First race of the season, lots to plan for and lots of forgotten things. After leaving Friday night with the camper in tow, we made it to Mint Hill where we get off I-485 and take back roads down to Hwy 74. Just before our exit we found that we had forgotten MANY items from dog leashes, swim goggles, and more. We decided to turn around and made it back home around 8 p.m. Too late for me to feel safe driving the rest that night without falling asleep. We decided to wake up early and leave around 5 a.m.
We had already packed the camper the night before so there was very little to do except hookup lights and get the dogs in the truck. After making it a little ways down the road I started to realize just how long this day was going to end up being. We made it to the state park just after they opened, dropped the camper and dogs off and headed to the race venue. Lots of familiar faces in the parking lot to talk to about the upcoming race and course. I got my pre race sessions in during the heat of the day rather than early morning, like I’m used to, so I already knew I had made a big mistake. I spent the rest of the day trying to stay hydrated and off of my legs to let them rest, but neither seemed to happen as much as I wanted.
Race morning went more smooth than I had expected for my first race of the season. I had packed my transition bag well and got setup quickly. After having a quick setup I got a short stretch in and on the first boat available. After the boat dropped us in the water I tried to get a good swim warm up but I was trying to run through so many things in my head making sure I had setup my transition correctly, bike was in good shape, shoes were ready, and nutrition was perfect. After running through things in my head over and over it was time to start the race.
The horn sounded and we were off. I felt great in the water, definitely faster than the previous year but I knew that I would still be far from the front getting out of the water. It may have just been me, but the current seemed to get weaker as I made it closer to the dock. I finally made it and rushed up into transition. I quickly threw on my shoes and off on the bike I went.
The first lap of the bike went well. I felt smooth, fast, and was passing a ton of people. Near the end of the first lap I could see the leaders where the trail switchbacks near itself over and over. I knew I was gaining but I didn’t know how much more I had to go. Right after the beginning of the second lap leg fatigue started to set in hard. I couldn’t believe how much and how quick it happened. I started to think about all the things I had done wrong the day before and how I should have stayed off my feet more. While day dreaming about my mistakes I dropped my water bottle trying to put it back into the bottle cage which frustrated me more. I tried to push as much as I could the rest of the bike leg but with each push my quads would hurt more. Finally after making it to transition, off the bike and onto my feet my legs felt better in a different position and I was off on the run to see if I could make up some more time.
As always, the run started out rough. As the legs are waking up to the idea of running after spending the last hour biking it can take a little bit to get into a groove. The run course is very different than the bike course. For the bike, it seems like every turn is a berm which makes it super easy to hold speed. The run is a very rough cut hole filled and downed tree trail. Lots of face smacking limbs are just waiting for you and lots of slippery mud sections are ready to make you fall. This was the first and last half mile of the run. The rest is very flat, wide and fast making it just like the bike where it is easier to hold speed. I was able to pass one other competitor on the run and just barely couldn’t catch Donny, who finished 13 seconds in front of me. I finished 5th place overall and 1st place age group.
I am very glad to have gotten the first race of the season behind me well. I know the things that i messed up on and the things that I need to improve before the next one. Now it’s time to get back on the trainer, in the pool, and out running to get ready for the rest of the season.
What I learned: Find the routine that works for you and do not deter from it. Leaving late, training the day before late, and spending too much time on my feet not only messed with my legs but it also messed with my head.