Race Report by Athlete Ann D.
Lake Murray Sprint
I didn’t sleep exceptionally well. Stayed overnight with some good friends who live less than 10 minutes away from the event site so that was a plus. Got to set up an hour before the race started and was surprised how crowded it was. Seemed like a LOT more participants this year than before. Had to park in a less than legal spot on the grass. Had a hard time using hand pump to fill my bike tires. Chip pick up and marking was well organized. I made it to my rack in transition (which was close to the bike in/out area) and set up. I felt good. Excited but not nervous. The water temp was announced as 75 degrees and wetsuit legal. My decision was to go with the wetsuit. I would say that about 80% of the participants had some form of wetsuit-most were sleeveless. I brought my sleeveless as well.
I hopped into the water to get acclimated. I had no problems. Water was pretty calm (thank God!) The race had a deep water start about 100 yards from the dock. I swam out to there and back, practicing sighting every 6 strokes. The sun was strong, so I knew it would be a challenge sighting the buoys after the first turn. This race did have green sighting buoys between the yellow turn buoys. This was very helpful. After the second turn, it was a straight shot to the dock. The only thing marking it was an orange buoy. (I really wish they use large flags which are easier to see…)
After the prayer and National Anthem, the song “Lose Yourself” started blasting over the PA system. I was stoked! I love that song. I’ve kept that on my running playlist for years. “Lose yourself in the music, in the moment…” “You’ve got one shot, one opportunity to prove yourself…” It speaks of digging down deep and finding that strength to succeed. After I heard that I knew that this was my moment to DO IT.
I was in the 3rd wave, which started precisely at 8:06 AM. In a rare move, I positioned myself near the front. When the gun went off, there was chaos. I stuck to my plan. “1-2-3-4-5-6 sight” I kept repeating this even as I was kicked, bumped, etc. Before I knew it, I was at the first green sighting buoy. I heard the last wave horn going off. Excellent! I was that far already in the race! I turned by the first yellow buoy. Things then got difficult because of the sun. I could only spot the green buoy every other sighting or so. I was still in a pack of other ladies, so I knew I was (hopefully!) going in the right direction. I know it’s really mean, but when I saw myself pass a pink cap (the men in wave 2 wore pink) I was secretly happy. I didn’t let a crowd of people around me upset me because as long as I saw others I knew I was “in the pack” and not lagging behind. The only time I stopped to “tarzan swim” was when I really needed to figure out where I was because of the sun. I found the buoys and motored on. When I rounded the second yellow buoy, I knew it was a straight shot to the shore. Just like last year, it was hard to sight, but I stayed the course. “1-2-3-4-5-6 sight.” When I saw that there was no one around me, I realized that I had drifted to the right. I had taken the turn fairly wide. I had to started shifting to the left to get to the dock. I’m pretty sure that was where I added on 50 yards or so to my swim. As I got closer to the shore, I kicked it up a notch. Brian was waiting for me and shouted that I was under 20 minutes. I was elated. My unspoken goal was 20 minutes. I bettered that goal. I shaved 7 minutes off of last year AND I wasn’t dead last.
I’m no speedster in transition. I was able to peel off and out of the wetsuit relatively quickly (for me) and after a quick drink of water I headed out. It was starting to warm up.
The race actually starts on an island. About a mile in, there is a causeway that you cross. It is deceptively flat, meaning it looks flat but there is actually an incline. And headwinds. Not sure how I could have forgotten this. I then realized I didn’t have any strategy for the bike. I was trucking along at 10mph, and everyone I beat out of the water was starting to pass me. Every time I heard their Tri bikes come up behind me and pass me, I got angry. <Note to self: Work with Coach Jay about cycling! > I had to rope myself back in the moment. I had a tough time for the first half of the bike. Lots of gradual inclines. I just wasn’t getting the speeds I wanted. My legs were tired. I had water with me and drank every so often. Probably not enough but I was fearful of losing control of the bike. The roads were in bad condition. Lots of potholes. And then there was traffic. Some crazy drivers with trucks pulling boats. Some of them weren’t leaving enough clearance as they passed us cyclists. I watch one car slowly follow some cyclists head of me for about a mile before they finally passed. The one that scared me the most was the truck that was pulling a pontoon boat. As it whizzed by me, the cover on the pontoon had an unsecured rope that was whipping around in the back and nearly hit me! I was playing a passing game with a girl on a mountain bike, but she was the only person to this time that I passed. At about mile 10 I saw our friends cheering me on and I perked up. After that, it was another steady incline to the turn back onto the island. I caught up to these 2 little boys that were being marked just before me at pre-race. Mean thing #2 about me. I was going to pass those little snots! It wasn’t too hard. The worst incline of the race is at mile 14 back on the island. This was where I gave up last year and walked my bike. I wasn’t going to do that this year. I hunkered down and climbed that hill, passing those 2 boys like a champ! I looked at my time. Unspoken goal #2 was to do the ride in 1 hour. I wasn’t going to make that goal. I started off too slow. When I got to transition, I was at 1:05. <Note to self: Work with Coach Jay about cycling!>
As I got off my bike, my left hip was sore. The time in the saddle, the effort on that last hill took its toll. I moved as quickly as I could and started out. It was now 80+ degrees out. All the volunteers were cautioning people to HYDRATE.
I saw Brian. He reminded me that if I could run my pace, I could finish in 2 hours. I really wanted to do this and my mind was all in. Unfortunately, my body wasn’t. As I started running, my left hip was “pinching” with every step. Not cool. I was only 1/4 mile into the 5K. I stopped to shake it out and stretch. I started up again. Within a few steps, I felt this sharp, take your breath away pain in my left pelvic area. The pain shot down my left leg and I couldn't move. I stopped. I needed to figure out what to do. I was past the first-aid booth, so at first no one saw me. I didn’t want a DNF, but I couldn’t move. So I did was pretty much every female would do; I cried. And I mean I UGLY cried. Big, pitiful sobs of anger and frustration. My greatest fear JUST materialized. Two guys from behind came to me and asked if I was OK. I’m sure I convinced them when I said “I’m fine.” between sobs. I was determined to finish, tears and all. I walked mostly and tried to run when I could. I have NO doubt I made my situation that much worse for the attempt. At one point I was basically dragging my left leg and hopping on my right. The course was hillier than I remembered and there were many people walking, which only made me feel slightly better. I kept looking at my watch, and then I’d cry. I wasn’t going to make my 2:00 goal. In the end, I beat last year’s time despite a 39 minute 5K (my worst 5K ever)
When I passed Brian and our friends in the Finisher’s shoot, he saw my face and knew something was wrong. I limped across the finish, turned in my chip and headed to the car. We stopped for ice before going back to our friends’ house and I never looked at my results until the next day.
I know that I need to appreciate the gains that I made instead of dwelling on the negative. But in the end, this damn race got me…again. My friends promised they’d race with me next year if I attempt it again. Sigh. I’m crazy enough to take them up on it.
Every race is an opportunity to learn. So we should always look at what went right and what we can improve on.
You had a great swim. You proved to yourself you can change your mindset and overcome. 2 weeks before this race you were considering not doing the race because of the 2 bad practice OWS you had. From that to a sub 20 swim is a HUGE accomplishment. Your transitions were good, not blazing fast but not slow either. Your bike was solid. Yes, we can make a lot of gains there, but you still had a good ride. You stayed focused on the moment and were able to bring your mind back when it wandered.
What can we improve on:
What can I say about your run? I'll start with I'm sorry. As your coach I have the responsibility to get you to Race Day healthy. I feel like I failed you. Your hip injury got quiet for a while and I lost focus on it. I'm proud of you for finishing the race. You are a fighter and you proved it by not giving up. We knew the hip injury might show up on race day and unfortunately it did. Going forward, your run mileage will be more closely monitored and a longer run taper will be implemented.
I view this race as a success. The swim was your biggest hurdle and you crushed it. Your mental game is getting so much better. And if it wasn't for the hip, you would have finished 3rd or 4th in your age group. Congrats. Now it’s time to get that hip healed up and get you ready for Age Group Nationals in Ohio!
Thank you for putting your trust in me. I appreciate it and you. Coach Jay