Woo doggy! What a race! This race was awesome and horrific all at the same time. I know I speak from a newbie triathlete perspective and many seasoned racers will probably tell me to quit my crying. But I will tell you, the intensity of this race was turned up to “11” on this one. It was an Olympic (intermediate) distance, so not terribly long… (.09 mile) swim, (25 mile) bike, (6.2 mile) run. On paper, this seems like a safe, pleasant endeavor. I had been introduced to this race by my aunt who has been racing triathlons for 10 years. It was a picturesque setting, destination race venue in the southwest New York wine country on one of the Finger Lakes…Cayuga Lake. Anyway, I took the bait and registered. Aunt Kathy said it was relatively flat on the bike and the run. The lake is typically calm she said. Lesson learned here, don’t trust your family when it comes to race information.
Whaaaaaaaatttttt???? This wasn’t a swim! It was .09 miles of fighting for my life in 2 foot breaking swells. Mix in the 75 other floundering men of my wave and we have some choppy water to get through. 300 yards in, and I know it was 300 yards because the buoys were marked so you would know the exact spot you drowned, I swam up on someone who had already decided to backstroke. This broke my momentum and every wave that hit me stood me up in the water. I never got my rhythm back from that. No problem, only about 1400 yards to go. This was an out and back swim so theoretically at the turn the waves and wind should be in my favor. Only in fantasy land my friends. I felt as if I was swimming in a tsunami. When I did make the turn the waves pushed us off course and we had to keep fighting to get back on the buoy line or end up under some lake house dock. I don’t know how I made it back to the beach. I do know I waved for the kayaker one time considering dropping out. I didn’t. When I could finally feel the sand under my feet to crawl (yes I crawled out of the water) I was elated. 37 minute swim in death-like conditions. The current of the waves had to be in my favor (May the current forever be in your favor!) because I was not swimming fast I assure you. But I was out and anything else this race threw at me would be paltry in comparison.
The swim had completely wiped me and I was mentally foggy running (shuffling) into T1. I was doing well stripping my wetsuit on the run to my bike and felt I was making decent time. My goal was 2-2.5 minutes to be on my bike. Unfortunately my foggy brain lost the position of my bike and I spent another 1.5 minutes hunting it down. I was out of my wet-suit quick and really made decent time getting out T1 onto my bike if it had not been for the wasted time looking for it.
Now I had asked my aunt more than once how the bike route was. One hill out of transition she said, mostly flat on the bluffs with some slight wind she said. There was one gradual long hill immediately out of transition. Not a killer but 1.5 miles of climb to get to the bluffs. The bluffs were rolling hills of moderate to small hills. The kicker was a 2-3 mile at mile 9 taking you back down towards the lake. It was awesome. I hit 38 miles per hour. I got nervous when I realized I never checked my front wheel as my aunt had put it on after taking it off the rack. I could see the little lever on the brake calipers was down so I was reasonably sure the hub was locked tight. All my joy from the fast decent evaporated at mile 10 as I quickly realized I had to climb back up to the bluffs, about a 10% grade back up. I was granny geared all the way up. I saw one rider stopped resting. He was done. Never saw him again on the run or after. Back up top it was good ride back into transition. I know I rode well because I hit my time goal right on the nose.
Yay! I found my rack space right away. I fumbled with my shoes. I was still fatigued from the swim and I struggled tying my shoes. That slowed me down. The goal was 2 minutes. I ran out of T2 at 3 minutes. My quads were tight but not cramped or sore.
This was a great route but mostly off road. I did not realize this (my fault, I never asked the question). I would have ran in my trail shoes rather than my road shoes. Part of the run was on soggy grass. Time loss for me was negligible at this point but it did slow me up some. I had a decent run and only came in a few minutes slower than my normal 10K time so I was pleased. The route turn was up against the tallest waterfall in the United States. So, very pretty, but no time to sight see there was a finish line to cross! What I found fun here was each aid station had a theme. My favorite was the Neverland aid station. Everyone was dressed up like a character from Peter Pan. Entering the aid station you were greeted by Peter Pan why a boisterous, “Welcome to Neverland!” There were trolls at the bridge we ran under and penguins at the start. Very family friendly race.
All in all, awesome race! I would do it again in a heartbeat. My only disappointment is that I am a sucker for race bling and pint glasses don’t really do it for me. I like a good old fashioned medal.
Lake Cayuga I will prepare for next year and will conquer you with a PR!
Previously Fat Guy