Dianne drove me to St. Petersburg on Saturday, when I had to pick up my race packet, present my bike for inspection, and set it up in my transition area. Have you ever seen almost 5000 bikes racked in one place at one time? Impressive. We got a room nearby, ate dinner, played Scrabble and I had a sleepless night.
We arrived at the race venue at 5:15 AM, so I could pump up my tires and set up the rest of my gear. The pros started their race at 6:50 AM, with many waves starting at 3 to 5 minute intervals. At 8:25, with just one swim start wave in front of us, they shut down the race to change the swim course, as the wind had come up fiercely and the water was too rough for the kayakers (rescue boats) to stay upright! So we waited for almost an hour, then began our altered swim course.
This is a direct (probably illegal) quote from the local paper: "The first leg of Sunday's St. Anthony's Triathlon was an endurance test as athletes battled rough water, troublesome wind gusts and a strong current... " And this was a quote from one of the pros, who was already done by the time the wind and water were so rough that they changed the course!
However, I did well in the swim portion (thank you coach Suzanne). I passed many swimmers in my own wave start and several from the start ahead of us. I only realized how well I swam when I saw so many from my swim start pass me on the bike! I passed very few on the bike as I battled the sharp crosswind. The real problem, I think, is that I have not ridden much this season and the local athletes ride all year.... I did what I could but at one point looked down and saw that I was only going 12 MPH as I pedaled hard against the wind. My average was 15.5 MPH at the end, pretty poor for a race, especially when you consider that it was only 25 miles.
I got off the bike and almost fell down! Apparently I did something different in battling the wind on the bike because my glutes and hamstrings cramped up painfully. I really thought I would have to drop out, but I limped over to my transition area, dropped down on my hands and knees and stretched out the backs of my legs and butt until I could walk. I started the run at a walk and ended up jogging and walking intermittently for the 6.2 miles. Needless to say it was my worst time ever in a race. But I finished! I did not get a DNF for my first race of the season, and that has to count for something. I finished 830 out of 1104 women in the race, with a final time of 3:27:11 (I had planned on finishing in under 3 hours).
Dianne was there to pick me up and take me home at the end of the race. That was fortunate indeed because even after the best of races I tend to get stupid.... I need someone to look after me and drive me, and she was there! I have not yet decided if I will buy the (overpriced) photos offered from the race. If I do, you'll see them here later.