Lake Murray Triathlon 2017
It is a fantastic, local triathlon held every May since 2003. The FGM team was represented this year by Fiona Martin. Amy Wise pulled out last minute due to illness. This sprint triathlon consists of a 750m open water swim, 15 mile bike and a 5k run. It’s one of my favorites since it’s local; the swim is open water and wetsuit legal; the bike is a nice 15 mile loop on the rolling hills I usually train on; and the run is a great out and back on rolling hills shaded by big pines. It’s also nice that being in May, there’s a good chance it’s not 100 degrees yet, although you can’t count on good weather in May either.
This year, all eyes were on the weather forecast as a cold front was due to come in overnight and bring some stormy weather with it. This seems to be the case with the Lake Murray Tri every year. May 13, 2017, we got lucky – heavy rain was forecasted but by the time everyone arrived at the race site around 7am, the rain had cleared off but the clouds stayed. I set up my transition and caught up with friends. A short bike warm up was in order, then I put on the wetsuit and warmed up in the water. The water was warmer than the air temp – 71F in the lake, 62F outside.
As we approached our start time of 8am, it was time to start eyeing up the competition. The participant list released before the race showed 3 open females signed up. I noticed another girl signed up on the day so we were expecting 4 open female competitors.
As we lined up for our in-water start with the other open athletes (open male, open masters male and female), I noticed there were only 2 other women in my division. But soon enough, the horn sounded and we took off. This was my first open water swim in the open division. I must say that I quite enjoyed it compared to swimming with the age group females. There were less than 10 of us in this wave so there wasn’t much jostling about – one girl swam into me a couple of times at the beginning but I soon pulled away from her and set my course for the first turn buoy, 250m away. I knew some of the other open athletes were amazing swimmers and the lead pack pulled away quickly. I just reminded myself to keep with my rhythm and not worry about how far ahead they got. They were always in my sights but they finished the entire swim about 2 minutes ahead me. I was happy that I was passed by only 2 men in the wave behind me, and only at the very end. Usually, I’m struggling to get around other swimmers for the entire swim – this was a nice change and I was happy with how I was feeling. Swim time of 15:28.
Out of the water and running towards transition – goggles off, strip the wetsuit to the waist and remove it at my bike. Helmet on, shoes on, out to the mount line. I noticed one of my open female competitors coming into transition as I was leaving so I was determined not to let her catch me on the bike. I exited transition alongside one of the male age groupers who caught me in the swim. I knew he was a strong cyclist so I was surprised that I hung with him for the first 5 miles. As it got hillier, he pulled away, but I was only passed by 4 male age groupers on the bike, no female competitors. I passed one open masters female competitor in the last 2 miles and she gave me a friendly cheer. At every turn, I took a quick glance to see if my other female competitor was close and was surprised (and happy!) not to see her at all. I finished up the bike leg with a time of 46:51, average speed 20.4mph.
T2 was a fairly quick affair – helmet off, running shoes on, put the race belt on while running out of transition. Even though my competition didn’t catch me on the bike, I knew she was a fast and strong runner. My running times have improved a good bit this year due to adding speed work to my training, but I still wouldn’t win a foot race. I had to use every bit of time I gained on the bike to hold her off. Luckily, this run allows you to gauge your competition as the out and backs let you see where everyone is on the course, if they’re within a couple of minutes of your time. I shot out at a 7:20/mi pace, which I wasn’t confident I could hold for the entire 5k. I backed it off to 7:40/mi and told myself to hold on. The legs felt good – this would be a mental battle with my cardio and trusting that I could handle this level of distress. I was passed by a few male athletes but no sign of women so far. At the 1.5 mile turn around, I spotted my competition. She didn’t look like she was making much headway and was maybe a couple of minutes behind me. I wished I could gauge the time difference a bit better. It was a good reminder to keep at it and not slow down at all. My splits were okay – 7:52 for the first mile, 7:56 for the second mile. That told me to pick it up and I finished my last mile in 7:48 for a total of 23:40, 7:52/mi, and I didn’t get passed in the last 100m like I did last year.
My final time for the entire triathlon was 1:27:37, 4 minutes faster than last year and 2<sup>nd</sup> in the open female division, 5<sup>th</sup> fastest female after everyone had finished. My competition finished a minute after me and I must say, I’m a little proud of that. She is a seasoned open competitor and this is my first season in the open division so I impressed myself a bit by truly earning that spot on the podium, not just being there since there were 3 women in the category.