My first big race of the year, Kinetic Half, is down in the books! It was a great weekend at Lake Anna State Park, a great venue, a well organized race by the Virginia and Maryland Triathlon Series, and to top it off a highly rewarding performance.
I opted to drive down Friday from DC and camp out at the Park. Friday afternoon I was able to get in the water for a quick swim and then do short bike and run sessions to prime the body for the next day. It was really helpful to go through the motions and think through the transitions. The water warmed up significantly over the past week with air temps in the 80s, which meant the water temp was around 70 degrees (it was 63-65ish the weekend before!). There was also a race briefing at 6:30pm overlooking the beautiful lake.
Camping at the state park was fantastic. I didn’t hear a single man-made noise overnight — only the sounds of nature — so I got a great night sleep. I was a 5min walk away from the race start. I spent $20 for the site, which I ended up sharing last minute with a fellow athlete who needed a site to pitch a tent (and for good race karma!). Make it a $10 lodging arrangement, after he insisted in sharing the cost. The one thing that did surprise me a bit was how very few athletes I saw around the campground. It was mostly families vacationing. I must admit I know some of my racing friends shared houses in the area and those seemed like a pretty nice setup too!
I couldn’t be any more grateful for Gabi‘s efforts to be my sherpa and come see me race. She was out of town earlier in the week and flew in at midnight on Friday, went to bed at 1am, and got up at 4am to drive to Lake Anna to be there before race start. I know I would not have raced as well if she had not been there to support me.
Race day started with the alarm going off at 4am to take in a smoothie and PB&J sandwich. I tried to get a little more sleep until about 5:30am, but for the most part I was anxious and ready to race, so I didn’t get that much more shuteye. A brief walk through the woods and over to transition, which I setup by 6:15am. I spent the next 15mins warming up on land and then into the water for a 6-8min swim before the national anthem. Gabi arrived around 6:30am so she was able to look after my stuff while I swam. Perfect timing!
Swim: 31:02mins, 4th out of the water (in my age group).
The swim was one loop. You could tell from land the guiding orange buoys were not properly aligned. Given that swimmers were allowed to swim left or right of the guiding buoys, what ultimately mattered was aiming for the yellow turn buoy (if you could see it). I started at the front of the pack and found some open water, in part because many swimmers started the swim towards the first orange buoy, which was out of line, only to then correct course. The water was clear, so it was easy to look for bubbles and draft. I did this for about 1/3rd of the swim. My goal for the swim was to have a smooth start and come out feeling I had expended minimal energy. Mission accomplished.
T1: 2:41mins, 14th place
About 30secs too slow here, as a result of feeling dizzy coming out of the water. I felt a little wobbly taking off my wetsuit and putting on my bike shoes. However, the best part is that my bike was racked right next to bike exit, which also meant Gabi was right there to cheer me on!
Bike: 2:39hrs, 16th place
The bike course is one loop. We were very lucky to have overcast weather conditions with a refreshing mist for a large part of the bike. This was a pleasant surprise given that afternoon temps were going to be in the upper 80s, unlike any training/racing weather this year so far. The first 15-20 miles are a bit stressful due to lake traffic, in particular trucks and boat trailers. Then the course turns into backroads with minimal traffic. The first half of the bike course is hillier, the second half largely flat and with super fast asphalt! All turns were obvious thanks to police, volunteers and road marking. While I did not need to use the aid stations, I did see a lot of kids working them, which is unusual.
As biking is my weakness, I saw a number of people pass me on the bike. This is always a little disheartening, but I know better. Most of those people ran out of legs on the run, with a 5-15mins slower run than mine. I paced myself well on the bike, and in future training and racing the magic secret will be determining how much harder I can push myself on the bike while still having a strong run. Right around mile 50 I was passed by an athlete (D. St. Clair) in my age group and it created an opportunity for me to have a specific individual to race against and push myself harder. I had to, as a podium finish was within the realm of possibility, and all it takes is one athlete to get bumped off the podium!
T2: 1:09mins, 2nd place
In and out in a jiffy!
Run: 1:35hrs, 4th place
The start of the run is though! Straight uphill and you have to do it three laps! The Kinetic run course was much harder than I anticipated. It is hilly with hardly any flat portions. St. Clair and I came out onto the run shoulder to shoulder. He started inching his way away from me and I figured I had to let him go for the moment. I know I run strong when others fade. I was pleasantly surprised in my second lap when he re-appeared within range ahead of me. I was definitely able to push myself harder by setting a mini-goal of competing against him. I was pumped by having caught up to him near the end of the second loop, and then I set my mind on leaving him in the dust in the third and last lap. Mission accomplished.
During the first loop I didn’t pass or get passed but by 1-2 people. On the second loop I was running with people who were starting their first loop, so it was hard to compare performance against others. It turns out I caught up to a good number of people who I thought were one lap behind me but really were on the same lap and just running out of steam. In the end I was very pleased with my run, having held a steady pace and feeling like I was always in control of my body and my endurance. Happy with my performance!
I was thrilled when I learned I finished 4th in my age group with a time of 4hrs 50mins, which is 23mins faster than my last half-iron distance triathlon in 2014. I’ve trained hard since February and feel rewarded. I had my mind set on finishing near the top — whatever that meant not knowing the competitive field — and I was able to do just that. I am excited about what I may able to do the remainder of the year, and very grateful to my coach AJ Morisson from Multisport in Motion for helping me reach my triathlon goals.