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Lake Anna race rundown: in which I recap the race and literally get rundown by an opponent

people swimming on sea water

The prairie dress dilemma was resolved. I really left you hanging with that! I did have lunch at school, I did sit at the same table as her, we did receive many compliments on her level of enthusiasm for all things Laura Ingalls and she was granted special permission to wear her bonnet in school despite the no hat policy. Overall, a win.

The next morning we got up super early to catch a flight to WI to visit family and she wanted to wear the dress on the plane. My expectations for flights are pretty low, and I didn’t want to risk passing out again and someone thinking this poor Amish child was traveling alone. So I nixed the dress.

The race! One of the most fun races I’ve been to. I love triathlon for so many reasons, mostly because I spend so much time training all three disciplines separately and only at races do I get to put it all together and execute. But I also love it because some of the coolest people are at races and you meet the most interesting sorts. I happened to park next to a couple, Dave and Joanna, who were so friendly and fun. Dave was support crew for his wife and took it upon himself to keep an eye out for me too. He told me where he’d be standing during the race and that he would cheer for me. I racked my bike next to Joanna’s in transition and then headed off to do my pre-race rituals. Dave kept appearing! I was shuffling around in sweats and a jacket in transition. But I’ll be darned if that guy didn’t recognize me 30 minutes later when I was jogging around in my race kit.

“Inge? Dave!” *slams hand against his chest* “Remember me?”
“Yeah! Of course!”
“I just wanted to let you know your rack in transition got super crowded. A bunch of people threw their bikes on there with no respect for the 6 bike limit.”
“Okay, good to know, thanks Dave.” I said.

30 minutes later I’m in my wetsuit (it takes at least 15 to get the thing on) and someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Inge? Dave!” *taps his chest again* “Remember?”
“Yeah! Hi!”
“Things got so crowded on the bike rack. I had to move Joanna’s stuff down, and I moved yours too. But! I made sure to keep everything just how you had it. So don’t worry.”
“Wow, thanks Dave! Great. Do you by chance remember the letter of our rack?”

A look of pure horror passes his face.

“I DON’T.” *presses lips together* “Shoot.”
“Oh Dave, it’s no big deal. I know where it is, don’t worry. I’m good.”
“No. I’m going to find out. I’ll be right back.”
“Dave! Dave no, there’s like 5 minutes til the start, you’ll miss Joanna go. Please. It’s fine.”
“You sure?”
“Yes, of course. Enjoy watching the race. Thanks for your help!”

2 minutes later. *tap tap* on my shoulder.

“Inge? Dave!!” *pats his chest again*
“Yeah! Dave! I got it. What’s up?”
“We’re rack D, I can’t believe I forgot that. I ran back to check. Just wanted to let you know.”
“Dave. Wow, your commitment is impressive. Thank you. D. I got it now.”

Dude recognized me in three different outfits and the last one was a swim cap (that matches every other swim cap per race rules) goggles and a black wetsuit. He truly did cheer for me! I saw him when I came out of the water, twice on the bike course, and once on the run.

I love this sport.

I was really happy with how the race went. I executed exactly as I strategized and felt very confident. I realized how much I psych myself out for races. It doesn’t matter what the field is like, I approach every start line and think I need to win overall. Even if it’s not realistic. I credit this feeling to all my years of doing team sports. In volleyball you can only win or lose. You start every game with the goal to win. Racing is different, as any swimmer, track/field, or runner can attest. The race is really against yourself, and getting a medal is a happy circumstance. This race was different. I focused solely on what my goal was for each leg of the race. I knew if I followed my plan very closely, I would perform well enough that I probably would end up on the podium.

My swim was 27:45, which was a personal best for me! My goal was to be under 30. Check.

My bike was 1:06, which was a few minutes faster than last year. Check. More importantly I hit my race power of 209W average. This was a tricky course because it’s two loops. That means as I started my second lap, a bunch of athletes doing the Sprint distance were coming onto the course. The Sprint started 30 minutes after my Olympic heat. It was dangerous, in the sense that a lot of us at the front of the pack were really cooking, and then a ton of people pulled out in front of us. I was a little more cautious on this bike leg than I normally am, but still held good speed.

The run was a little dicey, I couldn’t get accurate GPS on my watch for the first 2 miles, and took them a little slower than planned (about 8:04). Funnily enough, the woman who placed 3rd overall ran with me for a few minutes. As she caught me she said, “we’re third and fourth now, if you stay with me we can fight it out at the finish.”

I knew she was faster than me, because I had been ahead of her on the bike and she ran me down within 2 miles. But I asked her what her watch was saying for pace and she said she never looks at it, and just trusts her body. That’s not something I’m great at, I’m hugely a data person and love triangulating between all the numbers. Part of the reason why the swim is so hard for me; there is no data available aside from what you can see and feel.

I finished in 4th place overall women, 1st in my age group. It was fun to chat with the ladies who placed ahead of me. In the moment I had no “what ifs” and just enjoyed the atmosphere of the race. Of course later, I looked through all the numbers and realized if I had held my intended run pace of 7:30 for the first 2 miles, she wouldn’t have caught me and I would’ve been on the podium. I missed third place by less than a minute.

Oh well. Impossible to know in the moment, but a good data point for future races to dial in that run.

Next weekend (5/4) is my next race. This one is a Sprint distance, at our local Smith Mountain Lake. A lot of my friends from the area are running which makes it extra fun. Sprints are a lot harder for me than longer distances, I’m more endurance than speed. But I’m excited to set some new PRs (hopefully!) and execute another race plan (hopefully!)

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