GREAT LAKES TRIATHLON--Saturday, July 22, 2006
Third tri of the season done. This one was a 1/2 mile swim, 18 mile bike, 4.5 mile run. I think I improved, I felt like I did anyway. And it was fun, so all in all, a good enough day.
The temps finally cooled off and it was at least 20 degrees cooler at the start than on Sunday. That in itself was a relief. But still no wetsuit swim. Water was 82 degrees. That was okay. I feel I am usually at an advantage when wetsuits aren't worn. Women 35 and over were in the second wave with the young men, 15-34, in the second. That was not appreciated, but it turned out pretty much okay. A few newbies on the scene today, although still from our local area, since this was a "local" race. Lots of familiar faces, and as one woman put it, "us crossover runners." Not that she had to worry. It was pretty much expected that she would win the age group.
I got to the race shortly after 6:30 am and already the main parking area was full, so they sent us to the overflow lot--about 3/4 of a mile away. This wouldn't have been so bad but they routed us through a wooded path to get to transition to avoid traffic on the road, and the path was pretty much beach sand, so pushing the bike and carrying all your stuff was pretty tedious. And once I got to transition, what a mess! There were absolutely no open spaces anywhere on any rack. At least a dozen or more people walked up and down the rows looking to squeeze in somewhere. And people were so ridiculous about all the room they took--there was probably room for 2 bikes between most of those spots. I finally just found a spot that looked not as crowded and asked the people to move some. I don't spread all my stuff out under my bike any more, having had my stuff trampled, kicked around, and even had bikes thrown on my stuff, so I wasn't asking for any more room than for my bike. I was up against the transition fence, which is what I like best anyway. That way I can put my little stool next to the fence with my transition bag on top and all the stuff I need in the bag. Easy enough to get stuff out. The only thing out is the shoes on the ground near the bike. I take up very little room.
I went to get my packet and body marked and one disappointment was they were out of bike jerseys that was the race shirt. Unlike last week where they pretty much promised everyone a shirt regardless of when they signed up, these people were now saying you had to sign up at least 2 months ago to be guaranteed a jersey. I doubt that was true, since I know many people do not sign up that soon, and they also did not post this on their website. So another t-shirt to add to the collection.
Ran into a couple of friends then, got some pictures, and found a few others. Found out that our local governor candidate Dick DeVos was again at the race--participating. I do like the guy and what he has to say, and he was just going about his business like everyone else. I think people were impressed that he was there, but no one really bothered him. He's an average triathlete. Kim, one of the tri people in our group is such a staunch opposite party fan that we tease her about it, especially since at the last race, they literally had a race for the finish. She was quite proud that she had beat him of course. And of course they were on the same bike rack, so we tease her that he is stalking her.
Go back to my bike to get my stuff organized some and there's this guy weaseling his way between the racks, propping his bike up against the fence, his bike touching mine, and in front of my stuff. I say to him, "you can't leave that there." "Why not, others are doing it." "Well you have to move it away from my space. This is my space where my stuff is and your bike is in the way." "Don't start bitching now." Okay, that's it. "Move your bike or its going to be on the ground!" He did move it, but I was afraid he was going to hit me. What a jerk. I hoped I didn't see him again the rest of the day. I also hoped I beat him.
Swim: It was time to head to the beach, so we all started herding off to the lake. I realized then it was quite a long transition area from the swim to the bike. As usual everyone was making nervous chatter. It was cloudy still, and that meant I would wear my old, clear goggles rather than the new, tinted ones I had gone out of my way the day before to buy, spending more than I should have. I just didn't get down to the water early enough to make sure they were fitted properly and didn't leak, so I just used the old ones. So wouldn't you know it, just before the swim start the sun pops out. Fortunately it was only for a few moments and then back behind the clouds again.
The second women's wave that I was in didn't seem too crowded. I found myself pretty much off to the left--buoys on the right this time--and only a few women there. I would just cut across, since I figured everyone else would be heading to the right also. So we're off and I was immediately in the front for once. I just stayed a little aggressive and kept my spot, but I did find myself unable to make that quick dart to the right as planned. It took a little more work but I finally got next to the buoys. I was always thinking of the young men coming up behind us, but the waves were 5 min. apart, giving me at least a chance to get to the second buoy before they started. The water was nice, warm, soothing. I love to swim in the open water. It is a treat. People pretty much were just making forward progress and not clogging things up or being rude, but then of course, its because its all women at this point! After I made the turn toward shore, it seemed like forever to get to the next buoy. I just kept plugging away, keeping steadily on course. There weren't any people immediately around me, so it came as a total shock when WHAM! Someone swims right over me! He whacks the back of my head so hard it gets pushed down in the water. I swear I have whiplash today! Jerk! I elbow him as hard as I can in that brief moment. I hoped I did some damage. I was angry and a little shaken but calmed myself quickly and kept on. Toward the end there was a woman swimming right next to my face, stroke for stroke. She seemed totally oblivious there was someone within reach of her stroke, as she just kept coming over and over. I pulled ahead and she would be back next to me again. She was pushing me off course, so I had to be stronger and get ahead. Finally, we parted ways and I was able to get to the shallow and stand and run out of the water. 18:14! Wow, must be a short course. Swim time after hitting the mat: 18:28.
T1: Man, what a long way to the bikes, but I ran the whole way. Fortunately this time I had no trouble spotting my stuff. Sit down, put the shoes on, helmet, sunglasses, grab my piece of gum and I'm off. Naturally, with everyone else in my group faster on transitions, even though I beat them all by at least a minute on the swim, they were out of transition at the same time. Oh well, they bike faster, so don't try to hang with them. Just get up to speed. I glanced at my watch as I headed out and it was about 3 min. and something, the usual for me. No results up yet, so I don't have accurate times.
Bike: 18 miles out into the countryside. Last week's course was described as "rolling to flat." I would describe today's course as rolling to hilly. And the first hill messed me up. My bike was acting up for shifting, and I was suddenly feeling very fatigued. I realized this was my second tri the same week! Man, what was I thinking, that I could do two in a week. But then I wasn't thinking that way. I was thinking Clark Lake was one week and Great Lakes was another. No. Sunday and Saturday are the same week. At about 3 miles, things started clicking finally but then 3 more people from the group passed by, and I knew then I didn't have to worry any more about being passed--at least by anyone I knew or that mattered. But I was starting to get over that initial fatigue and started picking up the pace some. I tried to pass one woman on the next hill, but she would not move from the center of the lane, and with all the course marshalls out there and the group of male bikers coming, I was forced to get back behind her. I was pretty irritated with her about that. She was deliberate in her moves and it made me mad I didn't have the power to pass her. I am not a strong biker and never have been. I'm sure its a combination of my bike and the engine, as they say. It seems that no matter how much I bike, I don't make huge progress in any one season. So I decided to just settle in and make this my race and not worry about the others out there. It was pretty much established from the start that last place in the age group was mine, and it was obvious there wasn't anyone out there willing to challenge me for that!
The hills were pretty much the whole way. I could see that it would be a hilly run too, so I was dreading that. One downhill I reached 38 mph coasting, so it was a challenge for me. Despite the hills and 5 miles longer than Clark Lake, my pace averaged at 15.5. I did the best I could, never backing off, so I was happy enough with that. During the last 3 miles I saw a group of other tri friends who had biked to the race to watch some. Have fun going back! Bike time: 109:xx. Compared to Sunday with my 48:xx for 13.25 miles, that averaged out to about 20 min. more for 5 more miles.
T2: Once again, no problem finding my stuff. Got on the shoes and remembered my race belt this time and grabbed my water bottle and headed out. No time for this and I didn't think to look at my watch.
Run: Whoops! Where's the run out? I was heading toward the bike out and there was no one there to tell me otherwise. Good thing I noticed. Turned and ran totally back the other way, down a path, and onto a wooded path. Gatorade sounded good (and for once it was cold!) so I grabbed some and went on, up another trail and onto the road. Again, no one there so I had no idea which way to turn. Fortunately a spectator pointed me in the right direction. We were heading around the other side of the lake and it was very pleasant. My legs weren't too bad, but as is usual for me, I wasn't sprinting. Just pick up the feet and put them down. Keep moving. For once I didn't feel like I had to walk. It was so deliciously cool yet! (Deliciously cool defined as: this cool wave of a breeze floating over you as you moved--that's my definition!) The lake was beautiful and it also had a calming effect. Just pick up the feet. Keep moving. Before I knew it the first mile marker was there and I hadn't even walked! Woo hoo! What an improvement. I did however at this point drink some of my own cold water and continued on--uphill again. Whew. After about another half mile, I did take a minute to get my breath back, as I could see the rest of the second mile was all uphill. Not steep, just steady. Yes, I remember this from the bike. All right, don't fall apart here. Your legs are fine, its not hot, water is cold. Just pace yourself. Mile 2 and more gatorade. Again cold. Just the cool temps and cold drinks alone kept my stomach in good shape. That's all it takes. And today I realized how much the heat does bother my stomach. Just before mile 3, I again felt momentary fatigue and took just a brief break and walked a little, calculating what my finishing time could be. I was thinking here I still had 2.5 miles to go and figured I could finish in 27 min. making a 2:30 finish. But then I was surprised to see the 3 mile mark right in front of me, so that made it all the better! From that point on, I did not stop. I actually passed one woman, and finished in 2:25. All the tri geeks were at the finish, and without knowing I was pretty sure I was the last of our group to finish. But I didn't care because I actually ran 99% of the way and felt good at the end and no death march or stomach queasiness.
Post-race: Yes, everyone was finished and I was surprised at how well everyone did. Pat took first in her age group, 55-59; Kim 2nd, 45-49. It was a fast bunch here today. Fastest swimmer: under 10 min. Fastest biker: 25mph. Fastest runner: 5:46 pace. Unbelievable. The woman in my age group that I now call the Stripper had been warned about stripping in transition. Who needs to change that much anyway? That's not the point with her. So she behaved but didn't waste one minute after to put on her bikini and strut around. Come on here, we're talking about a 52 year old woman. While she is in great shape, things just aren't as perky as they were 25 years ago! Its okay with your family or close friends, but its obvious for her that its exhibitionism.
Things learned: I need to get better on the bike. I need to get faster on transitions. Its better for me to have cooler temps. I did two tris in one week!