This past weekend I had the opportunity to race in Michigan. This is where my triathlon obsession began. Back then races consisted of a few hundred athletes where everyone knew each other and the competition remained amongst oneself in an aim for self improvement. Six years ago I moved to San Diego for law school and found myself living in the triathlon mecca! There are more advantages to living in San Diego than I can list, but I was grateful for the opportunity to remember what racing was like outside the craze filled town of San Diego.
The evenings were ridiculously cold while I was home. I prepared myself with a few "toughen up buttercup" talks and was ready to tackle the elements. Air temp at race start: 48. Water temp: 67ish. One benefit of the smaller races: you can sit in the car with the heat blasting until 5mins before the start. But eventually the wet suit was on and I was ready to return to the MI racing scene!
Swim: I spent the week trying to figure out why I swim so much slower in open water as compared to the pool. Without getting into it, I believe I found some answers and tested it out on Sunday.
Another cool thing about smaller races: the spectators could line the docs and follow us around the 2 loop swim course....and take pics.
I think my time in lake MI was time well spent. I felt great in the water and killed the swim with a new PR. Too bad the swim had to be short. 23mins is just a bit too fast for 1.2 miles. I came out of the water about 4mins ahead of any other girls. Me exiting the water, while my dad told me I was the first female out of the water without another female in sight.
Bike: This portion can be summed up in one word: FREEZING! As I ran out of the lake towards T1 I noticed my parents smiling and cheering. I also noticed that each had winter coats over their already warm weather layers. I couldn't get my heart rate over 145 for the first 40 miles. I wish I could use the excuse that my legs were tired and hurt from the previous weeks of training, however I couldn't feel them! Nor could I feel my hands when trying to take in fluid. Thankfully the sun was out. Bummer that it didn't have any warming effect.
The bike course was slow. Not only did it consist of continuous steady climbing, but we also had to run with our bikes out of T1 for about 10mins (up a flight+ of stairs). So much for a PR on the 56 miles. Instead it was the slowest of the year. The wind, cold and hills made for a much tougher course than I expected.
It was hard to motivate because I really didn't see many people out on the course until mile 40. Or maybe that is when I started to de-thaw and become aware of my surroundings.
My pace was slow, and I wasn't mentally into the race. I tried to quiet my mind and remind myself this was about putting in a solid training day.
With 15miles to go I knew there wasn't a girl within 10mins of me. I ran (down the stairs) and back into T2. The announcer told me I was the first female. Still no one other girls in sight.
Out onto the run course
Run: I was happy with my decision to bring Garmin along for the run. My goal was to settle into 7:20-7:30 pace and hold until mile 11. Without Garmin I would have become a bit lonely out there on the long out and back course. I set a new run PR. I had a bit in me at the finish but hit a strong head wind with 2miles to go. I crossed the line to take my first overall win in half ironman distance race.
A few images from the run course:
Although I froze on the bike and really wanted to call it quits, the day was a success. The best part was the overall feeling out there on the race course. The atmosphere was much more light hearted than most races I typically do. With that came more smiles and "good job" "you look great" "go get 'em girl" comments amongst the athletes. It was downright FUN!
The finish was a line in the grass
And I was the first female to cross the line
I was even asked to do a quick "winner" interview
Accepting my bottle of wine (wearing not one hoodie, but two!). Funny thing, the wine was from Cali. There are so many great vineyards in norther MI...but like me, the wine was shipped all the way from California.
It was great to return to the scene where my passion for triathlon was born! And great to share another race experience with my parents.