I traveled back to my old stomping grounds last weekend to race the Disco Sprint Triathlon! I haven't raced in the Dallas area since 2007 and was looking forward to getting back to the city.
Packet pick-up was in Plano at the Tri Shop and closed at 4:00 pm (kind of early??), so after I did that I had some time to kill. What better way to do this than with a pedicure!! Then I drove up to Denton to the hotel that I booked. Bill stayed home with the boys so I was by myself for this one.
I talked with Bill on my way up to the race from the hotel and I told him that for some reason I was really nervous this morning - in the car my hands were shaking, don't know what that was all about, pre-race anxiety. I wanted to do well and I was pretty worked up thinking about my race.
The Disco race had three distances going on so there was an early 6:30 am race start. The transition area was only open from 5:30-6:15! Yikes!! If you know me then you know I like about an hour and a half to get everything set for a race and 45 minutes was really short! I talked briefly to Scott Eder, our team manager with Cambridge about the in's and out's of the transition area and he gave me some information about the course. Long run up from the swim and slightly uphill, he told me to watch my heart rate because it was easy to spike it on the way to the bikes. He said the bike course was slightly harder coming back in than going out and of course the wind was blowing from the south so we would have a headwind on the way back.
Got my little warm up run in and then went to the swim start to warm up... and then the waiting began. My wave was dead last. Ahead was the X-50 race (1 mile swim, 40 mile bike, 9 mile run) and the Olympic race. Apparently there was some issues getting the cars into the park and the race didn't get under way until 7:00am. In our race packets we were given a little coupon to get into the park. Otherwise it was $7.00 - well apparently the coupon was for a "person", not the "car". It took a long time to get through the line. Wow....good thing I hurried to get my stuff set up in transition - NOT! I paid for the rushing later - keep reading...
We were freezing by the time we got started - when I lined up there were quite a few girls right on the line. They looked aggressive.... I was a little worried. Went out hard at the start and got away from them all, never had contact with another swimmer for the entire time. Passed a bunch of people from the swim wave before me. It got really shallow at the end of the swim (not enough rain in the Dallas area - they are under drought watch, so the lake was low), and I did a bunch of dolphin dives. When we saw the very first swimmer come out of the water as we were waiting for our start we saw he went really far left and ran along the sandbar - a bunch of us even commented that initially we didn't even realize he was in the race. After him they had volunteers herd the swimmers into the deeper water so it didn't turn into a run fest at the end of the swim.
Ugh... chip seal and rain. It had started sprinkling on us as we waited for the swim to start but once we got onto the bike the rain came down. They had told us to stay on the shoulder of the road if possible and at first I didn't because there were a lot of people with flats. When it rains the debris washes off the road and flat tires are usually eminent. But then I went ahead and moved over about half way to the turn around and noticed that the road there was WAY smoother! The only problem was it was inconsistent and also when you needed to pass someone (remember I was in the last swim wave of the morning) you had to go back into the road and around the cyclist. I saw some people passing on the right, HELLO - illegal pass! I also told a lot of people as I passed them that the shoulder was much smoother road - always trying to help. One guy that was going back and forth with me (he didn't want to be chicked) went down at the turn around cone, never saw him again - "wet roads = caution".
When I got back to transition I did something that I have never, ever done in my entire 29 years of racing. I ran into T1 and went to where I thought my bike was.... it wasn't there.... what the????? I hadn't given enough thought to the bike in before the race start and had run past my spot to the opposite end of the transition area! I was on the 2nd row of bikes at the bike in - so I ran 2 extra complete lengths of T1 with my bike. You know what went through my head? "I wonder if anyone is noticing how stupid I look searching for my bike?" Haha! I felt like an idiot. Lets just add 30 seconds to your transition time. Grrrrrr.....
The run was supposed to be flat. But I had two almost 8:00 minute miles followed by a 7:00 minute mile. Hmmmm..... This was according to my Garmin anyway - we were under cover of trees since the run was on a trail (concrete) so it may have been off. I sure didn't feel like I was running an 8:00. My run average was 7:33 and I am really happy with that! It rained on us the entire run, it kept the temperatures down which felt really good.
Went to the car to clean up and change. Temperatures were in the upper 60's at this time and I was cold. Wish I had remembered to bring a hoodie. Of course when I got to my car to change the ONLY other person in the entire parking lot that also was at their car was a guy and parked RIGHT NEXT TO ME. So I had to wait. He finally left and I was able to put some dry clothes on and grab my big golf umbrella and head back to the team tent. Got a little adjustment and some ART on my right hip flexor and piriformis.
I had no idea how I finished since there were the other races going on and I asked if they posted results somewhere. One guy from the team said they were already online so we started checking his phone. First he asked if I was Masters, nope not listed there. Then he asked Grand Masters?, nope not listed there either. Then he asked what my age group was, nope still not there. So then I sheepishly said, "would you check the overall?" (I thought maybe I had a chance - on the run there were only young girls ahead of me and they were close at the finish.) I guess my favorite part of the race was the surprise in his voice when he said I'd won the sprint race! It was kind of funny, I guess they didn't expect that! Scott Eder asked me if that was the first race I'd ever won in Dallas? Yep! Later when I checked results online I saw that the next girl was 2 minutes behind me - and over 20 years younger than me. Happy, Happy, HAPPY!
When I was on the out and back run I watched for my Cambridge teammates - there were a lot of us out there. It was the first time for me racing with a bunch of people on the same team. I gave a little wave and received one back from every single one of them. Every time I saw one it was a little mental boost to go faster and represent the team. Another one of my highlights of the morning. Good group of people. Great group of athletes!
Scott and I talked about something while waiting for awards that I've never really given a lot of thought to. We were chatting about my performance at 53 years old, I told him about Team Genetic Freak. He observed that one of the reasons that I can still race at the level I do is because I didn't get caught up in the Ironman distance racing. I've done three of them, and would do more if my knees could handle it, but by not racing long I've been able to continue racing long past when other people's bodies have broken down. I've chosen to race sprints and the occasional Olympic distance race and be able to keep doing this sport - some day I know I won't be able to race anymore but I think making the decision not to pound my body with the Iron and Half Iron training distances (particularly on the run) has kept me in this wonderful sport of triathlon! It's something to think about.
How long do you want to continue to race?