After Independence triathlon and a not so great swim, I knew I needed to shake that off and get back into open water STAT. If I was going to race again, I wanted something with a bike course that I could push a bit and not worry about how my back would feel if the course was hilly. I choose Stafford Triathlon at Manahawkin Lake, NJ which had a super flat bike course and a lake swim.
The downside to this race was that it was 1.5 hours away so that made for a very early wakeup call: 3:15am. And since I’m a terrible sleeper, the stress of having to be up so early essentially kept me up past midnight. Not ideal getting so little sleep but I woke up fairly refreshed and excited to race.
Super easy access to the race and you could park literally across the street from transition. It was open racking so I made sure to rack my bike right near bike out. I hate running in bike shoes so the less time I have them on my feet, the quicker my transition times. After setting everything up, I went over to warm up in the water. An announcement was made that the water temperature was 76 degrees but there is no way it was that warm. The entrance to the water was a ways from the pre-race meeting when the temperature announcement was made so I didn’t wear a wetsuit thinking it wouldn’t be needed. The water had pockets of really cold and really warm water so I’m guessing they took the temp in one of the warm spots. A wet suit may have been nice since I was shivering after my warm up. I tried to keep moving and splashing myself so the reentry into the water wouldn’t be a shock.
After two waves of men went, all the women then started. I lined myself up a little outside of the buoy start, where it was crowed, and stared the turnaround buoy down. It was a little congested when the gun went off but the bumping and elbows didn’t bother me and it quickly thinned out. I held that buoy line I wanted in sight and sighted every few strokes to keep me on track. The water felt great, was really clean, and I felt so good. Not once did I panic or feel off and I was able to bilateral breathe which keeps my breathing in check and nice and even. I also swam right on course, never veering off, and had great turns around the buoys. I came out of the water in 7:18. (swim place 23/102 total)
It was a long run back to transition but I kind of like that. It gives me some time to shake off the dizziness I feel coming out of the water. Once I was back into transition, I moved quickly and had only a few feet to run before I mounted my bike. I swear I never have any issues mounting my bike unless I’m racing. I’m in such a hurry that if feels like an eternity trying to get myself clipped in. When I missed it the first time I tried, I paused, told myself to take a deep breath then clipped in and took off. The course was a short out and then 3 loops before you turned and headed back a short way to transition. It was pancake flat but had 6 U-turns total. Tight turns like that aren’t my favorite but I used them as an opportunity to drink and come up out of aero to stretch my back. I tried to keep an eye on my competition during the bike and at times let myself get ahead of myself, not thinking about the run to follow. Finished the bike in 36:40 (20pmh). (bike place 27/102)
T2 was nice and quick, under a minute, but I didn’t feel super heading out for the run. I quickly settled into a 7:30 pace but right away I felt like that wasn’t sustainable. My legs didn’t have much kick so I sucked down a gel hoping that would help. When I knew I couldn’t hit my paces, I decided my goal was to at least negative split. Better than pushing too hard and slowing down at the end I pulled back that first mile with a goal to build from there. I was able to do it but still finished slower than I expected. 5k time was 23:49 (7:41). (run place 29/102)
I dropped placement a bit during the race and I saw the 2 women who took me on the run. They looked great and while one was only a few feet in front of me, I just couldn’t chase her down. I was 22ndoverall, 6th female overall, and 2nd in AG missing first by 27 seconds. Gosh, I could have shaved 30 seconds off somewhere…but it’s all good! I did this race to prove to myself that I’m ok in open water and Independence was a fluke. And I proved it was. Then on top of that, I had a bike that I’m happy with and I was pleased with my transition times. I haven’t run off a hard bike so the run was a test in hanging on and executing it right. I did both in my opinion. Very happy I did this race and I left just wanting to race more!!!
Next up…Tri AC (unless I add something else into the mix!)