Wheeewwww. I have some mixed thoughts on this race. But not the race itself, mostly me and my performance.
Delta Lake is kind of a unique race in my eyes. There are plenty of races where there are various distance options to run, but the races typically overlap, like at FLT. But for Delta the sprint race goes off first, then after it’s completed the Olympic starts. You can even opt to run both races back to back assuming you make a specific time cut off for the sprint.
On paper the race sounds like what I can only fathom as a logistical nightmare. Sprint, closely followed by an Olympic, where the long course athletes can be inside transition setting up while the sprint is going on around them. The longer race is a two loop swim, two loop ride, three loop run. Really, reading this in the athlete’s guide kind of made my head spin. However, the race was very well organized and the layout of transition actually worked really well and non of the athletes were ever in each other’s way. Plus I could watch the sprint race while I waited to hit the water, which was fun.
I will say, this particular race was never on my radar. The fabulous Meredith Atwood of Swim Bike Mom had it on her race tour and since My parent’s house was less than an hour from the race venue, I figured why not, ya know? And meeting Meredith was awesome. She is super nice, genuine, and easy to talk to. If you ever get a chance to race with her do it!
I went to the Saturday packet pick up, hung out with Meredith, Lindsay, and a bunch of other fantastic ladies all racing, volunteering, or spectating the race. Then we stayed the night with my parents at the La Quinta Inn across from the Turning Stone Casino. And this is where my crash and burn started. Holy noisy hell. That hotel had zero noise control in it. The whole night we could here the drunk patrons of two weddings and bachelorette party screaming in the hallways, smashing beer bottles, being drunk messes. It was ridiculous. I could even hear the noise through the ear plugs I ended up putting in. Then of course the noise kept the dog up all night too, so on top of the noise we had to contend with Griswold pacing, panting, crying, all freaking night. Worst hotel experience ever. That place is officially on my shit list. So much for the “mandatory quiet hours after 11pm” that they claimed with posted signs.
After a very sleepless night, we were up early and moving to get to the venue about 20 minutes down the road. The venue for Delta Lake Triathlon is awesome. It’s a tiny space so everything was practically on top of everything else. Swim in/out, transitions, parking, and the finish line were all in basically a 20 foot radius of each other. And the multi-loop course on top of the small, tight knit venue made for excellent spectating.
Also, I had my first run in of being referred to by my blog name. I stepped out of my car after pulling into the parking lot to someone shouting out to me “Oh, TriGirl Chronicles!” Oh, yes, that’s me, isn’t it? We talked for a few minutes and set up next to each other in transition too. I didn’t catch her name though, so if you read this please say hi! You seriously made me realize people other than my parents and friends might read this! I had a second person, Jillian, approach me on the beach. She recognized me by my wetsuit. Kudos to her, I think everyone looks like the same uncomfortable stuffed sausage in a wetsuit and swim cap.
The swim, wowzers. Being a relatively weak swimmer, I wasn’t all that keen on the double loop swim course. Thankfully though we didn’t have the leave the water in order to start the second loop. Once I was all suited up I went to wait on the beach. There were only two swim waves; the men and those doing the double followed a few minutes later by us ladies and those doing the relay.
We hit the water and my stroke was holding together decent for a while, but once again, I started to fall apart. I went out with a bit too much gusto and did not pace myself at all. My only goal for the swim was to not be last out of the water, especially once I started getting passed by men and doublers heading into their second loops. My whole first loop was mostly a mess. I did fine pretty much up until the turn around when my too quick start caught up to me. I started having a hard time breathing and ultimately started doing my usual stroke flopping. When I got to the turn around to start the second loop I even stopped and stood up for a moment to catch my breath. I took the first leg of my second loop really slowly, just trying to salvage my sanity and my energy. Once I hit the final turn around though I put my head down deep and chugged through. And ya know what? Those last few hundred meters kicked ass! I hit a fantastic rhythm and started gliding along like a pro, passing people all over the place. It felt awesome. If only I could have harnessed that from the get go. But now that I have found my rhythm I’m confident I can do that again in my last two races for the season.
According my watch I stepped onto the sand right around the 35 minutes mark, but my official swim time was 40:26 for a .9 mile swim. The transition was not far from the swim out, so my watch was definitely off. Need to remember to turn the autopause off during races. There was a bit of running through the sand *boooo* before getting onto pavement and into T1. My dad even ran a bit with me to transition because he is fantastic like that.
My T1 was pretty uneventful. Wetsuit off, wipe off feet, bike gear on. Saw a guy in a Rat Snake jersey and screamed “Rat Snake! I ran that race!” Probably thought I was crazy. Official T1 time was 2:08! Count it, fastest T1 time ever. Learning to shave that time off baby!
I grabbed Finley and headed out for the bike portion still feeling good at this point. The bike course was rumored to be pretty flat and fast, so I was looking forward to really pushing it out on Finley. It was a double loop for the 24 miles and I immediately effed up my watch upon mounting my bike. Lapped it into bike mode then immediately accidentally hit the lap button again pushing it into T2. In a panic I pushed it again and did all of my bike, T2, and run in run mode. At least this way I could watch my average miles per hour and have an idea of my speed. I knew a sub-3:30 mile was around 17.5 miles per hour, so I made that my base goal, hoping to end up faster. I actually had a great first loop. I was averaging mile times in the 3:teens and was very pleased with that. Heading into the second loop though, the horrid night’s sleep finally caught up to me. It was like I hit a wall. I slowed, I began to struggle to pedal and I saw my average speed start to tick back up.
My last six miles after the final turn around felt like I was pedaling through molasses. I even shifted down to my small chain ring, which is ridiculous for how flat the course was. A few mild inclines, but nothing I would have normally left my big ring for. Ugh. Official bike time, 1:22:22, average speed of 17.5 mph. I was really hoping to be more for such a flat and straight course.
T2 was also pretty uneventful. Rerack Finley, kick off bike shoes and drop helmet. Pull on visor and Zoots, grab a swig of water, then head out. Official T2, 1:13. Definitely also my fastest ever T2 time.
The run, oh the run. Three loops felt like a death march. It meant running along side the finish chute to go into laps two and three. What a horrible tease. There was only one aid station and rightfully so. Three loops for a 6 mile run meant there was technically aid at every mile, and I grabbed a cup and walked through the aid station every time. As I came through by the finish chute after my first loop all I could eek out to my family was “I’m suffering.” The bad night we had the night before hit me like a ton of bricks. My inability to clock even a single 10 minute mile pushed aside all hopes I had for a sub-3 hour race and I shifted into survival mode. I mean, my fastest mile the whole run was 10:20 and I can’t even pretend to be happy about that.
As I came around from my second loop my dad and Rob were holding out water cups for me. I happily grabbed them both and they ran along side me for a minute. I dumped one over my head and slurped the other down as best I could. After that I slowed to walk some. I got overwhelmed thinking this was absolutely the worst I have ever felt in a race. My breath got caught in my throat and it was all I could do to fight back tears. After a minute and a few deep breaths I managed to calm down and start to turn my feet over again and start running, if you can really call it that. My final loop I did do better keeping up running more than not and when I rounded that last turn and could hear the finish line, I started to get excited. Once I could see it I did my best to sprint to the finish line, but I just didn’t have a single drop left in the tank. But I made it. Official run time, 1:06:16. That’s an average pace of 11:03. Color my unhappy. My run pace at FLT Olympic last year was 9:23 and I missed my 10k PR by only 18 seconds. UGH. This run nearly killed me.
I was pretty disappointed after I finished. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that way after a race before. I was exhausted and happy to be done though. Official finish time, 3:12:25.
Honestly, that is a 10 minute PR for me for the distance, so I tried to look at that bright side. But ultimately I was ready I grab my gear and head home to shower and eat. I had gathered up all my stuff and was just starting to get my bike up on the my bike rack when I heard over the annoucements, “We missed an age group award, women’s age group 25-29.” That’s my age group, but I half tuned it out. I don’t win races, especially races as bad as this one.
“Winner of the women’s age group 25-29 with a time of 3 hours, 12 minutes, and 25 seconds, Courtney Fields!”
I stood completely dumbfounded, Finley hanging precariously from my bike rack. “You won!” Rob gave me a little nudge. “I’ll get your bike on, go!”
Whatever energy I had searched for in the finish chute I suddenly found. Fastest I ran all day was back past transition and up to the announcer.
What I thought was the worst race of my life suddenly turned full circle.
I guess that’s the nice thing about small races. Even with a slow time after a crummy race you can still place because the competition isn’t as stiff. There was actually one girl faster than me in my age group, but she got an overall podium, so she was out of the running for age group awards and the win ultimately rolled down to me. Kind of feels like cheating since my time really isn’t one that would win you any awards normally, but I’m happy about it either way.
I’ve now spent a few days processing this race and while I’m still pretty unhappy about my performance, the race itself was great and I would definitely do it again. I’d just make sure I stuck to my usual pre-race eating the day before and stay the night in Syracuse where I know I’ll get sleep.
It’s weird to me to feel so bad about my race. I got a ten minute PR and won my age group, but I had such an awful race I just don’t feel like I earned those things. However at the end of the day, I need to remember that I do this to be strong, capable, grateful of my body and all that it can do. I am a Triathlete.