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It’s a good thing I don’t believe in omens, because when I left for my race Saturday morning at 5:30 am, the skies definitely looked portentous.

But maybe things would be better to the west, where I was heading.

Hmm, not so much.  There was actually some pretty impressive lightning and thunder in that direction, and I debated whether it was worth the risk of driving two hours only to find out that the race was canceled.

I decided to just go ahead, and I’m glad I did because although I ended up driving right through the lightning and pouring rain, by the time I got to the race location it was beautiful, clear and sunny (and nice and cool due to the storm passing through).

The race was in Ellensburg, Washington, and after some GPS mishaps (someday I will learn to actually map out directions in advance) I made it there around 7:30 am.  Which didn’t leave me as much time as I would have liked before the 8:00 start, but was just enough time to take care of the essentials (packet pick-up, port-a-potty, transition area setup).

Transition area

The whole race course was really well-planned and well-situated.  The swim was in a smallish pond in the park, and the water was the perfect temperature to go wetsuit-less (around 68-70 I think).

The bike course was nice and scenic going through farmland and country roads, with no major climbs.  It did have a long section of that demoralizing kind of slight uphill that seems like it’s flat but you’re just really slow for some reason, but it was made up for by a corresponding section of gradual downhill that makes you feel like you are a speed demon.

The run course may have been my favorite, partly because it was shorter than a normal sprint tri (2.7 miles), and also because it was mostly on trails and in the shade.  I wish I lived nearer to Ellensburg so I could come do open water swims and runs at this park!

The finish line

I was pretty pleased when I saw my finish time (around 1:30) on the clock, and even more pleased when I realized I could subtract some time off that since I was in the second wave that started about 5 minutes after the first.

Things I would do differently do next time:

  • Not leave my race belt with race number in the car.  Luckily they had chip timing so it didn’t seem to be too big of a deal, but I think technically I could have been DQ’ed for not having my race number on.
  • Not put my bike on an empty rack that wasn’t mine.  Since I got there late, my assigned rack was pretty full and there were completely empty ones to the side.  I rationalized it by telling myself that my rack-mates wouldn’t have wanted me moving their bikes and gear to make room and squeeze on there.  But really, if you saw someone with their bike like this (and the bike number making it clear that it’s on the wrong rack):
    Me hogging the bike rack.

    Taken after the race, but I had the rack all to myself during the race.

    …you would think they were a selfish jerk.  Or at least I would.  I know it’s not really a big deal, but I hate breaking or bending rules, and this was not worth the guilt it caused me.  I do wish the race organizers had reassigned the racks once it was clear that there were going to be several empty.

  • Not break the buckle off of my helmet in T2.  Apparently I was in a really big hurry, and ripped the helmet off?  I didn’t notice this until after the race.  Too bad I spent so much time looking for my race belt and ended up with a slow transition time anyway!

Things that I’m glad that I did or that went well:

  • Going wetsuit-less for the swim.  It was so nice not having to deal with it in transition.
  • I pushed myself enough that it was definitely hard but I didn’t blow up.
  • My run pace was around 8:40 mpm, which for me lately is awesome for 2.7 miles, let alone following a swim and a bike.

Overall this was a great race for me, and it’s made me much more excited about doing more triathlons this summer.  I haven’t been racing much lately, thinking that it’s not worth all the effort and the money, but I’m really glad I did this one.

Do you enjoy racing, or would you rather just do your own thing and save the entry fee? It’s weird because I’m not especially competitive, but for some reason I just love races and end up having so much fun.

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