Before completing the Lake St. Louis Triathlon, I was itching to sign up for my next one. It was close to the end of the season, so there weren’t a ton of options to pick from. One day, I saw a Facebook update from the St. Louis Tri Team that they were joining up with RaceMaker Productions for the 2012 Litchfield Triathlou. Hmm, Litchfield? I could dig that. I looked into it more and registered. The race was on a Sunday, so the plan was to leave the kids with my parents while Alex and I went on a romantic overnight to Litchfield. We unloaded the kids and pointed our car toward Litchfield.
The Triathlou was stationed on the beaches of Lake Lou Yeager. We drove the bike and run routes – it was as flat as you could wish for. I was excited for the race and to test out my new road bike. The evening before the race, they had a practice swim in the lake. I went and did a few laps. You couldn’t do the course because they didn’t have lifeguards in the water. I ended up meeting a girl, Meg, who told me that this was going to be her first triathlon. I bestowed my vast knowledge to her since I was such a seasoned vet. *cough, cough* I also met a sweet lady named Julie (we are actually Facebook friends now) that was competing as part of a team. She was doing the running leg. There was a small festival going on by the lake, so Alex and I opted to eat dinner there and listen to the live music until it was time to go back to the hotel.
The next morning, I was up before the sun to get everything ready. I had a little bit to eat (enough for energy, but not too much to upset my stomach), and we made the drive to the lake. I got everything set up in my transition area, and proceeded to mentally go through each transition. It freaks me out to think that I may have forgotten something for transitions. Eventually it was time to head to the beach to start the race.
I waited for the men’s sprint distance wave to head out, and then it was my turn. I was ready. The horn sounded and my wave ran into the water. It was cold, but manageable. I took off. The shirt I was wearing is made for triathlons, but ended up being a pain. Most triathlon tops are extremely tight-fitting and sleeveless (to allow for shoulder rotation while swimming). My top was a bit loose, so it was dragging in the water and gathering up by my bra. I made a note to myself to never swim in this top again.
I made it through the swim and back to the beach. To get back to the transition area, the competitors had to run off the beach, across a parking lot, and up a flight of stairs. I made it to my bike, dunked my feet in my water bucket to clean them, dried them off, threw my socks on, jammed my shoes on (but making sure that nothing felt funny or was rubbing wrong), clipped my helmet in place, strapped on my race number, tossed on my glasses, and grabbed my bike from the rack. I ran out the transition area and hopped on. After a bit of a struggle to get my foot in the cage (I don’t do bike shoes yet), and almost running into a sign, I was on my way. I was amped to see how my new road bike fared.
The road bike didn’t disappoint. I zipped right along, passing quite a few people. One girl even told me that her goal on the bike leg was to catch me and beat me. How do you like them apples?? Around the first turn, I watched a guy lose control and ride into a ditch. He was shaken, but got up and kept going. Apparently he slid out and fell again on a different section of the bike. At one point, he was riding right next to me and we chatted a bit. I felt horrible for the guy, but was glad that he was okay even after spilling twice. I made it back to the transition area to stash my bike and helmet. My legs were shaky from the bike, but I tried to keep moving.
Immediately past the transition area was a large flight of stairs that I was supposed to run down. I’m not the most coordinated person, so running down the stairs made me nervous – especially when my muscles felt like jelly. I opted to walk (and hold onto the railing) to get to the bottom. At the bottom of the stairs, we had to turn and run up a steep hill. It was brutal. I’d like to shake my fist at the person who planned this course! I took the ‘little engine that could’ attitude and slowly crept up the hill. I was trying to just keep going so I could get my road legs back. I stopped and walked for a bit. I kept picking markers on the side of the road to pick up running again. I’d run as long as I could and switch back to walking. Eventually I made it to the turnaround point – it’s always exciting, kind of fills you with energy. I was making my way back still run/walking. I was walking up a hill when I heard a familiar voice. The guy that had wiped out on his bike, that I had chatted with earlier, was next to me again. He explained that running wasn’t his strongest area (I felt like instant friends), and asked if I minded running with him. I was game, I mean – why not? Triathletes are notorious supporters, so it was a way for us both to stay strong until the end. (That was my fastest running time to date – running with a partner works!) We chatted as much as we could. My friend’s name was Mel, father of 4, and new to the sport. Before I could think about it, the finish line was in sight. This race has the finish line at the top of what they have labeled ‘Heartbreak Hill’. You have to wind around and go up a big hill to make it to the end – almost like you are zeroing in on the target. Mel and I ran right next to each other the entire way (there was no chatting as we huffed up the hill) and crossed the finish line at the same time. I was proud of Mel for finishing the race even after crashing twice, and proud of myself for adding another triathlon to my belt. It was a great day – awesome town, awesome people, awesome race!
Official Times (1/4 mile swim, 13 mile bike, 3.1 mile run):
- Swim: 12:34 (rate of 50:16 per mile) – included a long run back to transition
- Division Rank: 4/7
- T1: 2:18
- Bike: 49:39 (rate of 15.7 mph)
- Division Rank: 4/7
- T2: 0:47
- Run: 41:33 (rate of 12:59 per mile)
- Division Rank: 7/7
- Overall time: 1:46:53
- Division Place: 6/7
- Overall Place: 110/119