Sunday's Capitol View Triathlon was a good way to start the season.
2 weeks ago Lake Mendota was a brain-freezing 56 degrees (so I'm told... Sunday was my first day back in open water this year!), but with the sweltering heat we had last week, the water warmed up nicely. After we got our worst weather (tornado warnings, temps in the 90's, withering humidity...) out of the way earlier in the week, Sunday rolled in like it was made for a triathlon: mild, breezy, mostly sunny.
The swim was great - smooth and clear. With only 20 or 30 people in the first wave, there was no crowding to worry about, so it was easy to get into a rhythm and just go. Towards the end though, I made the mistake of standing much too soon. The water is shallow a long ways out, but I know that swimming is much faster than water jogging... It was like those dreams that people have where they're sprinting top speed, and going nowhere. My feet were getting sucked into the mud with every step. With that final goofy, slow-motion slog through the water, the crowds along the beach must've felt like they were cheering for turtle races!
I was definitely looking forward to the bike. I'm familiar with the course, a scenic and moderately hilly route through farm country. There are some great stretches for hitting top speed, which is one of the highlights of race day! Out on the bike course, I'm often humbled by how lucky I am to be out there doing this at all, but also how lucky I am to be surrounded by beautiful scenery and open space. Being packed into a city like Chicago taught me to appreciate the freedom of being able to get out and really fly down those country roads.
The run was when things started to really get tough - a trail run, which I was in no way prepared for (other than knowing ahead of time that it was a trail run). All of my run training lately has been on solid surfaces, and I've come to love the reliabilty of some good firm asphalt underfoot. The course wound through shady forested areas of dirt & rock path, and emerged into open hilly, grassy fields where the trail was mown shorter, but still thick and spongy and uneven. I normally approach a speed run kind of like a machine - I just turn it on and let my legs take care of the rest while I focus on fending off any notions of stopping for a quick nap. A trail run engages the runner in a much different way - you have to be constantly alert, seeking the right placement for every step, darting, turning, climbing... I love a trail run as a faster version of hiking, but when it comes to pure speed, it's just not as satisfying!
I finished the race feeling solid, and earned myself a 2nd Place Overall commemorative lager glass, which I later filled with the appropriate victory treat.