This is the race that my boyfriend makes sure I sign up every year, because he loves the t-shirt but so do I. So every year I make sure he forgets about it so I get to keep the swag. It didn’t happen this year… he started by repeating Tugaloo a couple of times and then went on to ask “isn’t this race that has those cool long sleeve t-shirts?”… No?! ARGH! Just when I thought I was going to keep this one….
But more than loving the shirt, I love to race it here every year. Because it is not very far from home, it is not an easy course and there are lots of familiar faces. However, this year was a bit different, since it was on the very same weekend the Ironman 70.3 World Championship that happened in Chattanooga (TN), it hasn’t been in the US for a couple of years… so yeah, popular race. It affected Tugaloo’s attendance a little: only 206 triathletes, while there were 269 people in 2016. Not a big difference but some of those that did not show up were my friends. But Georgia Multisports still put a great race and I had great fun doing it.
The day of: I drove in the morning. Put my alarm at 4 am, had my breakfast and head to Tugaloo State Park. By the time, I was almost to the race site, I started to feel hungry. It could be that I was just nervous but I decided to eat anyway. What to get at 5:30am in the morning?? Exit to the park, big yellow sign: McDonald’s. Oh yeah baby, Egg McMuffin sealed the deal. The park opens at 6 am and that is when I got there, happy to be fed. Ha! I stayed in the car a little bit as it was a bit too cold for this South American lady. As some of friends arrived, I went on to chat a bit and to steal some Accelerade from one of them. As my nutrition was gone and I can not find that anywhere else (it seems that it was discontinued… more of that topic later!). Got my bottles ready (Thank you Shannon!) and went to transition. It was about 1/2 to 1 mile walk. I set my transition quick fast and I mark the ground with chalk so I know where my bike is once I am back from swim. I realize I misplaced my phone somewhere, so I ride to the car to find it on top of my friend’s car. I rack my bike again, we take a pic (of course!) and while walking to swim start, I realize that I set that up quick fast and start to wonder what I forgot. I probably did forget something, but if that is really the case…now it is too late because transition is now closed. I decide to focus on what I can make an impact now, the swim start.
Swim: As I get ready for the swim, I realize that I have never done this race with a wetsuit. Who would thought the water would be “cold” in the beginning of September in Georgia? I smile. I am sooooo glad I brought it. Some people were upset, they didn’t bring theirs. I borrow my skin suit to another friend of mine. I have all kinds of stuff in my car. After Ironman Florida 2014, I am always ready for all seasons on race day. Those are one of the things you learn when you race. you learn to prepare for everything. The swim start is a time trial. I have got really frustrated on the past years starting on the front… because you get passed a lot. However, this year I am so confident on my swim skills that I decide to go way, way ahead. I keep telling people I can swim under 30 minutes so they keep letting me go ahead of them. To be honest, I have no idea if I can do that. But it is all about the confidence, right? I look and feel confident. It is go time. I decided that I am gonna go all out and that is what I do. I keep moving without looking at the watch. The swim course is swim out, across and then back. As I coming back, the sun is right in your eyes and that annoys me. I have flashbacks from last year and get more annoyed. I probably looked at my watch about 6 times in 500 meters. Why?? I have no idea because time won’t go any faster. As I finish, I look at my watch and say out loud… that was fast. And it really was under 30 minutes. I can actually do it. I am happy but not done. So on to concentrate on the next event. Time: 27:13 (pace:1:49)
T1: I do not walk. I decide to put arm warmers for the bike. Time: 2:39
Bike: This is not easy. The downhills are not as big as the uphills, so you gotta work for it. I did, but it was windy and it truly felt that my power was not consistent. I got some work to do here (I see a power meter purchase in the near future!). The weather warmed up and arm warmers were suddenly not needed, I am a bit too hot but it is manageable. As the bike finished, I am disappointed but it is time to move on. Time: 1:29:10 (pace:17.6)
T2: I concentrate on getting out there as fast as I can. Including getting rid of those arm warmers, I believe I succeeded. Time:0:43
Run: Ok, it is hot. But not that hot, I have been running on 90F. The run out of transition is an uphill. My coach told me to go easy on the first half mile and let the run come to you. I never knew what she means by that. But I do know that I am always looking down on my watch, i am never feeling anything. This time, I just went to town. A couple of things probably helped me: I wanted to place on my age group and I did not recall seeing anyone passing me, I forgot to push the lap button coming out of transition so I ran mostly by feeling and I saw my boss on the course and I wanted to pass him (even though I learned later that he was on mile 2.2 and I was not even on 1 mile!). I kept pushing till I saw the finish line. And guess what? That worked, a solid 10k run. Run: 54:16 (pace: 8:44)
Final Time: 2:53:59, a PR on the distance. Since people start at different times, someone starting after me could have finished faster than me without passing me. It is a possibility. I do not want to keep my hopes up but I wait to see if all that effort was worth anything. During the award ceremony, they call the 3rd, 2nd and then 1st place of the each age group. Time for the 30-34, my age group… they call the 3rd place. I hear my last name. I walk slowly (very disappointed) to figure out that another girl was getting the award. Oh.. not me? NO! The 3rd place had the same last name as I do. What are the odds right? I look at my friends confused then to hear my name as the age group winner. I actually won 1st place. Age group winner more than 10 minute ahead of the 2nd place. I can’t deny it felt pretty awesome. Hard work certainly pays off and I was happy it was at Tugaloo. Extra love to this race and you all knew from before I was already a fan! I can’t wait to do it again next year, maybe I figured out the bike course. I remember having the same issue from the previous year.