Yesterday I participated in the ChesapeakeMan Endurance Festival in Cambridge, MD.
I competed in the Bugeye event, which was advertised as a 1.2 mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run (although I think the bike ended up being short).
The night before the race I definitely had some anxiety about the logistics for this race. I have only ever competed in small triathlons where you check in on race morning and have one transition area that is also where you start and finish the race. For this race, we had to check in night before at one location, set up our bike the night before at another location, and then park in the morning at a third location to take a bus back to the second location where we started the swim. The second location was also T2. I’m exhausted just saying it! We had to use bags for all of our stuff (and if you do triathlon, you know there is A LOT of stuff!). One was labeled pre-swim, one bike, and one run and I triple checked to make sure I had the right thing in each bag. So, hurdle number one was figuring out where to go and how to pack.
On race morning, I actually managed to get to the start without too much trouble. It was a pretty amazing view as we prepared for the race and saw the sunrise over the Choptank River.
I set up my bike, dropped off all of my bags, and fought my way into my wetsuit, which I haven’t had on since May of 2012 (more on that later…).
My swim wave included all of the other Bugeye participants and everyone doing the Skipjack distance, which was close to a 70.3 distance race. We were all herded into the water in a big pack. The water was cold at the start, but got comfortable pretty quickly. Almost immediately upon getting in the water, before it was even deep enough to actually swim, we all started spotting the dreaded Sea Nettles, which are little jellyfish that sting the crap out of you. I was in a sleeveless wetsuit and felt quite a few stings on my arms once I got into the water. We slowly waded out to the start at the gun went off.
As I started to swim, the top of my wetsuit felt so tight I couldn’t breath. I think this was probably mental, but nonetheless I spent the first part of the swim switching back and forth between treading water and doing the doggy paddle because I just could not catch my breath. After I got the first buoy I finally got my shit together enough to start swimming and got into a rhythm that, luckily, I was able to maintain throughout the rest of the swim. The Sea Nettles were relentless and I got one pretty bad sting in my armpit and a bunch on my arms. The stings weren’t terrible, but the pain lingered and my forearms were in pretty bad shape by the turnaround point, but it helped to know I had survived to the halfway mark! After the turnaround, we were looking into the sun heading back to shore, so it was very difficult to spot the buoys. So, I would swim a little and then stop and try to figure out where I was going and then start again. All of this is to say my swim may have been the slowest swim in the history of the sport, but I finished in one piece.
I made it back to shore, struggled to get my wetsuit off, dried off, and got my bike shoes on. I exited the changing tent, found my bike, secured my helmet, put on my sunglasses . . . and then realized something wasn’t right. It took me a second to figure it out, but one of my sunglass lenses had fallen out. I scanned the grass in the area around my bike and couldn’t find it. I walked back toward the changing tent. No luck. I didn’t want to waste too much time, so I decided to put the glasses in one of my kit pockets and deal with it later. Unfortunately, it was a very sunny day and that meant no sunglasses for the rest of the race, but I didn’t have any other options and I am trying to learn to adapt on race day!
The bike is my strongest leg, so I was happy to get going on the fast, flat course. I passed several people right away and felt quite comfortable on the way out, but on the way back, the wind was brutal (others confirmed after the race that the bike was quite challenging because of the wind). The only eventful part of the bike was the water station, where I debated trying to grab a bottle from a volunteer while I was moving, but then changed my mind and yelled to the volunteer “I’m too scared!” I will obviously need to work on that before the 70.3 next summer.
I made it to T2 feeling great, but when I got off the bike I realized I did something to my groin on the bike. I only felt it once I started running. It wasn’t terrible – just an annoyance. I got started on the run and it became apparent fairly early on that the run was going to be challenge. It was a totally flat, straight, out and back course (which I find mentally challenging – I would rather have some inclines and declines and twists and turns to make things interesting). By this point in the day, it was also very sunny and getting warm, and there was no shade on the run course. The water stations seemed very few and far between. It felt like the longest 10k of my life and, unfortunately, actually was the longest 10k of my life time-wise.
So, not the best day for me results-wise, but every race is a learning experience, so I will take it.
I also met another racer wearing a Smash Fast N Loud kit, so, of course, I needed a photo with her too!
So, despite the rough swim and run, I still had a really fun day. This was my last tri of 2013 and I am already looking forward to tackling a 70.3 next summer.