I was even more thankful that I did this because on Monday I started to get what I thought was a sinus infection. I was so worried about the race that I went that night and got antibiotics. Several days passed and I wasn't getting better- in fact, I felt worse. I hurt all over and I had the chills. It may very well have been a respiratory flu. I started feeling better Friday morning. I still have a bit of a cough and a lot of "junk" in the back of my throat, but I felt good enough to finish a sprint.
I left our house Saturday thinking that I wasn't even going to consider times or have goals other than to finish because I hadn't been running, biking, or swimming at all this week. I just wanted to get it done.
And to prove exactly how flat Northwest Ohio is....
My boring view on the drive east on the turnpike!
I got to packet pick up on Saturday night. The park is beautiful. It's a gated community of summer homes and is private. The people who live there were very generous in giving up their weekend to allow all of us athletes to invade their space.
The cute summer houses and roads in the park.
I went down to the lake to see how choppy it was. It was pretty windy Saturday night- there were white caps! EEK!
The bike mount line was pretty far from transition because they wanted us to wait until we could get on a road to mount....seems reasonable, but people were really complaining about this. I guess to each their own!
Anyway, after getting my stuff I headed back to my car and drove to my sister's house which was only about 4 minutes away. She has lived in Vermilion for many years. In fact... side story, I lived in South Amherst until I was 6 years old. When driving to the park, I turned down my old road and took a picture of my childhood home:
A bit overgrown, but still "my" childhood house!!
My sister and brother-in-law fed me dinner and we took a drive to the bike route and it scared the crap out of me. There were a lot of small hills, bad roads (crumbling and pot holes!) and one winding, slow climb. *gulp*
I went to bed around 10pm and set my alarm for 5am. I needed to be at the park by 5:30 to get a good parking spot and then a good spot in transition. I was up at 5am and out the door by 5:20am. I got there and set up my bike in transition in the dark. I walked around as everyone else filtered in.
Transition was in a grassy area in the middle of the park.
I headed down to the water at 6:40am to get a warm-up swim in and to see how hard it was to swim in Lake Erie. All of my triathlons have been in in-land lakes. This would be the first time I swim with waves. It wasn't as bad as I thought it looked and the waves had settled down because there wasn't much wind the morning.
The lake in the morning!
At 7am, transition closed and we met down on the beach. They explained where each group would start, and of course, I needed to be at the far end of the beach. The women's only and mini-tri started where everyone was gathering. The sprint participants all began walking to the far end. The announcer started the women's only waves and when they were all done, the truck drove down the beach to us. Our waves all started about 30 minutes late. I knew my sister and her family knew about when I should be finishing. I hoped they wouldn't be worried about me since we were running late.
When my wave went off, I took off and it was a fight in the water for good positions. We had to swim along the shore line between the beach and the buoys. There were several spots where it got really shallow and some people tried to keep swimming, but I took advantage of the footing and did dolphin dives in a few places, otherwise, my hands hit the sand below.
I knew I was pretty close to the front of the pack. I ran into the men's wave in front of us pretty quickly.
The swim seemed to go by really fast for me. When I got out of the water I checked my watch and was amazed that I was right around 12:30. I started to take off my wetsuit and ran up the huge sand hill to the transition. My transition was pretty slow, but there was a lot of grass on my feet that I wanted to wipe off.
I got on my bike and headed out feeling out of breath, but slowly got into the ride. The hills hit around mile 5 and were pretty hard on the knees. At one point I hit 32 mph going down hill. I know this doesn't sound that fast to most people- but I'm so scared of crashing on my bike.
We passed the Mill Hollow...which is a beautiful park where I used to go as a child and look for arrowheads.
I finished walking the last 20 meters and got back on and picked up my speed. We turned on the last road towards the park and had to climb a viaduct and as we turned we were warned that a lot of people had crashed on the viaduct. When we got there we could see a bunch of ambulances and at the top there were a bunch of cyclists laying on the road. The viaduct had some expansion plates on them and they were at a weird angle on the road. All of the bike tires were getting stuck in the ruts They had (due to the accident) put carpets over the expanders and directed us over those. I couldn't see how bad people were hurt, but they weren't moving much and most of them were being back-boarded. OUCH!
I got back to the park and made a quick transition. As I was running out, I saw my sister and screamed that we were 30 minutes behind and that I'd be back in 30 minutes! By this time, my chest felt like it was on fire and I had a hard time catching my breath while running. I decided to that was just going to run my own race and not push too hard. I figured there was no chance for me to place- the last race I did in this series, I finished 14/15! I just wanted to finish. My run was 1 minute slower than my other tri 5Ks.
I was running 10 minute miles. I made it back to the finisher arch and gave my normal (dorky) two-handed wave!
And finished my race with a smile!
I was so glad to be done.
I went into the finisher's tent to get a few snack and to check to see if the times were being posted. They had video monitors up and scrolling all of the age groups. My age group only had 1st place listed, so I knew it would be awhile until I saw my time.
I went out to see my sister and she was so happy for me.
After talking for awhile I told them I wanted to see my final time. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw my name scrolling down as finishing 3rd in my age group! WHAT?? I never expected that. The HFP series hands out medals to the age group placers as they are posted, so I got my age group 3rd right away.
Finisher medal on the top and 3rd place age-group medal on the bottom.
I drove home happy and tired. It was a great day weather wise for a triathlon and I'm glad I could finish my tri season on a good note. It makes me want to work harder for next year.