I keep showing up at races thinking I have about a 2% chance of winning. So, I just do what I can to have fun and race well and not worry about it. Then other people don’t show up or mess up or whatever and I end up winning. If you’d have asked me how many wins I’d have by this point in the season last March, I would have said one, Nelson Bay. So now you know the end, but you probably already did on Facebook or Twitter or, lo and behold, the local newspaper. I won Triangle Triathlon this year. So how did it happen?
The swim is in biggish Harris Lake, generally accepted to be nicer conditions than Crabtree Lake, the previous swim venue for Triangle. Harris is definitely nicer than Crabtree, except for the little, brown leeches that jumped from the weeds to our feet as we waited for the race to start. It was a point to point swim with the current mostly at our backs with some mild chop. Good conditions overall.
The open wave this year had at least 50 people, most of whom swim close to the same speed. I decided that my best option was to start behind an eager looking batch of people about my pace and latch onto some feet as greedily as those leeches did. It worked. In fact, it was pretty easy at first because the collective draft of the mass was big enough to easily offset the minor nuisance of people bumping and swimming on top of each other.
I managed to stay behind one set of feet or another for a majority of the swim, so yay for successful tactics. As it turned out, I came out with some of the same people I did at Latta, so a comparably paced swim, although this time felt a good bit easier. I’ll take it. And I didn’t even wear one of those ever so popular speed suits. I just put up with my race suit dragging in the water. It’s fitting a little looser these days, not that I’m complaining.
Out of the water, I have to say that I BLAZED T1. I only saw one person in the open wave with a faster split and that guy won the men’s race handily. I am T1 champion. No tangled helmet straps this time. I was prepared.
How important is a fast T1? Well, I was out of the water 8th female in the open wave and mounted the bike in 3rd. I moved into 2nd within a couple miles, which brings me to another handy skill for this race. Jumping the wooden ramps over the speed bumps. You just gotta go for it, aero bottle splashing and all. None of this braking business. Go. Fly. Be free.
The bike course is super awesome. Rolling terrain with the high point about half way through, bringing promise of a fast second half. The early miles are so up and down that myself, Stacey R. and a couple of men got caught up in a bunch that was hard to separate. Once you’re in the draft zone, you gotta pass, then someone else passes and then you sit up and spin, etc. No one’s fault, really. We even got watched very closely by an official and no penalties– yet. We’ll get to that later.
Eventually, I realized that Stacey and I were travelling the same pace so when she made a pass during the headwind portion, I just took a position 5-6 bike lengths back and to the right. I don’t care if I can legally get a draft in a headwind, I didn’t want it. I mean, good gracious, once we hit the run, she was going to be gone anyway. So that’s where I stayed until we were back in the park going back over the speed bump ramps. I take those faster, so ahead I went and rolled into T2 in first.
It didn’t last. Stacey won the prize for the fastest women’s T2 of the day and took the lead for good. For approximately 20 seconds, I entertained the idea of trying to stay with her. Then I noticed my labored breathing and realized that it wasn’t going to happen. Well, maybe I can hang on to second unless Bri passes me or Amie or whomever is back there running me down. I felt OK on the run, but not fast. I guess it’s hard to feel fast when people are motoring away into the distance.
In the end, I happily crossed the line in 2nd position. With my number in front, just like it always is. This is more important than you think. At Setup Events, they give out 2 minute penalties for failing to have your number showing on the front. This is not a new rule. Yet, Stacey forgot. I also managed to get my slow-feeling running self across the line about a minute after her. So just like that, my one minute behind turned into a one minute lead. So, yay, I won again. I’ll take it.
Here are the results.
And photos the local newspaper took.