I’m only a week late with this race report. Way to keep things exciting! A big part of the reason why I didn’t feel the urge to do a write-up is because I couldn’t, and still can’t, run. It might be a posterior shin splint, or it might be a stress fracture, who knows? Three weeks after I kind of had to stop running, it continues. Which meant that the Luray tri, for which I’d been really excited as a way to redeem myself after the General Smallwood disaster, turned out to be yet another aquavelo for me. And I really, really hate doing aquavelo. To me, it will always be a stigma. Oh well… on to the actual race.
Because of my lingering leg injury, I’d contemplated just bagging the entire race and saving hotel/food money. I’m so glad I didn’t, because this race was another great opportunity to spend time with my cool coworkers in the PTO Tri Club. Our adventures started Friday afternoon as we met up to carpool to Luray. After getting there and picking up our race packets, we went to our respective lodgings for the night (motel/campsite) and then reconvened for dinner. By this time, it was 8 or 9pm, and I was ready to fall asleep!
Once Saturday “morning” arrived, I can’t really say I was feeling excited or nervous, but neither was I dreading it or, worse, resenting it. I felt a bit resigned, just pep-talking myself to do my best at what I could do that day, which was swim and bike. I knew I wouldn’t even be able to run through T1 (I can’t do anything high-impact without acute pain), so it was basically a training day for me, with a race-like atmosphere.
At the race site, I set up my transition area, which took all of a few minutes, and then walked over to the lake. Lake Arrowhead is so beautiful with the mountains surrounding it!
Even though the air was still a bit chilly pre-8am, the water felt really nice. The water temp was something like 77.5°F, so it was wetsuit-legal. I hadn’t brought my wetsuit, but wouldn’t have worn it anyway. I’m such a slow swimmer that the suit wouldn’t have made a difference, plus it’d take me forever to get it off.
The swim course was…. interesting. Short of drawing a picture, I think the best way to describe the shape is by using a clock. My best approximation is: start at 8, go to 10, go to 12, go to 2, go to 4, go up halfway between 12 and the center of the clock, go back to 8 towards the wiggly man.
Nation’s Tri, and the now-defunct DC Tri, had really good, visible buoys. Here I literally had no idea where I’d be going until I got to one buoy, and then looked to see where the people ahead of me (and they were all ahead of me) were going. Add to that the annoyance of my right goggle, which doesn’t like to seal completely all the time and so I had water swishing into my right eye. I was afraid I’d lose my contact lens, as if I needed an additional challenge!
I’m disappointed that my swim time was still abominable, even though I was more conscientious of my stroke, kicks, breathing, and staying on course. At least I had one HUGE success, and that was in not getting any cramps from the swim. Every single tri I’ve down with an OWS, I swallow too much dirty water and thus have cramps for the rest of the race. Not so with Luray! I wonder if the Hammer Endurolyte capsules were the key to avoiding cramps? All I know is that stomach cramps weren’t missed, because I had enough leg discomfort to make up for it.
T1, the swim-to-bike transition. It must have been at least a quarter-mile, and I had to walk it. Not much else to say there.
My bike time wasn’t anything laudable either, but I’d heard some horror stories about the bike course. Sure it was hilly, but not that bad. My coach has really been drilling cadence, cadence, cadence into my head, and previously, I’ve been notorious for grinding through a really high gear and leaving my legs feeling like (vegan) jello when I start the run (that is, when I can run). Then again, I’d never had any sort of fancy watch or computer to give me performance metrics. Now that I have a fancy (and super-expensive) Garmin + accessories, I can keep track of cadence, speed, HR zones, etc. Luray was only the second race I’ve done with the Garmin, the first being General Smallwood, so I could only compare last week’s data to that.
I’m much better at hills compared to flats, so it’s good that this course was hilly. But that last hill was no joke!! Since I would be done after the bike, I told myself to just push hard and get over that last hill. I was in my lowest possible gear, felt like I was barely moving, and yet I was very happy to see I passed the few people who were still on the bike course. What also didn’t help my time was that I missed the turn for the second lap. OOPS! I went a ways down, then decided that yes, I had missed the turn, and doubled back. I probably added at least a half-mile to the actual race distance. And THAT is the reason, folks, that I missed the podium! So close 🙂
After coming back to transition, I leisurely racked my bike, picked up my bag, and turned in my timing chip. And you can be darn sure I grabbed myself a medal!!
And thank goodness there’s no separate “aquavelo” medal! I got the same one as all the other awesome athletes. It was nice being able to watch people cross the finish line, get some food (oranges, bananas, and…. Oreos), and hang with my PTO Tri Club peeps.
We all met up for lunch later at a restaurant that, get this, actually had the word “vegan” on the menu. “A totally vegan wrap” (emphasis mine).
For a place like Luray, that seems pretty hip! I know, how snooty of me 😉 Our post-race lunch was fun, and we were all sooo hungry. Before our food arrived, we were all talking and laughing, but as soon as the food arrived, I don’t think a single word was uttered until the first person was done. We were just that intent on filling our bellies. After lunch, we went our separate ways, some back to DC, some staying in Luray for the Sprint race on Sunday. Awesome Eugene rocked the Luray Double!
Going to a race is so much more fun when I’m with friends. I’ve done my fair share of races where I don’t know anyone- I go, I run/tri, I finish, I come home. But Luray, even though I couldn’t really race, was fun because of the company. And that’s another reason why I’m so glad to work at the USPTO- the Tri Club is full of awesome people and has helped me make some great friends!