Yesterday, Oct. 4, I did the Giant Acorn Sprint at Lake Anna. I will remember this event for two things. First, I had a hard time with the swim; so hard, in fact, that about 100 or so meters into it, I considered raising my hand and quitting. I decided to keep going to the first buoy, though. After a few minutes there trying to catch my breath, I headed for the next buoy. The swim didn’t get any easier, but I persevered. I don’t know why the swim was so difficult. I like to swim, and I’m fine in a pool. In past open water swims, it’s taken me some time to adjust to the cooler temperatures, but I was wearing a wetsuit at Lake Anna and really didn’t feel cold in the 74º water. However, except for brief intervals, my breathing was ragged and my stroke floundered. I felt marginally better with my face out of the water, so I backstroked and sidestroked from buoy to buoy, and, eventually, I finished. My swim time was 26:58, many minutes slower than I’d expected, but I was so glad I’d gotten through it, it felt like a PR.
At T1, my left foot got stuck in my wetsuit, and my chain came off my bike when I lifted it off the rack, but I was still on track to finish well within the allotted time of 2½ hours.
The bike course was pleasant, at least until the end. At the 10-mile mark, I thought I was going to make or even beat my anticipated time. The last two miles, however, seemed to have an unexpected abundance of “rolling hills.” I would have known this if I hadn’t taken a wrong turn on the way to the marina and/or had driven the course before the race. Anyway, the terrain slowed my pace. Then, as I was coming into the marina, I encountered participants who’d already finished the race who were leaving with their bikes and gear, and spectators with dogs and children. I decided it would be safer to dismount early and walk my bike in than to try to ride through the crowd, which added a few more minutes to my bike leg.
T2 was uneventful, and I was off on the run. I soon suspected I was the last runner on the course, and by the turn-around point, I was sure of it. I’ve never been the last finisher before. But I was having a decent run – certainly better than my last two sprints, so I put aside my embarrassment at being last and concentrated on finishing strong. My time was 2:21:05, 20 minutes and 20 seconds behind the other woman in our age group.
Although I’m disappointed with my performance, I’m not totally disheartened. I didn’t quit. Some of the things that slowed me down might not happen again (of course, there are always unknown obstacles to overcome!), but they’re things I can aim to improve next year. And most important, I finished my fifth sprint for 2008 and secured my spot in the Setup Events awards.