So I was standing on the lakeshore yesterday morning in about 41 degrees of horribly damp cold, with rain streaming down my ears and saying to myself "This is why I never do early season triathlons in the Northwest. Sorry, make that the NorthWet." It didn't help that I'm still trying to shake this chest cold (so why am I out in the freezing drizzle doing a triathlon? I have no answer for that one.) And it doubly-didn't help that the long-sleeved wetsuit I had rented for the occasion (see previous comment about never doing early season tri's, I've never needed a long-sleeved wetsuit before...) didn't work. As in leaked water like a sieve. As in didn't fit right or something (good thing I tried it out before the race). So I'm standing there on the lakeshore in my sleeveless warm-weather-wimpy-triathlete farmer john style wetsuit getting ready to go into the water. In the words of Han Solo, I had a bad feeling about this.
That bad feeling was one of my intuitions, those things I've learned to listen to now that I'm old enough to believe I'm more or less mortal. And it was based on the fact that this is a pretty hilly, curvy bike course with many of those curves coming sharply at the bottom of those hills. I'm not the world's best technical cyclist on a good day, and this was not looking to be a good day. So I told myself (again, and again, and again) that I was not going to try to qualify for Nationals in this race, and therefore I did not need to kill myself on a slick wet corner going hell bent for leather on my bike. Having decided that one up front, I also decided to put on some arm warmers when I got to T1, judging (quite rightly) that my arms would be nearly frozen coming out of the lake and riding through the biting wind would be unpleasant at best. If I wanted to qualify, of course I would've never taken the time to pull arm warmers onto wet arms with nearly-numb fingers, but I was not going to worry about it this time.
Out onto the bike course, I played it safe. Using my patented Hill Weenie steering techniques, I probably frustrated the hell out of the riders around me, three guys I kept passing on the uphills who then usually passed me on the downhills. But, given my cornering history (remember my day with Billy Blaze?) and the steep dropoffs to the lake on the side of this road, I didn't really want to go riding off into the puckerbrush again, so I didn't have a very fast bike time, in fact I think it was the worst I've posted on this course, ever. But, I was alive and not covered in road rash, and given that the race organizers said that there would be absolutely no pickup of cyclists on the course ("you'll just have to walk" was the answer one gave to the question of whether or not cyclists with injuries or technical problems would be assisted back to the transition area), I was doing good as I rolled into T2.
Well, good until I put my running shoes onto my frozen slabs of meat...er....feet. And then tried to run on said slabs, which I pounded senselessly into the pavement over and over thinking some blood might start flowing to them eventually. All that run training I've been doing to get faster and I was looking like a Frankenstein monster on crack out there. Thud thud thud. At this point, I was apparently in the lead, however. No one bothered to tell me this (usually a race official or kind spectator will at least mention it!) so I didn't know until I was getting close to the run turn-around, which was also when another woman passed me. Still, first off the swim and bike, and a good mile into the run course is not a bad day under such conditions. Another gal caught me, and then one more just before the finisher's chute (grrrrrr) but my legs weren't going to go any faster, so I just kept chugging along as best as I could. Very very surprisingly, I turned in a PR for the run on this course for me, at 25 minutes for the 5k. Don't know how I managed to do that, except that maybe that run training and all of those hill repeats did actually pay off on this hilly course. That's pretty exciting for me, and gives me some hope for later in the season with non-frozen feet.
I ended up 2nd in my age group, 4th overall (though I'm listed in the race results as being male, the final indignity of the day I suppose), and there was only a minute and a half separating those fisrt 4 places, probably about the time it took me to screw around with my arm warmers in my slow T1, so the joke's on me there. In a way, it was a cool race though because it was different for me (early season, very indecisive about how to approach it and what to wear). I felt like a bit of a rookie, and sometimes it's good to push your own personal envelope a bit. I'm encouraged by my running, and not too discouraged by my slow bike time because I hope that these road conditions won't be repeating themselves in any further races this season!