Last Sunday, I competed in my first race of the season at Clermont’s Lake Louisa State Park. The race was draft-legal format, similar to many of the ITU races I do, however, did not count towards any kind of ranking.
Although the elite women’s race didn’t start until 1pm, the park entrance closed at 10am due to the earlier start of the age group race. So, once I was inside the park, I had about 3 hours of downtime on my hands to read, relax, and cheer for the age groupers and elite men who raced before me.
A little past 1, the race began as we (the elite women) ran into the chilly, wetsuit-legal water of Lake Louisa. After stumbling a bit on the start, I was able to gain some ground back while dolphin diving towards the first buoy. After a fast and furious first couple of minutes which I’ve come to expect in this style of racing, I was able to settle into a pace and into the draft of a couple of girls ahead of me. I exited the water in 9th place and was thankful for a nice long run up the beach, across the boardwalk, and over to transition to give me plenty of time to get my heart rate back under control (dolphin diving is hard!) and tear my wetsuit down halfway.
I exited transition onto the bike and quickly joined with 2 other girls to form a mini-pace line. We worked well together and after about 1 lap (out of 4) we were able to catch the pack ahead of us and pick up the tempo. Then, halfway through the 3rd lap, another pack of girls came storming by my pack. Luckily, I happened to look over just as the last person came by and was able to hop on her wheel. At that point, our big pack was whittled down to 5 from about 9 and that’s the way we remained for the rest of the bike leg.
I had no idea what to expect for my 5k run split after the bike since I’ve been doing 10k/endurance training all winter so I decided to take my run out as fast as I possibly could and give it my all until I bonked. I was able to keep a good pace until about the last quarter mile when the heat and humidity started to get to me… so much for all the heat acclimation of living in Florida for 22 years! I finished up in 4th place and was very pleased with the result for my season opener considering I’d put in a good training block the previous 3 weeks.
One of the more rewarding parts of the weekend was being able to see my coach and help her out/participate in technical clinics. A couple of people were competing in their first draft-legal race so I was able to answer some questions about procedures/what to expect in this type of race. Also, I got some videotaping done on my swim and run form which is always helpful for tracking progression and seeing where I still need work.
In just a couple of hours, I will begin the drive down to Miami for yet another race this Sunday. The Miami International Triathlon is a non-drafting Olympic distance race… not my specialty, but I’m excited to see how much difference a year can make!