Surprises and Challenges in Charlottesville


Racing friends, let me ask you this: you’re racing on single-track trail, are a mile from the finish, and hear an athlete coming up behind you. Glancing back, you realize the athlete is the same gender as you (i.e., your competition). Do you:

a) Run faster
b) Block him/her
c) Move aside and let him/her go by

Which did you pick? b)? OMG that’s a bit evil, even for me. c)? Did you come across my blog by accident?

OK, I think most of you would pick a). I know I would. In my mind, if another runner wants to pass me, she’s gonna have to fight for it. So I was caught a little off guard at Charlottesville Triathlon yesterday when the woman in front of me said, “let me know when you want to pass.” What? “You’re fine. Just run your race.” I replied, absolutely gobsmacked that this woman, who was obviously a good triathlete, was willing to move out of my way!

I wasn’t ready to attack at that point, anyway, because I wanted to wait until half a mile to go, when I knew I could make a move and hold on if she launched a counterattack. But when the trail opened up and I slid past, she just let me go. I pushed hard through to the finish, convinced she was going to come back and try and nab me right at the end. Heck, it’s what I would do.

Letting me go cost her $100. I beat her by 3 seconds and won a $200 gift certificate for placing 4th, while she took home $100. I just can’t fathom that one. Is she not competitive? Did she think she could catch me? Is she just a super-nice person? Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. She was very complimentary at the end and didn’t seem to mind being beaten like that at all. I would have been spitting blood. I would have stayed to chat but needed to get my bleeding ankle taken care of.

We had been given plastic disposable ankle bracelets for our chips, and I guess I put mine on a bit too tight as it cut into the skin around my ankle. I could feel some minor discomfort toward the end of the bike leg but it wasn’t until the run that I felt the searing pain of my skin being rubbed off and looked down to see the blood. I stopped to push the bracelet up my leg several times during the run, because despite my efforts to ignore it I just couldn’t run through the pain, but with a mile to go and 4th place in my sights, I managed to put it out of my mind.

OK, let’s start at the beginning because I know I rarely do so I’m going to give it a shot. I headed down to Charlottesville Saturday afternoon, after watching my youngest son swim very well at his swim meet (2nd in backstroke!!!) and simultaneously hosting SRRC’s 7th anniversary breakfast. (When I planned the breakfast, I didn’t expect my son to qualify for an ‘A’ meet!) So there was half an hour or so when a bunch of runners were breakfasting at my house while I was at the pool. Luckily he was swimming in South Riding so I was able to bike the less-than-a-mile to the pool and back in time to at least mingle for a bit…then I kicked everyone out so I could go watch him swim in the relay.

So anyway, my team mate Annette and I drove to Charlottesville and headed straight to packet pickup. When I got my packet, something looked familiar, but I couldn’t work out what it was. It certainly wasn’t the hideous yellow swim cap that I was required to wear. Note to Charlottesville Tri Club: searching for a yellow bouy in a sea (ok, lake) of yellow swim caps is frigging impossible. Back to the something familiar…I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time but now that I’m home, I can. My number was 34. I was number 34 in my last race, too. That’s uncanny.

After getting our packets and stopping for a Starbucks, we headed to Walnut Creek Park to drive the bike course. After not driving the bike course at Strasburg and literally freaking out when I saw the elevation chart, I wanted no surprises.  Let me just say there were shrieks and gasps coming from the occupants of the car most of the way. Charlottesville has three things: UVa, Monticello, and hills. The 16 mile course was steep, twisty, and narrow. It started with a steep climb out of the park, then switched to rollers with a few nasty climbs for good measure. There was only one spot (relatively) flat enough to take on board a GU. The turns were sharp. Many downhills had blind turns. And I loved it. I hammered as hard as I could, riding an average speed of 18.3 mph for 4th fastest female bike time, so that matched my overall placing perfectly!

Crap…I’ve gotten out of order again. Oh well, I tried. Talking of crap, the bathrooms at this park were full of flies. And you know what that means. I have never ‘been’ in and out the loo so fast, and that wasn’t an easy feat, either, because I was wearing my new one-piece tri suit. Let me say first that, after racing in it, I love the one-piece and will never go back to a top and shorts. It’s great not to have to yank the top down or pull the shorts up while racing. You feel super-streamlined in the water and on the bike. It looks cool. It does, however, pose a challenge to using the bathroom as you have to unzip and pull the thing down. And all the while the flies were buzzing around, looking for something to land on…

Moving on to the first leg of the race, which pretty much means my race recap is backwards again: swimming is my weakest of the 3 triathlon legs but I worked hard at reaching, pulling, and rotating, got into a couple of fights as I held my ground in my attempt to swim as straight a line as possible between bouys, and ended up with the 17th fastest female swim time: 14:49 for 750 meters. It still sucks that I can’t be more competitive in the swim, but it gives me people to pass on the bike and run so in some ways it’s a benefit.

What was interesting about this tri was that, because it was small, all the women started together. That meant that I knew exactly where I stood in terms of my competition, just like in a running race, whereas normally in a tri you don’t really know how you’re doing compared to those around you because you started at different times. And that’s when three seconds can really count.

Team TPR takes on Charlottesville..and I definitely need hair help.

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About racingtales

Runner, triathlete, writer
This entry was posted in Running and Triathlon and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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