After a not so restful night, courtesy of the a$$holes in the campsite across from us, one of whom insisted on screaming at the top of her lungs because “it’s a state park and people expect it to be loud, so f— them.” I mercifully managed to fall asleep eventually, but it was still very annoying. It was a chilly morning and all of us were a bit grumpy after the evening. On top of that, I was in a very strange head space for the race. After IMC, I didn’t do any real organized training. I got out and did a few swims, bikes and runs as I felt like it, but by and large it was unstructured “do what I felt like” type stuff. So, it just felt like I was getting ready to do a half-ironman on no training, even though intellectually I knew better.
So, despite wanting to bag the race, go back to bed and lounge around the campsite eating pancakes and bacon, we set off for the race. There was no parking at the park where the race was being held, so they had to drop me off and take a shuttle from some off-site parking. I hit the porta-potties since the line was never going to be that short again and then went to set up my transition area.
This race had a crazy number of first-timers. And I don’t mean first time half-ironman racers, I mean first triathlon people. The things I heard people say both yesterday and today was crazy. It was definitely going to be an interesting day. One of them was the guy who racked his bike next to mine, with all of his stuff in a plastic milk crate which he proceeded to put behind my bike tire, up against the fence. Ordinarily, this is a no-no and when he asked me if it was okay, I told him that it was fine today but that he shouldn’t do it in the future.
Soon, it was time to line up for the swim. I ran into my friend AndyPants in the transition area, who shared my sentiments on the folly of doing this race. We agreed that it was just for fun and that it was a good thing we weren’t eating pancakes and bacon (however sarcastically) and so forth. On a chilly morning, getting into a lake just seems stupid:
As mentioned previously, with all of the newbies doing this race, there were some amusing sights – such as this woman with Ugg boots:
I finally managed to get in the lake, filled my wetsuit with cold water and did a quick warm-up swim before returning to the beach to wait for the start. Don’t I look psyched?
The nicest thing about the swim was that there were two waves – men in wave #1 and women in wave #2, five minutes later:
The sucky thing about the swim was that it was two loops, which is not fun. The start was a total cluster, craziness everywhere:
I had the fight my way through every kind of stroke imaginable and few that weren’t and I didn’t really find clear water until the first buoy. Eventually, I found some clear water which continued for the last half of the first lap and most of the second. There was the occasional crazy swimmer to deal with, but that wasn’t such a big deal. I knew it wasn’t going to be as fast as I’d wanted because of all the time I lost at the beginning, but it wasn’t too bad.
After the world’s slowest transition, (complete with M & T heckling me) I was out on the bike:
The first few miles of the bike are never fun and this was no exception. It took about eight miles before I could get my head in the game and out of the “This sucks, I want to quit” mode. Finally, I started feeling better and really started enjoying the bike. I was passing people and generally just feeling great. The bike was also a looped course, but it was such an odd course that I didn’t get lapped by the fast people like Lake Stevens and you never really knew where you were in the loop, so it was easy to put your head down and ride.
I came in off the bike feeling great and my second transition was a bit better, still way too long, though. Then it was time for the run. This was definitely where I could feel my lack of training. I definitely pushed too hard on the bike, but the lack of long runs was killing me. The minute I started running, my legs felt awful and I knew it was not going to be a good run leg. I tried to run as much as I could and had some good sections where I could just find a zone and run but there were also a lot of sections where I had to walk. Luckily, I’d already planned to train for a winter marathon with M, so I knew next year’s run improvement plan was already underway.
In addition to the suckiness of my run, the run course was not my favorite. There were sporadic mile markers, aid stations placed at random intervals and all sorts of irritating hills. The worst part was the last mile or so, where you run around the lake on a dirt trail that includes a steep downhill followed by a steep uphill, which really suck after all of the miles that you’ve put in. I was running most of the time by this point, but I was afraid I’d fall if I tried to run those sections. Suffice it to say, I was not a fan. (Sorry about the lack of pictures, my race photographer had to take her sick husband home. But just imagine a tired and grumpy M running across the finish line… )
Before the race, I’d set a goal of 7 hours, which passed while I was somewhere in the last mile section around the lake. I was bummed that I’d missed it but pleased that I would be reasonably close and still faster than last year’s Lake Stevens. I crossed the line in 7:10 – a huge PR for me. Before writing this, I looked up last year’s times at Lake Stevens:
1st Transition: 4:44
2nd Transition: 5:14
Compare with the splits from this race:
Overall: 7:10 (39 minutes faster)
Swim: 45:22 (4:30 faster)
1st Transition: 5:25 (a minute or so slower)
Bike: 3:25 (29 minutes faster)
2nd Transition: 4:08 (a minute or so faster)
Run: 2:49 (6 minutes faster)
Overall, I’m very pleased with my performance. Given how I prepared for this race, I know I can improve on it for next year and I know exactly how I’m going to do it. All in all, it was a very good racing season for me.