Last year I did a really tough triathlon on Memorial weekend. Tough because it's very hilly. I did the Olympic distance; they also have a half iron distance. I debated the half for this year. Then I found my good senses and decided I could do the Olympic and still be a tough chick. Actually, it was because they moved the race two months forward to 3/30 and I didn't think I would be ready for that bike ride that soon in the season. What I didn't think about was how cold the lake would be... and I only owned a sleeveless wetsuit. It occurred to me two weeks out from race day so I scrambled to find a full sleeve wetsuit. This is only the second time I've even needed a wetsuit. Most of the races around here are warm enough to not be wetsuit legal. So I got my wetsuit and tested it out last week in a 58* lake. That was fun. Ok, not really. It was dang cold.
Race day morning it was 46*. That's cold. The water was 60*, which sounds warm to a runner, but try dunking your face in that. It was also covered in steamy fog making visibility very low from surface level. I stopped and treaded water many times to scan for a buoy or other swimmers to follow which, when you're in the front, there aren't as many heads to spot. As we were running out of the water, a man beside me yelled "I'm alive!" and high-fived me. I ran to the wetsuit stripper volunteers -so nice because it is a struggle to get out of those things! You stand still while they unzip, yank it down past your butt then you sit and they whip it off of your legs, hand it to you and you run to the transition area.
I dried off my arms and legs then grabbed my helmet and bike. My hands and feet didn't feel cold although it became a noticeable problem when I went to get on the bike and couldn't get my feet to cooperate. Usually my shoes are attached to the pedals. I run with my bike, jump on and pedal with my feet on top of my shoes to get out of the congested area then slip my feet inside and pull the strap once I have some momentum going. That wasn't happening. I had to mount my bike from a stop and then struggled to find toe control to get my feet into my shoes. WTH?
The ride was ok. It wasn't as hard as I feared (due to not being as bike fit as I was last year), but it wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination. Those hills were tough! It is all rolling hills which are fine but there are 3 long steep climbs that will suck the life right out of you. Last year I saw people walking their bikes up those hills. As I was closing in on the dismount line, it occurred to me that my feet didn't feel right. I decided to clip out of my pedals and step off from a stop instead of getting out of shoes and jumping off. I was afraid I would fall from lack of control. Nothing like busting your butt while everyone is watching.
I took way too long in transition putting on my running shoes then walked to the "run out" exit instead of running. I could not feel my feet at all. My body felt fine. My legs were a little fatigued which was expected, but I had numb feet. I imagined that must be how it feels to run with prosthetics. Very weird. I could feel the pressure of my foot landing, but didn't feel the sensation of my foot on the ground. At 2 miles I started feeling pinpricks. Then it felt like I had pebbles in my shoes. Finally by the 5k turnaround I had the feeling back. A few minutes later a man behind me said "OMG I can finally feel my feet!" He was probably talking to himself but I joined him in celebrating. "You too? So weird!" We compared notes and laughed to be relieved that we weren't the only ones. I was able to pick up the pace during the second half and felt really good coming into the finish.
Last year I finished in 3:07:35 and was 1st in my age group. I had predicted this finish would be 3:10 because I knew I would be slower on the bike. Between a few minutes faster on the swim, wasted time in transition, a few minutes slower on the bike and a few minutes faster on the run... I finished in 3:07:51 and 2nd in my age group.
My husband said that many people were talking about numb feet, struggling with shoes, etc. I've never experienced that before and it was really weird. Will be doing my research on that in the event I end up in an early season race like that again... although I won't plan it on purpose, LOL.
No races for a couple of months. Just trying to stay focused on my training for Ironman Chattanooga in September. Lots of long and slow going on. And hopefully no more ice water swimming. Today I'm tired, happy that I did better than I expected and feeling like I earned double badass points for that one.