Belews Lake is a nice venue and the weather couldn’t have been more pleasant. A good day to blow the rust out and see what I have in the tank this April. The lake is warmed by a power plant and has clearer water than you’ll find in any lake except for White Lake. The water was 71 degrees!
This was a sprint distance race with a time trial start of 2 people every 10 seconds, so it required a little bit different tactics than what I usually implement in races with an open/elite wave. Actually, it wasn’t that different after all, because I just let the fellow who started with me take off nice and quick and hopped in behind him. That’s pretty much what I do in wave starts anyway, but generally there are more options.
I must say that my swim buddy Alex has the biggest, splashiest kick I’ve ever seen come from someone wearing a wetsuit. This serves to make him very easy to keep track of, but also meant that the ideal drafting position wasn’t directly behind him, but rather off to the side a bit (unless I wanted to breathe in water the entire swim).
Everything was going hunky dory until the chick who started 10 seconds behind up gets all bum rush in my business and swims over the top of me. (Oh no she didn’t!) Yes, she did, and she was going to have to do more than that to steal my draft position from me.
Alex served as a great draft for about half the short swim, and then seemed to slow up a bit so I passed and went on my merry way. Strangely, aggro swim girl didn’t follow my feet. Neither did Alex. Some people need to brush up on their open water swim tactics!
I think I swam well, since I wasn’t TOO much slower than Chris T., who started only 10 seconds ahead of me based on our seed times. Methinks some people sandbagged their times a bit.
There was a steep hill straight out of transition that we got to climb on the beginning of both the run and bike. It was important to have one’s bike in the proper gear and I hear tales of examples further back in the pack where that did not happen.
Early on the bike, team mate Dan Nolan came blazing by like he was on fire. Then he disappeared into the distance. I figured that meant I’d better get a move on, so I went as hard as I could spinning my way through the 14.5 mile course that somehow only managed to have about a half mile’s worth of tail wind with the remainder head/cross. I know it sounds unlikely given that we started and finished at the same location, but I tell you it’s true.
The bike portion of the race for me when I race in these local races usually involves passing one or two people, with a few guys blazing by, but generally riding alone. This was no different. At certain points, I saw a tiny cycling figure in the distance that I thought might be Chris Tommerdahl, but it was hard to tell.
I started the run feeling pretty good despite the nasty climb at the beginning. It was on the run that I began to catch sight of Chris for real and it appeared that the gap was shrinking ever so slowly. I hadn’t really figured that I’d be able to compete with the youthful pro this early in the season, but I began to see that I had a chance.
The trick was that I started 10 seconds back, so it wasn’t a head to head race. I ran as hard as I could, taking the hills a tad aggressively, hoping I could roll it down that last 1/2-ish mile of significant elevation loss. However, Chris did her downhill better than I did as I struggled to get my feet to turn over at a fast enough pace. The lactic acid in my muscles didn’t exactly make the effort a walk in the park either.
So, I got 2nd female by 6 seconds. You know what’ s cool? Being in the old lady division means that I still win my division. Ha-ha!
Anyway, many congrats to Chris on putting together a great race and to Mr. Nolan for kicking it old school off of sub-par training and a year away from running. Dan had a mighty fast bike split. I would like to point out, however, that I did outswim him by 3 seconds. Which he handily made up with a blazing transition, a MUCH faster bike split and then outran me. And, with Dan, I can’t even use that “oh I’m getting old” excuse. Such a tough life.
Here’s a link to the Women’s results. No pics because has your spouse ever tried to take race photos while watching a 19 month old? Gary tried once. Let’s just say that there will be no race pics until the little guy’s big enough to work the camera himself.