Wow! What a weekend in New Hampshire! Myself, and four other friends/teammates headed to the beautiful state of N.H., where their mantra is "Live free or die" (or at least according to their license plates), to kick off our very first triathlons of the season. Linda and I were doing the International distance race (1.5km swim, 44km bike, 10km run), while Suzanne, Eric, and Ming were all doing the 70.3.
When we arrived the first day (Thursday), the weather was absolutely beautiful so we took full advantage of it and all went for a short swim to literally test out the waters. The water was a bit choppy, and wetsuits were appreciated, but the view of the mountains and the lake was absolutely breathtaking from the beach. After the swim, it was off to our B&B, and it truly was one of N.H.'s best kept secrets. Suzanne and I roomed in the Mountain View room, and the view that we had from our windows was spectacular.
Friday was another gorgeous day in N.H., and we all went for a little spin on our appropriate bike courses. That evening we heard that they were calling for rain in the morning, but none of us thought too much of it.
Saturday Race Morning:
I awoke to the sound of thunder and pouring rain at 4:30am. It was a full out storm with thunder, lightning, and rain, rain, and more rain. Although Linda and I did are best to stay positive as we drove over to the race course, it was hard not to be concerned about the slick roads and low visibility as we both were squinting through the windshield of the car to see 10 feet in front of us. We got to the race site parking lot, only to find people walking back to their cars with their bikes in tow. We started preparing our bikes, etc to take down to transition only to hear that the start had been delayed by at least one hour, and that the swim was canceled! I was so disappointed because I was looking forward to the swim since Thursday, and no swimmer EVER wants to hear that they have to do a duathlon. Linda and I stayed huddled in the car with the heat on full blast for the next 1.5 hours, while we tried to keep our bikes protected from the rain by throwing a yoga mat over them! We kept trying to get updates about the race, and what finally was decided upon was absolutely no go for the swim, and essentially a brick race would take place with a modified bike course and same run course. We would do a time trial style bike start with 3s in between each competitor, and the bike course was cut down to about 27km instead of 44 since a portion of the course had been washed out by the storm. Competitors started the race just according to where their bike was racked, and we were ushered out to the mount line rack by rack.
I started my race around 9:15 am, while the first of the competitors started around 9am. Despite many people bailing from the race due to the weather conditions and the very awkward event that was more like a brick than a triathlon, 100s of people braved the storm and stuck it out just to get the chance to race. That was truly amazing! It took me an extra few seconds to mount my bike and get clipped in, just because it was such a different start to the race than I had ever experienced before, but then I was off to the races. I felt good on the bike, and just tried my best to pick people off one at a time. I got into a good rhythm (even on the climbs), and my proudest moment might have been executing my very first dismount off of the bike without shoes and just swinging my leg over the bike. I even managed to look graceful until I dropped my bike while racking once I actually got into the transition area. Oh well, undeterred, I headed onto the run course! Again, my goal was to run with rhythm and to keep my breathing under control. I've struggled a lot with hamstring tears and recurrent strains in the past 4 months, so I first needed to prove to myself that I could run 10km off the bike without pain. I actually felt really good, and no nagging pain or sharp pain prevented me from finishing this time! (unlike Sporting Life a month ago!) Perhaps I could have been more aggressive on the run, but I finished feeling good, and it was good enough for 4th woman overall. I ended up 2nd in my age group to the pro, Caitlin Snow, winner of Ironman Lake Placid 2009, so I was thrilled to stand next to her on the podium and happily accepted my N.H. maple syrup. Hey, isn't that what we Canadians are known for?! Anyway, I was very happy with my bike split, which worked out to be 36.48km/hr and look forward to shaving time off of my run this season. It was an awesome start to the season, and for those of you who haven't done this race before, it may well be worth it just for the post race feast that you get! New England Clam Chowder, Chili, and ice-cream are just a few of the goodies that you get. Mooseman is definitely on my radar for next year. For now, I have my eye on doing the Guelph Lake Olympic Club Championships and Beijing Worlds qualifier for 2011 in two weeks. Time to get training!