Muncie 70.3 Pre-Race

And just like that, we’re less than one week away from my second 70.3. Crap.  I think I’m less nervous about the race distance (now that I know I can do it, at least) but still having some minor freakouts about the weather and the fact that I spent two weeks in France basically doing nothing – except eating.

I picked this race because of it’s proximity to my parent’s house. I haven’t seen them since Christmas so I’m really, really excited to go visit. So even if everything else goes wrong, this will be a successful trip. For now, I have to focus on packing (ALL THE THINGS) and mentally preparing myself for a nine hour drive home.

So, let’s talk about the race.  I do have some goals this time since I would certainly like to be faster than my last race (6:36).

The swim will probably not be wetsuit legal. For me this is NBD since I don’t much like wearing it and it’s pretty unclear how much it actually helps me out. I’m planning to pack it just in case because the forecast for the next few days is pretty chilly overnight, but I’m not planning for it.  My swim training hasn’t been anything special so I’m not expecting anything amazing, but I think somewhere between 29-33 mins is reasonable. If I’m slower than 35, I’ll probably be irritated. I guess it depends on how well I manage the start with a big group (since this is my first “big” triathlon). This should be fine, though.

The bike is where I’m hoping to really show my training. I’ve been training hard on the bike – lots of intervals, lots of sprints, lots and lots of climing and lots of miles. The course will be really, really (really, really) flat.  The official course map shows around 500 ft and I know it’s not usually very accurate so I searched the internet, but still couldn’t find anything more than 700 ft. Considering we hit 900 ft on a 15 mile ride last night….I would consider this “pancake-flat”.  I read some race reports that said there were hills, but I don’t believe it. There are no hills in central Indiana ;).

Do you even hill train, bro?

Do you even hill train, bro?

Anyways, based on the ride I did at Safe Harbor a little over a month ago, I know I can hold 17+ mph for the distance. I think I can probably go even faster than that on this flat course. I think a goal of 3 hours (18.7 mph) is doable for me. I’m going to shoot for it because I’m pretty sure the run is going to be really rough matter what – so I should at least have good bike split.

Then the run. Oh boy.  I am not at all comfortable with my distance running right now. It’s been pretty pitiful, especially since I returned from France. I tried to do 10 miles the weekend I returned, but my hamstrings were so sore and tight from BodyPump the day before (BIG MISTAKE) that I could barely walk and just managed to get through 6.5 super slow miles.  I tried for 10 again last weekend and was utterly unmotivated. I dragged a friend with me and we managed to get through 8, but it was slow going.  I’ve got some pretty good speed on my weekday runs but no endurance at all. The only thing I have going for me is that it has been hella hot here in SC and it will be slightly less hella hot in Indiana. This probably won’t help all that much, but….it’s too late now to do anything about it. So I’m going to do my best and get across the finish line standing up.  If I can do it in 2:30, I’ll just be tickled. Frustrating, because I thought I would be better than this after training, but again, too late now.

So, hoping for the best! Just crossing my fingers for some reasonable weather (and no thunderstorms!!).

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At least I trained a little…

Well, now it’s been 2 weeks since I returned from a 2 week work trip to France where I basically failed at training for my soon to be here 70.3 race. Obviously since this was a business trip, I spent most of my time at work, but I tried to split my free time between eating/training/sight-seeing.  I’m pretty sure eating won out most of the time because the food was amazing.

It's cool to eat 3 desserts a day, right??

It’s cool to eat 3 desserts a day, right??

The good news is, I was able to fit in at least one session of each sport while I was there.  Running is easy because you can run anywhere, though I managed to get myself lost enough that a few of those run weren’t really productive. I did get 1 “long” run of 7 miles in, at least.  There was a tram line that ran through the city that run right past the hotel I stayed in so I followed the tram to the end and back which was pretty safe and kept me from getting super lost.

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I also polled my triathlon friends at work for a place to swim. There is a nice 50 m pool in the downtown area – not far from the hotel either and it wasn’t too expensive (less than 4 euros). The French are super serious about their hygiene though. Caps are absolutely 100% required in the pool and you had better take a full shower before you get in. No shoes on the pool deck either! The pool was kind of a mess of people swimming breastroke randomly everywhere, but I still managed to get in a short swim before a big thunderstorm blew in.

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The most fun part was the biking. I met up with an American ex-pat working there who happened to have an extra bike in the right frame size for me to ride. So I brought my pedals, shoes and helmet so I would have no excuse not to get on a bike. We went for a crazy fast ride out in the country and I also spent some time putzing around the city on the bike just to do something.

The highlight was getting the opportunity to ride up the Puy de Dome over the weekend.  This volcano/mountain used to be a part of the Tour de France route way back when, but it’s now generally closed to bicycle traffic.  So once a year the local cycle club hosts an event for people to come ride the course and it just happened to be the weekend I was there.  Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, so even though I suck at climbing I decided to give it a shot.

Before and After

Before and After

The ride started from a little village nearby called Orcines and we did a short warmup before heading to the climb. Let’s just say it was hard. I think the average grade is like 10%. The distance is not far – maybe only 3 miles, but 3 miles at 7-15% grade is pretty brutal.  I started out ok, but once we started hitting 12-13% I was pretty miserable. I took a breather around the halfway point, then kept going until I had about a half a mile left to go and could not pedal any more. The last bit is where the grade goes up to 15+% and so I got off that bike and pushed that sucker up to the top. Unfortunately, someone totally got it on video camera. There was a guy (probably from a local news station) who rode by on a motorcycle and asked me if it was too hard (in english, thankfully). YES IT WAS.

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Still, I made it to the top, and descending is always way more fun.  We had to wait until a set time to come back down so everyone would come down together, but there was food and wine (this is France, after all) at the top while we waited. It was freezing up there, but luckily I had been smart enough to bring a jacket.

Descending was incredible.  It was really neat to see ~300 cyclists coming down this mountain all at once.  We all gathered again at the bottom for awards. They gave out awards for the fastest climbers obviously, but I got a little gift for traveling the farthest for the event!

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After that, we rode back to the car to drop off the extra junk, then took off for a little more riding (on my poor jello legs, ow)to make it about 29 miles for the day. Really a lot of fun.

Of course, coming back, I had to face the reality of getting back in training gear and not eating dessert for every meal. Good to be home!

PicMonkey Collage4

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Safe Harbor Cycle Tour

I think I’ve had enough races for a while! Thankfully, this event wasn’t a race, just a bike ride and I needed a good long ride anyways and supported rides are kind of great. It was nice to get some new scenery too.

This ride benefits the Safe Harbor organization – a great non-profit that supports victims of domestic violence. It starts in the itty bitty town of Iva -not far from Anderson, SC and there is a 25, 42 and metric century ride to choose from. Since my last attempt at a 100k ended miserably at the top of a mountain in NC, I thought this would be a good opportunity to have another go at the distance, minus the mountains. I’m just going to say, this makes a big difference!

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It was super humid on Saturday, but not overly hot and it was cloudy, which was kind of nice. I rode with a group of friends (mostly old dudes – they are great riding buddies), but I did try to not draft off them for most of the ride!

This was actually a pretty flat ride. The “official” map had 3200 ft of elevation gain (my garmin had ~2900 ft), but none of the hills were steep and there was a lot of nice flat road to go fast.  The roads were mostly good, but there were a few with some really terrible surfaces that jostled the crap out of me.  Overall, this is a great route, though! Nice country roads with very few stop signs or cars. There were four rest stops with bananas, fig newtons (why always with the fig newtons??), water, gatorade and all that, plus ACTUAL bathrooms. That was wonderful.  One of the stops was at the super popular Grits and Groceries restaurant, which made me want to stop and eat bacon, but I didn’t.

I think we spent about 30 mins at the rest stops all total, which isn’t too bad since we had to make sure everyone in our group could hit the restroom if they wanted. We kept a great pace on the road, though!  We averaged 17.7 mph for the ride – finished right around 3.5 hours! I’m pretty pleased with this since last September it look me this long to ride 56 miles on a race day. Definitely a confidence booster for my upcoming 70.3!

Elizabeth, myself, and our old dudes

Elizabeth, myself, and our old dudes post-ride

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Low Country Splash

Well, this is only a week late – not too bad, I suppose!

Last weekend (Memorial Day weekend), I headed down to Charleston with some swim teammates for a swim event called the Low Country Splash. This is a really neat event since it gives you the opportunity to actually swim under the Cooper River Bridge that everyone just loves to run over. So, there are 2 events – a 5 mile swim and a 2.4 mile swim down the Wando River, under the bridge and right up to the USS Yorktown. The event is scheduled on a morning with the tide going out, so you have both the river current and the tide current dragging you (I’m not even kidding) down to the finish. Not knowing this, I had originally signed up for the 2.4 mile swim, but after someone explained to me exactly how little time 5 miles would take, I switched. So very glad that I did!

I didn’t take hardly any pictures at all, which is a shame since it was a beautiful day! But I had forgotten to pack my phone charger, so I left it in the car. Anyways, Saturday morning we headed over to Patriot’s Point to park (a convenient 2 min drive from our hotel!) to pick up our packets and grab the shuttle to the race start. It looked like they had plenty of buses headed to both race starts, so no problem there. The 5 mile start was up at the Daniel Island Pier, where they had food, sunscreen, and lots and lots of Vaseline waiting for us. The water was salt (or, at least, brackish), so it is highly advised to use the Vaseline…everywhere.

We weren’t allowed to warm up, because the current was so strong that once you jumped in there was no going back! This wasn’t a big problem though since the water was a really nice ~78. They started us in waves of 10 – jump off the dock and off we went! I think the 2.4 mile is a mass start, just FYI. The conditions that day were perfect. Strong current with the wind at our backs and low chop.

Not me, but a nice picture!

Not me, but a nice picture!

The course runs along the short of Daniel Island for about 1.5 miles (ish), then you make a left turn and swim for the far shore (towards Mt. Pleasant) to cross the channel. There is a time limit to reach the far side, and it sounds really unreasonable at first, but you would have to be really trying to not make it to get pulled.  They also made it clear that once you cross the channel, you had to make it to the far side of a green buoy where there would be a boat with volunteers. We had to give our number to the volunteer so they could ensure everyone made it across safely. Sounds easy….but unless you were right on course, the current dragged you away too quickly. I didn’t realize how fast it was until I realized that I wasn’t going to make the buoy and tried to swim back upstream. Not possible! I managed to get close enough to grab onto a rope hanging off the buoy so I could talk to the volunteer and it was all I could do to hang on! It was wild.

Once we hit the far side, it was easy swimming. The buoys came and went ridiculously fast. They look so far away and when you’re used to lake swim you kind of know how long it takes, so it was weird to see them come up so quickly! I stopped to do breaststroke a few times so I could check out the scenery. Really, really neat.

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Finally, we hit the bridge. The race director warned us at the start not to take off at the bridge even though the finish was in sight because there was still another 0.9 miles-ish to go. This was silly advice since it was probably less than 15 mins left but I suppose this is the fastest this swim has ever been, so how could they know? Once I got to the bridge I flipped over onto my back just to get a good look.

Still not mine, but a sweet pic

Still not mine, but a sweet pic

I could see all the the pedestrians on top waving – it was so cool! Here’s another for good measure:

Check out all them crazy swimmers

Check out all them crazy swimmers

Past the bridge, we headed straight for the Yorktown. I felt like one minute it was off in the distance and the next, it was in my face! Some volunteers pointed me towards the finish chute, which was down the pier not far from the ship. I totally missed it, so whoops. I was definitely not the only one and the timing folks did a great job catching those of us who missed the timing mat. I managed to grab the noodles that made up the chute towards the end of the pier, so no one had to come fetch me from the bay (thankfully)!

Once out, I got my medal, found my teammates (we all finished within a few minutes of each other) and got rinsed off. Nothing like saltwater stickiness, ick. Final time? 1:14:27. For 5 miles, yes. No, I don’t actually swim that fast, but the current was incredible. I think the winner was just over an hour. Crazy.

Yay, we made it!

Yay, we made it!

A random note – apparently you have to have clothes on in order to go into the the park at Patriot’s Point and they really enforce this! So we all made sure to have clothes in our drop bags to put on. Anyways, after we all got dressed, we went over to the post-race party. Lots of great food and beer! Plus, we brought our own mimosa ingredients =)

This is a really fun event and I will definitely do it again! It sold out this year (both distances), which is awesome since it’s for a good cause, but if you want to participate, make sure to sign up early!

P.S. – One reason to love Greenville – we came back from Charleston on Sunday, then Monday I took off work to go hiking in the mountains with my cousin. Beach and mountains in one weekend? Sweeeet. =)

Because, wow...

Because, wow…

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Over the Mountain Tri

Wow, this was a tough race! I signed up for this race a while back when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to do any races in June. I wanted to get in an Oly distance race before my 70.3 in July, but I’m spending 2 weeks in the middle of June in France (yay!!). I’m very excited, but it means that 3 weekends of June are out for races, including the weekend of the Greenwood Tri, which is the only other Olympic I could do before July. So, Over the Mountain Tri it was.

This is not a PR race, for sure. It is very hilly, but scenic! I really enjoyed myself, but it was definitely challenging.

Also, just a logistics note: this is a point-to-point race. I had to leave a little before 5 am from Greenville so I could drop my bike at swim finish, set up T2 in downtown Kings Mountain, then take a bus to swim start (other side of the lake from the swim finish). They did a great job moving all our gear from the other locations to the finish line, though.

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It was also much colder than normal on Saturday. It has been pretty “summery” the last few weeks, but a cold front came through late last week, so it was 41 degrees on race morning. Brr…

SWIM (1500 m):

The lake was super foggy before we started the swim. Luckily, the sun came up a little bit before the race start to burn it off, but it was still cold. The lake temperature had also dropped down from 74 to 70 degrees so I was glad I brought my wetsuit! I hadn’t planned to wear it, but the cold air temps made me decide to wear it. The swim course is an upside down “L” to the other side of the lake.

The race was pretty small, so even though the women’s wave was behind the old dudes, it wasn’t too bad dodging them.  I felt pretty strong the whole time and really didn’t have any problems. The timing mat for the swim was halfway between the lake exit and the transition area (kind of weird), but I got out of the water somewhere around 23:30.

Time: 24:34 (2/39 Overall, 1/5 AG)

BIKE (45K):

This is one tough bike.

Fullscreen capture 5172014 52056 PM

It is, in fact, net uphill, with 2 Cat 5 climbs. It was a really enjoyable though. The ride up to King’s Mountain Park was really nice, and the ride through the park was beautiful. Then there were a few more big hills before reaching Kings Mountain downtown.

I had brought a jacket since it was so chilly outside, but I was pretty warm getting out of the water, so I decided to skip it. It turned out to be fine without a jacket with all the climbing, but my toes were numb the whole way. Definitely needed warmer socks! It’s really hard to put running shoes on when you can’t feel your toes.

Also, the ride was a little longer than the standard distance at 45k – I didn’t realize this until writing this post, but it makes sense considering the fastest bike times for this race were slower than my bike split at Lake Logan.

Time: 1:40:50 (18/39 Overall, 3/5 AG)

RUN (10k):

Oh, this run. It actually turned out better than I thought, so that’s good. The course is out and back, and very hilly. I started out the first 2 miles ok, but then I started getting tired. I kept going as best I could, but my legs really hurt. I was VERY glad for the cooler weather though – the course was not shaded at all. The volunteers on the course were great though; they must have recruited from the local high school because most of them were super-over-enthusiastic teenagers. They were sweet, though, and it was nice to have plenty of encouragement since I was having a rough run. I liked the out and back format as well. Most of the other women coming back on the course were really encouraging  - especially when I was struggling on the hills. That was really nice. I even ran into a friend that I didn’t know was racing!

Time: 1:06:33 – ouch (34/39 Overall, 4/5 AG)

Total Time: 3:17:24 (21/39 Overall, 3/5 AG)

Overall, not a bad race for me.  Run was not so great, but not really any worse than Lake Logan last year, and I definitely thought this course was more difficult. I was surprised I placed in my age group after that; I actually didn’t stick around for awards since I was meeting someone for lunch in Charlotte. Luckily a friend picked it up for me!

So, Over the Mountain is a great race! Just be prepared for a challenge =)

ETA: Oh look, a peekture:

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Clemson Sprint Triathlon

Ok, the Clemson Tri was last weekend. This is a super popular race in the area, and while I wasn’t really dying to put yet another race in May  (5 weekends in a row!!), everyone was going to be there, so I joined. This is also a race that my tri club supports, so we all try to go.

I went down with some friends the night before to have a “ladies night” and stay at a lakehouse on Hartwell. This was pretty nice since it’s a pretty good haul down to Clemson from Greenville. My goal for this race was to just have fun since I kind of overbooked myself on races! Don’t need to totally kill myself….

Swim (750-ish):

Another buoy mishap! The swim course was supposed to be 750 m in Lake Hartwell, with 2 turn buoys and 4 sight buoys. Apparently, the second turn buoy came loose from whatever it was anchored to and started floating away!

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It’s unclear at what point it came loose, but I did notice that the sight buoy was way off line with the turn buoy when I went around it – and they should have been in line. Apparently it got much worse for the last 2 waves and the kayakers just had to have people turn around at the first buoy and head back (rather than chase down the rouge buoy). Anyways, it was not much further for me. I just didn’t feel great, again, probably because I’ve been slacking off pretty hard on my swim workouts. Time to get it together!!

The swim includes a long-ish run up to transition, but I glanced at my watch when I got out and saw 13:xx, so not great. I didn’t wear a wetsuit because the water temp was 74 and I really just didn’t want to deal with the dumb thing.

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Time: 14:40 (18/100 Overall, 3/13 AG)

T1: Not bad since I skipped the wetsuit. 1:32

BIKE (11 miles):

The bike course is just rolling. Nothing too difficult, but hard to get too comfortable in aero. I spent most of the bike ride passing back and forth with a girl in my age group – we actually finished right at the same time. It was pretty fun to race her. I obviously have some weight on her because I was killing her on the downhills (PHYSICS FTW). Plus, I only had one car try to kill me (dangerous passing, people, STOP), so that wasn’t too bad.

Time: 37:22 (39/100 Overall, 3/13 AG)

RUN (5K):

This is a pretty tough run. It starts out with a nice long downhill. Guess what? You get to run back up at the end. Yay. There is also a really steep hill leading up to the Clemson Rowing parking lot (I walked). Even with the little bit of walking, I had a pretty good run and just managed to hold off the girl who came in 3rd in my age group.

Time: 28:55 (66/100 Overall, 9/13 AG)

Overall Time: 1:23:46 (34/100 Overall, 2/13 AG)

I got 2nd place by 2 whole seconds. I knew there was a girl coming up behind me right at the finish, so I picked it up to make sure she didn’t beat me, thought I didn’t know if she was in my age group or not. Good thing I did!

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The girl in 1st was the one I raced bikes with, but I couldn’t even touch her on the run.

Anyways, I had a good time and a good race last weekend! Definitely a race worth doing!

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Lake Murray and other things

Somehow, I managed to sign myself up for 3 races this weekend. I guess I didn’t really think that through. I ended up skipping one of them (the Swamp Rabbit 5k – it was only $6, so no huge loss there). I allowed myself to get talked into participating in both the Tour de Cashiers in North Carolina and the Lake Murray Tri in Columbia. WHEW.

So, first up, the Tour de Cashiers. This is a bike ride starting in Cashiers, NC (duh) with a 100 mile, 100k, and 25-ish mile ride option.  We signed up for the 100k. SPOILER: I DNF’ed.  I knew this even would be difficult, but I still thought I could get through it – but I also just didn’t train for it. I haven’t done any major climbing since…last November? It’s been a while.

So, we drove up the night before to stay with a friend’s parents so we wouldn’t have to drive up that morning (it’s definitely in what I could call the “boonies” – beautiful, but way out there).  The event started at 9 and it was…kind of cold.  It was 45 degrees at that point and I was maybe not prepared for that temperature. The descents were very chilly.

Here’s the course elevation:

Much hills

Much hills

The arrow is where I decided to call it quits. That Cat 2 climb was intense, and before we even got to that mountain we had all that other junk first. The first 13 miles or so were good – some climbing, but nothing too terrible. The descent was AMAZING. So much fun. Then we had a few miles of some nice flat road in the valley before we started the big one – 7 miles of pain. I was pushing for 4 mph for a good portion of it. At one point, I was so ready to give up, I got off my bike and sat on the side of the road for a minute or two. I talked myself into getting back on and powered up the rest of the way. My legs were shaking and I  was feeling a little nauseous.  There was an aid station at the top – I stopped and got some drinks and snacks while I decided whether to keep going or not.  I knew there was still another big climb out there (shorter, but steeper) and I just didn’t think I could do it. Rather than get stuck on the side of the road, I decided to stop there and ride the SAG wagon back to the start. I wasn’t the only one =) My friend said she was ok and I told her I would meet her back at the car. And she finished! Those last 20 miles (after everything else) looked killer and she said she definitely had some words for those last few climbs.

Still, this was an incredible event, and I would love to go back (after some training, of course) and try again to finish. I ended up completing around 37 miles with 4000 ft of elevation, which is still not bad. The views were incredible.

GOING DOWN

GOING DOWN

Onto the race!

I knew my climbing legs would be tired from Saturday, but I was still ready for a triathlon!

Since I failed to kick off the triathlon season back in March, I was definitely ready to race. Very excited to be out in open water, and to race on my new bike! We drove down Sunday morning for the race – not a bad drive from Greenville. Plenty of parking near the transition area, so it was a pretty hassle-free morning!

SWIM (“750-ish):

Apparently, the story is that someone stole the buoy the night before the race, so they were trying to replace it Sunday morning with a very scientific method (“A little further! No, a little more!!”). As a result, they told us that the swim was not exact, but based on the times, I think it was probably long. I was expecting around 10-11 minutes for a 750, and it took me over 16 minutes. Considering I can do 1500 in 20 mins, this seems a little off, even if I was having a rough time. My swim just felt off. I also decided to try and take off my wetsuit in the water rather than try to do it in transition. It was easier, but probably added a minute or so to my swim split.

ALSO. When I was getting into the lake to start (it was an in-water start), there was a damn snake swimming toward me. I screamed and ran away.

Time: 16:26 (8/53 Overall, 1/2 AG)
ETA: Some friends pulled their Garmin data for the swim and they all agreed that the swim was actually somewhere in the whereabouts of 1000m. So there’s that. Got a little more than we paid for ;)

T1: WTF was I doing? I had my wetsuit off, and I was wearing my new tri-suit, so I have no idea what I was doing for a minute and a half in transition.

BIKE (16 miles):

The bike course was a good one! Some rolling hills but nothing too challenging, which was good since I was feeling the ride from the day before. I loved racing on my tri bike! It feels so much easier to race on, plus it’s so much easier to shift into the big ring. I was actually able to pass people on the bike leg (unheard of!) and really felt like I was holding my own. The only thing I didn’t like about the course were the two dogs that were chasing us less than a mile away from transition. I let a volunteer know when I got back that they were out there, so hopefully someone chased them off before an accident happened.

I was super pleased with my bike split – averaged 19.2 mph!

Time: 50:51 (27/53 Overall, 1/2 AG)

T2: Same slowpoking as always.

RUN (3.1 miles):

Considering how unimpressive my running has been lately, I had a pretty good run. I only took 2 short walks through the water stops. The course was rolling hills – nothing too difficult, but it was getting warm! I tried to keep a steady pace and pick it up for the last mile. I was hoping to be under 30, and managed to just beat that.

Time: 29:32 (39/53 Overall, 2/2 AG)

Final time: 1:39:35 (23/54 Overall, 1/2 AG)

I’m pretty pleased with this race! First race of the season, and a nice course. I finished first in my age group, but there were only 2 of us, haha.

So, after a whirlwind weekend, I’m ready for bed.

Anyone do anything interesting this weekend? Who wants to join in for Cashiers next year?? =)

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