Race Report by Triathlete Simone
Lake Logan Sprint Triathlon Race Report
August 7, 2022
Recapping my second ever triathlon; the Lake Logan Sprint Triathlon. This race is part of the Lake Logan Multisport Festival, held over two days with half iron, international, and sprint distances.
Swim – 500m, Bike 20K, Run 5k.
I am a novice in the sport, with a background in swimming and running. I’ve done 10 half marathons, 3 fulls, and a large handful of shorter distance races completed since 2012. I had always been interested in triathlon but never really went for it, just had big dreams of one day completing an Ironman. I am currently in nursing school and am set to graduate this December but I got lucky and had the summer off from school. It had been years since I actually raced (aside from a half I did on a whim last October), so with an open summer, I finally bit the bullet and on March 10th signed up for Lake Logan. Once I had the race on the calendar, I knew I would need a coach to help me along the way. I had the swimming and running down but only owned a mountain bike and rarely got out on it. I found Coach Jay through browsing the internet for local coaches and reaching out to a few, when Coach Jay and I had our first call, I knew it would be a good fit. Fast forward through my summer of training, I got a road bike, learned the ropes of becoming a cyclist, learned how to open water swim (I’ve only really swam in pools), and learned the ropes of what it takes to complete a triathlon. I did the Asheville Tri as a practice run before lake logan, at the suggestion of Coach Jay, which I found to be immensely helpful. Once race weekend arrived for Lake Logan, I felt more than prepared for what lay ahead.
I arrived at Lake Logan at 5 a.m. which was 45 minutes earlier than the race director had suggested but I’m just that type of person who needs to get to where I’m going early, especially for races, so that I have enough time to prepare myself. I sat in my car for about 30 minutes and had my breakfast, a rice cake with peanut butter and a banana, and then began getting all my gear together. Threw the headlamp on and put some air in my tires, grabbed my bag, and made my way over to transition. I had gone out the day before for the pre-race meeting, so I was able to find my rack and my spot on the rack the day before which was helpful. I dropped my bike and bag off at the rack and went over to get my timing chip and body marking. Once I had my chip properly adjusted around my ankle and my number marked on my arm, I went back over to transition to get everything set up. Honestly, this was probably one of my most favorite memories from the race. The calm quiet morning and the buzzing energy from the rest of the athletes around me. I took my time setting up, I felt calm and excited, with a few nerves sprinkled in there too. I chatted with some of the other athletes in transition and then got to business. Walkthroughs, counting racks, visualizing each transition, each leg of the race, and remembering all the knowledge I had gained from Coach Jay. My family arrived shortly after I had started pulling my wetsuit on, perfect timing as I had done pretty much everything I needed to do by that point, besides finishing getting the wetsuit on. Once they started calling the international race athletes over, I did one final check of my transition area and pulled the rest of my wetsuit on. With my family in tow, we all walked over to the bridge that goes over the river – part of the swim – to watch the international race waves start.
Race morning, they measured the temperature of the lake, and it was a chilly 70 degrees. I was in a sleeveless wetsuit as this was my first open water swim triathlon. I had done some practice swims before lake logan in my wetsuit but not in 70-degree water. I was in for quite the literal shock. Once the last wave of the international race swimmers were off, I made my way over to the swim start and awaited my wave to be called. I stuck my feet in the water but didn’t end up doing a warm-up swim because I was worried about being cold while waiting for my wave to start. As soon as we were called, I jumped in and started treading water while we waited for the horn to sound. I placed myself at the front of my wave – per the advice of Coach Jay – and I was glad I did! Once they blew the horn, I took off, with a nice clear path in front of me. I only had one person trying to swim over me but moved out of the way and started to work on finding my pace. I was frozen. Cold water shock hit me hard and made it feel incredibly difficult to breathe, it felt like I had something compressing my lungs. I thought maybe if I just kept swimming, I’d snap out of it and start to warm up enough to feel better but I never did. I ended up having to swim some breaststroke for part of it just to breathe, but I would alternate between free and breast just to try and keep some speed. I knew I could have stopped and hung onto a paddleboard of kayak, but I used the cold water as motivation to keep going and just get myself out of the water as quickly as possible. I got a mouth full of grass at one point and also hit my head on a stick floating out of the river but otherwise didn’t run into any other obstacles. I didn’t have any issues sighting which was something I wasn’t sure I’d be good at doing, so that was a plus and having watched the previous waves I knew areas that I needed to try and avoid because of debris in the water from the previous days storms, and because of shallow spots. Now for the fun part. This swim takes you out into the lake and turns back to finish in the Pigeon River. You swim under a bridge and up the river a short way to a dock. This river is coming straight off a mountain and that mountain water always runs cold, about 10 degrees colder than the lake temperature. Luckily this part is short and by that point I knew I was close to the end when I saw the bridge, so I swam hard. It does get shallow in the river, so some people walk, which they advise you NOT to do. Lucky for me, I have short arms, so I was able to swim the entire way without any problem and I didn’t want to take my chances walking because I’m a klutz and would have surely slipped and fallen. I found an open spot on the dock with a free helping hand and was quickly hoisted out of the water. My body was still in shock from the cold so breathing was still difficult, but I took off for transition and ran while pulling the top half of my wetsuit down and getting my goggles and swim cap off.
When I arrived in transition, I was stressed because I had thought I bombed the swim, I was cold and having trouble breathing, and my legs felt a little tired because of the cold redirecting blood flow to my core during the swim. I realized my mindset was not where it needed to be and stopped. I took a deep breath and remembered what Coach Jay had taught me, calm is fast. I slowed myself down and remembered what I needed to do. Wetsuit off, dry feet, socks on, shoes on, helmet, sunglasses, grab bike, and go. I ran my bike out of transition and to the mount line and was off on the bike. Probably my favorite part of the tri is the bike leg, which is also my weakest leg since I’m a novice cyclist. My legs definitely took their time to rebound after that cold, cold swim and there’s a nice little climb going up and out from the lake but once I got over that climb and hit the downhill, I knew I would be okay. I love the bike leg because you can kind of relax, take in gels and hydration, and enjoy the scenery. I also like the bike leg because that’s where I really pull out my speed. I race pretty hard during the bike leg, I love the thrill of the chase, and I really love flying down hills. Luckily I had done a preview ride of the bike route about a week prior, so I knew exactly where I needed to go, where I would hit hills, where I could gain speed, and where some problem areas were in the road. Coming back to the lake there is one last steady climb that was pretty rough but there is a nice downhill on the other side of that climb coming back down to the mount/dismount line and around a curve. They have signs that tell you to slow down but I flew all the way to the dismount line. I even heard a volunteer say, “she’s coming in hot!” Yup, I sure was! I got off my bike and ran it back to transition. I was feeling really good by this point. Since I’m a novice cyclist, I’m still riding in my running shoes, so it was a super speedy transition. Rack the bike, helmet off, visor on, grab race belt and go. I clipped my belt on and eased into the run.
The run is an out and back route that is a gradual climb out and downhill back, so I paced myself accordingly. I aimed for a negative split run and took it easier on the out leg because I knew I’d be able to pull off some speed coming back and that is exactly what I did. Because this is the last push and where my form tends to fall apart, I have taught myself to stay present by doing form checks along the way. Run tall, pick those knees up, smile, and have fun. I also stay present by being aware of my surroundings and thanking the people around me cheering me on and thanking the volunteers. Now for the big finish. I always have and always will strive for a fast finish. I don’t care if people look at me like I’m crazy, I like a good solid sprint through the finish chute. I do this for two reasons. One, because when I race hard, I like to know I left it all out on the race course, so I make sure that my tank is totally empty once I hit that finish line, and two, to at the very least try and shave whatever time I can off of my run. I’m competitive by nature and have a fighting spirit. Done.
The race was over before I knew it. I had thought I blew it from the swim but regardless I still felt like I was winning. I poured my heart into this race and did what I came there to do, which was race hard, execute each leg as best I could, and have the best time doing it. This was my victory lap. I thoroughly enjoyed the race, it was absolutely one of the best experiences of my life. I decided to stay for the awards while also recovering in the sunshine with a hot cup of tea and a couple of cookies in hand. I was in the novice category. “First place female novice, Simone Yamazaki Wax.” Shock. Pure shock. I did not expect to place and have never ever gotten first in my division ever before – not in running or swimming – so this was really something. With a big proud smile on my face, I marched up and claimed my 1st place towel. Upon looking back at race results it also turns out I was 2nd overall in the novice division. And per Coach Jay, had I been in my age group (30-34) I would have claimed second. My second ever triathlon, first open water swim event, and first USAT event. I’m still pretty pumped about my place and still a little in shock, but I worked so hard all summer and it all paid off on race day. I am also so thankful that I had my family there cheering me on and taking tons of photos and videos, it really makes a difference when you hear those familiar voices screaming your name, even if they accidentally call you Kawasaki (which is what I have since decided to name my road bike).
I always knew I’d love triathlon but never expected to love it this much, especially the cycling which has since become a favorite activity for me. I have finally found my sport and it has a special place in my heart. However, I couldn’t have done any of this without Coach Jay.
Overall Novice Placement: 2nd of 22
Novice Female: 1st of 12
It has been a pleasure and an honor to coach Simone. Helping athletes like her is why I decided to become a coach. I love introducing athletes to the sport of Triathlon. It's even more fun and rewarding when they enjoy it as much as Simone has. Yes, she has found her sport. She is a natural triathlete, hard working, and dedicated. I can't wait to see what her next goals are and to help her crush them!
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