2008 Whidbey Island “Race the Rock” Triathlon
Total Time: 2 hours 13 minutes and 58 seconds
Division Place: 1st out of 9 women in the “Orca” category (150 lbs and over), 5th out of 16 for women ages 35-39.
Yesterday, I participated in the Whidbey Island Triathlon with my friends, Mary, Kate and Sandra. The first time the four of us went on a training ride together, Sandra noted that she was in company with Mary, Kate, and Ashly.
This was my second time doing this triathlon. I really enjoyed the experience last year, but in the days leading up to the event, I felt a cold coming on and I doubted my ability to compete well in the race. On the night before, Friday, the four of us stayed on the Island at a cabin owned by Mary’s aunt. We were very well behaved and only drank one beer a piece, despite the feeling that we were on vacation and could therefore do whatever we wanted. I took huge amounts of vitamin C all day, hoping to stave off illness. Before bed, on impulse, I took a Benadryl, hoping it would help me sleep better, as well as clear any congestion I was feeling.
I woke up at 5:30 feeling quite well and cooked eggs and bacon for everyone. After eating, we got dressed and left in two cars to check-in and set up our transition areas. This race is unusual in that it has two different transition areas so you have to think clearly about what you need for each area. The air was heavy and cold as we set up our bike/run transition area. I was worried it might rain and tried to cover up my running shoes as much as possible, then off to Goss lake to set up our swim/run transition area and begin the race.
There is limited parking at Goss lake, so first, we had to find the designated parking area, which turned out to be a bit stressful. Mary and I found ourselves arguing about which way to go, so we decided to let Sandra and Kate lead the way. We found a nice parking area about a mile from Goss lake and rode our bikes to the start. We set up our bikes and transition areas and got our body marking done. Then we stood, shivering in the chilly morning air, waiting for the race to start. There were four waves in this little triathlon. 1 and 2 were males, 3 and 4, females. I liked this setup because men tend to be faster and more aggressive than women (biological fact!) so there wasn’t too much testosterone on the course at the same time as me.
The Swim - For this swim, the starting line is in a spot where you can’t touch the bottom. I like that because, treading water gives you a chance to get warm before the race begins. As we swam out, I felt some of my nerves drifting away. This swim felt great. For the first time, I was able to sustain the crawl for the entire swim. I felt strong and steady throughout. I figured this would be my best time ever and as you’ll see it wasn’t any better than last year and it was slower than other half mile swim times that I’ve gotten. I can’t explain this, other than to think that these distances vary and that this must have been a longer half mile than usual. 20:41
Transition 1 - I came out of the water feeling strong, but the transition here was rough. I had a headache from the swimming. I ran up the steep bank to find my transition bag, which were placed in order in rows. I got my biking gear out of the bag and started putting it on. It’s much easier to remember all the pieces of a transition when it’s laid out in front of you. Having it jumbled up in a bag felt confusing so I think I did a lot of shuffling around as I tried to think things through. Finally I was done and I handed my bag to a volunteer and ran to where the bikes were racked. 4:51
Bike - This is a 19.5 mile course which includes one and a half times around a hilly loop before a short and fairly flat ride to Transition 2. My ride was pretty uneventful. I drank a lot of my energy drink early in the ride, hoping to alleviate my headache. It worked, but then I felt pretty thirsty as I finished the bikeride. I kept passing the same women and then they passed me back and so forth. This was a tough ride, what with all the hills, and my thighs and butt were feeling sore even as I rode, but my lungs felt fine. My time this year was a bit slower than last. I’m starting to think I didn’t train hard enough on bike. This makes sense though because last year I was working out with a triathlon group where I had a variety of challenging rides planned for me, where as this year, I trained mainly on the flat Burke-Gilman trail. 73:11
Transition 2 - I sat down and drank a lot of water and changed my shoes. I also stretched a bit because I had gotten so sore on the bikeride. As in the first Transition I felt a bit discombobulated and I’m sure I could have moved a little faster. Oh well. It’s something to work on. 3:22
Run - This 3.8 mile course starts along a lovely, wooded path that is also a steep uphill. By the time you get up to the flat, grassy playing fields at the top of the hill, you’re feeling pretty darn irritated, but I knew that the rest of the course was pretty level. I managed to run the entire way up that first leg which allowed me to pass a lot of the women I’d been riding with. I stopped for a drink of water at the top and then headed out to the next section of the run, heading downhill, along a peaceful, tree-lined road.
I went as fast as I could, knowing I could always slow down during the final stretch which was a long and gentle uphill. I passed a lot of women and one or two men during the run and exchanged encouraging words with many of them as I passed by. I felt very strong at this point knowing that I was so nearly finished. At one point during the last uphill section, I was sorely tempted to stop running, but just by slowing down a bit, I made it to the top. As I came into the park, there was no one in front of me. I crossed the finish line feeling like a winner. 31:50
Summary - I felt great during this triathlon, in contrast to Seafair a few weeks ago. I love how small and friendly the event feels. It would be a great choice for people who are doing a first tri or nervous about crowds. It makes me want to stick with smaller venues from now on. I was shocked to discover that I actually won my division. For one thing I didn’t remember that I had registered as an “Orca” and while I felt like this was a personal best for me in many ways, I wouldn’t have expected to place first in any category. But I’m awfully proud of myself. I don’t think I’ve ever won a sporting event before.