North Country TRI Reflections

Well, as feared, the North Country TRI was quite the challenging race… although more for the fact that I encountered many unanticipated events!!

To start things off, starting around noon last Friday, I came down with the beginning of a cold. Not feeling well, I spent much of the afternoon on the couch sleeping. I drove up to Hague, NY Friday evening to go to the course talk – however, when I got there I discovered the talk started at 5:00, not 5:30 as stated in the email (I wasn’t impressed)… but oh well, I got my packet and drove the hour back south to Saratoga.
Saturday AM, I still wasn’t feeling 100%, but there was no way that I would skip out on the event, so I dragged myself out of bed at 4:30 am to get ready and get back up to Hague… when I arrived at 6:15, I got a parking spot and grabbed a prime spot for my bike and transition area. Right near the front for optimal switch time between bike and run!! (YAY)
As the time neared to begin the race, the racer that had racked his stuff next to mine, pointed out that a wind had picked up and that the swim might not be very fun. As I looked out on Lake George, I realized he was probably right – it was looking pretty choppy out there. The race started with the olympic distance racers followed by the sprint distance. It was at this point that I counted my blessings that I did not get crazy and sign up for the olympic distance – the waves coming in from the lake were about 1 ft or taller by 8 am when the first group started the race!! I was in swim wave #5, when it was time to enter the water, I was pleased to find that Lake George was unusually warm for this time of year (about 75 degrees) – so at least we had 1 thing going for us.
As the swim wave started, I hung to the back, I knew a lot of the people in my wave were first timers, and I wanted to navigate around them, instead of being taken out by them in the start. As we swam, I was surprised how quickly I started catching up to the waves in front of us. Within a few minutes I was catching up to the men in Wave #4, and before I turned the halfway mark, I had caught some of the olympic swimmers! (Again, glad I was not swimming the mile today) It was at this point when I turned the buoy, that I realized how many people were dropping out of the race, I could see the water rescue boat was filled with swimmers that were pulled from the water. After 18 brutal minutes, I reached the shore. I swear every stroke forward, the waves pushed you back 2 strokes (ok, well it wasn’t really THAT bad, but it wasn’t fun).
As I ran into transition, I couldn’t believe how tired and shaky I was – I was wondering how this was going to work on the bike, knowing that I was facing 4.5 miles of inclines at the start of the bike course…. I slipped out of my wet-suit, and still shaky from the swim, I grabbed the bike and ran towards the mount area. As I mounted my bike, clicked in and went to start, I realized that a 44 year old dude had managed to run up and stop in front of me to clip in – but he had not actually taken off yet. Having no place to go (I was behind him with a biker to my left and the crowd to my right) I ended up falling over on my bike. Not happy. I could tell that I scraped up my leg pretty bad, but there was no time to address that, I wanted to catch up some time on the bike. So I got up, clicked in and got going. Now I was just annoyed since the 44 yr old had just taken off, oblivious to what had happened.
As I set off up the hill on Rt 8 out of Hague, I couldn’t believe how out of breath and tired I was – I was also glad that I had managed to ride the course once before the race, so I knew that I needed to conserve energy as much as possible, and take a “slow and steady” approach to the first part of the course. Things were going OK, until about 3 miles in, when I dropped the chain off my bike… DARN IT!! I panicked for a few minutes – wondering how (and if) i could get the chain back on. Luckily I thought to flip the bike over onto its seat, and I managed to get the chain back on pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I now had to start from a stand-still in the middle of the hill to keep trucking forward. As I crested the hill near the cemetery 4.5 miles into the race, I was so happy to have the major hills behind me. I cruised through the next 5 miles nicely – then I just had to battle the rolling hills on route 9N headed back to Hague.
As I got back for the run, I ran into transition, and looked at my leg. I had a lot of rocks in my scrape – but I had to finish, so off to the run. By this point, I was dog tired, and pretty frustrated that my bike had gone so poorly since that is usually my strength. Unfortunately, I let all of this get the best of me, and I kinda gave up on the run, and started walking parts of it. This meant I had the worst 5K time that I have posted in the last 4 years… when I crossed the finish line, I was pretty upset about how my race had gone. I finished in 1 hour 46 minutes. (My goal had been to finish closer to 1 hr 35 minutes)
Now, a few days later, I have much better perspective on the face and I have learned a few things. First of which – NEVER GIVE UP! I found out later in the afternoon, that I had come in 6th for my age group, and the times for my age were all fairly close together – about 1 or 2 minutes apart (except for the winner who had come in 10 minutes earlier than everyone else). If I had run my 5K, I might have placed! TRIs are just organized chaos! So moral of the story – you never really know what has transpired and you should keep pushing…
Second, I now know that I can finish a TRI even when the conditions are less than desirable.
Also, at the end of the day, I have accomplished something great, it was a challenging course that many people did not finish. I walked away saying I would never complete this course again – but now I’m thinking it is a challenge I should take on again next year. I now know what to expect, and I want to overcome the troubles that I had this year.
And last, there is always the next race! Actually, I have only about 6 weeks until the Fronhofer Triathlon – we’re going Olympic Distance this time…. gotta get back to training!
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