Since the race started at 7:30am, we got everything ready on Friday night and went to bed early so we could leave our house by 4:45am … yeah, it was early! I’m use to early race starts in the summer, but they are tough in the winter! It was dark until nearly race start and it was COLD!
As I was trying to think how to describe the course, I realized it was written pretty well on their website – so, here it is:
“5k Run: Hilly for the first 1.2 miles and than it gets really painful. Up, Up, Up to the cave parking area. Water stop at the top looks like heaven. Follow the light! 12 Mile bike: Two 6 mile loops in and around the mountain park. The roads are paved, but rough and sometimes rocky. I mean, it’s called a Mountain Park for a reason. There are cattle guards and broken pavement in spots. DO NOT over inflate your tires. They could blow. Take a second loop at the gate. Road Bike or TT bike? Your call. Either one will be bumpy on the rough and crawl up the smooth roads and hills like a champ. You could do Mt. Bike, but I wouldn’t.2 mile Run: Guess what? You get to repeat the first Mile of hills. Don’t cry. We’ll let you turn around before the Cave mountain and come back. You’re welcome. “
Race got started a little late which made it even harder to stay warmed up for the start – my legs were cold! Luckily we started with a run and the run started uphill to give time for everything to warm up before flying back downhill. The downhills were fun and gave me a chance to get ahead of a few people … I love downhills!
I ended up taking my TT bike – I need to get on it more and haven’t raced with it since getting it properly fit (thanks Endurance! It felt great!). I figured a 12 mile race would be a good starting point for my training on it. During the first couple miles I felt like that was a BIG mistake … this photo is of the GOOD portion of the road! I think I used more expletives during those first two miles than I have in my whole life! They were rollers – and it would have been a really fun course if it hadn’t have been for all the potholes and loose gravel. The uphills were tough because not only were you going up, but you were also swerving to dodge road hazards and I was off my saddle for a lot of the downhills because it was so rough. I really did feel like I was going to blow a tire! The worst part was that as you picked up speed, it was so bumpy that you couldn’t focus your eyes on the road to see where you were going … I was all over the place and very glad it wasn’t a crowded course!
Once you get past those 2 miles, you appreciate the smooth road even more! You make a right turn and head up for a mile and then get to cruise down – here’s where I was glad I had my TT bike and was able to pass a couple people. Unfortunately, it was a windy day so we had a decent crosswind blowing on this section which made it a little slower – but it was still WAY better than the first 2 miles. You then make another right turn which pointed us directly into the wind for the rollers on the back towards transition. This road was a little rough but still nothing compared to the first 2 miles. On this part during my first loop I actually saw a family of javelina cross the road in front of me … that was kinda cool!
As we got close to transition, they asked us to slow down to 10mph because of all the loose gravel, runners, volunteers and rough road. They had volunteers to remind us where this was and it definitely was appreciated because that part could have been dangerous if you took it too fast.
The second loop didn’t feel as bad since I knew what was coming and I actually completed it a little faster than the first. Regardless, I was happy to be done with the bike portion and glad my bike made it through unharmed!
The second run wasn’t too bad – a gradual up for the first mile and then a downhill to finish. It was nice knowing it was only 2 miles! At this point I warmed up enough to take off my jacket in T2 but it still took a little bit for my legs to be ready to run.
They had finisher medals for all participants and since it was a smaller event, they kept times via people and stopwatches. So, they wrote down our numbers each time we entered and exited transition and then took the bottom portion of our bib as we crossed the finish line.
Once everyone crossed the finish line they started the awards. Since most of us were already sitting around the fire (yes, it was still cold!), they brought the awards to us. They had gift $50 TriSports gift certificates for the overall male and female winners. They also had awards for the overall male and female masters (40 and over I believe).
They then did medals for top 3 in each age group as well as top 3 relay teams. As I was racing, I knew I was the 4th female to cross but at the awards ceremony I realized that two of the three who beat me were on relay teams so I actually finished 2nd overall female and 1st in my age group. That was a nice surprise and a great way to start the year!
A special thanks to Hammer Nutrition for including Kris and me as part of their sponsored athletes. We are excited for this new partnership and hope to have many more podiums this year in our Hammer gear!