On Saturday morning I headed south to Bowling Green, KY for their sprint triathlon the following day. I have lots of family in BG so I figured it would be a good time to visit with them and do a race. I drove straight to the tri location so I could get my bearings and drive the bike course. Oh my gosh. The bike course was very intimidating in a car so I was immediately nervous to see what would happen on Sunday. However, I figured out that the first 1/2 of the course was the most challenging so if I could get through that then I would be golden. The remainder of Saturday I spent at a relative's pool just relaxing and catching up.
Sunday morning I woke up at 6 am so I could eat and get my things together to leave for the race around 7. I had some Trader Joe's PB on Great Harvest bread and drank a lot of water. When I did the tri a few weeks ago I found that perhaps I didn't drink enough water pre-race so I was sure to get my fill this time. By the time I got to the race, the transition area was getting pretty full and there were a lot of people walking around! With the race starting at 8 am, there were more family members/friends/etc there supporting the athletes as opposed to what I had seen with 7 am start times.
I checked in, got my race # written on both arms and one calf (152), and set up my transition area.
The stuff in the bottom left corner isn't mine (helmet, pink hat, etc) but the Whole Foods bag, yellow towel, goggles, and bike are mine. I kept my towel on the ground so when I ran to it post-swim I could step on it and dry off my feet. I put my water bottle in the cage on the bike, ready to go, so I could drink while biking (it's all about multi-tasking!)
We started the race about 15 minutes after 8, but being number 152, I had a while until I would start so I just chatted with the other races and talked about the looming bike portion. A BGST veteran told me that I should be careful about braking on the steep downhill as I might flip over my handlebars. Needless to say, I was now even more nervous about the biking portion and I just wanted to get started.
They staggered the swimmers ten seconds apart and we swam 1/4 mile so just eight lengths in the pool (remember: 1 LENGTH is from one end of the pool to another, 1 LAP is from one end of the pool to another and back). Ten seconds proved to not be enough as I got into crowds a couple of times, but I pushed through and passed several people.
Taking off on the bike, my legs felt fine and I was determined to tackle all those hills. My mom plus several of my cousins were on the side of the road about 1-1.5 miles into the course and it was so fun to see them! A newspaper got some pictures of them cheering me on so if I see them I will be sure to post. The worst part of the bike course was a hill that was about 1/3 of a mile long, and there is no telling how much of an elevation change there was. Just imagine the hardest hill you've ever climbed on your bike, multiply that by two, and that's what I did. I was cursing up a storm! There was somewhat of a reward because we were at probably one of the highest elevations in the area at that point and the views were fantastic. I tried to enjoy myself during that portion even though I was hell-bent on finishing. Something happened during the bike portion that's never happened to me before: I PASSED people! Surely it was a divine miracle, but I passed 3-4 people.
Running portion: it was flat but it was also brutal. There was zero shade, and it had a teaser: we ran through a neighborhood and back to the park, but then we had to do a huge loop around the park. I shuffled along, on the verge of vomiting, but I kept saying to myself, "Come on Rachel you can do this!" and I finished strong. Post-race they had free barbecue, chips, pasta salad, fruit salad, etc for the racers and the spectators and I devoured a barbecue sandwich. Major props to the race organizers for having the food because it was much needed.
Here are my official results!
Swim (1/4 mi): 8:42
Bike (14 miles): 55:26
Run (5k): 28:58
Overall finish time: 1:36:30
I am happy with those times considering the difficulty level of the race. And...I finished in the top 1/2 of my age group!!
I would not recommend this race to a first-time triathlete unless you're in really great shape. Granted, you could coast through the whole thing if you wanted to, but I think most people sign up for a race to push themselves and do well. Besides, with your adrenaline pumping it would be hard to not let that take over. Would I do this race again? Maybe. I would put in a lot more bike training especially on hills. But for 2012, I think my triathlon season has come to an end. It was a good ride!