This past Sunday marked my second year of competing in The Triangle Triathlon. This race is the toughest and longest race I have done to this date. The Triangle Tri is a 750 meter open water swim in Harris Lake (home to the Shearon Harris Nuclear Reactor), a 17.5 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. It is a longer swim and bike than the normal sprint triathlon, so it is a great race to test your endurance and see if you really want to move to the next level of triathlon racing.
Of course, it was not the ideal time for a race. Hubby and I just finished a two week no holds barred vacation in Europe. There was plenty of eating and drinking (OK-lots and lots of drinking), but absolutely no training. I was a bit concerned about how I would fare in this race, but it all worked out fine. I would have probably done better without two weeks off, but that two weeks was worth it!!
We decided to do the Sunday edition of this race. Due to the popularity of the event, it was expanded to a full weekend this year. I am glad we chose the Sunday race as it was the smaller group of the two days. We arrived early at the race site, but had no problem getting a parking space inside the park. Soon, we had our race packets, our bodies marked, and our transition area set up. It was time to hang out with G & K and our good friend C who got up way too early in the morning to cheer the four of us in this race. G and Hubby were in the water soon, and K and I were waiting for our turn to take off.
I did my usual when starting the open water swim. I started in the rear of the group to the outside. The gun went off and we were off. The water was very warm (high 80s), but murky. The race course takes you out to a triangle buoy where you turn left and head to another triangle buoy before returning to the shore. The nice part about the first length of the swim is the electrical wires and poles in the lake. It makes for easy spotting while swimming. I felt that I held me own with the group and didn't get too far behind. My arms were aching, but I kept moving without getting run over by other swimmers. After what felt like a long time (really only 19:02 minutes), I was out of the water. I had trimmed over 3 minutes from my time last year and would later find out that I had beaten both G and Hubby in the swim.
There was a long run from the water to the transition, but again I bettered my time from last year. I changed as quickly as I could, and was off on the bike course. I was passed by a few folks heading out of the park. I think that biking may be the weakest area for me. The first few miles of the course are not too bad, with more rolling hills than steep hills. I did manage to pass a few people on my own, and played back and forth with a few others. I was nervous about what I knew was coming - the killer hill. It is a long steady incline a little over half way through the course. It wasn't as bad as I anticipated. I made the steady climb, and soon turned right onto Avent Ferry Road. I got some water and a GU packet, and was re-energized for the ride back to the park. I was picking up some really good speed when I saw something no athlete wants to see - a biker down of the side of the road. I heard later that he was clipped by a car and landed in a ditch. The police, a fire truck, and race officials were there with the athlete. I hope he was OK. I made it back to the transition area taking about 8 minutes off my ride from last year. I finished it in 1:08:49.
I started to have some problems at this point. My T2 time was slower than 2009 (must put the pull tabs on my running shoes!), and I knew I was tired. I headed out to the run course, but I knew what was waiting for me. It is a short run on asphalt leading to a trail. I am not a trail runner at all. I was having problems with my legs and had to take walk breaks more often that I wanted. I would count about 45 breaths running, then walk for about 30 breaths. I did improve over the course, but it was still difficult to run on the trail with little shade in July. It was getting hot. I would be sure to dump water on my head at every water stop. I finally reached one stop, and the volunteers told me I had about .2 miles left - thank goodness! I could hear the finish and I was heading home. I ran in from the trail to the finish (must look good crossing the finish line), but I was beat there by another triathlete - a 72 year old woman in a green tri suit! Oh well, she looked great. I finished the run in 42:07, a disappointing two minutes slower than last year. I blame the vacation.
Overall, I finished the race in 2:16:25, a better time than the 2:26:54 I posted in 2009. I hope 2011 will be even better. Now, it is time to hit the training hard. We have less that 2 months until the White Lake International race, and I want to be ready. Gotta run!!