I quickly scrounged around for my sunglasses, goggles, running shoes and a water bottle, and we all loaded into our extremely messy car full of camping gear from a Friday night campout with Grandma and Grandmpa Eles at Wilderness State Park (we were too tired to clean out when we arrived home late Saturday night). This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because as soon as we arrived at Rudyard High and walked up to the registration table Autumn changed her mind and decided she wanted to race afterall. She had competed in this Tri two years ago and I think she remembered that it was a fun one. I hadn't packed any of her gear, but she was able to scrounge up everything she needed just by looking under the seats of our crammed Honda!
The sun was beating down at the beginning of the 9:30 a.m. running start. It was already way hotter weather than I am used to running in. Well, I don't get the chance to run much, but when I do it is always in the cool evenings. I took off at a brisker than normal pace and immedietly began to feel the effects of the all you can eat pizza buffet from the night before and began to experience the hyperventilation that comes on when you haven't taken the time to warm up properly. This, along with the fact that there were already at least 4 girls ahead of me, and 2 more in the process of passing caused me to switch my thought process from going out to race hard, to maybe just settling for finishing. "Wow, I am deinitely not in as good of shape as I thought...I should have trained way harder," was what kept going through my head the whole run. The turn around point was at the end of a hill climb and I was extremely surprised to see Autumn powering up the hill not too far behind me. This motivated me, along with Steve and Alaina cheering from their bikes (Steve accompanied Autumn on the bike portion for safety reasons). Before I knew it we were entering the transition zone to the bike and even though I was not happy with how I ran I had managed to hold my position throughout the last mile of the race.
I took a quick swig from a Gatorade bottle that I had placed on the floor next to my bike because my bike doesn't have a waterbottle cage ( I learned this is a big mistake even for a short race), and then I was running out of the zone. As soon as I mounted my bike and the cool breeze overtook me I felt better, and I mentally switched back from thinking about just finishing to putting it into high gear and trying to catch some bikers. This turned out to be harder than I imagined. The course wasn't hilly, but it was really windy, and even though I was pedaling as fast as I could in my highest gears, the bikers in front continued to maintain their distance, and about 5 miles in I was even getting passed by some. I was baffled by this, and noticed that most of these speedy bikers had awesome bikes.....I kept wondering how fast I would be going if I was riding one of those? I yelled at the wind numerous times and also made embarrasing grunting noises. I found myself wishing I had a bike computer so I would know how much further to go and would be able to tell if I was slowing down. When I sensed that I wasn't pushing hard enough I yelled "race!" I also enjoyed yelling words of encouragement to the bikers that passed me at the beginning and later to the bikers that were still heading out in the other direction. All of my yelling recieved a few funny looks from race volunteers and passing competitors, but it was the only thing that was keeping me motivated...so they think I'm a bit crazy?...
I ran into Autumn and Steve and Alaina out further than I expected and we yelled at each other, and right after that another girl passed me. She was settled down in her aero bars going at what felt like a super fast pace. This made me angry. At this point my legs were begining to feel like jelly and I just couldn't understand how she was pulling this pace off, so I put my head down and tried to stay with her for the last few miles. She managed to get far enough ahead that she was out of sight when I reached the transition zone for the swim. When I went to hang up my bike from its levers my left brake lever completely broke off! I'm glad that didn't happen out on the course! I was assigned to a lane that already had three larger men swimming in it, and I immedietely realized that these 22 lengths of the pool (an all out sprint in proportion to the run or bike) would be the most tactical part of the race. We were supposed to circle swim, but the guys were going way too slow for me, and at times when I went to pass they would be coming head on in the other direction. After a few kicks in the face, many gulps of water from all the waves the other lanes were creating, and a moment where I had to stop and ask the lap counter which lap I was on, I emerged from the pool completely winded. I ran to the finish line with my number in hand, and was greeted by my friend Allison who said "I think you were just the first girl out!" "No way...there were like 5 girls in front of me." I said.
Autumn came in off her bike in what seemed only a few minutes later and managed to perform a pretty nice freestyle stroke for the whole swim. When she finished she looked in way better shape than myself. I was totally taken aback at how well she had done. We were both excited and exhausted.
At the awards ceremony I found out that I indeed had been the first one out of the water. I have no idea how I pulled that off, and I can't wait for results so I can see the times for each of the disciplines and the transition zones and find out how I could have made up so much time. Autumn won here age group (She was the only one in it). We were both awarded with Michigan Maple Syrup from Bestemans. To make the race even better the Lions Club had an amazing lunch with hot dogs, potato salad, punch, cookies, brownies, rice krispy treats etc. It was awesome!!!!
This race is great inspiration to keep training for future races. I learned a lot , like your mouth gets CRAZY DRY while biking in the wind and you would do just about anything for a sip of water, and that I need to run and bike a lot more, and that it wouldn't hurt to invest in a better bike, and that even though it was tough it was also fun....I can't wait to do it again...next time in the proper order.
Here are a few pictures that Steve took: