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Race Report – Mayo Lake Sprint

August 14, 2011

I hadn’t planned on racing Mayo Lake this past weekend, but based on a friend’s recommendation (and the affordable cost of $30) I decided it would be good open water transition training for my big race that is fast approaching. I’ve only been doing open water swims since June and I’ve never had to transition with mud, grass and dirt on my feet.

The race was only a little over an hour away from Raleigh so we drove up the day of the event. I carpooled with a friend who was doing his first tri. After a little bit of a late start and trouble getting my bike to fit on his bike rack, we were off. We had left plenty of time so we weren’t worried about being late. The tri was being held at Mayo Park so the first thing we did when we arrived was head to the bathrooms. Real bathrooms. NOT port-a-potties. I think this is the first race I’ve ever done that I was able to use a real restroom. Very luxurious.

After a quick  tire pressure check I headed up to the transition area to get everything set up. I was able to set up in the third spot on the rack. The FS Series races set up number ranges on the end of the rack and it’s first-come, first-served in that number range.

transition set up During my setup I discovered that I forgot to pack my goggles. I had swam on Friday morning and they were hanging up to dry out next to the bag. I had a few friends doing the race, but none of them had extra goggles so I headed up to the TrySports tent to see about buying a pair. While I hate to spend money on things I already own, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to spend the money. They only had one pair of goggles and they were the mask style. I’m not used to that style of goggle (and they were $26) so I went back to hunting for a pair to borrow. Inside the shelter where the race directors and volunteers were I ran into my friends Meg and John who were volunteering for the race.

I rejoiced when I learned that they had their swim gear with them and they had goggles and I could borrow them. Armed with the borrowed set of bright orange Swedish goggles I made my way down to the swim start. It was about a .2 mile walk over some gravel, but the race volunteers transported our flip-flops back to the transition area for us to reclaim later. I’d been warned that they’d all be in a big pile so I was sure to bring brightly colored flip flops so I could find them again.

I had a few minutes before the first wave started to I slipped in the water for a quick warmup. The bottom of the lake where we entered was a mix of submerged Christmas trees and about a foot of leaves and other muck. I tried not to think about it and get grossed out so I quickly started to swim. Then it was back out of the water and waiting for our wave. Two waves of men later and we were ready to take our place for the start. The women were in two age groups, so even though I was racing Athena I went with the first women’s wave.

My first open water swim start was not as scary as I thought it would be and before I knew it we were at the turn around point and on our way to the swim exit. Soon after we turned around the girl next to me decided to do a breast stroke kick and I got kicked full in the chest and it pushed me backwards. Luckily I didn’t swallow any water and I quickly regained my composure and kept moving forward. The transition out of the water was uphill, and the bank was pretty steep. They had laid out mats for us to make our way up, but then it was about 200 meters of uphill running to the timing mats, then a little further to the transition area. I was a little slow in T1 as I couldn’t seem to find my balance to get my shoes on.

They described the bike course as “rolling hills” but a friend found someone’s Garmin data and it looked like it wasn’t anything more that  we regularly ride in Raleigh so I wasn’t worried. Then the rain came. Pouring rain. Stinging rain. At mile two the skies opened up and the rain didn’t stop until after the race awards were over. I felt my tires slipping on the road so I didn’t push my speed too much as I’m essentially a wimp and don’t want to fall. This was my first time riding in the rain and it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. I don’t think I’ll be eager to do it again but at least I know I can do it.

Somewhere on the bike I remembered that my phone was in my bag at the transition area and that water and electronics don’t mix. I took some time during T2 to reposition my cell phone and then slipped into my water-logged running shoes and was off for a 5k trail run. Within 30 paces of the transition area I had run through standing water and it was a mixture of mud, standing water and rivers the rest of the run. I knew by this time that my bike and run times wouldn’t be what I’d want on a normal day but I kept moving forward. I actually think I ran more than I had in past races, just at a slower pace. The trail was hilly and had been well-marked at the start of the day but the rain and the people before me washed away most of the paint on the trail.

Finished!I thought I had taken a wrong turn near the end but after what seemed like an eternity the finish line was in sight. It was an uphill finish (just what I was looking forward to after 3 miles of running in sludge) but I finished strong and regrouped with my friends under the tent.

By this time I embraced the rain and decided to make the most of it. At least I wasn’t sweaty and gross after my run. Or I was just too soaked through from the rain to care at that point. What you don’t see in the photo is the puddle I’m standing in or all the mud on my legs. But I’m still smiling.

After a piece of cinnamon bread, peanut butter and a half a banana I went to pack up my transition area. My “dry” clothes and my extra towel were now soaked. So much for planning ahead and bringing dry clothes to change into. I went back into the building where they were posting results but my times weren’t there yet. I didn’t see my ride so I walked my bike down to the car and loaded my bike up.

I got back in time to rejoin the awards ceremony. I walked up to my friends and they handed me a piece of paper. I turned it over to discover that I had placed first in the Athena division and won a $15 gift certificate! Woo hoo! The rain affected everyone the same and despite feeling incredibly slow I did better than I thought I did. It would have been nice to hear my name called, but we reinacted the scene and took a picture so I was happy.

Mayo Lake Triathlon Splits

Swim – 750m: 14:21 (1:55 per 100 meter pace)
T1: 2:16
Bike – 16 miles: 56:51 (16.9 mph avg)
T2: 1:45
Run – 5k (3.2 miles): 37:30 (12:31 per mile pace)

Total: 1:52:42.8 (45 of 74 of Women, 1 of 6 Athena, 14 of 20 if in Age Group)

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