Oh my goodness, I have had the worst time trying to get this post written and up for y’all! I wrote most of it on Thursday and had planned to finish it up on Friday. That didn’t happen, between running 12 miles before work, not getting home from work until 7:30 pm and then packing and getting everything ready for Hawaii. Then, Saturday morning I worked on the post in the Austin airport AND in the L.A. airport and all of my changes were lost both times. AARRRGG!
Now, here we are and it’s 6:15 pm on Sunday (Hawaii time, 11:15 pm Austin time) and I am just now getting this thing finished and up for you to read. I put off writing it right away because I really wanted to wait until I had some good pictures to go with the post, and then I needed to make time to actually write the post. I wish I written it sooner (when it was all still fresh in my mind) and just waited to post it until I had some good pictures. Be prepared, there are a lot of pictures.
This race was at Possum Kingdom Lake in Graford, Texas. Ross and I are used to taking long car trips to Dallas or Rockport so it was really nice driving for over 3.5 hours and looking at scenery that we weren’t used to seeing.
Once we arrived in Graford we had a really hard time finding the venue for the race. There were lots of signs that said Trifecta Triathlon with arrows, so of course we followed them. Apparently these signs took you to one of the transition areas for the race but not to where the race start was, which is where our packet pickup and pre-race athletes meeting was. Luckily we were running early (you know, as opposed to running late) because it took us about 30 minutes of driving around before we finally found where we were supposed to be.
After Ross and I sat through the athletes meeting and got the low-down on what was going to happen the following day Matt and Lynn arrived and we all got checked into our hotel. I was lucky to find us a place that was only a couple of miles from the venue and literally involved one turn to get there. The woman who worked at the hotel could not have been nicer and we were all really impressed with how big our room was. Most hotel rooms that have two queen sized beds don’t leave a lot of walking room but this had a nice big open area at the end of the beds. Lots of room for activities. :)
Once we got settled into our room we headed back to the race venue for dinner with the other athletes. I already talked about this dinner in a post I wrote shortly after the race, but I don’t expect you to remember so I’ll tell you about it again.
Our options for dinner were several varieties of white pasta or lasagna with meat. I opted for a small portion of angel hair (the only noodles that weren’t slathered in butter) and some marinara, plus a bread stick. Over at the salad bar they had greens with Italian dressing and some fresh fruit.
The salad was smothered in dressing and waaaay too oily for me, so I only had about 2 bites before I passed it on to Ross (who only had about 3 bites). While I was eating my fruit (grapes, apples, cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon) I noticed that the fruit had pepper on it. Ross looked over and asked, “Does it also have oil on it?”
I took a couple more bites and realized YES, my chopped fresh fruit had oil and pepper on it. It tasted fine but I wasn’t really happy about it being covered in oil. So weird. I still went back for 3 huge helpings of the fruit. This was my last official day of eating nothing but raw fruits and veggies for 28 days and I wanted to stick to it as much as possible, but I did have 5 small bites of my pasta and 3/4 of the bread stick. I was okay with that decision.
After dinner we walked down by the lake to stick our feet in and some men with cameras approached us while we were down there. They turned out to be the photographer and filmographer (is that a word? no, I think it’s probably videographer) for the Trifecta website and they asked us if we wanted to be in the video for next years race. HELL YES!
He clipped a little microphone on me and started asking us questions about the race, our team, and our training. He did say that there’s a chance we won’t make the cut for the final video since they’ll end up getting so much footage over the course of the weekend but I was still really excited he asked us and I’m pumped to see the video anyway!
After that we decided to check out the race run course. I knew that the first 3 miles of the course would be on a trail and then the race would end on a road and I was pretty excited about the trail portion of it. We’ve got some trails by our house that I love to run on but I haven’t raced on trails before. We probably walked about a mile of the course before turning around and heading back. Based on what we saw (and what they told us in the athletes meeting earlier that day) I knew that I was going to really have to slow my pace down for the race. There were lots of rocks and roots and it’s definitely better to be safe and slow than bloody and fast (in my opinion).
After we finished checking out the the trail we headed back to our room to shower and get some rest. I took out my contacts around 8:00 and closed my eyes. I didn’t fall asleep until around 9:00 because Matt and Ross were still watching a movie but I figured it was still good for me to be resting with my eyes closed, right? Once I did finally fall asleep I did not sleep very well at all. I think I’m just really used to our bed and my pillow. I always mean to bring my pillow with me when we travel but I never remember and I always regret it. I know I can’t bring my pillow to Hawaii with us so I’m really hoping the hotel pillows are nice. (spoiler: now that I’m posting this from Hawaii I can tell you that the pillows here suck.)
The next morning we were up around 5:45 to eat breakfast and stumble around trying to get ready. I brought my citrus juicer with me so I could have some fresh orange juice before the race, plus some mangos and bananas.
Once we arrived at the race we had to get our bodies marked with our relay team number (381) then the three of us had to part ways. The way that this race was set up (due to the geography of the area) the swim took place right there at the lake (clearly), then the biker left from there and rode 25 miles and ended the ride in a different location than they started. This meant that instead of only having one transition area and all getting to hang out there while waiting on each other there were two transition areas, so I had to be waiting at T2 when Ross finished the biked ride. This meant that I wasn’t able to be there to see Lynn swim or see Ross start his ride because they bused the runners over to T2 before the race even began. I was really sad that I didn’t get to see them and that I had to hang out with people I didn’t know (the other relay runners) for two hours before I began my run.
Luckily it was really pretty while I was waiting by myself, so I didn’t complain too much.
We did get one picture as a group before the race started. Unfortunately, the man who took the picture didn’t tell me there was a huge light behind us and that we should face the other direction. Oh well.
The professionals and the people doing the full triathlon themselves started the swim before the relay teams.
While they were swimming I was just sitting in the transition area with everyone’s bags of running gear. A little lonely.
Finally, Lynn was able to start her swim. I really wish I had been there to cheer her on and see her get out of the water!
She was the first relay swimmer out of the water! She texted me when Ross got on his bike and told me that we were in first place!! I knew we’d still be in first place by the time Ross got to me on his bike because he is an amazing cyclist and there was no way any relayers were going to pass him on the course.
Look at him go! He looks so intense.
When Ross finally got the the transition area to give me the race chip he said, “We’re in first place. GO! GO! GO!” So, I was off.
The first three miles of the run was on a trail which was really nice. Well… sort of. The first mile had some SERIOUS hills. The sprint distance run course was 5 miles and the Olympic distance (which we were doing) was 6.2 miles. We were running basically the same course but they had to add in some extra miles for the Olympic distance, so they had us make an extra turn that went straight up a steep, steep hill and then back down. Seriously, it was so steep that every runner I saw was walking up it and I was no exception.
I loved that the trail was shaded and peaceful but running on a trail really is a lot harder than running on pavement. Yes, it’s easier on your joints and what not but it’s a lot more difficult because of the rocks and roots. Plus, there were several points in the trail that were so steep and rocky that again all of the runners were forced to walk. They even had volunteers standing at a few points to help people up if needed. Still, difficult as it was physically I really did enjoy that it was so different from every other race I’ve ever done.
By the time I finished the trail portion of the run I was exhausted and I still had 3.2 more miles to go.
I think the look on my face says it all. I was HOT and miserable. Just like in the last race I was starting to question why the hell I had let Ross and Lynn talk me in to racing in the summer. I hate that the run portion of a triathlon is always the last leg because that means I get to run in the worst weather conditions.The next three miles were in the direct sunlight and even though the course was technically easier now that it was on the road and not on trails, I still saw a lot more walking than I normally do in a race of this distance. Again, I was no exception to this.
As I got closer to the end I thought to myself, “I have nothing else to give. There’s no way I can pick up the pace for a sprint across the finish line.” Ladies and gentlemen, do not underestimate what a cheering crowd can do for you. I honestly don’t know where I got the energy but I found a little something, plastered a smile on my face that wasn’t really genuine, and made my happy jaunt across the finish line.
Look at that, it actually looks like I enjoyed that race, doesn’t it? Fooled ya!
Right after I crossed the finish line they gave me our finisher’s medal, took my timing chip off my ankle, and handed me a wet towel that was ice cold from a cooler. I don’t think anything has ever made me happier than that towel made me. Seriously, I was so hot and miserable after my run and that freezing cold, wet towel made all the difference in the world!
After I cooled off a little and drank some water we made our way over to where the post-race food was being served. There were lots of people working a grill and I could see a sign that said, “Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers.”
“Great,” I thought. I bet I’m going to get stuck eating green bananas and a bag of chips. I was pretty sure that the answer was going to be no but I went ahead and asked someone if by chance they had any veggie burgers. I was stunned when they told me yes, and even more surprised when they checked the ingredients and told me that the burgers were vegan! WHAT?!?
It was a black bean burger with corn and I topped it with lettuce, tomato, and onion and it was absolutely perfect! I am so used to not having vegan options after a race so I was incredibly grateful that I had something good, tasty and warm to eat.
We had to wait around for about an hour and a half before the awards ceremony started after the race, which we didn’t really mind doing since we were pretty sure our team placed. We checked the race stats online every 10 minutes or so waiting for them to update our final times and we were THRILLED when the results finally came up and we saw that our team had officially come in first place!!
We were even happier when we realized that all three of us would get a first place plaque and we wouldn’t just be receiving one as a team that we’d have to share!
All the winners had their pictures taken in groups – first, second, and third place for each age group all took their pictures together, and so the first, second, and third place relay teams took their picture together too.
Overall, this was not my most enjoyable race (that would be the first triathlon we did) and it definitely wasn’t my fastest, but the course was actually one of my favorites and I do think I would run this race again. Even though running on trails was harder and made me run slower (and I almost fell on my face at one point) it was really beautiful and I loved that it was shaded and peaceful for the first three miles. There were some KILLER hills and the second half of the race was brutal due to the lack of shade, but somehow I still think it’s a race I’d like to do again. I’ll just have to practice my trail running between now and then!
Next up: Half Ironman?? :)