Kennett and I showed up to the Colorado Sprint Triathlon on Saturday in our trusty race vehicle – our Dodge Elk Van. I initially fell in love with this van when it’s previous owner, Quinn, drove us to a bike race in the van. Need to change clothes? Hop in the back. Need extra water? Use the full 20-gallon jug of H2O that’s in the back of the van to refill. Tired post-race? Lay back and relax on the bed. Forgot a towel? There’s always at least one floating in the back somewhere.
Best part of the van is that it’s easy to find when it is parked next to hundreds of other cars in a grassy field like Saturday. After parking we headed over to the transition area to claim a spot for our bikes. We racked our Felt bikes next to each other like any other sappy triathlon couple would. After piling our wetsuits and shoes near the rack, we took our first of many bathroom breaks before riding the bikes back out of transition for a warm up spin. Then we had to go back to the van for the rest of my pancake and to refill water bottles. I peed with a towel wrapped around me right next to the van with the doors acting as additional privacy. Our run warm-up was a solid two minute run to drop our water bottles off at transition and another return trip to the van so we could grab wetsuits.
We walked into the water in our wetsuits and peed again. Then we swam around a tiny lined off area before pausing . . . to pee again. And so the pattern went. Swim, pee, listen to the pre-race information. Swim, pee, listen to the national anthem. . . while peeing. We got back out of the water but then we started peeing in our wetsuits so we figured it would be best to walk back out waist-deep in the water.
At one point I remembered that I’d left a gel by the lifeguard chair. I ran to grab it but it wasn’t there. So I ran to the next chair; it wasn’t there either. Shit, where is my dumb gel? I looked further and there was another chair so I ran to that and grabbed my one-shot mocha gel to consume. Next problem was finding a trash to throw it in. So I ran in the sand to the end of the small beach so I could dispose of the wrapper. I was out of breath from the 10-second effort which was slightly concerning. Luckily, we still had a few minutes before our wave started. (I probably found time to pee once more.)
The unusual part about the race was that Kennett and I started in the same wave. We were next to each other in the water and, while my goal was to stay on his feet, I knew once everyone started flailing in the water I wouldn’t know who was who. Sure enough, our wave of around 50 racers started going and it was chaos until everyone spread out about 250-meters into the 750-meter course.
I was the second woman out of the water. Running up the blue carpeting to the transition I looked at the woman in front of me. Her wetsuit was already at her waist. I looked at my hands and saw my white goggles in my hand. Great, I thought, my wetsuit still is at my shoulders and I already lost my cap. Good thing I have a million caps at home. So much for not littering the course. After I managed to grab the wetsuit cord and get it to my waist I subconsciously reached up to my hair. Ha, that’s where my cap is! I fumbled through transition and on to the bike.
Kennett seemed to think I could do the entire 17-mile course without shifting into my small chainring. I doubted it, but he was right. My legs felt stronger than normal. I kept it steady so I wouldn’t regret my earlier efforts at the end of the ride. Midway through I downed my 2-shot gel. I was pretty content with how I rode, despite Kennett and I cursing my bike for being finicky the day before. At the end of the bike I got stuck behind another racer for two turns which was frustrating, especially looking back post-race. Those were crucial seconds I needed going into the run.
Through my second transition I stumbled through getting my bike next to Kennett so it wouldn’t fall and spent too much time tying my shoes. Don’t worry, I’m almost thirty and I know how to tie my shoes but my laces are so goddamn long! By this point I heard them announce that I was the third female in. So I hustled out with my race belt, visor, and sunglasses in my hand. I hit my Garmin watch as I went onto the run course. Shit, they just announced another woman in the transition area. That means I don’t have 3rd place secured. Ok, I got to run to the turn-around fast. Then I can see how far back the next girl is. Just do the first mile-and-a-half hard. You got this. Here’s the tree that Michael told me about. Don’t go fast until then. Okay, now go fast. Your pace is sub-seven. Here’s the leader coming back. It’s a pink jersey. It’s Kennett. Awesome! At that point I let out a wooohooo at the top of my cheerleader lungs. This race was great because I got to start with Kennett, race, and still cheer for him at the end!
I got closer and closer to the turn around and my attitude shifted. Instead of worrying about the next woman behind me, I realized I wasn’t too far back from 1st and 2nd. I turned the corner and started eyeing 2nd from behind. I’ll catch up to her slower and just hang on her heels. She’ll think I’m just another 170-lb male running the way I’m huffing and puffing. Then, when I’m confident I can hold her off I’ll make a pass. Instead, I caught up to her with a mile left and just went for it. She didn’t have the steam left in her legs to follow and then I started tracking her teammate who was still in first. Unfortunately, I was just far enough back that my strong finishing kick wasn’t going to be enough. I still sprinted through the finish line and onto the slip-n-slide and finished happily in a time of 1:23:10.
I did this race last year and it was good to know that overall I’m stronger than this time in 2015. Ironically my bike split both years was exactly the same – 46:06 minutes. My run was the biggest improvement and I was actually the fastest woman on the run course. My average pace was 6:47 min/mile, which was way better than I thought I could pull out at the end of the race. I’m pretty sure I’ll switch out my shoelaces for bungee laces before my next race and of course, I’m continue to train in attempts to be faster too. The only thing I have signed up for at the moment is the 106 West Tri in September. Why that race? Because they give away cowboy hats for registering!