It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I promise that I have been training, but I’ve also been very busy with some of my other activities too. Although I haven’t been racing very much, I had the River Cities Triathlon on my schedule for awhile. My friend, Susan, has been doing this race for 10 years and she had been trying to convince me to to do this race for awhile and this year I committed to doing it. The race is very popular with a rich history (Lance Armstrong set the course record back in 1988), so when registration opened on April 1st, I needed to be on the ball. The race sold out in less than a week, but I got in.
Fast forward to the week before the race. Phil was intending to participate in this race (it was even going to be his first triathlon), but unfortunately he injured his shoulder while sailing (don’t worry, he’s fine now) and lost too much time with his training to participate in the triathlon, so my plans changed a bit. I contacted my friend Susan and ended up tagging along with her for the trip.
Susan and I left around 12:30pm on Saturday for the 3 – 3 1/2 hour drive down to Shreveport. Our first stop was at Sportspectrum to pick up our packets and boy it was a big one! From what Susan had told me, I knew that they usually gave you a lot of stuff, but this was crazy! Here is a list of all the stuff I got: a women’s fit tech tee, a women’s fit fleece, hat, a pair of Feetures socks, backpack, tote, some Clif Shots and a Myoplex protein drink.
Yes, this race cost a bit more than a normal triathlon at $100, but that is still an amazing amount of stuff for that price and they are all of good quality. The Sportspectrum store was pretty amazing too! They had everything from running shoes, swimming gear, soccer gear, triathlon stuff, nutritional products and clothing like Patagonia, Lolë, Prana, and so much more. They also had a big tent sale going on outside that Susan was able to score a cool pair of new running shoes.
The next stop was the hotel where we quickly checked in, took our bikes up to the room and then got back in the car for a short trip over to Olive Garden where we had an All in Multisport team dinner. This was loads of fun and a LOT of food! I so enjoy being a member of this team because we have so many amazing people and athletes.
After dinner, Susan and I headed back to the hotel and I began getting my stuff set up for the next morning and I realized that I had forgotten my race belt at home! I thought about it for a few minutes to see if there was any way that I could figure something out and then I decided to go to Target (just a mile or so down the road) and see what I could find to make a race belt. I was in luck! I found a pack of black head bands for $4, so I snatched them up and headed back to the hotel. I used the scissors I keep in my transition bag to cut two of them and then tied them together and used the two safety pins that came in my race packet to secure my race number to the belt. Presto! Race belt. Now you know what to do if this happens to you.
The next morning we woke up around 5:15am, got dress and then headed down to get some breakfast from the hotel lobby (they were nice enough to set breakfast up early for us). Susan and I loaded up our bikes and drove up to Cypress Black Bayou Recreation area, the race site. We got our bikes unloaded and found our spots in transition. I lucked out and got a prime spot in the first bike rack next to the swim exit. After getting my transition area set up, it was time to relax before my wave started.
My wave was about the third wave to start. It had been awhile since I had started in a wave and it was a little overwhelming. It also didn’t help, that for the first time in a race I was trying to bilaterally breath. I had been practicing this a lot during my swim workouts and I felt pretty comfortable with it, but as soon as I was being hit, bumped and nudged by the other women in my wave I didn’t feel so comfortable. So, I reverted back to my old faithful, breathing every two strokes on my right side. I started to feel more comfortable, but I could tell my heart rate was probably going to be a little high after the swim. I came out of the water in 17:29. It was a little slower than I was hoping to do the 800 meter swim, but after talking to some of my AIM friends, they believe the course may have been a little long. Combined with the little bit of panic I experienced, no wonder this wasn’t the greatest time.
It was very easy to find my bike in transition and I was in and out in 1:59. It wasn’t bad, but I wish it was faster.
After the swim, I confirmed that my heart rate was higher than I would have liked it. This didn’t bode well, but I did my best to calm my heart while still holding strong pace on the bike. The bike course was a rolling loop with some nice, newly paved sections. I never really got my heart rate under the amount of control I was hoping for, but I did get it down some. I finished the 18.2 mile bike course in 55:58, which was a 19.5 mph pace. I’m pleased with how this went, of course I always wish I could have gone faster, but I think this was pretty good.
My second transition was even worse than my first! It took me a whole 2:20 to get through transition. I know part of this is that I take time to put on socks with my running shoes, but considering this wasn’t an “A” race for me, I didn’t feel it was worth it to get 3″ blisters on both my feet (which is what happens when I don’t wear socks with my shoes).
Being that this was Shreveport and August, it was hot and humid…not the best running weather. Fortunately, the 3 mile run course weaves in and out of the trees of the Cypress Black Bayou Park and was pretty flat. There were plenty of water stations that also had ice cold, wet towels, which helped tremendously to cool me down. My heart rate was still higher than it needed to be and I struggled through the twisty, curvy run course. I finished the run in 29:02 for a 9:22 minute mile pace. Really, I’m surprised at my pace because I thought for sure it was slower. I did hope for it to be faster (around a 9 minute mile), but with my heart rate too high and the heat and humidity, I’ll take it.
I didn’t have a lot of expectations for this race, I was doing it more for fun than to be really competitive. I was hoping that maybe I could finish around 1:45, which would have put me in the top 10 last year and this year, but unfortunately, I missed the mark by a few minutes with an overall time of 1:47:13. This put me in 12th place out of 30 women in my age group. Not too shabby. This race gave me the opportunity to tune up my race strategy for the Rev3 Cedar Point half Ironman coming up in a few short weeks.
The after race party was also fantastic with a beer truck that many of the triathletes gathered around, BBQ chicken sandwiches with sides and watermelon. I would highly recommend the River Cities triathlon to anyone and I’ll definitely put this on my calendar for next year. You could even get a cool medal like this one.