Last year I participated in my first triathlon at Average Jo's and I was excited to head back there again this year. I had talked Erin into giving it a try because last year was so fun. This year was also fun, but in a more challenging way.
Erin and I got up early and drove out to Perham. On our way to the park we passed a familiar looking minivan traveling the opposite direction. As they passed I recognized Cassie and wondered if she was having trouble finding the park. Then I saw her turn around in our rear view mirror so I slowed down so she could catch up. When we got to the park there were a few other people there, but not many. We walked over to Cassie's van and said hello to her family before heading over to pick up our packets and to get marked for the race.
After getting our packets we grabbed our gear and headed for the transition area to setup in a good location. We found a spot on the last rack right on the end towards the bike exit. I've heard from other triathletes that it's easiest to be on that end so you don't have to fight getting your bike down the crowded rows during the race. After racking the bikes we then leisurely unpacked all of our other gear. Cassie setup right next to us and kind of followed along with what we were doing. This was her first triathlon too. As we were setting up, I could see the race organizers setting up the buoys for the swim course. Last year the swim stayed near the shore so it was possible to touch the bottom of the lake almost the entire way. This year the course was straight out into the lake.
As the start time got closer Erin and I decided to head into the water to get used to it while Cassie decided that she would stay out of the lake until the event started. We were told the water temperature was 66°, based on feel it was colder then it was the previous year and colder then the water at liberty where I was wearing a wet suit. Erin was shivering almost immediately, but I seemed to tolerate the cold fairly well. After being in for a couple of minutes I was quite comfortable.
When the race started I made the decision to walk as far as I could into the lake to minimize the amount of swimming I would have to do. I hoped I would be able to make it to the first buoy but that was overly optimistic. When I was forced to start swimming I did better mentally then I did during the 1.2 mile swim a few weeks prior. Knowing that I made it through that definitely helped my confidence and I was relaxed enough to put my head in and swim properly for a while. When I finally emerged from the lake I was near the back of the pack, 150th out of 170 participants.
After jogging up the hill to the transition area I dried off as best I could before putting my biking shoes on. I struggled to put on my spandex top and red Dick Beardsley shirt before heading out on the bike. The bike course has a gravel road on a hill at the start and end. This year the gravel was very soft and made keeping momentum difficult and had me concerned about tipping over once I was clipped into the pedals. Once I cleared the gravel I started to fly. I was a bit tired from the swim, but it didn't seem to effect me too much. Throughout the entire 12 miles I kept moving up the field and by the time the bike had finished I had passed 63 people. On the way back up the hill I stalled out about halfway up and decided just to run the bike back to the transition area rather then risk tipping over. I shed my bike shoes, put on my running shoes and Garmin and headed out on the run.
As I started the run I was dripping sweat from the bike and out of breath. The run starts down a hill and my legs had some difficulty remembering just what running felt like. Once I had the downhill behind me I started to find a rhythm and build speed. After going so fast on the bike it felt like I was crawling along, but I was holding a solid pace just under 10 minute miles. I was able to hold this pace throughout the run until near the end when I came across a guy who looked like he was struggling. He had started to walk which allowed me to catch him. When I was along side of him I told him that we should run the downhill and could walk the uphill. When we made it to the uphill I convinced him to push a little longer and get to the top. I kept pushing him along in this fashion until we were close enough to sprint to the finish line. I felt really good about getting him to the finish line a step in front of me.