that I would blow up on the way back.
We talked about the bike, assessed how we felt and discussed our pace, etc. the whole time. We both grabbed water at every station and shared a cup when one of us missed. It was FUN and the miles ticked off quickly.
We hit the turnaround point at about 23:4X and I quickly realized how much of an incline we had been running on as all of a sudden we were flying downhill! We increased our cadence, picked up the pace and the next mile flew by. We kept the pace up, but both had low moments after mile 4. The 4 minutes between 30:00 and 34:00 were the longest I can remember in a race. Once we hit mile 5, it hurt, but I was doing a little better and starting to feel that “gravitational pull” to the finish.
We kept the pace strong, using the downhill then eventually sprinted the finish together, crossing at the. exact. same. time. (with a negative split!)
6.2 miles – 46:15* (7:27 min/mile) 13/127 female, T4/20 age group
*Less than a minute off of my all-time 10k PR
Overall: 2:21:02, T6/127 female, T1/20 age group (the “actual” 1st AG placed 3rd overall moving her out of the AG rankings)
Side note: The race was down 100+ participants from last year to this year. Apparently the event used to be some kind of state or Southeast USAT championship and it wasn’t this year, so the competition was definitely less stiff than it has been in the past.
Alexandra also got first in her AG and we all won sweet triathlon door knobs:
Overall it was just a really great day and a good confidence booster in comparing my fitness level this year to last year. I am excited to ramp up training over the next couple of months to get ready for Beach 2 Battleship!
In the meantime, next race is on the schedule is Hood-to-Coast!!