Thursday, August 02, 2007

Accidental Triathlete

Great Lakes Triathlon Championship

By Monica Tory
Kalamazoo, Michigan

What absolutely PERFECT weather for this year's Great Lakes Triathlon & Duathlon Championship in Middleville, Michigan! It was downright chilly during warmup, even with winter tights on, but that meant it would only be 65-70 by the time we hit the run course!

Something tells me I'm going to get a reputation for "racing by accident". I already have one for buying bikes "by accident," so why not racing too? Even though it's a favorite, I wasn't planning to do this race, because I missed the "no late fee" signup deadline and learned what type of hourly rate plumbers earn all in the same week.

Fate intervened, however, when my neighbor mentioned that he had signed up for the race, but forgotten his brother-in-law was getting married the same morning as the race. Oops! I wasn't so sure about racing as a 40 year old man ?!?!?!? But the race director kindly transferred the entry and I was all set.

It was my 3rd year doing this race and I'll definitely be back again. I LOVE the "in between" distances (0.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike, 4.5 mile run), and the race organization is superb. I have to confess that I have a soft spot for the many cash prizes and primes that go not only to race winners but also randomly to participants (sometimes "middle of the pack", sometimes draw prizes, sometimes "closest to a certain time" etc.)! Oh....and did I mention? WOMEN SWIM FIRST. Yeah! No weaving around the men's field!

My plan was simple:
  • swim=warm up
  • 100% TIME TRIAL EFFORT on the bike
  • finish the run without walking.
But I was too simple to follow the plan.

The swim wave started and I quickly realized I was a few body lengths ahead of everyone else. That wasn't part of the plan. Well, I wanted to drop back and take it easy so that I could work hard on the bike, but I just couldn't bring myself to intentionally give up my lead! I let my competitive spirit win and kicked it up a bit, coming out of the water first. Out on the bike, I had a specific pace goal in mind, but it wasn't very realistic. The course was hillier than I remembered, and there was a surprise headwind on the way back. I was both surprised and happy that I wasn't passed by any women on the bike! That changed quickly on the run. My friend, overall race winner, and superstar Megan James passed me well before the mile 1 marker, and a whole gang of gals were hot on her heels. I stuck to my plan of running my own comfy race, staying aerobic, and NOT WALKING.

And it all worked out, just not as planned!
  • I set out to have a super-fast bike, and it didn't happen, but it was a fun ride anyway. It was awesome to see so many (54) trikats (our local team) out on the course cheering for one another.
  • I won a very nice prime for clocking the fastest women's swim of the day. MANY THANKS to my friend Cricket (pictured here, chasing Pavel Brutt at TdG)! Before the race, Cricket and Megan were talking and they somehow convinced one another that the swim was "too short" to wear a wetsuit...and I had mine on ;)
  • I had a phenomenal-for-me run, running a pace for 4.5 miles that I've never run for ONE mile. That made my day.
I finished second in the Womens' 30-34 race. Click here for more results

And a few photos:
Surfacing from the swim, my best gila monster impression
Exiting the water
On bike, concentrating on staying upright in the fresh & gravelly "chip 'n' seal" road coating
On the run.


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