NEVER GIVE UP
Laurel Lake Race Recap- Half Ironman
1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Well I’ve delayed putting this Race Report off for a good bit! Why? Because it was one of the hardest races I have ever done in a good while. It was hard not because of the 3800ft of climbing on the bike and over 1100ft of climb on the run, or even the dense foggy swim start where you could barely see the start buoy the beach. No.. the reason the 1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, and 13.1mi run was difficult was the lack of preparation, guidance and support from the Race Director for 70.3 miles we all had to endure that day.
This was my second “non-Ironman” branded long distance triathlon to do, so I kind of guessed what I was getting myself into but didn’t fully grasp all of it until race morning.
As with many smaller races, bike racks were first come first serve basis. Catie- an athlete trained by Nacogdoches Endurance Training or NET– and I made sure we were at race site right on time when transition opened to get a good bike placement. We were up early anyways eating and drinking our pre-race nutrition and EAS protein shakes, so making the drive out to Laurel Lake didn’t bother either of us. Once the bikes were racked, we checked out the swim start and finish, which at the time was clear and BEAUTIFUL! The fog had yet to roll in and Catie and I were positive about hitting our goal swim time of 30min or less on today’s swim course.
After body marking and a lot of waiting it was go-time! We maybe got in a 2min warm-up (sorry Coach) before we heard the race director say ‘5 MINUTES’!
Swim start. You can see the beach in the top left corner. Not even 30ft from shoreline.
It was a mass swim start which I actually LOVED! We were all on the beach talking about whether or not they would delay the start since the fog was so heavy, making it impossible to see anything 20-30ft in front of you. Not kidding. POW!! Yep, that was the ‘gun’ that went off and no one knew we were starting. Awesome. After everyone looked around for a brief second, I quickly started my TIMEX watch and made a running start towards the dense foggy waters of who knows where! The first pro female and another male quickly took off and was quickly lost, but the second group stayed together and formed a nice draft line. I maybe spotted 2-3 times the entire race. It was pointless really since you couldn’t see anything, so I let the girl in front of me do all the work (and talking to the kayakers) trying to find each buoy and convincing the fellow kayakers to lead us to the next buoy. I’m pretty sure at one point, we ended so far off course, we were on another beach! haha. 1.4 miles and 37 minutes later, we had climbed our way back into transition to start the bike! I still maintained great placement, 3rd OV female with 2nd OV literally 2 seconds in front of me coming out of the water. Time- 37:16 minutes, 3rd overall female- 5th fastest swim
Transition- You run up the sandy beach, cross the timing mat, grabbed your bike and helmet and made your way up a short steep hill before mounting onto your bike to go. Time- :42, 2nd female
Since we had to climb the short hill out of transition I decided to leave my bike shoes on my bike and practice my flying mount. This is all fine and dandy since I have practiced this with another athlete- Addison, about a million times…BUT I never practiced in these new shoes I literally just bought a week or so ago. It took me a minute to get use to the stiff shoes but it was easily done. My TIMEX CYCLE TRAINER 2.0 turned on immediately and it was Go-Time! The course was very beautiful and very hot. You hit one aid station on the way out and back, where you would have to cross over traffic and pull over to get water or stop and fill up your water bottle since the bottles of water were too tiny to fit in any typical person’s bike cage. I skipped over the aid station trying to save as much time as I possibly could.
On course, there were three major hills you would climb leaving your mph in the low single digits, making you “wish a bear would come out and maul you just so you wouldn’t have to finish the course” as my friend Catie would say. haha. The course itself was ‘marked’ with 2in arrows painted red on the street, which made it interesting to say the least! If you weren’t paying attention you could have easily missed a turn- which most athletes racing admittedly say they did. No one was out on the course for guidance so it was up to the athlete to pay attention! Long story short, there were many sharp turns, random “slow down” signs that were unnecessary, and a couple dropped chains (x3 to be specific) due to misdirection and guidance on race day. I dropped my nutrition bottle at mile 30 which was pretty awesome since I felt like I was already pretty dehydrated and pretty positive an IV would be in my future. At any rate, we all had to endure the same (distance depending on each person) course and deal with all the same crazy elements so when I began approaching transition I was relieved and looked forward to making up massive time on the run! Time- 3:03:21, 4th OV Female, 25th fastest bike.
Transition- A boy grabbed my bike so I could focus on making it down the steep hill safely and he racked it for me while I put on my run shoes and grabbed my nutrition. Time- :42, 4th female… seconds after 3rd! It’s on!!
The running trail– Xterra style!
I immediately started my TIMEX RUN TRAINER and headed out on the sandy run up the pebble steep hill and onto a nice highway road. When I made it to the paved highway I assumed the rest of the run was on this street… NOPE. Don’t assume anything haha. After about 1-1.5miles you turned and there it was…. the trail. Narrow, steep descents with steep ascents, and a tall, clumsy person’s nightmare. I’m pretty sure I wanted to ‘DNF’ right then and there. It wasn’t worth me hurting myself just to get an award, but the third place female at the time- who I later learned her name was Corey competing in Ironman Mt Tremblant- encouraged me the ENTIRE way. Seriously, she was amazing! I kept her in my sight throughout the entire run. She was a very good hill runner but I would eventually catch up to her on the down hills or at the few and far between aid stations to make up time. Corey and I would take turns on who would lead on the trail, since it was mentally hard watching every step, puddle, and roots along the way. It was a two loop course and on the final way back in, which was the final 1.5miles that were paved, I patted Corey on the back and said ‘awesome job, now lets go’ one last time and then I took off. I ran my heart out those last few miles and was so dehydrated I knew for sure I could take out a gallon of water in seconds! I crushed my way to the finish line and placed 3rd overall!! Shaking and covered in salt, I downed about 4-5 bottles of water and waited to cheer on my new friend Corey and my other friend Catie (who I convinced to do this race, Sorry Catie!!) to finish. Time- 1:57:54, 3rd Female, 9th fastest run split.
TOTAL- 5:39:55, 3rd overall Female, 10th overall M/F
Left: Me and Corey; Middle– receiving my 3rd OV Female award; Right– Me and Catie
So as you can tell this was not the best of any of my races for sure! But this is definitely the race that I am MOST proud of conquering and enduring by far! I am seriously so proud of myself because I can’t even tell you how many times I wanted to quit 🙂 Now the big question remains, ‘Will you do this race again next year?’ The answer? HECK NOOOOOO! It was one of the most unsafe races I have ever done. It’s not my “A Race” so why would I make my body susceptible to such dangerous conditions? The run was the game-changer for me. It’s not worth me spraining my already unstable ankles over. But that’s just my two-cents!
But Catie and I both conquered Lake Laurel Triathlon and will go into racing IRONMAN Louisville with full confidence in knowing that if we can race our way through the Lake Laurel Half-Ironman, we can race our way through anything!
NEXT RACE…… IRONMAN LOUISVILLE!!