Let me honest from the start: while I was 3rd in my age group (30-34, USAT rules that you race as the age you are on Dec 31 of the current year) there were only 4 people in it. I sounds more impressive when I leave the last part off, doesn't it?
But, I was 7th woman out of the water, 1st woman swimmer in my age group. This was even after I had a complete freak out in the water. I knew that open water swimming was different, but as I went to pass someone, I took a wave to the face and panicked. The water was pretty cold, and I couldn't bring myself to put my face back in. I had to flip over onto my back and just kick for a bit. I was able to flip back over, but it happened again, and this time I really thought I was going to have to stop the race. I even undid my wetsuit a few inches to get the pressure off my neck.
Rationally, I knew I wasn't going to drown. I used to be a lifeguard, I know how to swim, and I don't think I could have sunk if I tried, what, with wearing the rubber suit and all. But my brain was not up for reason. I manage to zip back up, flip back over, and start doing heads-up freestyle. I slowly worked my chin down into the water, then the rest of my face, and by the end of the first lap, I was swimming more or less normally, tho I only breathed to the right. It seems that my upper body is rather strong, because I started to pass a lot of people, and by the end of the swim, I didn't want to get out.
After I managed to escape from my wetsuit and pull my bike jersey on, I sprayed myself with sunblock (apparently not to well, tho, my tan lines are interesting) and got going on the bike. Being one of the early people out of the water makes for interesting times on the bike. I am not a fast cyclist, but I was out on the course with the fast people, at least for a little while, so that was cool. I did lose my yellow sponge thingy from my aerobottle, so I had to drink my Nuun pretty quickly, as it was splashing all over me, but at least I was drinking.
The bike course was hilly. Actually, that's an understatement. It was just all hills. And, as I don't climb well, there was one hill where I looked down at my computer and it said I was going 3mph. It probably would have been faster to walk, but I was afraid that if I got off my bike, I wouldn't get back on. And at about mile 47 or so, I got to climb up 2 monster grades that made me glad I still have 3 chain rings. And since the wind didn't stop - it was in my face the whole damn time - it was even more fun. At one point, Ben caught up with me on the course (when he took the above picture) and asked how I felt. The only thing I could think to say was: "My crotch hurts."
The run was an out and back that was repeated 3 times, and it was not flat. And, of course, the wind was getting even stronger. Yay! I more or less walked the uphills and ran (or shuffled, however you want to look at it) the rest. I lost my hat on the third loop, but decided it was not worth the effort to chase it, and I finished in 6:46.
All in all, I'm really glad I did this race. Even though I spent the two days ahead of time just freaking the hell out over it (at one point, while setting up my transition area, I looked at Ben and said "I don't want to do this"), once the race started, I was okay. I have on Olympic distance race in a few weeks, the Muncie Endurathon in July, and maybe a sprint in early August just for the hell of it. And then, of course, IM Lou, but that goes without saying.