Racing Local!

I know, I know, it’s about time! I haven’t raced a ton this year as I was dealing with coming out from under the cloud of racing four Ironman races in six months the second half of last year. It was fun while it lasted, but turns out I was just punching my ticket on the express train to burn-out city. More recently I have shifted focus to rediscovering the love of training and made sure to hit up a few local races while at it. 

Two of those have been stunners, the Enka Sprint and, more recently, the Lake Logan Olympic triathlon. Both are super hilly, local Carolina races.  There was also a ridiculous "underground" tri that involved some kayaking. More on that below.

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Lake Logan Olympic 

This might have been risky one week out from my first big race of the season at Ironman Mont Tremblant, but the experience alone was worth it! I wanted to race the half last season but it was the same weekend as Norseman so I decided I would have to wait until this year to test it out. And, even better, it just so happened that the Olympic race included a pretty generous prize purse for overall finishes. Decision made, it would be the perfect tune-up for IMMT! 

I drove over with my coach Brian, who is in town in Asheville for part of the summer and was tagging along to spectate. On that note:

Pros of having your coach in town: someone to kick your ass on bike rides

Cons of having your coach in town: someone to kick your ass on bike rides

Just kidding, it's been awesome. We've also gone to the pool to do some stroke review and with a few minor recommendations, the lightbulb is *finally* clicking on my wonky right catch. One of these days I’ll have a race split that matches the swim ability I know I have… I blame my stupid volleyball swing/training for messing with my years spent youth swimming. 

But we showed up to the race and I had not brought my USAT card since I usually pull it up online. Turns out there is not a single bar of service in the Lake Logan area so I was frenetically trying to pull it up (fruitless), running wayyyy back to my car parked over a half-mile away to get the $12 and then barely racking, making it to the start line and getting my wetsuit on before the gun went off—talk about a warm-up! I was dripping sweat before the thing already began. 

(Supposedly, there were emails that went out about the lack of cell service but I went back and combed through my inbox and spam folder and was unable to find anything from Set-Up Events. Apparently I was not the only athlete who had to deal with one-particularly snippy and power hungry check-in person. Yes, rules are rules, but you don’t have to aggressively berate someone for assuming there would be basic cell phone service when said athletes were not otherwise notified. a-HEM.) 

But I had a decent swim, trying to stay with the main pack but zig-zagging off course numerous times along the first few buoys before giving up and sitting in on what turned out to be the feet of the lead female. She pulled me along and we came into and out of transition together, me hot on her heels. 

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This photo was actually from the Enka Sprint but love it. 

T1: worst mounting skills ever, end of story. 

Also there are few things more terrifying than your coach saying very zen-like as you’re pedaling out of T1, “have a nice ride.” Okay, Mr. Miyagi. 

The bike was great: if you like some good punchy climbs along a very scenic route, this is the course for you. Some might call it a quad-burner but it reminded me very much of my regular weekday ride.

Within the first mile or so I made the pass to move into first and cruised along without too much problem, though did have to deal with a little back and forth with a guy who was insistent on passing me. With each pass, I would watch my watts decrease and speed slow as I dropped to a legal distance—only to overtake him shortly after. This was frustrating but I eventually passed him and never saw him again somewhere after mile 18-20 on the bike.

And then the run! I was super happy with the run, though I almost wish I hadn’t gone into cruise mode with just over two miles to go. Part of me wish I had pushed it to get in the low 44 range for the (slightly long) 10K run but then again I’m happy to keep the tank slightly full for this weekend’s Ironman adventure. 

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It was three miles gradual uphill, followed by a screaming return trip. On that note, I now know where "@ChrissieSmiles" gets her twitter name—racing is fun when you’re crushing the lead and feeling in control!! I was all smiles as I flew my way back down to the finish on pretty sustainable effort giving the descent and decision to “shut it down” and conserve. 

I couldn’t be happier with a 2:12—what, what!! And am curious to see what I could have done if really gunning for it or really pushed the whole day. And I thought I was a long-course only kind of gal… I just might have to sign up for another one of these shorties :) 

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Enka Sprint

This is an AWESOME asheville race if you ever get the chance—if only this lake was available for swimming to non-residents, I would be out there all the time! Great swim, though very much redlining the entire way as I swam with a big pack of guys in our Open Wave. 

I ended up finding the feet of a really big guy and just sat in and enjoyed the tow. (This is becoming a theme, isn’t it—yeah for smart swimming, finally!) I came up out of the water and sprinted towards the bike, being a sprint and all. As I turned the corner on the mat up to the tennis courts where transition was set up, I TOTALLY ate it! Full body wipe out, limbs flying, f-bombs dropped. Shocked, I picked myself up and kept on going but that was certainly a surprise. Definitely more stiff the next day from the tumble than the race itself…

This race was all about hammering it in—I think the first sprint I've done since living in DC back in 2012. I went all out on the bike, happy to stave off getting passed by Heath for the first few miles and tried to keep the guys in sight as we navigated the very cruel hills in the area; this is a very TOUGH course, let me tell you. At some point another female passed me and I did my best to keep her in my sights. 

It got a little frustrating because she was a little hesitant on the descents so I felt like I was losing so much time braking and unable to get around her since it was such a winding course and open to cars. Another guy actually tried to pass and she moved left surprisingly and he wiped out on a bridge, trying to avoid the collision—that sucked, but a decent heads up that I should be on high alert. 

We went back and forth a bit but she came into T2 before me and we headed out on the run. Let me tell you, a 5K is SHORT in a triathlon. I couldn’t get my watch started so first half mile I just focused on staying on her feet on the run. I caught my breath a little bit and realized I had a lot more to give so I put in a surge and just went all in for the pass and the lead. 

The run course is also no joke: a good portion of it is on a rolling dirt trail around the lake you just swam in, with a section that sends you up through a seriously steep neighborhood. That crushed my spirits a little bit and felt myself dying a little bit as I pushed to the finish. But managed to hold onto the lead and come in for a strong finish and 1st female, 13th overall, very happy with a little bit of novelty redline racing. 

Even Fuuurrrrther Back

Nothing much to say about this except it was a run—paddle—bike—run event... talk about something different! I used my old whitewater kayak which made things.... interesting and WAY WAY tough. I was happy hammering the short bike and then was semi-happy with a fast and hard run on our normal local Asheville route. Totally ridiculous to be doing a race that involved a kayak, let alone a silly little Pyranha playboat:

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But even through the ridiculousness, the awesome local Asheville camaraderie really made the event, the "Underground Asheville Tri", a total winner:

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Next Up! 

So I haven’t raced long course since my disaster of a race at Knoxville in May so I’m excited to see what unfolds at Tremblant. I had two 100-mile bikes on severely hilly routes (both over 10K in elevation) that were done pretty much at race pace that were successfully and I’ve been super happy with my running, so we’ll see how it all comes together on Sunday! I’ll be #56 if you want to follow along.

p.s. I'm not sure why the photos on this post are fuzzy (aside from some from my needs-to-be-replaced-ASAP iPhone5) but gonna go ahead and put it out into the universe.