Saturday, April 4, 2009

Valdese Sprint Triathlon Race Report

What a great town. Nestled in the hills just west of Hickory, NC, the town of Valdese (locals are known as Waldensians) puts on the first race in the TrySports series each year. I'd never competed there before, but I'm aiming for a spot on the series podium (in my age group, of course) so I figured I'd better sign up for race #1. Sara Tussey was competing as well, with more on that a little later.

The 250m swim was in a pool like none I'd ever seen. The pool was clearly an outdoor 10-lane center, but had a large, inflated, dome covering it. It made the inside feel something like an aircraft hanger. It was warm, however, and that was the main thing. I seeded myself well back in the pack, since I am a slow-ish swimmer. My start time of 9:38.10 put me near some very nice people, one of whom was trying the "tri" for the first time. With the countdown, I took a breath and was off...

The first 75 meters were great, but then I got stuck behind the 3 ladies in front of me. I had to slow down and play peek-a-boo to get a handle on their formation and arrange a pass. Once done, I had about 150 meters to go and NO ONE in front of me. I had a great swim, but the time shows the delays from the other swimmers - all part of pool swims in the land of triathlon.

Coming out of the swim, I had an OK transition and hit the 9 mi bike. All I really knew about the bike course is that it had hills. Depending on who you asked, it was either "terrible" or "not really that bad." I opted to run no aerobars, feeling I would be out of the saddle a good bit. And get out of the saddle I did. The lollipop out and back course had several hills, none as punishing as Sauratown or Hanging Rock, but some of the risers were significant. The roads were well-cleared and traffic was minimal, so I have no excuse as to why I didn't go faster.

Rolling back to the transition was exciting, knowing I only had 3.1 miles to go. With a pool (staggered) start, one really has no idea of their placings overall - unless of course you start first and no one passes you or you start last and pass no one - so it plays tricks on the mind. I started to run, but was immediately revisited by my old friend, the calf cramp. I worked through it and still managed a 22min 5K, but I was hoping to be a bit faster and cramp-free.

I saw Sara during the bike and run segments and let me say - she was just killing it. One of my very public goals for today was to stay in front of Sara even though she gave me a 20 minute head start. By signing up this morning, she was put at the back of the pack for her swim start.

In the end, Sara won the women's overall! I was 30th overall and 3rd in my age group. I would highly recommend this race to PVSers since the swim is short, the run is flat, and the bike (which is easy for the PVSers) is hilly.

Here is a pic of me with the Overall Women's winner. Wow!

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