Going into this race we weren't exactly 100%. I tried to cut my knuckle off the weekend before and had to tape it up and not bend it or use it all week. I knew the swim would be interesting, the bike might hurt and transition (getting the wetsuit on & off) would be hilarious.
On Tuesday Shane got stung by a bee on his quad, and by Thursday it had gotten so inflamed and swollen he had to go on a high dose of antibiotics and steroids. He was still unsure about racing until the morning of. Thankfully we know good people that good him hooked up with the right meds quickly (THANK YOU SARA!).
The drive to Havasu was uneventful, but I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the drive was through the mountains between Parker and Havasu City. We got into town about 6, and went right to packet pickup. I was a little concerned when they told us just to pick whatever swim cap color we wanted - that it didn't matter? Based on previous races from this race director, I was thinking the worse. I was also a little bummed when I sa that my swim wave was the very last one - 45mins after the start of the race....
We checked into our hotel and got a preview of how our night of sleep would go. We were in the HEART of Spring Break ville. Right on the canal with 2 of the biggest bars/clubs surrounding us. I was thankful for the ear plugs I brought. We headed out for a great Italian dinner and were back, race gear ready & in bed by 10pm.
Surprisingly we both slept some! Woke up very relaxed - got dressed and rode our bikes to the start. Up & out of the hotel in less than 30mins. We figured we had enough time before our wave starts to eat, sunscreen etc. On the way to transition I lost 2/3 of my gels and they were run over by a car.... I ended up getting some from a guy in transition - Strawberry Banana, my LEAST fav flavor. Oh well!
Neither SHane nor I had high expectations going into this race. We had about 7 weeks of training in, but no taper and not a lot of speed work on the bike. Running was going well, and swimming too - but with my finger I wasn't expecting that much.
Based of last years times, and everyone's description of how hard the bike course was I was guessing my times would be somewhere around:
25min swim, 2:30 Trans 1:22 bike 1:30 T2 & 52min run. ~2:40-2:45....
The start of the race was very cool to see. It was a collegiate championships so seeing all the "young" athletes & the camaraderie was GREAT! So fun to watch. I had plenty of time to get in my wetsuit & wait for my LAST wave to start. For some reason I decided not to get in the water and do any sort of warm up. I knew the water was cold, and I just didn't feel like it :-)
I wore my lap watch so I could mark my swim time. I hit the start button when they yelled 15secs to go. Lined up in the front & took off in the back of the first few girls. I felt like they were HAULING. We were at the fist buoy in what seemed like just a few seconds. My feet and hand were FREEZING, but thankfully my shoulders weren't tired. I quickly got into my groove and noticed I was swimming a lot by myself. I could site & see people in front of me, and I slowly started catching & passing. In the channel it was great because you could site when you took a breath, seeing the other waves swimming on your outside. I felt like I was holding a good pace and straight line, but you never know. The way back out I was passing a lot more people, guys mostly... and as soon as I touched the bottom I stood up and ran up the beach. I looked at my watch hit a "lap" to record my swim time, and saw 22:57. I couldn't believe it, I swam sub 23mins! I may have celebrated a little too long because the next thing I new I looked at the lap time & I had been in T-1 for over THREE MINUTES. Lol.... I'm blaming it on my taped up finger and struggles to get out of my wetsuit but there really is no excuse for that :-)
Swim plus T-1 25:42
There was a LONG way to go before you could mount your bike, maybe .10 of a mile? I tried to hurry but you can only run so fast in those damn bike shoes. With in the first minute or so on the bike, still getting comfortable and trying to spin out the legs on a slight up hill/headwind I had 3 girls in my AG group pass me. They were moving & I just didn't have enough bike speed yet to try to hang on. The first part of the bike was tough. Lots of slight up hills & wind. I decided not to look at my watch - just go by pure effort. After the first 45minutes I started to feel better. We headed into the second neighborhood where the steeped (we were told 20% grade) hills were. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how easy the hills felt compared to what I expected. You could see them ahead of time so I would get as much speed to carry me up the hill as I could. I started slowly making up time and then turned on to the last 6-8miles of slight down and a SMOKING tail wind! I made up about 8-10mins on the second half of the bike. I hit a lap when I dismounted, about 1:17:30 but official time with the .1mile to T2 gave me bike time 1:18:02
T2 wasn't as bad. I had trouble getting my bike racked... I ended up just leaning it next to Shane's, but then asking some guy who was in Transition with a friend to see if he could rack it. I used my inhaler, grabbed a gel and was on my way. The first half mile of the run SUCKED. It was in deep sand, and at a curve. Then, as soon as you got on some concrete you were dodging people walking around, some smokers hanging out and then you got to climb the stairs up the the London Bridge. Let's just say my legs were NOT going there. I looked down at my avg pace right before the first mile (after the stairs) and it was closer to 9mins. I stepped up my leg turnover and quickly found a good pace and effort around an 8-8:15. Their was a girl in front of me I was gaining ground on. I finally got her at 1.5miles & told her it took me a while to catch her & now she needed to stay with me. She was from BYU and has been training in the freezing temps - the heat was really getting to her. I encouraged her to stay with me, and helped her out for the next 5.5 miles. It felt great to feel like the strong one out there for once. I passed a few people, but the best part was that for once in my life in a Tri, I was only passed on the run a couple of times. We hit the turnaround at 26mins so figured if I could keep it up I could hit my goal of 52mins.
The sand killed me again on the way back and I lost a little time, but I had actually negative splited my run! I lapped my run at 51:07!!!
T2plus run time = 52:43
Total time 2:36:47 4/7 age group (1st swim, 4th bike & run)
I finished the race feeling GREAT! I didn't kill myself, but I did push hard. I felt like a real athlete racing for the first time, possibly ever. It was fantastic, and I'm very proud of myself. No Age group awards, but I had a great PR and just a good overall feeling. Most of all I had BLAST! The swim was fun, going in the channel. The hills on the bike I actually thought were fun, and the run had a little of everything. I would absolutely do this early season race again.
We decided to stay an extra night - not wanting to get back into the car and sit for 4hours we had a bloody mary then headed over to watch the awards. Once again so cool to see all the young & fast collegiate athletes!