**Just a preview - The day started really bad when I locked my keys, nutrition, and swim gear in my car. Fortunately, the end of the story is really good!**
Swim: 18:02 (1:48/100m)
Bike: 54:29 (20.5 mph)
Run: 39:24 (7:55 / mile)
3rd Overall Female
Pre-Race: I learned about this race only a few weeks ago and was instantly attracted to their promise of cash prizes for overall and age-group podiums. SIGN-ME UP! Race morning started out as usual - PB&J toast and half a banana while making the 30 mile drive to the race-site. Since parking was literally 100 yards from transition, set-up was quick and easy and I made my way back to the car to store my gear bag. In a split second I tossed the bag in the trunk, changed shoes for a warm-up run, and without thinking, closed my trunk. Instantly my heart sank - my keys were locked in the car. Unfortunately, also inside the locked car were my gels for the bike/run and swim skin. With only 45 minutes to start time, AAA was unable to come to the rescue. I had two choices, stress out and be mad at myself for potentially squandering my race, or move on and make the best of the situation. Fortunately, I choice the "smile and be happy" option.
Swim (5th overall): The 1000 meter course was a counter-clockwise triangle in the lake at Cane Creek Park. It featured by favorite start format - time trial. I had registered in the elite wave, and was 7th into the water, each of us separated by 15 seconds. I mentally noted the head start of 30 seconds, 1 minute, and 90 seconds of the other elite women. It was a contact-free swim and seemed to go well. Although the distance seemed a bit long, I continue to struggle hitting my goal time based on the pace I can swim in the pool.
T1: There was a lengthy uphill run from the lake to transition, resulting in my heart rate hitting 180 early in the race. I opted to take an extra few seconds to put on socks to prevent blisters on the off-road run course.
Bike (6th overall): Did I mention the intimidation factor when I racked my bike in transition and I was the only one without full disc wheels and an aero helmet? Did I really belong in the elite wave? You can bet I was regretting writing a big check for student loans this month - an amount that would have easily purchased wheels and more! The 30k bike featured rolling hills and lots of farm land in rural North Carolina. I focused on maintaining a high cadence and consistent heart rate, so as not to trash my legs prior to the run. I never caught sight of the three women ahead of me, yet maintained my position and was only passed by two guys. I'll consider that a success!
T2: Coming off the bike, my legs felt a bit better than they have the past couple races. I was just hoping that I didn't crash and burn given the lack of nutrition (still conveniently locked in my trunk).
Run (6th overall); What a tough course! The description read - "Give your feet a break and hit the shade on the 8 kilometer scenic run that alternates between grass, soft dirt trails and roads". Well . . . let me tell you, this was no break for the feet. My garmin shows 1200 feet of elevation change over the 8 kilometers. The "soft dirt trails" were completely covered in roots and rocks, nicely painted orange by the event management. I had a few close calls with a twisted ankle and cursed each and every sharp turn followed by a uphill climb. Since we were in the woods, I only briefly saw the other women near the turn-around. At that point I was within sight of two of the three women ahead of me and knew I would need to hammer it for the remaining few miles to have a chance at edging them out. I heard them announce the girl in front of me as she finished and was concerned that she might have maintained her buffer for 3rd overall. Crossing the line, there was no doubt I had left everything I had out there and convinced myself to be happy with 4th. Little did I know, I would soon discover 3rd overall had my name written all over it!
Post-race: I walked back to my car to fetch my cell phone and call AAA to rescue my car keys and was greeted with a text from my parents. They had been watching the live feed online and confirmed my 4th place finish. Bummer . . . or so I thought. Any disappointment, however, was overtaken with excitement when I learned that the fire department was on-site and happen to have a lock-out kit with them and saved the day by unlocking my car. At that point, I was just happy to have my keys back again without having to wait for AAA. My morning got a thousand time better though when I checked the results screen to see I had run my way into 3rd OVERALL by 35 seconds (and only 35 seconds out of 2nd). PAYDAY!! The race swag included a nice check, Inside-Out Sports gift card, and 2XU compression socks.
Tomahawk Tri is my new favorite race! Between the excellent event organization, close parking, time-trial swim start, enjoyable bike course, and stellar prizes, you can bet I'll be back year after year. Now if only it weren't for that devilish run!
Prior to registering for this race, I had planned to race Stumpy Creek next weekend. Now, I'm thinking I'll pass on those hellacious hills and opt for a bit of recovery and sleeping in on Sunday. Next up, then, is Red Top Mountain International on August 25th. That should give me four weeks of solid preparation for a great race.
And now, I think I'll go put my feet up and enjoy a lazy evening.