I went back and forth in the weeks before this race, not sure whether I should race or not, because it was the weekend before the bar. I finally decided that I wouldn't be missing out on that much study time at that point, and the race would be a good distraction. Given all else I had going on, I didn't have any great expectations, but was hoping to place in my age group, since I thought a lot of the really strong competition I usually face would be doing to Olympic race.
Pre-Race: When Speedy and I went to packet pick-up the day before the race, we also checked out the transition and bike mount and dismount lines. When we saw that transition was long and paved, and there was a good bit of running required, we decided that I should do a flying mount and dismount, rather than trying to run that distance in my bike shoes. Only problem: I don't know how to do flying mounts and dismounts. So we got home and took the bikes out to the street in front of our house, where we ran back and forth practicing. It went pretty well, but the tongue of my shoes kept getting stuck, so we also cut out the tongue of the shoes. That makes me 3 for 3 this year with making drastic last-minute changes to some essential piece of gear the night before a race. Yeah, that adage about "don't make any last-minute changes!" seems to have gone in one ear and out the other.
Morning Of: We woke up early for the drive to the race, and got out of the house without any major catastrophes. Once we were all set up in transition, I headed down for a warm-up swim, but as it turns out warm-up swimming was only being allowed 1/4 mile away, at the swim start. After wasting about 5 minutes debating to myself whether I should walk down there or not, I finally realized that I should get my butt down there and go swim. So I hoofed it down there and got my swim warm-up done, and also determined that I had left my transition area in fine shape and I didn't have to go back before the race started. The swim start had lots of nervous energy. A minor gripe: the music playing at the swim start was Evanescence. It's not exactly the best get-up-and-go music, you know?
The Swim: There was a lot of space between the starting buoys, so I seeded myself in the front row. This wasn't an awful decision, but I definitely need to work on sprinting out of the gate a little more, especially in sprint races. I was moving along fine, had a few people run into me and I almost ran over someone from the wave before mine who was doing sidestroke. I felt bad about that; if he's doing sidestroke he's probably not super-comfortable, and having me nearly run into him couldn't have helped. I was sighting every 2-3 strokes at this point, though, because I was nearing the swim exit, and I swear this guy came out of nowhere.
T1: I tried to get that flying mount down. Which makes it really unfortunate that I forgot to put my shoes on my bike before I went down to the swim start. Rookie mistake, I know. So I shoved my feet into the shoes, rushing too much and getting the sides of the shoe all bunched up under my foot. Then, when I got to the bike mount line, I was that girl who kept shoving her foot onto the clip and I just could not get in. It was bad enough that when I finally clipped in, the volunteer standing there said something like, "There, you've got it. Now just relax and have a good race." Sigh. Not my best T1 ever.
The Bike: Fortunately, I made up for many T1 sins here. I felt strong. I didn't know how fast I was going, because I've found that when I can see my speed it gets in my head too much, so I race with my computer on cadence and distance, and focus on keeping my cadence around 90-95. I felt good, though, and was passing a lot of people, and only got passed by a couple of guys who appeared to be studs. The course was well-marked and overall not bad at all.
T2: This went much better than T1. I started to take my feet out of the shoes almost a mile out from T2, which was good because the course ended up being a little short by my computer, so I had plenty of time. The flying dismount went pretty well, except that I kicked my flat kit out of my rear bottle mount. Oops. I was a little worried that I would get a time penalty for that, but I got lucky and didn't, and went back to get it after the race. Bike shoved in the rack, and shoes on, visor and race belt in hand, and I was on my way.
Run: I went harder on the bike than usual and my legs had the standard jelly feeling for the first half-mile or so, but I was happy to notice that it didn't take them too long to feel pretty good again. I didn't get passed by any women, and only a couple guys. I felt good. The path was narrow, though, and there was one guy who wouldn't let me pass him! When I tried to accelerate around him, he'd speed up too, so I was running directly off his shoulder for a bit, but I was finally able to make my way around him and continue on. When all was said and done, I looked at my time and realized I was running 7:20 miles! That's the fastest I've ever run in any race, and to do that off the bike was awesome.
I had no idea what the finish line announcer was saying, but it must have been good because there were lots of people cheering. This is the second race that I have completely zoned out on what the finsh line announcer is saying, apparently at my last race he identified me by name and I still didn't hear him. As it turns out, I was the third woman across the line.
Overall: As I said in my brief post-race check-in, the unofficial results had me listed as third female overall, which was awesome. As it turns out, though, the unofficial results didn't accurately reflect the wave timing, and I was actually 5th, so no cool overall award. But! I won my age group! That was awesome. And Speedy had a great race as well, coming in 2nd in his age group in the Olympic. Overall, it was a great race.
Next up: Brigantine Triathlon, this Saturday.