Well, I wouldn’t call it an ideal situation, but my travel itinerary to this race was TIIIIGHT! My flight from Des Moines didn’t leave until 3pm and was direct to Orlando. After more than an hour spent getting my luggage and the rental car, I wasn’t even on the road to Clermont until almost 8pm. As I was making the 50 min drive, I had 2 agenda items – 1) find a Target so I could buy a car charger (I brought a cord, but mistakenly assumed all newer cars had a USB port like my ’09 Honda Element. WRONG! 2) find food! Fortunately, just a mile from my hotel, I was able to accomplish both tasks. I was elated when I saw a Little Ceasar’s Pizza joint. $5 pizza was the perfect and SAFE meal to eat a little later than I would prefer.
I lugged my bike, suitcase and pizza up to my hotel room, immediately scarfed down my dinner, then promptly built my bike. By 9:30 I was in bed and on my way to sleep. The alarm was set for 4am. Do the math from Central to Eastern….12 hours from flight take-off to race morning wake-up. Yeowza!
4am came very fast, but I was up and making my breakfast. I wanted to be at transition when it opened at 5:30 since I wasn’t able to get my packet the day before, so I was out the door shortly after 5. I was in total reliance of my Google Maps Navigation as I headed out at Dark O’Clock towards the race venue. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going the right way, but soon I saw the venue, lit well and transition clearly visible. I got my packet, borrowed a tire pump from a friendly gal parked next to me, and got into transition. I was early enough to get the end spot on the rack and quickly became the envy of all of my rack-mates.
First wave wouldn’t go off until 7:30am, so I had lots of time to get prepped, get a warm-up in, check, double check and triple check my plan. I would be heading out onto the course without getting to see it first, so I’d be flying blind. I did know that there was a nice climb right out of transition, so no shoes on the pedals and get into the proper climbing gear. Check!
The water was measured at 74* so I waited to see what the locals would do – wetsuit or not. Most opted for the wetsuit, so I did too. We all got down to the beach, heard a beautiful performance of the national anthem, and then the first wave was off!
I was in wave 5 so I had a bit of a wait before it was my turn. This actually turned out to be a good thing – the first wave that went off was confused by the swim course, and it was obvious they were doing it wrong. By wave 5 we knew exactly what to do and our group was efficient.
I lined up at the front and just did my thing. I’m not aggressive in my swim, but will position myself in front of others and make them work to get around me. (bitchy? maybe) It was a triangular swim, and during the first leg, my HR and anxiety was a bit high. It was my first OWS of the season, so I wasn’t surprised. The water was a bit choppy and I focused on finding the rhythm of the water and settling in. I made the turn at the first buoy, and then really took off. I started passing purple caps (my wave) and even a few caps from previous waves. By the last leg I picked up my effort and really tried to go hard. As I was swimming up to the beach, I see a gal (ahead of me) stand up and start walking. I kept swimming. Then I passed her, still swimming. And swimming. Then dolphin diving. Eventually I stood up and came out at least :30 ahead of her. I ran up the beach and to my surprise – WETSUIT STRIPPERS! yes! Love that!
The run from that area to transition was quite long and was glad my wetsuit was already off. Once at the rack, I threw my bike shoes on, sunglasses, helmet, then was out of there! The mount line was at the top of a short hill which then went right into a bigger hill that required some out-of-the-saddle action.
People kept saying that this course was hilly, but I totally admit that I didn’t believe them. It’s Florida! Their highest elevations are the causeway bridges! Um…..except for Central Florida where they actually have TRUE hills. Hills that I came unprepared for gear-wise. Short and steep. Long and grinding. It had them all, and lots of them. Aside from that, the course was beautiful and the roads were great. The course was very well marked and there were lots of patrol cars managing traffic. I got buzzed by one vehicle, but for being my only incident of the day, I feel lucky. I know there was some wind out there, but the course layout only really presented some headwinds a few times. It really was perfect weather for a race!
Bike In was in the same place as Bike Out, so the dismount line was on an incline. I opted for feet out of my shoes, but came to a stop before getting off the bike. (I need to practice my dismounts a bit more, but given that this is the first race of the season, I played it safe. My CX buddies would be so disappointed in me!) There was a long run shoot down the length of the transition area before entering. Once the bike was racked, it was on with my run shoes, grab my race belt, visor and nutrition flask, then head out. (I always put my race belt and visor on while I’m running – no need to stand around to do those things.)
The course was set up as two out and back sections – the first being about 2 miles. As I was hitting this mark (which was right around the finish area) I got to meet one of my Rev3 teammates (he was already done, and just ran up to say hi!). The plan for the run was to take it conservatively on the first half, then amp it up on the last half. I was around the 4.75 mark when I noticed a chick in pink up ahead of me. I decided I was going to run her down (I needed some motivation). I picked up the pace and soon was close enough to see that she was in my AG. I settled back for a moment and thought to myself “what if I pass her, then she decides to race it out? Am I willing to commit to this?” The answer: yes. So, I leaned forward and went for it. I held that pace into the finish – :17 ahead of her. *fist pump*
This was a really good tune-up race for the season. I have some clear goals for Rev3 Knoxville and Quassy and know what I need to work on before then. Fitness-wise I’m on track (considering my setback early in the year, I’m happy where I’m at) and feel energized for the training in the weeks leading up to my next races. I’ll definitely consider doing this race again. The entry fee was reasonable, the logistics were easy, and the quality of the event was high. Kudos to the RD!