After all of these races I have done at Crystal River, you'd think by now that the venue wouldn't be an issue with me. I am not sure why I was so nervous the night before and all day leading up to this race, but the butterflies were flapping hard all day long and didn't subside until I got to the site and went into "race mode".
Race mode for me is not really a race mode per se, but it works for me.
We set up after going through packets pick up and body marking. It was nice to see a few people we knew at the site. Vera and her husband, who we met while running the Fit Niche weekly 5k's, were there to scope out a race (Vera is thinking of giving triathlon's a go) and we kind enough to take pictures throughout the race for us (something we have not had before). The only bad thing about that is you get to see pictures of yourself and realize that despite your efforts you still have a gut that rivals John Goodman in front of you, but that's best left for another post.
|Let Me Go, Rock and Roll!!|
After setting up our gear (Badger was ready to rock that night ... you could feel it in him) we went down to the water to acclimate and get a few strokes in. When we had come out earlier in the day the tide was in and the swimming sign (about 50-75m out) was too deep to touch bottom (odd for a Crystal River race). We knew that the tide would go back out by the race start, but we never imagined that it would go out THIS far. We s=wam to the sign and I stood up, and the water barely made it to my waist. After waiting for the buoy line to be taken in, we swam out about 100m, guessing where the turn buoy would be, and the water was still only waist deep. To add to that, the bottom was full of soft mud, reminiscent of Haines City. This would be a very easy swim.
|Man ... this guy is BUFF!|
So we met up with Kate and stood around talking, waiting for the starting gun. The announcer went through his normal routine, but added that he expected racers to actually swim the first leg, some of whom didn't listen very well, because a female in the second wave walked the whole thing. Not sure how you consider that a successful race, but that's me.
|NOT finishing LAST|
The gun went off for our wave and we hit the water. As soon as I was able I started swimming, and got on Kate's feet (she's an outstanding swimmer) to see if I could stay with her. I did a good job of it, staying just off her feet and to her left, when I smacked right into someone STANDING in the course around the first buoy. After going around I could catch her again, but from where she was in transition I was about 1:30 behind her. Not too bad. My goal for the swim was 10:00 and I came in at 10:30. Not sure why my swim is a minute slower from last year. I guess it is the snorkel. Jenny was worried about the swim because of her speed, and she told me afterwards she panicked at the start because she realized she was in last place, but when she came out, as you can see in the picture, she had passed quite a few people. Very proud of her.
The bike went very well. I found a groove very quickly, and with the sun going down the heat dissipated and it was easy to push it a bit. The wind was very slight, so the power was all on you with very little hinderance, which was nice. I want to finish in under 35:00 and my time was 33:47 so mission accomplished on that portion. It was a pretty uneventful ride so not much to write about. It was over pretty fast. The one thing was that it was the first time Jenny didn't catch up to me before the end, but this was only 10 miles instead of 15. I averaged 17.5 and she was at 18.2, so in a normal race she would gave caught me around mile 13-14. I am still counting it though! :-) The other thing about these races is that all special groups (including Clydesdales and Athena's) start in the same wave (last) so you are usually on the road alone. I think that slows me down a bit, as I am faster when able to pace myself off of someone else. Something to think about, especially since the WINNER of the Clydesdale group came in under 1:00:00. Seriously, if you can finish a sprint in under an hour, you need to be racing age group. This is just someone trying to get on the podium.
|My legs are working?!?!?!?|
After racking the bike I braced myself for my weakest spot; running off the bike. I suck at it, and it usually mean walking the first half mile or so. I always TRY to run, but just cannot get legs moving. So imagine my shock this time when I went to run and, my legs worked! I could run my splits right from the start. Even though I am still slow as hell, the mere fact that I was able to run made me feel great!
Another bad part about running through this park at night is that the mosquitos LOVE evening snacks. I must not be that sweet tasting because, even though I was chomped on a bit, I was no where near as badly marked as Jenny and Kate. The staff at the 1.5 turn around was nice enough to spray us as we passed, but, as I stated, starting in the final wave also means people run out of things by the time you get there.
My run got stronger as I went and I had negative splits for the three miles. Still a lot of work to do, but my goal was 45:00 and I cam in at 40:39. My overall race was 1:30:19, missing my goal by just 19 seconds. Sucks to be that close, but it was an improvement so I will take it.
Some various pictures:
|Race Strategy : Don't Drown, Ride Fast, Run Faster|
|JC Harris : King of Crystal River|
|Rue Ready and Willing Sir!!|