Monday, June 28, 2010

Charlottesville Sprint Tri

There was a lot riding on this sprint triathlon.  As the 3rd attempt of the year, it was hopefully going to be my first finish.  In May, Deb and I were babies and decided that in 40 degrees we had no desire to jump into a lake and skipped out on the Lake Anna tri... then there was the disaster that we refer to as Eagleman... and now here we are, is the third time the charm?  Deb and I headed down Saturday afternoon to preview the course and set up the campsite.  Fail on both... the bike course was ridiculously hilly, like seriously!  Huge hill coming out of the park, and then we started going down... and down... and down... I really thought we were going under sea level, knowing that in this out and back course, what went down was eventually going to go up again.  Definitely the hardest bike course I've ever seen.  Oh boy.  Then.. we didn't have a tent... or headlamps / flashlights / lantern anything.  What was wrong with us, this was not even the first time this year we've been camping!  Quick stop at Target and Deb is the proud owner of a new tent.. we had dinner at Ruby Tuesday and built a campfire.  I could not stop thinking about this bike course though... this was going to be a doozy.

5AM came pretty quickly and we packed up camp and headed to Walnut Creek Park... this was a small race, which means a good chance of me being DFL.  Bleh.  Too warm for wetsuits, we made our way down to the beach and listened to announcements.  I was really nervous for this race, more so than normal for a sprint distance.  I was 4th wave (out of 6) and we finally made our way into the water... we're off and I felt that I was really kicking ass on the swim.  I didn't know how I was doing on time but I felt good, even without a wetsuit.  I was passing buoy after buoy, staying on course, seeing my sights.. awesome.  Finally the last turn, and oh my goodness... a guy with a SNORKEL passed me!!!  What the heck?!!  The end of the swim was pretty nasty, lots of mud and clay and rocks... but then the shore and a short uphill run to transition.  wished there was a water stop, but was glad to be out of the water and on to the dreaded bike... 13:56 for the swim.

The very first thing we hit coming out of transition was the long steep hill, over a mile long, to get outside of the park.  About 1/4 mile up I started having an asthma attack... I unclipped and went for my inhaler, which I couldn't find... great (later found it in transition where it must have fallen out my jersey as I was putting it on).  A volunteer came over to me and asked if I needed help... um, HELL NO, I was finishing this race!!!!  Instead of just standing there, I decided to try to walk the bike a little just so I was covering some ground.. started feeling a little better and re-mounted.. reached the top of that first hill passing 6-7 other people walking their bikes.  Sadly, I knew that this was not the worst of the course.  The good news the course was shady but OMG, some of those hills were hellacious.  Since I'd already opened up the option for myself to walk my bike, I mentally told myself that I could walk if I needed to.... but I didn't!  I did stop one other time when I came up on a guy in the middle of the road.  I asked if he was ok, and he said no and asked if I knew how to fix a chain.  So I stopped and spent about 10 minutes putting his broken chain back together.  I glanced down at my watch but I must have accidentally stopped it at some point so I had no idea how much longer I had to go.. These hills were like nothing I'd ever seen before.  A couple years ago I set Columbia triathlon as the bar for hilliest course... nope!  On one downhill, something hit my face and I spent the next half mile or so with bug guts on my sunglasses (thank GOODNESS I was wearing sunglasses)... then about a mile later something flew into me and stung my chest (possibly a bee considering the huge red spot a day later).  Finally, finally, finally, on yet another steep hill I see the sign for the turn back into the park, knowing it was going to be mostly downhill to transition from this point.  Wow.  Finished the bike in 1:31:04.  Good golly.

I was very pleased with my transition times in this race.  There was a time where I had everything including the kitchen sink in my transition area.... I've reduced that to just the necessities.  Helmet, gloves, sunglasses, jersey resting on my bike... socks tucked into cycling shoes.. visor and race number sitting on top of running shoes.  I was able to quickly throw my bike on the rack and switch shoes before I was off again... again, could've used a water stop, but was just so happy to finally be on the run.. err... walk :-)  Yep, I walked a good bit as my legs were absolutely shot from those hills, and this was a trail run so was worried about rolling an ankle or twisting a knee.. I needed a finish time!  I got to a water stop, chugged some gatorade, my first nutrition for the race, and spent what seemed like forever before I saw the first mile marker.  Wow.  Only a mile in all this time?  I started running and only walked only the up hills and actually came on the 2nd mile marker much quicker.. the 1st one must have been mis-marked.  Passed the water stop again and knew I was in the home stretch.. except now the run trail seemed to be all uphill also.. ugh.  Then I see Deb who had come back to cheer and she said only 0.2 miles left - woo hoo!!  I picked up the pace, ran out of the woods and into the hot sun but it didn't matter.. just a short downhill and over the finish line and I finally finished a race this season!!  Total time, 2:44:15.

After I grabbed some water, the guy whose chain I'd helped fix was waiting for me and asked me to come over and meet his family.. he called me his guardian angel and was so thankful that I'd helped him fix his bike so he could finish.  It was his first ever triathlon, and was so happy.. totally made my day that I was able to help out.  Then, as I was waiting for Deb to come back (she wanted to stay and cheer for the last person, which is awesome of her!) I ended up talking to a lady who is planning to move up to Northern Virginia, so we exchanged emails and decided to meet up for some bike rides.. a good day all around!  We grabbed sandwiches at Take It Away, one of my favorites at UVA, and took our lunch to the winery we'd stopped at the day before, grabbed a bottle and relaxed.. finally got home around 3:00 with plenty of time to lounge on the couch (oh, and do homework).  Deb and I also both got several compliments on our new jerseys... go team Mamma's Fools!!!


  1. Good job!!!! I'm glad you were able to get a finish on the books for the year! How great of you to stop and help the guy fix his chain too.

  2. Awesome Hennifer! You are kicking some ass at this whole 3 sports in half a day thing (crazy!) and i literally fell off my chair with the snorkel guy thing. that is hilarious. Congrats!