We got Henry jazzed up the night before. We told him that we'd be getting him up early and that he could sleep in the car on the way to the fun race. We told him that Grandma Monica, Grandma Connie, Papa Dale, and Annie would be there and that he could bring a cow bell. When I pulled the little guy out of his crib on race morning, he first asked for Minions (we were watching Despicable Me clips on YouTube on vacation the previous week to avoid waking up the cousins). When I told him we weren't going to watch Minions he said, "Car ride!" He passed out cold for the entire drive down.
We got to the race site shortly before 6:30. Steve took the first load of stuff to transition while I changed the dude out of his jammies. Then we grabbed the rest of our stuff and headed to the race site 2 blocks away.
We found Grandma Connie who took over feeding Henry breakfast while Steve and I set up our transition areas. We found the rest of our cheering squad down by the lake, and I shimmied into my wetsuit during the pre-race meeting. It was a CHILLY morning! We had to put Henry in two sweatshirts, and I was coursing myself for forgetting mittens for him. In July. Welcome to our stinky summer.
In contrast to my half marathon, this race was at the end of a 9 day vacation from work. I didn't have a sense for how I'd feel during the race, but being overworked certainly wasn't going to be an excuse for this race!
That's me starting the 3rd sprint swim wave!
The Swim: My wave went off last. Since it was only a quarter mile swim, I lined up on the inside right at the start. It's no secret that the swim isn't my favorite part of a tri, so I LOVE how quickly it flies by in the sprint distance! I tried to draft where I could, sighted well, and was out of the water and up to transition in 8:26. This was nearly 2 minutes faster than last year, so I suspect there was some difference in the markers between the 2 years.
Waving at my little dude after coming out of the water
T1: I told myself during the swim that I wasn't going to put on long sleeves after all. I have lost so many places in races this year on account of wardrobe changes, and I knew that despite the chilly temps, the strength of the sun would keep me plenty warm. I struggled a bit to get my shoes on, and I was out in 1:31 - 15 seconds slower than last year, but my position in transition wasn't as good.
The Bike: I can't say enough about my QR CD0.1. I just feel fast on it. It was on the bike that I realized my racing brain had in fact shown up. I can't really describe the feeling I have when I'm really into a race except what I call being "out for blood." Something comes alive in me that want nothing more than to hammer and pass people. This really only happens for me in short races. I have to figure how to build it up for longer races, too. One of the advantages I've been seeing with so many trainer rides this year is very little down time on my pedals. One of my weaknesses on the bike used to be the number of breaks I'd take where I wasn't pedaling at all, and I truly didn't know how to fix it. It seems I have found my answer. After I navigated the turns at the beginning of the race and got onto more open road, I started to see my average MPH come up. I was a little worried that I had a hidden tailwind somewhere, but at the turn around, I was relieved to find very little headwind. I passed by so many bikers, including a lot of teenagers. It was great to see so many young people racing! Eventually, I got all the way up to 19 MPH, a huge number for me, especially on a consistently rolling course. After making our way into town and dismounting, my Joule read 18.8 for my speed (but it also had a distance of more like 14.3 or 14.4 miles, not the 14 that the results used). Officially, my average was 18.5 - the fastest split I've ever posted in a race.
Running into T2 after a great bike!
T2: In and out in 1:18 - 10 seconds slower than last year. I really need to practice transitions again.
The Run: I had done a 15 mile run 2 days prior to the race, and though my legs were heavy coming off of the bike, I was optimistic that they'd be fine for the 4.4 mile run. Steve had reminded me at the beginning of the race that it's more like 4.2 miles, so I was prepared to kick earlier. The breeze felt amazing coming off of the lake. A few of the guys I passed on the bike were now blowing by me on the run. I hit the first mile in 8:06 - right about where I'd hoped it would be. I hit the 2nd mile in 8:07. I was slowly gaining on and passing a few people out there, but for the most part, I was in a pretty deserted section. I really do prefer out and back runs in a race so I can cheer on the people I'm meeting. I think I do better mentally then. My inner drill Sergent was kicking in, and I was pushing. When I hit mile 3 in 8:21, my drill Sergent went into overtime. I needed to find another gear. At around mile 3.5, a woman in my age group flew past me. I tried to stick with her for a bit, but she soon left me in her dust. The push got me down to a 7:52, though!
By now, I was in full-on kick mode. I waved to my family as I sprinted past them and felt strong as I crossed the finish line with a total run time of 34:26 (1.57 for the last 0.27 miles according to Steve's Garmin). I cut over a minute off of last year's run time! My total race time was 1:31:02 - 3.5 MINUTES faster than last year. Even with a potentially shorter swim, I showed some huge improvements in my numbers! My time was good for 2nd or 3rd out of 11 in my AG (they changed my place from 3rd to 2nd at some point and I can't figure out why). I was 42/131 total and 6/65 for women.
* Henry had a blast cheering at the race, and he had so much fun hanging out with his grandparents and Annie!
* I know I sound like a broken record, but Final Stretch puts on top-notch races. They feel grass roots - encouraging people of all abilities to come out. From superstars like Gear West owner Kevin O'Connor to teenagers attempting their first tri. They are always well organized with great volunteers and tasty food at the finish.
* We talked to Mark, the race director, after the race and told him how much we love this venue. I'm excited to see it continue to grow. The parking is easy, the park near the water is very family friendly, and the drive is an easy one from any direction.
* Interval training has definitely been helping my triathlon runs, but I really struggle to push myself enough during my intervals. I may be enlisting Steve's help to pace me soon. It's absurd that I can easily run paces in a race that I struggle to keep on 800s and 1200s.
* Steve and I used to come home from races and take a nap. Henry's birth eliminated post-race naps for us, but since Grandma Monica took him home with her for 2 days after the race, we slept for 1.5 glorious hours on Sunday afternoon. Thanks, Mom! ... and thanks to the rest of our cheering section for keeping Henry occupied and cheering us on!
* The size small finishers' shirts were a little "loud." At first, I thought it was horrible, but it's cut really well and has quickly grown on me. If nothing else, it'll be a great running at night shirt.