Race morning was early as always. It's a good thing I'm a morning person. Otherwise this triathlon thing wouldn't be too fun. :)
We got to the race site, parked and walked all my stuff down to transition. I got set up, body marked and retrieved my chip.
The race site had all kinds of cool signs. SheSwims signs near the swim entrance, SheRides signs, etc... I couldn't get enough of them! :)
I did my usual warmup jog and stretched some and then came the waiting game. I really wanted to get in the water for a nice swim warmup but it was still so dark! O and I walked down to the swim start and waited for a bit. Too dark. Waited some more. Still too dark. Waited even longer. And then some brave souls got in. Okay - here we go!
I got a nice warmup swim in. And the water felt great! So nice and warm. Until about 300 yds into the race when it felt like I was swimming in a sauna. And this was without a wetsuit! I now understand why they have rules about wetsuits and water temperature! :)
Anyway, the time finally came when my little wave of 6 lined up and got ready to go.
And then off we went!
Because I was racing not close to home I didn't know anyone nor their swimming ability. Except for Laurie. I knew Laurie is a fish! And so I made a pact with myself, STAY with her as long as possible. Just swim hard. Just put your head down and swim!
Now it's really nice to start in such a small wave when the gun goes off. No hitting or dunking or getting kicked in the face. No fear of losing your goggles. But once things spread out? Yeah, that's when you start to wish you were swimming with another hundred people or so! :)
I lost Laurie and Melissa, the girl that was swimming on Laurie's feet around 300 or 400 yds in. That didn't last too long! I tried desperately to stay on their feet (heck, I was just happy to be swimming on feet!) but they were pulling away.
Still though, I never gave up! I swam so hard and this, by far, was the highlight of the race. I've never swam that well in a race, ever. Not even close. It helps that it was only 750 yds (easier to focus on a shorter distance) and that the lake was calm and it was easy to site. But still - I was swimming hard and fast in a race and not too far behind the real swimmers!
And oh was I hurting. Holy cow! When I did finally reach shore I was breathing so hard I could barely get out of the water! But I actually got out 3rd behind Laurie and Melissa. Swam the last 400-500 yds by myself but I made it!
After the race I asked O how I looked swimming and he admitted that he actually missed me! He was focusing in on and watching the 5th and 6th place gals (that were swimming together) as he figured one of them was me. HA! ;) And he also said he's never seen me breathing so hard out of the water. I'm pretty sure that's because I never swim hard enough. I'm finally getting it. Although I don't know if I like the answer to my swimming problems...swim harder? Oh... :)
Anyway, enough about the water! Onto the bike and I was off! Laurie and Melissa had gained 40 seconds on me in the water once it was all said and done so I had some making up to do. I could see them for about 3-4 miles until I finally caught them. I was riding as hard as I could. No sense in holding anything back in a sprint right?
Once I was in the lead it was quite a novel concept. Nobody to chase? Not even any men? This has never happened before! And I can see how easy it could be to lose focus if in this situation often! I really feed off of my competitiveness in races, always looking to pass the next person so when there aren't any people to focus on, what then? Oh, and where do you turn if you can't just follow the person in front of you? ;)
Luckily the course was marked exceptionally well and there were policemen at each turn and intersection. And I just made sure to keep pushing and keep trying to catch the pace car. As judging by my HR and how hard I was breathing, I think I did okay. ;)
Off the bike and onto the run! There were a lot of people around the transition area and the emcee got everyone all pumped up as I ran through so of course I took of sprinting like I was running a 400 yd dash! OUCH!
Originally I had hoped to get a pretty fast run in in hopes of giving myself some confidence before Dallas and Tempe. But when I saw the course on Saturday I knew that probably wasn't going to happen. The course was off road and really pretty rough. Nicely groomed, hard packed dirt trails are one thing, but rocky, sandy, muddy, hilly trails are quite another. This course has much more of the later! So it was slow going. But the effort was there no doubt. Again, I was breathing so loud! Even O commented on my heavy breathing. Hey, what can I say - I was really pushing hard! The mountain biker that was leading me around the course was probably thinking I was having a stroke/heart attack back there! (I also think that when it's hot and humid you breathe harder)
So of course the 5K was over before I knew it and I was sprinting down the chute!
Huge smile because it's not too often that I win! :)
And - instead of a medal, we got jewlery (bracelets). I'm not a huge jewlery wearer but I really liked the bracelets and put them on right away.
Then I took my nasty, dripping wet self over to the massage table. Those poor people actually had to touch me!
After some cooling down and chatting with all the great women competing, the awards.
And surprise! There was prize money! I asked O if I could quit my job. He replied that since the prize money didn't even cover the expense of the trip down there, probably not. :) Still, better than nothing! :)
All and all, a truly great experience. O and I really had a great weekend. And the race itself was first class. The group that puts on the SheROX races also puts on the Philly Triathlon so these guys know what they are doing! And SetUpEvents does the set up. Anybody ever having done one of their races knows how great a job they do!
I didn't really know what to expect from an all women's race but it was pretty awesome and if you ladies ever get a chance to do one, I highly recommend it. There were so many awesome women out there, many doing their first triathlon. And it was awesome to see! It was also great to see all the dads pushing the strollers and holding the transition bags instead of vice versa! Quite a sight to see in a sport that is dominated by men. (if you look closely, most races are 2/3rds men and 1/3 women)
I personally have never in my life felt like I couldn't do something because I am a woman. I don't know if that's a product of the era in which I grew up or because my parents have always told me that I could do absolutely anything I wanted to do as long as I was willing to work for it. Either way, I realized that not every women grew up feeling that way and this race was an opportunity for them to shine. And to do something they might not have done otherwise. That's a powerful thing to witness. And very, very inspiring.
So that was my SheROX Charlotte experience! I will do another one next year for sure - hopefully Philly since it's closer, but Charlotte was really nice too!