The race is a 500 yd lake swim, 15 mile rolling bike course, and 5K mostly flat run along park roads. Here is a quick recap of my race times:
2009 - 1:50:09
2010 - 1:41:45
2011 - 1:43:11
2012 - 1:39:06
Last year was a big improvement for me. I was pretty pumped to break the 1:40 mark and remember feeling pretty good when I finished. The race is in July which means it is notably hot. There is no avoiding the heat but mother nature decided to give us a little break this year.
Race morning I woke up feeling nervous and unprepared. I had my race bag packed the night before yet I felt like I was forgetting something. I headed out around 5:15 with my goal to arrive at the race site by 5:45. As I pulled into the lake, I was surprised when the volunteers directed us to continue towards the boat ramp for parking. Normally we have to park a long way from the transition area and walk down so it was great to get to park a little bit closer. My friend Mandy was just ahead of me in the car line so we headed towards transition together.
Check in was quick and easy and then we began deciding on where to rack our bikes. We selected a spot that was wide open and in a straight shot out of the bike out. We set up our areas and went through the routine of getting transition set up to be as fast as possible. That means shoes loosened and pointing in the direction you want and items set up in the order you will put them on. With plenty of time, we got some other race morning details taken care of...timing chips, potty stops, and catching up with triathlon friends!
The women were slated for the 3rd and final swim wave. The water was a perfect temperature and actually felt cool since the air temps weren't that hot out yet. I staged myself along the buoy line but back 2-3 people. This has been a race tactic that I have successfully used in the past. I allow the first swimmers to take off and then ease into my swim. It helps me avoid some of the tussle that normally happens at the start of the swim but still have good positioning. My swim went really well...I stayed on the buoy line for almost the entire swim. I was a little wide of the buoy for one section but got back without adding too much extra distance. I caught up to some of the men in the wave before me and stayed in the top 15 for female swimmers.
The transition run out of the lake is up a hill side and it has been challenging for me in the past. When I got into transition I went through my steps...shoes, helmet, sunglasses, go. I try to remind myself of what I'm going to do as I finish up the swim so that it goes quickly and I don't forget anything.
The first few miles of the bike course are more uphill than downhill. It feels challenging and it takes awhile to get momentum going. On the way to the race, I heard the Sheryl Crow song Take It Easy and that became my motto for the bike. Each uphill I came to I sang the chorus to myself and took it easy trying to keep my heart rate in check and my legs from burning out. Once I hit the middle miles of the course I was having a blast. On the flats I could get in a groove and felt like I was flying. As I made my way towards the BIG hill on the course, I reminded myself that I could get up it no worries. Just get in my granny gear and peddle...it works every year. I might not be super fast getting up that hill but I get up it! After Chicken Hill, I did my best to fly back downhill to the lake and transition. The course has about four miles of rolling downhill for the final four miles. It's great and you can definitely pick up time lost on Chicken Hill through this section.
I got into transition and again went through the process to change from bike to run. I put my race belt on as I was leaving transition. The sun had finally peaked through and the temps were warming up some for the run. I was quickly passed on the run by several other racers. I tried not to worry about that and instead cheered on all the other racers finishing up their runs. I passed the first water stop around mile 1 and the cold water tasted great with the heat rising. Mile two was tough but I kept running. I had a goal to not walk during the run because that has been a weakness in years past.
Finishing up the run I could hear people talking behind me. It sounded like someone was being paced/coached which if you know triathlon then you know that outside assistance is not allowed. There was a sharp turn and uphill to get to the finish line this year. Well, as I was making my way up the hill another woman came storming past me. It was so confusing since when I looked behind her I didn't see another woman and I could have sworn that two women were talking behind me for that final 1/10th mile. I did ask the woman if someone had paced her and she said no just another racer. I was glad to see in the photos that she was telling the truth and what I thought I heard of two women talking was really just her talking to the male racer who must have been struggling.
|Check out the grimace as she charges for me in the final 100 yds.|
My finish time was a huge course PR for me of 1:32:25 (about 6 minutes PR.) I had improvements in all three disciplines but I'm most proud of my run improvement. My 5K time was a 29:34 which is a great time for me especially in a triathlon. My bike average was 17.8mph which was another good improvement for my performance on this course. I was really happy with my time and in a bit of disbelief about the times. I managed to also win the Athena division which was a fun surprise. Another great year for the Shark Sprint and probably the best weather yet.
|Celebrating our podium with Jenni, Me, and Jayme.|
Photos courtesy of PodiumImages.com and Mark Frentz.