I didn't expect to race well this year. In December of 2009 I had micro fracture knee surgery on my left knee for torn articular cartilage. Six weeks on crutches and then six months with no running. I wasn't planning on applying for Team Aquaphor, but Bill talked me into it, I'm so glad I listened! I decided to race only sprint distance races so I wouldn't have to run farther than 5K. My surgeon informed me that my knee would keep healing for a year post surgery. My season started late with me missing all of the early season races.
Me, Carol Scheible, Rebecca Moxey
My first race of the season was the Kure Beach Double Sprint Triathlon at the end of June in Kure Beach, NC. I'd only been running for 3 weeks so I wasn't expecting a fast run split. This race has an unusual format of 375 meter ocean Swim, 1.5 mile Run, 20K Bike, 1.5 mile Run, 375 Swim. I met and stayed with Carol Scheible from Chapel Hill in Wilmington the night before the race. I ended up placing 4th in my age group, my run was slow as expected but I wasn't disappointed. Each run was 1.5 miles and I averaged 8:30's. After looking at the results, I think with my normal run pace I would have been 2nd or 3rd in my age group!
Suzy, Carol and Me
Race number two was the Mayo Lake Triathlon in Roxboro, NC. I drove up to Chapel Hill and stayed with Carol and her family the night before and then onto the race site the next morning. Mayo Lake is in the northern part of the state - I live where it's flat and it definitely wasn't flat here! Carol tried to do a sneak play that morning by wearing her one piece black tri suit under her usual race red - but I caught her before we left her house! She was going to ditch the red just before the start of the race in hopes that I wouldn't notice her!
I came out of the water 1st in our age group, Carol passed me on the bike, as usual, and then I finally caught her on the extremely challenging trail run at about mile 2! I took 1st in our Age Group, with Carol 2nd and a good friend of ours, Suzy Nisbett placed 3rd! I just missed 4th overall female when I was passed with only a few hundred yards to the finish!
My third race wasn't really a race but more of an event. Take The Lakein Waccamaw, NC held every Labor Day. This event has a unique history. "Swimming across Lake Waccamaw has been a personal achievement for generations, with its first proponent, Lee J. Greer, encouraging hundreds of youths and adults to join him each year, as far back as the 1940s, and it would become a Labor Day tradition." It is a 4 MILE swim across the lake, from either the Dam to Dale's or vice versa depending on the wind that morning.
The sky was overcast for most of the swim and it was windy and the water choppy, but the water temperature was perfect. Each swimmer is required to have their own paddle support and my husband Bill guided the way for me in his kayak. After the swim I got a giant splinter in my foot from the dock which plagued me for the rest of my race season.
Kacie Wallace from the Raleigh/Durham area is a member of Team Aquaphor and she came down to also swim Take The Lake! Kacie is a super fast swimmer, she finished 2nd in 1:48! I was the 4th female finisher in 2:07. I hope that next year we are both back on the team and would like to do a half Ironman distance relay with her and a runner from Team Aquaphor.
The following Saturday I was signed up to race the East Coast VW North Myrtle Beach Triathlon. I hadn't been able to run all week because my foot hurt so badly from where I got the splinter at the lake swim on Monday. By Friday it was infected and I decided that I should go have a podiatrist look at it. Unfortunately I couldn't get in to see one so I put a waterproof band aid on it and hoped for the best.
This race has an 700 meter ocean swim, a 12 mile bike and a 5K run. I picked up my race packet and drove the bike course the day before and checked out where the finish line was to be set up. The water was a little rough, in the first wave of swimmers a girl had to be jet skied back to shore, she'd only made it to the first buoy. I was racing for the first time with a heart rate monitor, I was curious to see how high my heart rate would be during the run - 188. I didn't have a very good swim and wondered if I had the strap of my HR Monitor too tight and if it constricted my breathing. I passed several girls on the bike and caught two more on the run. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to run because of my foot, but I think the adrenaline and endorphins from the race took care of it.
First Overall Female!!!
As I came across the finish line timing mat I heard them say - "Ginger Spansel from Sunset Beach, our First Female Finisher"! It was awesome, I didn't believe it until I saw the posted results. This was only the second time I ever won overall in a triathlon, the first was back in 2002!
I went to the podiatrist on the following Monday and he had to incise my foot and removed a chunk of wood that was still in there. My foot was infected, I got to be on antibiotics and no running for 5 days!
The Wilmington YMCA Triathlon was next, it was my third time to do this race. It has a long swim for a sprint distance triathlon, 1500 meters but with a current in the Intercoastal Waterway, it's point to point and there are shuttle buses to take you to the start. My husband Bill got to go to this race with me and we elected to walk over to the start.
I saw my friend Rebecca Moxey at the swim start and we chatted for a while. I told her that a girl had aged up this season was racing today - she beat me at Kure Beach and I'd looked up her previous race results at Wilmington and saw that she'd always been faster than me. Rebecca gave me confidence telling me that she thought I could beat her and to go for it.
My swim was good and I felt that I had a good bike split too, there were a couple times on the bike where things bottle necked because of traffic cones, but I tried not to let it bother me.
I headed out on the run and saw my friend Kari on an out and back section, I had a feeling that she was going to catch me and pushed hard over the next mile or two. At about mile 2.5 I came up on a girl in my age group and realized that it was the one I had chatted about with Rebecca. I stayed behind her for a 20 yards or so and then passed her. I heard her feet pick up the pace so I surged a bit and was able to pull away from her. I won my age group by just a few seconds, the girl I'd just passed came in 2nd and my friend Kari placed 3rd!
My last triathlon of the season ended up being a duathlon. The Myrtle Beach Triathlon was being held at the same venue and at the same time as the TriSports.com Halfmax Championship Half Ironman Triathlon. They held a sprint, and Olympic distance and the Halfmax at the same time. Unfortunately we had record breaking rain the week before the race and the swim portion of all races was cancelled due to ecoli and bacteria in the Intercoastal Waterway. It wasn't announced until race morning - you can imagine some pretty upset athletes! They had us line up close to the swim exit and run to transition in bare feet instead of the swim. It didn't matter where you queued up since we crossed a timing mat at the start, but the bad part was is you had no idea of where your competition was during the race. Just go as hard as you possibly can and then wait until results are posted.
I had a good bike, but didn't let my Garmin find the satellites before hitting start so I didn't have an accurate idea of my speed or distance on the bike. I reset it during the ride so I would be able to know my run pace and splits. I ran as hard as I could, passed a few girls and was passed by one young girl just before the finish. I ended up 4th overall female and won my age group!
Cheers and Happy New Year!
I finished my season with two 5K races in October. The Ocean Isle Beach Oyster Festival 5K where I placed 3rd overall female and won my age group. The following weekend I raced the Coastal 5K in Myrtle Beach, I won my age group again and came in 4th overall female!
All in all I consider this to have been a really good year for me - and totally unexpected. I thought I would have pain and problems with my knee all year. I don't know if it was the rehab post surgery, the fact that I was able to stay off my feet a lot during that time since I wasn't working or just good genes. Or maybe it was the performance pressure from representing not only myself but Team Aquaphor. What ever it was, I'll take it. I'm looking forward to next year and can't wait to see my racing friends again!