My alarm went off at 3:30, and once I woke up enough to remember why my alarm had gone off at such an insane hour, I bounded out of bed to get ready. By 4:15, I had drunk a cup of coffee, eaten a Clif bar, gotten dressed, and checked out of my hotel. With no traffic on the interstate, I made good time getting back to Chateau Elan. There, I joined everyone else in setting up my T2 area. For those non-triathletes who are reading, T2 is the bike-run transition. Because this was a point-to-point triathlon that did not end where it started, there were separate transition areas for the swim-bike transition and the bike-run transition. After getting my shoes and other supplies laid out on my towel, I boarded the school bus that would take me to the swim start, 16 miles away at Lake Lanier.
Our school bus had some sort of crazy alarm system that went off as we were all boarding. The poor bus driver did everything she could think of to get it to stop, but nothing worked. We drove out of the Chateau waking up everyone we passed along the way. About 5 miles into the trip, the alarm stopped just as suddenly as it had started.
When we got to the lake, we got body marked, with our numbers on our arms and our age on our calf. The race director was my body marker, and he nicely added my race motto to the back of my hand:
No, that doesn’t mean, “Driving While Intoxicated.” It stands for “Deal With It,” as in don’t obsess over little details like the fact that you think you’re drowning.
While I was waiting for the race to start, I took a good look at the swim course before I had to take my glasses off and swim blindly through the lake. Luckily, I could easily see the big red buoys we had to swim around even without my glasses.
While we were waiting for the race to start, we got the see the sun rise over the lake. Beautiful!
This flock of geese decided to see what was going on in their lake.
It’s no secret that this 800-meter swim was the part that worried me the most about this race (if you haven’t already, you can read I’m a Big Chicken
). It wasn’t the distance that worried me, it was the fact that it was in a lake where you can’t touch the bottom and you can’t stop and rest at the sides.
The swim course had a deep water start, meaning we had to tread water for a few minutes waiting for our wave to start. I was in wave three, leaving after the young men in wave one and the older men in wave two. As soon as we started, I started feeling really panicky, but instead of freaking out, I dealt with it! I decided to just take 10 strokes and then do some breast stroke. I did that a couple of times easily, so I tried 12 strokes. I spent the entire swim course trying to add onto the number of strokes I could comfortably take, and by the time I got to 40 it was over!
When I exited the water, the race director gave me a big high five and congratulated me. Evidently, I had looked quite worried before the start of the race… I finished in about 17:36 which is most definitely not fast, but the main point is that I finished and I even enjoyed it!
The timing mat for the end of the swim was almost immediately after we got out of the water. Then, we had to run up a dirt trail, across a street, up some wooden stairs, and across a grassy area. Aside from this running, I have no idea what I did to take so much time in T1. Somehow, I managed to spend almost 3 minutes doing God knows what…
I spent the entire 16.85-mile bike course with a big grin on my face (seeing as how I was so happy I didn’t drown in the swim) and consequently ate quite a large number of bugs. The course was absolutely beautiful, leading us on country roads with a huge variety of scenery (lots of farms and trees).
At the pre-race meeting, I learned that it was a rolling course with one significant climb. WRONG!!!!! There were three 9% grade climbs and a good number of not-as-steep climbs. To balance out all of the uphill sections, there was an extended downhill portion where my bike saw speeds it has never seen before. I looked down at my computer once and saw 35.8 mph (of course, on one of the uphills, I looked down and saw 7.2 mph…).
The course took us from Lake Lanier back to Chateau Elan and was so beautiful, I didn’t want it to end. But 1 hour and 7 minutes after I started, I had completed the 16.85 miles.
T2 went well. I was actually focused on what I was doing and got out of there in 1:45, despite not being able to find the exit for the run.
The run course took us through some upscale neighborhoods that surround the Chateau and then through the grounds of the Chateau. Like the bike course, it was hilly! There were two aid stations, at mile 1 and mile 3. At mile 3, we got grape juice! I imagined I was enjoying a nice glass of wine.
The volunteers at mile 3 said there was only 1 mile to go, so I picked up the pace quite a bit. There was, however, 1.5 miles to go, and the race had an uphill finish. I finished the run in 46:23. By the time I finished, I was sweaty and exhausted but incredibly happy with the race!
Nice finisher’s medal!
I’m definitely going back next year, but I’ll book my room immediately at the Chateau so I can try out some of their wine!