Steve, James and I headed up to Door County, WI on Saturday to race in the half iron distance triathlon on Sunday. I was excited for this mostly because Door County is one of my favorite places on earth. As soon as we got into town, we headed to the race site to pick up our packets. Everything was well-organized, and there were a few tents set up selling clothing and gear. We walked down to the water to check out the swim start.
I’ve never seen a start line out in the water like that, but it was only about thigh-deep out there. We drove up to the town of Fish Creek where we were staying and checked in to our motel. After a quick trip to the bike shop across the street for CO2 cartridges, it was already time for dinner. We headed to a little Italian restaurant called Villagio’s. They boast about their famous marinara sauce, so I went for the spaghetti.
The sauce was very tasty, even though I am not too much of a pasta fan. After dinner we headed back to the motel to relax. Steve and I hung out on the swinging bench in the courtyard.
I was hydrating as much as possible in preparation for the extreme heat the next day.
Race morning I woke up at 5am and had to make my Starbucks via packet with hot tap water. The motel was lacking slightly in amenities (it didn’t even have a hair dryer), but it was cheap and in a perfect location, so I can’t complain. We loaded up the bikes and were on the road by 6:10. We pulled in to the race parking lot about 20 minutes later, and it was already hot and muggy. We picked up our timing chips and headed over to transition to get set up.
After that it was a lot of waiting around. The race started at 8am, but I was in wave 13 and wasn’t scheduled to start until 8:43. Steve and James were in wave 8, so they had almost a 20 min head start. The start was organized very well. One wave would wade in to the start line, and they would line up the next wave on the beach. Before I knew it, my wave was on deck. I entered the water with 68 other women in my age group, and we were off.
Swim – 1.2 miles – 43:12
I was a little nervous going into the swim because my shoulder has been bothering me a lot lately, and I haven’t been swimming as much as I should. Things were a little crowded out to the first turn, and then I found a rhythm. I felt like I was gliding through the water, and I knew that we had to be swimming with the current. Sure enough, when we turned for the back stretch of the course I was immediately hit in the face with some chop and almost choked. I tried to find my rhythm again, but it was tough. I felt like I was going nowhere, and I started to get passed a lot. It felt like I had been out there forever by the time I saw the last turn buoy. This was the most well-marked swim course I have ever seen, with plenty of buoys so sighting was never a problem. I was so glad when I reached the shore, and relieved that the swim was over. I got my wetsuit stripped by the great volunteers, and ran to my bike.
T1 – 2:48
Socks and bike shoes on, helmet on, sunglasses on, bib number on. I have no idea what took me so long with this. I remember having trouble with the straps on my left shoe. Velcro is hard, you know.
Bike – 56.3 miles – 2:58:48 – 18.8 mph average
I really enjoyed the bike course. The first 10 miles seemed like a gradual uphill, but the roads were smooth and I was feeling pretty good. I made sure to start taking in my nutrition right away, and plenty of water. It was starting to really heat up out there. I saw James and then Steve coming the other way when I was around mile 16, which was fun. I would say I passed a fair amount of people, probably because I am such a slow swimmer and had some ground to make up. I didn’t check my time once during the bike, but I thought I was moving pretty good. The last 10 miles I felt great, and was passing more and more people. I finally checked my time during the last half mile, and I have to admit I was disappointed. I thought I rode faster than that. I reminded myself that I was not working with fresh legs coming into this race, and I was doing my best.
T2 – 1:54
Bike on rack, helmet off, shoes changed, running hat on, gels in pocket. This time I had trouble with my shoelaces, because tying is hard. Maybe I should look into those quick-yank laces.
Run – 13.1 miles – 2:00:58 – 9:14/mile average
By the time I started running it was around 12:30pm and oppressively hot. Temperatures were in the 90’s with a heat index over 100 degrees. I decided to run without my garmin, because I didn’t even want to know. I started plodding along, passing many people who were already walking the first mile. I took a gel around mile one, and drank as much water and gatorade as I could stomach throughout the run. My legs felt fine, but the heat was killer. I stopped at every aide station and poured water over my head and dumped ice in my shirt when it was available. The built-in sports bra in my tri top was perfect for this, because it would hold the ice cubes right on my chest and back.
There were shaded areas here and there throughout a lot of the run which was nice. There was a pretty steep hill at mile 6 that I walked up, and then “the bluff” just before mile 10. The bluff was no joke. It was so steep I’m not even sure it was possible to run up. I walked that entire hill as well, and stopped at the aide station at the top. Miles 10-13 were brutal. We were out in an open farm field, no shade, blazing sun. Most people were walking. I kept running along because I just wanted to finish the damn race. Given the amount of times that I stopped at aide stations and walked up the hills, I think my pace was actually pretty decent. The last quarter mile was a steep down hill to the finish line. I passed a woman in the finisher’s shoot and crossed the line with plenty of energy. I felt like I could have given so much more in this run, but it was just impossible with the heat.
Total time – 5:47:41
13/69 age group (F30-34)
I am happy with the race overall, but it definitely showed where my weaknesses are (ahem, swim and bike, ahem). Out of my age group, I was 46/69 in the swim, 23/69 on the bike, and 5/69 in the run. Out of all females I was 162/329 in the swim, 76/329 on the bike, and 21/329 in the run. See a pattern here? I wish I liked biking more, because that is the area where a big improvement would matter the most. I have a lot of riding to do before Ironman, so hopefully I can work hard and gain some speed.
I would like to give major props to the race staff and volunteers, who worked their butts off to make sure there was enough water, ice, gatorade, and dunk tanks in the extreme conditions. There was a 91% finishing rate, which I think is amazing. Nothing beat the ice cold dunk tanks at the finish line. I hopped right in and instantly felt so much better.
After hanging out at the finish area for a while and drinking some beer, we grabbed our stuff out of transition and loaded up the car.
I made Steve turn on the car and blast the A/C while we were loading the bikes so it would be nice and cool when we got in. I didn’t want to feel the sun again for a long time. After getting cleaned up, we enjoyed a few local Door County beers in the gazebo at the motel.
It took a while for a table to open up at the restaurant across the street, and by the time we sat down to eat, I was ravenous and a little tipsy. We started with some sangria.
What I really felt like:
For dinner we chowed down on some delicious salad and pizza. I had the veggie pizza, which had artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and goat cheese. So good.
Please check out my bicep in the above picture. Either that pizza was really heavy, or I am totally ripped.
After dinner, we did what anyone would do.
Frozen custard, duh.
Look at how concerned the lady behind me is. Don’t worry lady, I will finish it. I got the “Door County Inferno Snowball” sundae, which had tart cherries on the bottom, vanilla custard in a chocolate shell, and whipped cream. It was a totally random thing that I wouldn’t usually order, and to be honest it wasn’t that great. By now the rain had moved in, so we enjoyed our custard under the gazebo. I am sad to admit that I did not in fact finish my sundae, but not because I couldn’t have. It just wasn’t that stellar.
One day later, and the good news is that I am not really sore at all. Because of the heat, I wasn’t able to push it on the run, so my legs feel fine, just slightly tired. I am ready for a big training week starting tomorrow with tons of biking. It is going to be in the 90’s all week, but I guess I am ready for that now!
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