This weekend, I did my first aquabike race – a highly underappreciated multi-sport event where you swim, bike, and then you’re done! What an excellent idea, since running is hard.
I thought it would be a nice change of pace, so I signed up for the aquabike race at the Tugaloo Triathlon which was only about an hour away from Greenville.
Unfortunately, the morning was a bit of a hot mess. I foolishly decided to pack Saturday morning before I left which meant I was trying to cram everything in a bag at 5 am – this obviously resulted in missing items. Thankfully my bike and helmet made it, but I didn’t bring my sunglasses or socks, which are generally on the “must-have” list. The sunglasses turned out not to be a big loss since it ended up being overcast, but socks…oh boy. I never ride or run without socks so it was definitely good that I wasn’t running because that might have been painful. I figured I could suffer through an hour and a half bike ride with blisters. And, oh, did I ever get blisters! Ouch =(
The fun continued when I got to the park where the race start was and I needed to pay a $5 fee to get in! I know this is bad, but I almost never carry cash, and this was definitely one of those times. I had exactly $0. Normally, the race details will mention if cash is needed for entry and I’ll make a special trip over to the bank to get some $$$, but neither the race website nor the final details email mentioned anything about needed to pay a park entry fee. So I was definitely a little annoyed and frustrated when I got to the gate and the lady there wanted 5 bucks. I did convince her to let me in, and promised I would stop by the main office on the way out to pay with a credit card. Crisis averted?
The second unmentioned obstacle was the nearly 1 mile walk from the parking area to the transition area. Yea. I feel like this would be worth a mention in the final details or at least somewhere because it was a good long haul. I checked it with my bike Garmin on the way back and had 0.8 miles. Good thing I was there super early, because when I finally got down to packet pick-up I had to stand in line for 15 minutes. They only had one poor volunteer there working and she was doing the best she could!
FINALLY, made it to transition to get everything set up – which is the point where I realized I had no socks. Way too late at that point!
SWIM (1500 m):
The swim was a time trial start. I thought that was a little odd for a lake swim, but it worked out in my favor since I was able to start pretty far towards the front. No wetsuits, which I already had assumed since we swam in Hartwell earlier last week. Even with the slightly cooler weather, the lake is still pretty toasty.
For some reason, this did go at all how I expected. I wanted to swim fast so I even skipped Friday swim practice but this swim was rough. I kept swimming off course, where I normally swim pretty straight and I swallowed a lot of water. Oh well! Not every one’s a good one!
The bike course was slightly long and very, very hilly. But since I wasn’t going to have to run afterwards I had no excuse not to bike hard so I did my best! The hills in this area are very similar to what there will be in Anderson next month so it was good practice as well. I struggled a bit at first, but I started feeling pretty good about halfway through and averaged a solid 18.5 mph through the last 10 miles. The last couple miles were pretty brutal but there was no to reason to let up so I tried not to give in and go hard up the last few hills to the finish.
Overall the bike course was pretty nice, but a a little smelly. There were quite a few farms along the route and they were extra stinky for some reason.
Time: 1:30:09 (avg 17.4 mph)
Overall Time: 1:59:03 (1/1 AG, 3/7 Overall)
Not a big group of aquabikers. The race itself was pretty enjoyable, but I was not very happy with the general race organization, so I don’t think I will go back.
After the race, I hung around for a while, got some food (good spread this time!), put some clothes on, etc. The announcer kept asking that we not remove anything from transition until ALL the bikes were off the course. Remembering that this was a time trial start…when I finished my race, there were people just getting started on the bike leg (on mountain bikes). It was going to take them 2 hours to get back! While I totally agree that we should absolutely stay out of the way of people on the race course, by them time I had waited around for an hour, the stream of cyclists was pretty…sparse. There was plenty of room to leave without disturbing anyone’s race. But the announcer kept insisting that I was not allowed to take my stuff and leave. After another 15 minutes, I got kind of angry, so I lifted my bike over the transition fence and snuck out the back. A girl can only take so much! I’ve never been to a race where they were so…unaccommodating. I know it’s nitpicky stuff, but races are not cheap and if I’m going to pay that much for a race, I would rather do a Setup race since their race organization is definitely better.
They did at least have a good swag bag. It was full of snack bar samples, sunscreen, water bottle, and a very nice long-sleeve shirt.