It has been a very busy few days here, as I frantically tried to finish my Black Mountain Monster race report, started a new Ashtanga yoga workshop, and competed in a sprint triathlon!
Saturday morning I participated in the Tri Latta sprint triathlon. I registered for the event back in January, before I had even heard of the Black Mountain Monster, and the tri girls were also competing, so I wanted to approach this race as a fun social workout more than a race. We’ve been doing this race as a group for several years now, so I am pretty familiar with the course, and I have a history of finish times on which to reflect.
Tri Latta takes place at Latta Plantation, a Nature Preserve/Equestrian Center just north of Charlotte in Huntersville. The 750 meter swim takes place in Mountain Island Lake and is essentially an out and back with a short cross section at the farthest point, forming an elongated rectangle. The 17 mile bike is on a rolling course, with no major climbs and few flats. Finally, the 5k run winds along horse trails and gravel paths, so footing can be tricky, and it has the characteristic rolling nature of a trail run.
I was not, in any way, ready for this race. I haven’t done a swim workout since White Lake (May 5), and I’ve been taking a few weeks off of the bike. My legs haven’t recovered from Black Mountain, and my nutrition has been a free-for-all, with my body trying to over-compensate for the calories lost the past weekend. In other words, a train wreck.
The night before the race, we went to Carowinds. Missing my dinnertime was totally worth the fun we had, but it certainly threw a wrench in my pre-race routine. Instead of my normal healthy pasta dinner, chicken fingers and french fries would be my fuel. Yes, I am painfully aware that this was a bad decision. I packed my gear and went to sleep after 11, with my alarm set for *gasp* 4:00 am.
Amazingly, I woke up on time, grabbed my gear, and hurried off to pick up Jody. The parking lot was filling quickly by the time we arrived. The entrance road to Latta is 2 miles long, and there is one parking lot 1/2 mile from the race start. I pumped the tires on my bike, opened the back door to grab my backpack, and suddenly it hit me. The one item I hadn’t remembered to bring: my helmet. They won’t let you race without one; they won’t even allow you to ride your bike to the start without one.
Frantically, Jody and I explored the options. Optimistically, we walked to the race start, and I went straight to the Cool Breeze Cyclery tent, where a local bike shop comes out to the race for any last minute fixes.
They are the Bike Angels. More than once, they have saved a race for me or my friends. Shyly, I asked if they happened to have a spare helmet lying around. Not only did they have a couple, but the girl volunteered to give me her own helmet she had ridden in with if they couldn’t find an extra! Crisis averted. Thank you, kind stranger!
After securing a helmet, body-marking, and setting up transition, it was beyond time to be at the start line down by the lake. I barely had time to get a warm-up in the water, so the only result of my quick 50 meters was my shivering while waiting for my wave to start, since the temps dropped to the 60s overnight.
Despite the unfortunate events surrounding the race prep, I started the race easily enough. It took longer than usual to find my groove on the swim, probably due to a lack of a real warm-up, but by the turn buoy at the halfway point, I was cruising along. It was certainly not my fastest 750k swim, coming in at 17:26.
T1 was simply slow. The timing mat for Latta is down by the water, but I had to run up a long, mostly grassy slope then across an asphalt parking lot before entering transition. This, coupled with the fact that my sunglasses had fallen off my helmet and onto the ground on the opposite side of my bike, made for a very frantic transition.
The bike ride was simply laborious. I had been feeling stronger every day after Black Mountain, but this bike ride reminded me that my legs were not recovered. Every slight incline along the course was met with fatigue, and maintaining a good pace was nearly impossible. I just had no energy in my quads or hamstrings. 57:49 for the 17 miles, an average of about 17.6 mph.
T2 was equally frustrating. My toes had gone numb in my ill-fitting tri shoes, so running through the transition area and around the large sand pit turned into a walk at best.
Ah, the run. I had no expectations here. After feeling so weak on the bike ride, I questioned if I’d be able to run the full distance. However, putting on my shoes felt like being home. I am continuously amazed by how much progress I have made with my running. It took about 1/2 mile to find my pace, but once I got it, I felt solid. I was sure I was running at about a 10-minute/mile, but when I hit the mile mark at 9:10, I was amazed! The hills were taking their toll, but I felt nothing like the weakness I felt on the bike. A girl in my age group was mere steps in front of me for the majority of the race, but approaching 2.5 miles I decided to give it all I had and passed her for good. I finished the run in 26:31, which is a sprint tri run PR for me.
I missed a PR in this race by about 45 seconds, but I am very okay with that. I was ill-prepared for this race and certainly not at my strongest.
Swim – 17:26
T1 – 3:45
Run – 26:31
Total – 1:48:28, 7/14 in my age group
After the race, I cheered my friends on, since their waves started after mine. All in all, it was a beautiful day, a great workout, and a learning experience. I am ready for a break from racing for a while though.