Lake Murray Triathlon
The Lake Murray Triathlon is probably the first truly “competitive” triathlon of the season in the Midlands. Taking place in Dreher Island State Park and spanning Lexington and Newberry counties, athletes arrive from the Midlands, Upstate and beyond to take on the 750m open water swim, 16 mile bike and 5k run.
Representing the FGM Internet Marketing tri team were Fiona Martin, Amy Wise, Kara Clyburn and Pam Babbitt, with spectator support from Ricky Sox of Ricky Sox Fence.
With what seems to be a recurring issue with triathlons held on Lake Murray, the weather was not cooperating. The planned 8am start was pushed back to 8:30 as a pop up thunderstorm washed over us and we hid under any shelter we could find. With the storm clearing around 8:15, the race organizers were ready to get started, which led to a short and rushed warm up in the lake.
The water temperature was around 74⁰F, meaning this race was wetsuit legal, and thank goodness! Although the storm had cleared, winds were still pretty stiff and the water was beyond choppy, making this feel like an ocean swim instead of a lake swim. It even rained twice during the swim, which took the fastest swimmers around 13 minutes and the slower ones upwards of 25 minutes. The wetsuit is a lifesaver in these situations as it provides buoyancy, which requires less effort from the swimmer to stay afloat and move forward in the water.
The bike leg was fast and furious, but required caution in areas with slick roads from the rain. A few of us were caught up in car traffic on the course, which can be frustrating, but the police and volunteers did a great job of directing the auto traffic and bikes. Next came one of my favorite runs, an out-and-back with a few offshoots through the park. What makes this run great are the rolling hills, shaded roadway through the park and there is usually very little traffic (although there were more cars this year than previous years). An added bonus to the out-and-back setup is that you can see who’s ahead or behind you on the run, making for some extra competition. At this point I (Fiona) was surrounded by men.
I didn’t see any other age group females, which means I was ahead of the pack. There is one girl in my age group who has been historically faster than me, and I didn’t see her pass me on the bike. I kept my eye out for her on the run and didn’t see her until 1.5 miles in. She seemed to be a good distance back, but was running very strong. I kept my head down and held my pace, passing quite a few men along the way. A quarter mile to go and she still hadn’t caught up – then I hear heavy breathing behind me. Please don’t let this be that girl, but it was and she flew by with less than 100 yards to go. I tried to hold on but she was too fast. I was holding an 8:00/mi pace but she was running a 7-minute mile. She beat me by 15 seconds in the end. I ended up 8th overall female, 2nd in my age group.
Amy Wise held strong to pick up 3rd in her age group and Kara worked through the swim and took 4 minutes off her time last year. Pamela Babbitt also did well with a fast bike split in a tough age group. Until next year, Lake Murray. Here’s hoping we have better luck with the weather!