Late, yeah, I know.
This race was a big one in some respects - triathlon #12 of the career. I've come a long way from the first time I did this race way back in 2007. I've run a lot of races, I've done several Olympic-distance tris and I've done my first half-Ironman. This race kind of sucks in several ways (ways in which I'll describe later), but it's a return to my roots. And, with our decision to solely do shorter races this year, I figured it was a good time to return to this race.
My friend Genevieve, who I also did the race with my first year, also intended on racing this year and that contributed to my decision. However, she ended up not being able to race as she had to be on call for her job.
Despite that, she still spent the night at our apartment the night before so she could go up with us on race day and watch and cheer as long as she could.
As a result, the night before the race was a late one, much like when I first raced this race five years ago. Five years ago, my brother had his house-warming party the night before the race. As a good sister, I stopped by (with Gen, ironically) ... and ended up staying up a little later than I would have liked, figuring it was okay because I usually stayed up that late - keeping with the schedule, you know?
This year, I was waiting for Brandon to come home. He ended up coming home for the night on a Colorado Springs overnight, watching me race while technically at work. I caught up with Gen waiting for Brandon to come home, staying up late but not regretting it a second. I know I race better relaxed and going to bed relaxed would be better in the long run - or so I figured.
Earlier that day, I rode my bike to the expo for packet pick-up and chit-chatted with the higher powers that be at Skirt Sports which may hopefully result in something cool ... more on that if I learn more. Regardless, the chats put me in a giddy mood for the rest of the day and carried over to that night.
The day of, Brandon and I woke up early, turned on the Olympic women's marathon for a bit and then as soon as I was packed up, borrowed Gen's car and drove up to Cherry Creek State Park. We parked, unpacked my stuff and got me a prime spot in transition. We then walked back to the car, drove home and ate breakfast and continued to watch the marathon.
(side note: Shalane was not wearing the knee socks ... why? pretty sure that was half her problem ... her power was gone!)
With about 90 minutes before my wave start, we left the house and walked up to the race (Gen decided to drive just in case she needed to bug out). Once we got up to the site, we split up - I went into trans to actually get my area set up and get ready to race while Brandon and Gen hung out.
The swim wave came around a little unexpectedly; they were announcing the waves to line up to get ready - I heard the groups before my wave ... and then I heard the groups after. As soon as I heard them call the later groups, I dashed off and squashed my way down through to my wave. Oops.
However, I got there in time and off. There were a ton of people - Tri for the Cure does a great job with the wave starts and organization with the thousands of people that do the race, but that still didn't prevent swim bottlenecks.
The swim itself was an upside-down triangle. I finally had a little space to myself at the bottom of the triangle, but as soon as I turned back to shore, I ran into more people.
This was a little annoying, but I ultimately think it helped me; I think I may have (inadvertently) drafted for the first time in a race because it led me to my fastest swim time. EVER.
Time: 18:00 (785th overall)
I forgot how long the run up from the swim to transition was. Ugh.
Yeah, I stopped running at one point. I got ready to ride and then clomped the long-as way to the bike out, waving at Brandon and Gen again.
This bike course is so familiar to me and I knew where I could push it and where I needed to hold back. Brandon and I rode the course a few times to specifically figure that out for me. I felt good at the outset so I pushed slightly harder at the beginning than planned.
The few issues I had were on the shooting center road past the point where the road is typically closed. It was very, very crowded on this section and the road needs repaved. Badly.
It was really hard to pass in this section, there was a lot of clumping of riders. It's hard for me - the Tri for the Cure is a really beginner-friendly race which is ultimately a good thing. However, it's not nice when people (un)intentionally ride tandem and draft off each other.
The super frustrating part of that was they changed the wave starts this year to go by ability level. I'm not a beginner by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't quite meet the requirements for the competitive wave, either. So, I lumped myself in the intermediate wave which essentially assumes that this race wasn't your first rodeo ... but I know that it was for some just listening to people in my wave before the swim.
So, while I wanted to bomb it on the return part of the shooting center road out and back, I really couldn't do it and lost a bit of speed as a result due to slowing down to either people roadblocks or potholes.
Once back on the main road, I pushed the speed as much as I dared without killing myself, saving some energy for the death hill.
The death hill, all things considered, I did alright. It wasn't pretty, but I did it.
I turned to the downhill section and one of my proudest moments came on the turn at the bottom of the hill - I still managed to make the turn going 20-something mph, which is fast for me ... especially considering I still corner a bit tentatively after the crash (four months later, I know).
I rode steadily back, following the race plan except for taking in nutrition on the bike - I didn't feel like I needed it, so I didn't take my gel as planned.
I also didn't see Brandon or Gen coming back into transition; apparently I rode faster than they expected me to.
Time: 38:40 (17.6 mph, 260th overall)
I got off my bike and clomped my way back to my spot to get ready for the run. Easy peasy.
I'm not going to sugarcoat this - the first half of this run f'ing blows. It's all uphill, there's no shade (well, there's no shade at all on the run) and it's on pavement on the Dam Road with rocks all around you - you run in an oven. Ugh.
I sort of ran the first little bit past the tents (including the SkirtSports booth) and then decided, "screw it," walked and took in my gel.
I ran/walked pretty much the whole first mile which, as I said before, is entirely uphill. I hit the mile one marker at either 10:20ish or 10:30ish; I forget now.
I picked it up slightly in mile two, particularly after the turnaround point where the course started to go downhill. I kept up my steady run/walk rotation and made up time.
Mile three was almost entirely running and almost entirely downhill.
They changed the finisher's chute slightly from the last time I did this race, but it really didn't amount to much. It was just something I remember thinking as I neared the finish.
There was a woman at the end that I came up on in the chute that I tried so badly to beat across the line (because I'm crazy like that) and according to the race photos, I did, so woo to that! I also finally saw Brandon at the end of the race, but unfortunately he missed getting a photo of me crossing the line. Boo.
Time: 30:12 (9:44/mi, 508th overall)
I met up with Brandon and Gen, grabbed some food, talked to Chris at the SkirtSports booth, went home, showered, grabbed food and busted our butts back down to the Springs so Brandon could get back to work.
All of those numbers, though? Added up to a HUGE race PR. A 13:14 race PR from the first time I did the race (1:47:22) and damn near a 30 minute PR from the only other time I did the race (2:00:20)
40/198 division (25-29)
The bummer of it all is that I'm still 4:08 off from being able to race this race "competitively", but it's all good. I'll miss it next year for the same reason I didn't race it last year - it always falls on the same day as IMBoulder70.3 ... which I'm doing next year.
Still, huge PRs are huge PRs. That's the fastest swim I've ever had in a race, my fastest bike split (er, average) as far as I can tell and I'm pretty sure my fastest run. I'll take it.