Race the River 2016

Short version: Another awesome race at RtR. I’m not quitting. I’m still a triathlete.

Long version: How much time ya got?

Last year, I hadn’t made a hotel reservation. We were scrambling to find a place to stay. I was shocked by how pricey the Best Western was. We ended up staying in a tiny room in a dumpy motel just off the interstate.

This year, I made a reservation at the McFarland Inn B&B. If you’re staying in Coeur d’Alene, please consider this place. The innkeeper, Nancy, has created a great place for multi-sport athletes. There’s a front parlor, a rear parlor with a television, a bright & cheery sunroom in the rear, a large back porch, and a wrap-around front porch with a swing. Nancy can accommodate dietary requests; she even ran to the store to buy a bagel & cream cheese for my pre-race breakfast, and then left it out for me since I was planning to eat around 5 a.m. There are cruiser-style bikes available to check out for riding around town. The inn is very close to downtown and the beach, but it’s on a quiet residential street. There are just five rooms, so the place feels very homey. It’s far more relaxing than staying at hotel. Next year, we’re staying here again!

Because the Inn is so close to the staging area – 1.3 miles – I told Jim I’d head down to transition by myself, and that he could show up later and get my bag from me. The transition area opened at 5:30 and closed at 6:45. I set my alarms (yes, two!) for 4:50. I woke up at 4:20, which enabled me to enjoy a fairly leisurely breakfast: two hard-boiled eggs (we brought the eggs from home – they’re from the farm, and I’ve grown accustomed to their flavor), a bagel & cream cheese, coffee.

I rode to the staging area. It was really still in town. There were a few cars about, but mostly I had the roads to myself. I chatted with a few women in the staging area, and told them about our Athena group on Facebook. One was a newbie, the other, and Ironman finisher. That’s what I love about this sport: we athletes come from all kinds of backgrounds, and we come in all shapes & sizes.

I walked down the beach – no shoes this year! – and waited for Jim to arrive. Things started on time this year, so I was off at 7:12. The lake was a little warmer than the pool at the club, so I’m glad I didn’t bother with the wetsuit. (I’d guess 90% of the athletes I saw were in a wetsuit, including a lot of full-sleeve wetsuits.)

As with last year, the swim went well. This year, I signed up as an Athena, so I was in a later start group. That meant I wasn’t in a swim scrum, although there were a few swimmers around me throughout the swim. (I was even swimming right next to someone as we were rounding a buoy. I’ve never swam that close to someone before. It was weird.) I had troubles with sighting once my goggles fogged up. Twice, I had to stop and find the buoy. Even with that, I took time off of last year’s swim time. !!! Garmin got a little crazy – it shows me swimming across the beach, and starting T1 in the middle of the Spokane River. Garmin is incorrect.

I took seven & a half minutes off the swim from last year. Woo-hoo!!!! It’s possible I passed a few athletes on the swim. I take no joy in that, though. I know how much I struggle with swimming. I saw a few people I who appeared to be in difficulty. I can’t celebrate passing anyone in the water.

T1 went well. I wasn’t as wobbly coming out of the water as I frequently am. Mine was the only bike on the rack, so it was easy to find. I skipped the gloves & sun sleeves, but I carried them with me, just in case. I was actually trotting through T1!

The organizers changed the bike course. *moment of silence for the old bike course* Instead of the twists & turns & hairpin bends, the bike course had a few tight turns and it was longer. Last year, it was ten miles, flat, and I averaged 15.9 mph. This year, it was 15.7 miles and there was a hill I hadn’t trained for; I averaged 16.4 mph (the Lil Filly gets some of the credit for the increase in speed).

This was my first race on the Lil Filly. I did well. Eating was a challenge, as was refilling the bottle in the aerobars. (I’m not crazy about that bottle; we’ll see how it works out.) I never felt wobbly, though. I even went around a bend at 35 mph on the descent. (Did I mention that she’s fast?) I didn’t try to count how many people I passed on the bike.

T2 was less great. I struggled to get my socks on, even with them rolled. My feet were still damp from the swim. I’m pretty sure I uttered several bad words while trying to get them on. The arm sleeves were a worthwhile addition – I hadn’t attempted to put on  sunscreen while on the bike. The sleeves saved my arms.

I shuffle-ran the first ten minutes, then settled into my 4:1 run/walk ratio. I kicked it up a notch right at the end. I ate a Clid Kid Z bar on the bike, and then another on the run as I started to feel my energy flagging. I averaged 13:01 on the run.

My time last year was 2:04; this year, it was 2:16, but the bike was 50% longer and the run was a 5K instead of 3 miles.

I’m happy. I got a little sunburned yesterday (my face & chest), and that’s making me weary. My legs feel a little sore now & then, but overall I feel really good. I was supposed to start the half-marathon training today, but I’m delaying that a few days. I need to catch up on sleep and to rest overall.

I’m happy to not be quitting on triathlon. I’m planning to do Plutonium Man (what used to be Titanium Man) next year. If that goes better than it did in 2015, I’ll consider doing a 70.3

What an adventure!



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