We left Friday morning to make it to CdA by late afternoon so Ann and Theresa could set up some USAT functions at the race headquarters. The trip over there isn’t too bad and goes by pretty quickly. Once there we located the HQ and got Ann and Theresa set up with their USAT booth. The HQ was a collection of race packet pickup and vendor booths and was a happening place when we got there. Several booths had interesting products including a demo of the weightless treadmill which was tested by Rebecca. The USAT booth gave away the best shwag, a nice T-shirt for annual members. USAT also sponsored an interesting talk on nutrition given by a nutritionist presenting her thoughts on a meat and veggie diet. We actually heard her say to use bacon fat for cooking!! No grains, fruits, or dairy though. (Or anything else that you might like to eat.) After the talk I jumped in the lake to see if I could remember how to swim since I hadn’t been in a body of water since the Spring Meadow Tri a month ago. The water temp was refreshing after the day’s heat and I enjoyed being in the water without a wetsuit. Lots of boat traffic kept the surface very choppy but it was fun bobbing up and down as the wake waves rolled past. Later the Helena group all met for a nice pre-race dinner with the nutritionist. I felt only a slight bit of guilt while gulping a beer and shoveling in the pasta salad…
To avoid the hot summer temps the race starts at 7am so it was an early morning wake up to get to the start area and set up transition. The sun was already warming things up at 6am so we knew we were in for a hot one. The large transition area was the nicest I’ve ever seen, complete with gigantic shade trees and soft cool “wall to wall” grass. I racked my bike and laid out the shoes and headed for the lake, actually looking forward to it knowing how comfortable the temp was yesterday. Soon the gun goes off and we’re running down the beach and diving in head first for what ended up being a crazy swim. For some reason I just couldn’t get away from wayward swimmers who apparently had sighting skills even worse than mine! But I made it around all the buoys and survived the blinding sun and flailing arms to get safely back on shore and onto the bike. Ahhhh. I had been hearing everyone talking about the climbs on the bike leg and after about 4 miles of neighborhoods and bike trails we hit the first climb which was just long enough to wake up the legs without too much lactic buildup. The route hugs the lake shoreline so the calming blue water and cool morning air almost made me forget I was racing. I hit the first turn around and felt like stepping it up a little so off I went….right into the first big climb. It takes off right away and had ground a lot of people down to a slow pull. I was still feeling good so I kept up the effort and the cadence, passing a lot of those people who were beating me up in the swim. The climb is long but with a few flats to recover along the way. One last steep ramp at the end and soon we’re up on some rollers and a bit of downhill which felt great to ride tucked down on the aeros at high speed. One more side out and back had some more climbing but then it was back down to the shoreline and a fast spin to town where we got to fly through empty streets normally choked with cars. I had a good transition, actually remembering where I had left my stuff. My legs switched to run mode pretty quickly (for me) and I hit the mile 1 sign just as the race leaders flew past. So much for feeling fast. At about mile 2 I was passed by a racer in my age group. I felt too good to let him go so I jumped in behind and held on as long as I could. The run course goes out and back along the lake in the opposite direction from the bike course. It’s mostly flat but being exposed to the mounting heat of the day was a factor for us slow old people. Then it was into the long finish chute which was lined with noisy fans which are always good for an extra kick at the end.
Besides myself, the Helena team consisted of Aubrey and Evan who were mixing it up at the front with a few pros (7th and 11thoverall, I think), Ann who represented TGD and USAT with an age group podium finish, and Rebecca the weightless treadmill runner. All agreed it was a great event although maybe we didn’t push ourselves enough since I rode the bike course again that afternoon and then Ann, Aubrey, and Evan jumped in a 2.5 mi open water swim race Sunday morning…. Evan finishing 4th or 5thoverall, I think, and the others not too far behind.
It was a great weekend. CdA is a great hangout and the lake was sooooo nice! This would be a great event to compliment Onionman for a team race trip to an awesome venue!