There were only 62 women doing the Olympic distance, and they were an impressive group of athletes. All 62 were in one wave and everyone looked like they had seriously trained. I lined up with Natalie and Amy, both looking well trained and ready to race. I was able to get into a regular swim stroke right away and didn't have any serious bumps or problems. We did two loops in the lake, with a little beach run over a timing mat between the laps. I swung out and went too wide during the long straight away on both laps, which added extra distance. The .93 mile swim was my longest open water swim yet and I finished in 31:27. This is slightly faster than the pace I swim at the pool, so I'm satisfied.
You may remember my constant complaining about removing my wetsuit at the last race. Oh, ya, I also complained about the open wound on my neck from my new wetsuit. Well, no complaining today! The race had "strippers", so I sat down and the nice man ripped the wetsuit off in two seconds. Yeah! I also solved my neck problem with two applications of New Skin followed by plenty of Sport Shield. My neck came out of the race with no chaffing or pain. Two thumbs up!
Not to digress too much, but let's talk geography for a second. My understanding is that icebergs came across the northern part of Minnesota and scraped it flat. This is the reason why there aren't many big hills where I live. Well, apparently the icebergs stopped in Rochester and deposited all of the dirt into great big hills. Gee whiz! Not only was the bike course unbelievably hilly, but the wind was fierce. On flat parts of the course where I should have been cruising easily, I was working hard just to maintain forward momentum. When my chain fell off around mile 9, I was actually happy because I got to get off the bike for a couple minutes. When I had to stop to fix the chain, I lost the gaggle of people that were my speed, so I rode the rest of the 24 mile course with very few people in sight and no spectators. I was a lonely and it was a very tough ride. I finished in 1:38:26 which is right at 15 m.p.h. Again, I would say that I was satisfied given the conditions and that I had no one around to chase down or keep up with.
Somehow I came through Transition 2 without my race number belt. When the race was over, it was gone, so I think someone took it and that is why I didn't see it and think to put it on. I wouldn't have minded except I had a GU on the belt. I was really wishing I had it about a mile into the run. My legs felt okay but I felt sapped of energy. I ran the first mile and ran/walked the rest of the 6.2 miles, finishing in 1:06:05, or about a 10:36 pace. While the run wasn't one of my prouder efforts, I was tired and I feel lucky that I was able to manage anything less than 11 minute miles.
Mike did the race, too, as well as our friend Brian. Here we are afterwards:
I guess, in my ideal world, I would judge a race on whether I did my best and how my performance compared to my training. In that world, I would say that the race was difficult but that I still finished each leg of the race in the time that I would have guessed given my training. When I think that way, I am satisfied.
When I look at the race results, I finished 52 out of those 62 women. In my division, I finished 13th out of 13. Hmmm... that doesn't feel so good. Does that mean that I'm not good at this and that I didn't try hard enough? I wish I was faster and that I could say that I came out at the top of my division. I'm coming to grips with the idea that it's just not going to happen for me. I'm training two hours a day, 6 days a week. I think I'm going to have to be satisfied with the idea that I lined up with those other women and that I was proud to be a member of that group. I'm still working on that line of thinking... to be honest I wish I had placed a little higher in my division.
In the end, I guess I would characterize myself as being satisfied with my race. I now realize that the Olympic distance is much more difficult than the Sprint. During the Sprint race I was able to keep myself going on adrenaline, but the Olympic course is a mental and physical challenge. I'm glad that I did it, but I'm also relieved that my next two races are shorter. I've only been training in all three sports for a couple months, so doing the Olympic early in the season was a probably overly optimistic. I'd like to try another Olympic next summer, after I've had a full year of training like this. Hopefully next time I'll be a little bit faster and have a little more fun. For now, though, this is just fine.