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Draft-Legal Triathlon: A Sport of Its Own
From the first stretch of the morning to when my head finally hit the pillow, it was just a little different than any other race I had done in the past. Once I got to the venue there was a line of cars about twenty-deep waiting for the designated parking time. It seemed like that line took forever to move (five minutes feels like forever when you're wearing your race day antsy-pants). When I finally got inside there were a few unusual race morning tasks to be done, but not body marking. We got race number tattoos, just like the pros, which I prefer over the sharpie marker ones that are usually scribbled on race morning. The other new thing to add to the list was having my racing suit, bike, and helmet checked by the ITU officials. During my warm-up run, I watched the F1 boys zoom through transition and move to catch the wheel in front of them. I was so impressed that these young boys had such advanced handling skills! I started to get nervous watching and thinking that in a short time I would be out there on my bike trying to make some strategic moves myself!
After a moderately turbulent start with shallow water and lots of competitive bodies, I settled into a position and really got my motor running. With a long swimming career behind me I really wanted to take advantage of this portion of the race. Coming up out of the water was tricky because the water was not shallow enough to run in, but it was not deep enough to swim in so a combination of dolphin dives, swimming and then finally some running got me out of the lake and up to transition.
The bike course was three loops of the hardest interval workout I’ve ever done. Out of transition I had two packs to go for; the lead pack about thirty seconds in front, and a pack of two girls within my sight. I gave a ninety percent effort to try and catch the two girls — this was a big mistake! Just as I gave every ounce of effort that I could to get an advantageous position in the swim, I should have given a much more valiant effort to catch those wheels! I was stuck during the first lap all by myself in no man's land. The second lap I managed to join another two-girl pack that came out behind me in transition. Finally, some draft to feel! This pack grew and I panicked a little. There was not a whole lot of communication going on in the pack so our shape, instead of being a straight line, often became a bit of an amorphic mess. There were a couple of girls who really knew what they were doing and kept the pack moving, which I was really thankful for.
Crossing the finish line in sixth place was by no means a major disappointment, but it certainly left me hungry for my next race, and opportunity to eliminate the mistakes I made, oh, and probably make a few more to learn from!