Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wait a Second!

The sun starts to rise in Jekyll Island, GA!

Going in to the Turtle Crawl Olympic Distance Triathlon, my only goal was to have a good, solid race.  I wasn't thinking about a PR or even winning my age group.  I simply wanted to go hard and finish strong.

As I gathered with the other women in the start corral, I definitely took note of almost all the women wearing a wetsuit.  I decided against wearing mine.  I swam the day before without my wetsuit and was happy as a Loggerhead being released back to the ocean!  I knew I might be a bit slower overall for the swim and might use more energy than my co-racers, but I would definitely save time in transition.

The buzzer went off I swam as fast as I could to the first buoy.  Once I made the turn, I settled down and swam at a pace well outside my comfort zone.  I knew we were swimming with the current, however I also knew swimmers were getting pushed toward the shore a bit.  I decided to sight as little as possible.  Yep, I got off course a bit a couple of times as I was pushed toward the shore, but I felt good about keeping my head down and keeping a good rhythm.

As I exited the water, I took a glance at my Garmin and was quite happy with my time.  I felt like I kept a good pace and didn't let up.

Swim: 25:30

I ran up the beach across the firmly packed sand.  Then, I hit the loose sand and everything shifted to slooowww mooootion.  Ugh.  I ran up the steps, across the boardwalk, down the steps, down the sidewalk, along the outside of transition, around transition, into transition and finally to my bike. 1st goes the sunglasses, 2nd the helmet, 3rd the shoes, 4th grab my bike and I head out to the bike course.

Okay, it was only .25 miles, but it seemed like a 10K!

T1: 2:16

Did I mention the bike course was 29 miles?  Did I mention I felt like I ate a big bag of Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips when I exited the water?  Did I mention I only decided to bring one bottle of my fluid?  Well, not that I've mentioned these things, I'll get on with the bike leg.

Jena* and I started crankin' out of the gate!  Whoa Jena!  Let's settle in and not get too excited.  The 22 mph I saw during the first 3 miles didn't last long.  I needed to make sure I was staying strong on the bike all the while ensuring strength for the run.

*For those of you who haven't met Jena, she is my Kestrel Airfoil Tri Bike.  We've been together for 8 years!

The two-loop bike course is extremely picturesque!  We could see the ocean, Spanish moss and historic landmarks along the way.  We rode by my favorite attraction at Jekyll Island, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which I visited the day before.  Oh, we also went by the lame-o water park.  Do kids still like water parks?  I'm not really sure why this area needs a water park when there is a fabulous ocean and beach just steps away.

As I approached the end of the island to turn back toward the race site, I noticed a woman ahead of me with a "41" on her calf.  Okay, time to make my move.  I passed her.  Woo Hoo!  My "woo hoo" is also because she was the first woman I spotted in my Age Group (40 - 44) on the bike course.  She and I played leapfrog for the next 8 miles or so before I decided enough was enough.  I accelerated around her and never saw her again.

Because I was feeling like a salty dog and because the bike course was 29 miles, I took a water bottle from the aid station and drank it down for a total of 1 bottle of Ironman Perform and 1 bottle of H2O.  I normally I would only use one fluid bottle for a race like this, but I needed that extra hydration.

Coming into transition was fun.  For the first time, I felt great!  When I say "great" I mean strong!  My legs were ready to start the run!

Bike: 1:28:16 (Did I mention the bike course was 29 miles?) <smile>

T2 was easy: 1st put on shoes and socks, 2nd clip on race belt, 3rd grab water bottle and hat and head out to the run course.

T2: 1:03

The run starts on a path next to the ocean so it was beautiful.  This is an out-and-back course which I love because you can see fellow racers coming and going.  It wasn't long before I saw Dennis R. a strong triathlete I've known for several years who lives in Canton, GA.  He looked strong and I knew he would be on the podium later that day.  It was super-cool to see all the fast guys coming back from their run on the way to the finish.

After I passed the Sprint turn-around at mile 1.5ish, I realized it was time to start checking out my competitors.  So far, I hadn't seen any women.  Hmmmm...this was a very strange feeling.  One in which I've never had before.  At around mile 1.75ish, I heard one volunteer say to another, "I haven't seen very many women come through yet."  Wait a second!  WHAT did she say?  I decided to chalk it up to the 80 degree temps, sun beating down on my head and fatigue setting in.  Regardless, I started keeping my eyes peeled for a woman.  Then, there she was!  Looking strong in her yellow Team FCA Endurance kit!  Okay, then.  Who's next?  I made the turn-around and realized I was next.  Wait a second!  Either I'm in 2nd place or there are some mighty fast women who have already finished.  This is unbelievable!

I was keeping a steady 9 minute mile pace which is really good for me on a race of this distance.  I thought if I could keep it up, I would be super-pumped with my finish time.  <smile>

Okay, back to looking for women!  The next woman I saw was about .5 - .75 miles behind me.  I needed to keep my pace and hope I didn't get run down, which has happened to me before.  The run is my weakest of the three and I typically drop several places among my peers because of my slower run times.  All good today, though!  I turned on my "game face" and stayed *looking* strong as I made my way back down the course and through the finish chute.  

Run: 54:40

Total Time: 2:51:14

When the results were posted, I was pleased to see that I placed 2nd Overall among the Females.  I was thrilled to stand on the podium for the first time in my 10-year triathlon career!

Another highlight of this short trip to Jekyll Island included a Loggerhead Sea Turtle named Sandy Hook.  Sandy Hook was found stranded on Fernandina Beach, Florida on March 11, 2013.  She was rehabilitated at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and released back to the sea on the same day as the race.  It was very moving to experience this with the rest of the folks on the beach.  It was a fantastic way to end my stay at Jekyll Island!

Sandy Hook goes home!

Happy Training and Racing!

1 comment:

  1. Mari, I love this! Congratulations on a well deserved place on the podium! You rock!