So when we planned a vacation, we decided that we should visit family in Virginia, we had never been there before and hadn’t seen my uncle and aunt in over a year, so this sent me in search of a triathlon near Stafford Virginia. I found one in Culpepper VA, just 37 miles from Stafford. It was perfect planning on my part. It was a sprint triathlon, but a long one, with a 750 meter swim, 16 mile bike and 5K run.
My girls were not so happy when they found out that most everything in the area had to do with history, while they were looking for shopping malls and swimming pools. Even though we had planned to spend one day in DC, against the girls wishes, since it was over 100 degrees, we nixed that idea and went to the outlet mall instead, the girls got lucky.
After a couple days of shopping, it was race day. I drove out to the race site and found that it was all hills, not the best course for the tri bike I brought. I guess I should have looked at the course ahead of time, duh! I figured I was just there to have fun, no pressure, so no reason to worry about the bike. I lined up and checked in and got body marked, I was number 333 that was a cool number to have.
Next I found my rack in the transition area, that’s when I realized that this was no small town triathlon, this was a big time race with high caliber athletes and the bikes made my bike look like a Wal-Mart bike. No worries though, just have fun is what I thought.
Next I headed down to the lake to take a look around, it looked really nice, but with the temps so hot the water felt like bath water and I found that running in and out of the water was going to be a feat since there was large gravel and stones to run across.
I hiked back to my bike, ate a Honey Stinger waffle and did one last gear check, making sure I had water because it was already really hot, low 80’s.
I lined up at the lake, I was in wave 4, it looked like there were about 100 people in each wave. I talked to a couple guys and asked about the course. I asked if it was really hilly and they said “where are you from” I said Illinois and they said, “well to you it will be hilly”. I found out really quickly that it was HILLY, in fact there was no flat at all on either the bike or the run.
I started the swim, got swam over the top of about 4 times, kicked, hit and pushed and then finally after about 5 minutes found a nice line with few people, way on the outside, and it allowed me to fall into a nice rhythm and pick up the pace. It was kind of late though and my swim time sucked as always, but at least I felt ok and never hyperventilated when I was being swam over. It was a long run to my bike and then a really long run up a grassy hill to the bike mount line, it really made my transition time slow. I took off hitting the first uphill about 30 seconds into the ride. At one point during the ride I thought I had a flat tire, but it was just the combination of a big hill and soft pavement that made it feel that way, my tire was fine. I continued to pass riders moving up in the field after that horribly slow swim. It didn’t seem long and I was running my bike back down through the grass back to the transition area.
I quickly changed shoes and took off on the run. There was a guy in front of me with two prosthetic legs and he was flying, then all of the sudden, he stopped turned around, went back about 20 yards and high fived some little kids. I don’t know if he knew them or if he just decided to give them a high five, but they were all cheering for him. He was a big guy, but he was really moving. Since the run was an out and back, I saw him again after the turn around and he was still moving pretty fast. At this point I thought, I will never complain about my little aches and pains again and I wished I was as tough as that guy was.
I ran through a cheering crowd and some great volunteers to the finish line and heard the announcer say over the microphone that “Robin from Edwardsville, IL was finishing. I grabbed a bottle of water and walked back to transition. I grabbed my bike and all my gear, I was pretty sure that I did not finish in the top 3, so I didn’t plan to hang around.
As I walked back to my van, I realized how hot it had gotten during the race, but oddly I felt pretty good on both the bike and run, my times weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either. It was hot, but the humidity wasn’t like it is in Illinois, so it didn’t seem that bad.
After loading my gear in the van I started it up and took a look at the temp outside, no wonder it felt hot.
So I drove back to Stafford where my girls were waiting, telling me to hurry and get a shower because they wanted to go swimming. There is no better way to cool down from a hot race then to hang out in a swimming pool all afternoon.
The Big Question: where do I spend my next vacation, I better start looking for races now so I can pick out a vacation destination.