When I woke up at 3:45 Sunday morning I felt oddly awake then I thought I would considering I had only gotten 5 hours of sleep that night, so it made me wonder if I would sleep at all on the long drive up to Duluth. My energy did not last for more than 20 minutes, and I was sleeping soundly again on the car ride up. Waking up early for anything is a daunting task for me, but when it means I get to compete later that day it seems a little more worth it. When I woke up for the second time we were at the race venue and as much as I wanted to stay in the nice cozy car, I also was excited to check in and get a good spot in transition. I got out of the car and groggily walked over to check-in where I did all of the usual race day procedures which took less time than I expected, so it gave me some time to enjoy the atmosphere of the race environment.
My first impression that I got was that this was a fun and laid back competition which is always nice to have every once in a while at a race. People were there to do their first triathlon or they were there to get some good exercise in early on a Sunday morning. Along with the first timers there were also some very good competitors that are beyond talented and also very enjoyable to be around. The race directors were full of energy which I personally think helped everyone to wake up a little bit more and they were also very helpful when a questioned was asked. The people were great, the location was great, but as I looked onto the swim course I saw something that was not so great.
It was very windy and cold the day of the race and the water looked extra choppy from those weather conditions. I did not like the thought of swimming in the elite group along with waves to deal with at the same time. There were no whitecaps on the water, but it was not a pleasant day on the lake either. After the prerace meeting we headed down to the water where we would be starting, and as everyone was lining up I saw how their were a lot more people in my wave then I anticipated. With no more time to think we got our ten second count down, and when the airhorn went off the chaos started.
It was a large mess of feet, legs, hands, and kicking everywhere. I got stuck in the mid to back of the pack in the first 20 seconds, and it was a struggle for space as well as a fight to get to the front. With all of my attempts of maneuvering through people and speeding up to pass anyone, I felt like I was still going nowhere and still getting pummeled by waves or by people. The waves seemed to get worse as I continued to grow more tired, but the nice thing was that the pack of swimmers seemed to spread out a little more as we continued throughout the course. After what seemed like an eternity I finally made it out of the water feeling a lot more exhausted than usual because of my lovely swim experience, but it didn’t matter anymore because I had to get ready for the bike.
Going into transition I felt dizzy and out of breath, but I somehow managed to get my bike shoes and helmet on and I finally got to start the bike. The bike went by very quickly due to it being a little shorter than most courses, and I had no problem with that. I felt very slow on the way out still trying to catch my breath from the swim, but on the way back I was averaging a much faster pace than I expected. The course was as simple as one way out and one way back which for me made it nice knowing how much more I had left to finish. Before I knew it I was coming into transition again and it was time to get ready for the run.
The run course like the bike was also a little bit shorter than most sprint triathlons. It was partially on trails instead of pavement which is always a fun way to change up the course and it gives a little more variety such as the surface you’re running on or the scenery around you. With the run course being short I knew I would have to go as fast as I could because I would not have as much time to make up the distance I lost in the bike. I continued to pick up the pace as I went and before I knew it I was at the finish line. The race went by so quickly that it felt like I hadn’t even competed that day. The nice thing about the course being short was that it gave me a different strategy for racing than I usually have. Instead of strategizing or thinking too much, I had to just keep going as fast as I could. Awards were quick and simple and we were ready to head out in record time. Besides the swim being a little set back, it was a fun yet quick race day. I was happy that we had one to fill in the weekend, but I’m even more happy that we have a back to back race weekend coming up soon.