The weather sucked. It was raining when I woke up, raining on the drive to the lake and a rain/mist up to the start of the race. I arrived early to get a good spot to rack my bike but with the wet mix still coming down I left all my gear in plastic Wegmans bags to keep everything dry. It was chilly and miserable so I wore my cycling jacket overtop my tri suit as I talked with friends but then I gave serious thought to riding with it for the race. With fifteen minutes before the start of the Sprint and Olympic distance races I thought I might stay warmer by putting on my wet suit. What a pain in the ass that was trying to put on a wet suit when you’re already soaked to the bone; it took me 10 minutes and I’m still not sure it was on correct. I haven’t worn a full wet suit in two years (normally wear a cut off) and I was quickly reminded why, the arm mobility sucks. The water temp was reported to be in the 60’s but talking with my friend Jenn who swam Saturday, she said it was so cold her face got numb. I wore a swim cap under my race cap since I was told it would keep me warmer but what I didn’t expect was the head squeeze it puts on you, especially with ear plugs, but I kept it on anyway. The “in water” swim start was 20 yards out from the beach area of Beltzville Lake. You swim straight toward the dam keeping all buoy’s to your right, then two right turns and head back for a final left turn into swim exit.
For some reason they decided to have a 15 minute break from the last wave of Olympic swimmers to the start of the Half. I didn’t see too many excited people in my wave, we all stood around freezing in our wetsuits thinking let’s get on with this. I know it takes a different kind of person to get up real early on a cold, rainy Sunday, jump into a 60 degree lake and swim in blackness,,, all for fun. But if you’re reading this I shouldn’t have to explain myself.
Watching a hundred or more people do the chicken walk into the water with arms up like scarecrows was pretty funny,,, then it was my turn. Lets just say a part of my body went into hiding; that chilly water woke me right up! I positioned myself near the back of my wave, which worked out fine and I do recall passing one or two people. (I’m getting better!) Other than hooking a yellow buoy rope with my right arm (I have a tendency to turn right in open water) I had a pretty good swim,,, for me. Swim time 00:39:07 minutes.
T1 was a nightmare. The wet freshly cut grass where my bike was racked was sticking to everything and I had a guy to either side of me changing at the same time. I had trouble getting my socks and coat on; my body was just too wet. I gave up on the coat idea and found a long sleeve shirt and wore gloves. T1 time, 00:06:41. L
The bike segment was good. It felt like I never had better than 75% braking; the rainy mist, wet soaked streets and skinny tires kept me reeled in. I knew the course and immediately I sucked down a gel and drank a little to give me back what I burned on the swim. As it turned out, not being able to put on my coat was a gift, the gloves and long sleeve shirt felt perfect. I felt strong on hills and I was temped to try and reel in every rider I saw but what I wanted most was to see how well I could run off the bike. With all the work I put into my run this year this was the first time ever I looked forward to it. On the bike I ate a Powerbar every 45 minutes, (3 total) two gels and drank 30 oz of Gatorade Pro. Bike time, 03:11:26
T2 was better. Nobody on either side of me made for a nice transition into dry shoes, hat and fuelbelt. T2 time, 00:03:01
I switched my Garmin to run mode, took normal strides settling into a comfortable 8:30 pace. I felt good, no stomach issues and after 2 miles I had my run legs back. The course was more trail than road but nothing prepared me for the surprise at mile 2.5. From transition you followed a trail that took you to the tip of Beltzville dam, then down along the dry side to the very bottom opposite end. From there you made a left and faced the dam front on. I wish I had picture to share. All you could see in the distance was little red cones marking a path almost straight up the dam. This was way different from last year and the thought of climbing the dam twice made me ill to say the least. See my attached Garmin statistics and look at the climb at mile 2.5 and 8.9
At the end of the first loop I saw my run buddy with a sign she made me that cracked me up!
We talked and talked at the finish, both he and I said this was the best competitive finish either of us has ever had. From the last two-mile tactical run all the way down to the wire. His name is Russ and he’s a 3:09 marathon runner with a 10:30 Lake Placid PR and a real nice guy. Funny thing was, neither of us were in contention, we battled it out for 4th and 5th. lol
Run time, 01:52:17
Love this sport!