The first race of the season I always find myself laughing at something I've done. This first race - Lakeside of the Smokies Sprint - was no exception. I chose to do the race a little late, wanting to get back on the proverbial horse a little earlier this season, and I'm glad I did.
After waking up a few minutes later than planned, the morning was redeemed with leaving the house on-time-ish and a delightful breakfast - eggs, veggies, cheese, avocado and rice + coffee (yum). We arrived in Dandridge with plenty of time, set up transition, got body marked and chatted with a few teammates and fellow racers.
Warm-up went well. Then the fun began of getting the wet suit on. (Rust Buster Lesson #1 - Practice wet suit putting on) (Rust Buster Lesson #2 buy wet suit lube) With lots of grunting and sweating and help from my hubs, I got in the wet suit and comfortable, grabbed a few bites of rice cake + nut butter + banana sammie and headed down to swim warm up.
Had a great swim for the most part - went out a little fast, felt the early season lack of swim endurance and frustration with not being able to swim straight, but held a great average pace and set myself up well for the rest of the day. ... A few things to work on but those will happen naturally as the season progresses.
T1 fell just short of total train wreck. I had a good swim exit, got out of the top part of my wet suit, solid jog up to transition. Got the wet suit down to my knees and tried the "step on it" method to get out - no luck. So I sat down to take it the rest of the way off, and got it down to my calf when my right calf locked up. I'm talking LOCKED UP. So while full on lamaze breathing in between groaning noises, I managed to pull it the rest of the way off, semi work the cramp out and proceed to get the rest of T1 finished. (Rust Buster Lesson #3 - figure out how to take wet suit off sans cramping) (Rust Buster Lesson #4 - see #3)
Bike was great! I felt solid, took in good amounts of fluids (16 oz water with aminos and electrolytes), didn't totally panic when I saw the hill climb of death and a cyclist in front of me going full switch back style to get up it. I kept good pressure throughout and held a great pace. I managed to get down 2 Barnana Cubes even though they got a little wet. Regardless, overall a solid bike leg.
T2 went well, but my Friday night decision to put my Lock Laces in my shoes made for a few seconds of awkwardness trying to tie my shoes with cold hands. (Rust Buster Lesson #5 - put the lock laces in your shoes)
Run went great! Legs felt strong coming off the bike, even with hitting the big hill right away. The nice part about an out and back course is you get to give and receive encouragement from teammates and fellow racers. Heading into the last hill, I was barely able to hold off a quad cramp (trickle down effect from calf cramp and tight hip flexor), but once the hill finished I was able to run the last section well.
Coming across the finish line to my husband cheering always makes for a great finish - and pair that with a 2nd overall finish, I'd say it was a good day.
There is always a first race of the season, and with a few old and new lessons under my belt (hello wet suit practice), I'm ready to continue this season well.
Up next: Foothills Sprint Tri.