So yesterday was the LKN Sprint which is a fun race to me. I spent quit a bit of time riding the roads of the bike course training for IM Arizona and when I was a nanny in Cornelius, I worked out at the Lake Norman Y every morning and ran the roads of the run course quite often. It’s kind of feels like my old “home” up there.
So I was very calm before this race. No real race day jitters which I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because I wasn’t “excited” to race or because it’s a sprint and the distance doesn’t get to me anymore. Nonetheless, I got up at the ass crack of dawn and headed up there.
The first 400 meters of the swim were awesome! I was in the lead pack, feeling very strong for once. I felt very smooth in the water and refused to let the bumping, shoving, waves in the face get to me today. I knew we only had 750 meters to swim so I was going to try to enjoy it. We turned the first buoy, all good. We got to the 2nd turn buoy, and all was not that good. For some reason, I thought this turn was a hard right, not a very gradual right/straight. I was getting completely beat up at the turn and I was so confused why at the time. I continued on for a few seconds, look up to sight and was blinded by the sun. Kept swimming a few more strokes, blinded when sighting. After about 45 or so seconds, I just stopped in my tracks, looked around, only to find out I was no where near the swim course! JEEEZZZUUUSS, what the hell is wrong with me and the open water!? At that point, I was thinking to myself, “well, there goes this race”. By the time I’d swam myself back on course, I’d added no less than 2 minutes to my time. Wonderful….as if my regular “on course” swim times aren’t slow enough! Nonetheless, 16 min 45 sec later (71st, hahah), I was running to transition feeling like a ding dong. Another “failed” swim.
All good through transition, and onto the bike. Normally I’m thinking “ok, the race starts now” when I exit the water but I honestly didn’t think that today because I assumed a 16+ minute swim would completely take me out of contention for even an AG position. So I plodded along on my steed…the first 5 or so miles are on a great road in Davidson that was recently paved and Irene’s winds were at our backs. I averaged 26.4mph for that stretch….it was fun!! We took a right and not only did the hills kick in, we also turned into a nice headwind provided by Ms. Irene. That was interesting. I passed so many people who were really suffering – SO many of them I wanted to give suggestions on how they could easily reduce their suffering. That’s the next blog topic. So, 17 miles goes by pretty quick. 47:53 later (21.3mph / 3rd) I was back in transition. Stephanie Hucko, you are one strong little rider!
I got behind a knucklehead who didn’t know how to run with his bike headed in so after getting frustrated with him and doing my best to get around him, all else in transition went ok. Struggled a bit with one of my racing flats but nothing too detrimental. 10-15 seconds lost.
The run went great! I made my way up the hill from transition and knowing this course, planned to hit my threshold heart rate (around 185) and hold it. My threshold heart rate equates to a 6:45/mile pace as determined by my blood lactate testing, so that was the goal. I passed about 50 men on this run but never saw any girls. I assumed the fast ones in my AG were probably a few minutes ahead of me at this point after my lousy swim. I just kept plodding along but I will say it’s tough to be out there racing the men. I think that’s how I know I need to step into Open next year – cause even though I’m gonna get pummeled in the water for a while, I’m hoping it’ll make me faster and I’ll actually be “racing” those that I’m truly competing against. Nonetheless, I continued to run…there are a few rollers that made me definitely want to slow down but all miles kept ticking off at 6:40, 6:38 and 6:34…woooo hooooo!! I ran a 20:39 (6:38/mile pace), a 5k PR and I’m excited. I was the 3rd run split of the day which is slowly improving for me. I’ve always been 7-10th, usually. It feels good to be getting faster.
So I ended up coming across the line as the announcer said “and we have our 4th female finisher of the day and the 30-34 1st place female” so I was somewhat shocked. I figured my swim would completely destroy me of any chance of a good finish. Sweet!
Lesson learned…know the swim course. Funny thing is, of all the swim courses in the series, I should know this one the best since they do the practice swims there every other week and I used to do those pretty often. I haven’t been in Charlotte without a race for one of them this year and now I’m wishing I had. Only 40 seconds behind the 3rd female which coulda been my mishap in the water. Oh well, that’s racing!