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TRI to Beat Cancer race report September 2, 2011

Posted by bettyjoan in Races.
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Even though I’ve gravitated more toward the “runner” side of the spectrum lately (as opposed to the “triathlete” side), I still consider myself a multisport athlete.  When my girlfriend suggested back in the spring that we sign up for a sprint tri to give us a reason to swim and cycle, I thought it was a great idea.  We registered for the TRI to Beat Cancer in Athens on August 21, and that was that.

Fast forward to late July/early August.  I realized that I hadn’t been on my bike in about a year.  Same story for open-water swimming.  I started to freak out.  My girlfriend and I went out and did 20 miles on our bikes, but that was about all we could cram in, what with our half marathon training.  So, we drove up to Athens on the Saturday before the race, not knowing exactly how this fantastic plan of ours was going to work out.

The race was small, so the “Expo” was nothing to write home about.  We picked up our packets, checked into our hotel, had a delicious, carby dinner, and went to bed early.  So far, so good.

When the alarm went off at about 4:30 AM on Sunday, my friend looked at me and said, pretty much verbatim, “I fucking hate this sport.”  Indeed, after nothing but running for the better part of a year, the process of gearing up (literally) for a tri is quite overwhelming.  There is so much to remember – swim cap, goggles, helmet, gloves, water bottles, nutrition, bike shoes, running shoes, race numbers, sunglasses, transition mat, ad infinitum.  Thankfully, I managed to only forget my flip flops – not ideal, but certainly not an insurmountable omission.  We packed up and headed to Sandy Creek Park to set things up in transition.  I got an end spot on the rack (ALWAYS a good omen, in my book), went to the bathroom about 100 times, and then headed down to the beach.

Before I knew it, my age group was off and swimming.  I was surprised at how well I handled things, considering I hadn’t been in open water in a long time.  I just tried to get out of the initial throngs without being kicked in the face, and then I was able to get into a groove and keep my breathing regulated.  It was only a 400 meter swim, but I was happy to finish in 11:39.  There was a big incline back up to transition (hate it when that happens), but I was off and cycling in 3:30.

Ah, the bike.  My nemesis.  The Dr. Evil to my Austin Powers.  I was nervous, of course, but I tried to start easy to let my heart rate recover from the swim and transition.  The course was mostly rolling hills, so I was pretty comfortable, given all of the climbing.  There was only one big downhill, during which I put a death grip on the brakes (as expected), but overall it was a strong ride.  It was 14 miles total, and I finished in 58:16 – not too shabby, considering my lackluster training.  I took 2:10 in the second transition, and then I was off on the run.  Well, after a stop at the porta-potty (I had to pee for the ENTIRE time I was on the bike), I was off on the run.  🙂

Here I was thinking that I was in my comfort zone, and that I would speed toward the finish line in a blaze of glory.  Well, I had forgotten how hard it is to run after swimming and cycling – my legs were like bricks!  AND, for the record, whoever claimed that the run course was “flat and fast” was full of it – oh, the hills!  My friend caught up with me, though, so we ended up running together and enjoying our last leg of the race.  Even though 34:44 is by no means my fastest 5K, it got me to the finish line with a total time of 1:50:16, so I was incredibly proud of myself.  My 2011 tri season was over on the same day it began – woo hoo!

The race itself was well-organized, and I would definitely do it again and/or recommend it to others.

The best part?  Right here, baby.  Go Dawgs!

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