Bartlett Lake Triathlon Race report
3 am and my alarm goes off. Coffee has already started brewing. It’s always an odd feel starting race day alone. There’s usually someone around or someone to meet.
I had an hour long drive to the start of my race. So I put on my “happy” playlist. It’s all of the songs that bring me joy one way or another, usually tied to a memory or a person, but some just because I like the sound or the words.
As I moved through the race venue, I found a handful of familiar faces. It was a reminder to me that this is a community that I’m so appreciative to have found throughout the years. One friend was a blast from the past though, as he’s walking by I barely catch him say, “I think that’s Maria.” I turn and it’s my old friend Zac from college. It’s a small world on this planet of ours.
This race I was trying a handful of new things today, mostly for the swim. I forgot to buy my usual 30 min pre-race gel so I tried Spark and biocharge instead. My goggles were knew, I was wearing my tri top under my wetsuit. All seemed to workout fine, but I knew some of these would sustain me or work for longer distances.
This was one of the first races I didn’t fully prepare for: no written race plan and I didn’t really check the course map. (Not going to do that again…) So I tried to pay attention to the descriptions. Three laps, two laps, one lap. I took a quick minute to blow my ritualistic bubbles in the water. The race started at 7:04 I jumped and go. It was a bit crowed but didn’t have to do too much fighting. Once I found my space I remember thinking, okay this is the most relaxing part of the race so enjoy it! I did find the first 250 a little tough to catch my breath, but eventually I found it. I’ll have to check my map, but this was one of the straightest swims I did buoy to buoy. Very little corrections were made each time I sighted. As I finished up my third lap I checked my watch to make sure I had actually done three laps.
I ran up and saw Coach Anthony, as I headed towards transition. As I was going through T1 I just kept thinking how long it was taking me, how few bikes were still left and those monsters of hills I’d be tackling in the next two disciplines. Not good things to think in translation.
I started the grind up the hill. As soon as I turned onto the big upward climb I started to drink and eat. I thought to myself… I don’t really know how to race the Oly distance. I don’t know where to conserve energy or where to go all out, let alone add some crazy hills. On the first loop of the bike I struggled with some borderline hamstring cramping, so I dropped into an easier gear and fueled myself to avoid that mess from happening. At the turnaround, just over 12 miles I knew I was going to have fun! I hit fast speeds downhill, but being small I still had to pedal some of the time to maximize my speed.
I come in to the second turnaround for the loop, the cop is waving me straight when I thought I was supposed to turn. Anthony is yelling, “turn down the hill maria,” so at the las minute I turn. Totally flustered read Oly turn around and totally fly by the signs! Confused I turn back up the hill and get back on course (study your maps people!). I feel like I’ve lost momentum and hurry back up the big hill. With my hamstring back in the game I’m able to push my gears a little harder and speed up on the second lap. I come in to T2 and I’m much quicker on the draw. I’m out of there in half the time as T1.
Again up the monster hill for the run. You in a dream when you’re running and you feel like you’re as fast as you can go, but you aren’t moving. That was the feeling for the run. I moved up the hill and my biggest concern of the day was my foot. How can I make sure not to injure it. About a mile and a half in tightness ensues. So I run my best pace I can. Though I think lack of running and no hill training the last month is was held me back more than anything. I still pushed a decent pace up and down the hills by about mile for the pain in my foot went numb so I pushed the downhill a little faster. Zac is announcing and he calls me by name with a shout out to our lumberjacks.
Still coming across that line was one of the most interesting feelings. I didn’t feel success or disappointment; I felt accomplishment without reward. Bartlett is just one of those races that’s tough, that when you do it for the first time it’s really hard to gauge success. Or even feel successful.
You just can’t really compare it to anything you’ve done before you know.
I will return to Bartlett because it’s a race that’s challenging and fun. It pushes your body and your mind to change and adapt to its surroundings.
Till the next adventure!