She willingly accepted the third team spot and team Carpe Ironman was formed! It was determined that I would swim, Mike would bike and Crystal would run. This worked out the best since Mike and I are similar in swimming speed, but he crushes me on the bike.
On Friday we made our way to Hunter Mountain, New York in the Catskills region and we found Crystal and Joe at packet pickup. We picked up our stuff as the pre-race meeting was going on and we stayed to have a few questions answered. Since we had never done a triathlon as a relay before, we wanted to make sure we were doing things the way they wanted us to.
We made Mike go ask our questions (who should wear the two body tattoos, how to get in and out of transition with one wrist bracelet, etc) and then we scoped out the transition area. Mike could have racked his bike but since there was the possibility of rain, he didn't.
Swim, Bike, Run
We also went down to the water and Mike stuck his foot in, he said it was cold. Apparently it was 62 degrees. I didn't even stick my foot in, ignorance is bliss I guess!
Pretty, but cold
Team Carpe Ironman
After checking into our hotel room, we found a place to eat. We stopped at Price Chopper beforehand and picked up some breakfast items, and some apple cider donuts!
Dinner at Slices of Saugerties was AMAZING! We ordered a huge order of garlic knots (which is kind of an inside joke between all of us), salad, pasta, stromboli and pizza. We were sufficiently stuffed after dinner!
We got back to the hotel (after another stop at Price Chopper for some apple cider) and relaxed. We compromised on our wake-up time and leaving time for the morning and set the alarm for 4:50am. Our hotel was about 30 minutes away from the race start and the park was relatively small (though I didn't realize how small the race itself was) so I didn't want to miss out on parking. Mike and I also had to make sure we got a decent spot so we could leave to pull off the epic surprise for my mom in Boston immediately after the race!
The alarm went off in the morning, I slept decently well though I had a dream about the alarm going off and then woke up thinking we had missed the alarm! I got ready first and then everyone else followed suit. We were ready and out of there by 5:30am, the time I wanted to leave.
Our fearless supporter, Joe
We got to the race start and athletes were setting up their transition areas. This was a different experience for Mike and I since we didn't have as much stuff to set up (since we were only doing one of the legs instead of all three). Mike got his bike stuff together and Crystal set out some of her stuff, and then it was time for me to put on my wetsuit.
I'm ready to swim 1.2 miles!
We headed down to the beach for the pre-race meeting, which was basically the same as what we had heard the day before but they showed us which way we would be swimming (the typical keep the buoy on your left route). We had found out that there were some changes to the swim and run courses and we would be doing two loops (for the half) instead of one. In between each loop, we would have to get out of the water and run by a buoy on the beach (keeping it to our left) and then run through a coned off entrance back into the water a ways down the beach.
The way that HITS races work is that on Saturday the Half and Full distance athletes race and on Sunday the Open, Sprint and Olympic distance athletes compete. The Half and Full distance has a mass swim start, with everyone starting at the same time. I was a bit nervous about this since all of our other triathlons have waves. It was supposed to be a beach start (also new to me) but we were allowed to wade into the water (keeping in line with the people on the beach) if we chose to do so.
We love each other and triathlons!
Getting in the water
Swim Leg (1.2 miles) - 32:20
I bid everyone farewell, Mike was going to watch my first loop and then book it up to transition, and got in the water. I lined up in the front (Mike told me to) and got ready. The countdown started around three minutes out and then I heard the race starter saying, "10, 9, 8..." and I got ready. The horn sounded, I started my watch and got to swimming!
Right before the start, I'm in the front
Here we go!
The beginning of the first loop was a little crazy. Everyone was veying for a spot and I was actually pushed under in the beginning! Luckily I am a swimmer, but I do understand how this causes panic attacks for people who aren't as confident in the water. I got away from the person and then I still had to push my way through the crowd. Someone was right on top of me and I wanted her to get away from me (later on I saw a bruise on my hand and this must have been when it happened, either I hit her or she hit me).
Just keep swimming
I got around the first buoy and I was feeling a little bit better, I felt tired the first few minutes but that was probably due to the cold water and the mass start. In all honesty, I've only swum once a week for the last few weeks prior to the relay.
I was sighting really well and eventually I made it to the second buoy. The sun started to come up at this point (the race started at 7am) and it was a little bit harder to see the beach. I passed a buoy in the water and I knew I didn't have much left of my first loop.
I swam toward the beach and after my hands hit the bottom twice, I stood up and ran out of the water. As I was rounding the buoy on the beach and running toward the entrance back into the water, I heard the HITS guy say, "first female!" I thought to myself, "huh? who is he talking about?" I thought I had seen a female pass me, but the problem with swimming in wetsuits and caps is that we all look alike!
Crystal and Mike cheered me on as a ran by them, and Crystal said, "keep up the female lead!" I guess I was the first female! I cleared off my goggles, ran through the coned off chute and jumped back in the water.
I passed a guy or two in the beginning but then the rest of the second loop I was on my own. There was no way someone was passing me though. I got to the first buoy (which was like a magnet and I had to swim under it a little bit, oops) and then pushed it to the second. The water was peaceful now that I was all alone and then I made it to the second buoy.
Mike waiting for me
The sun was out in full force now and I had to sight off of the few people's splashes that were ahead of me. This was a little difficult but I knew once I passed the buoy in the water that I was swimming relatively straight. I got to the beach and ran up the hill to the transition area. A woman was standing right outside of the transition area and said, "you're the first female!" I told her I was part of a relay and ran on in to transition. The transition guy said, "hello to my first female!" and again I said I was just on a relay team.
Transition 1 - 00:55
Here I come!
We were set up in the back corner (from the swim entrance) and I got to my people. I took the chip off of my ankle and handed it to Mike. He put it on and took off. The other two relay teams (yea there were only three) hadn't left yet so we were in the lead! My time was 32:20 and I was the first female and NINTH overall!
Quickest transition ever
Bike Leg (56 miles) - 3:01:55
After finishing, I dried off and then went and changed. While we were waiting for Mike, Crystal, Joe and I chatted, ate some food and wondered how Mike was doing. I was worried about the course (we thought it was a different way that would have been a lot scarier) and his not so great track record with flats recently.
The fog rolled in
We also cheered on other triathletes and chatted with one of the other relay teams. Eventually, around 9:45am we saw a motorcycle and a bike coming in from across the lake. The first guy was CRUISING! He crushed it, seriously!
Wearing the tri tat proudly
Transition 2 - 00:36
Crystal started to get ready for her half marathon run and around 10:30am, I saw Mike coming in! I breathed a sigh of relief and got the chip off of his ankle as he came into transition. I passed it to Crystal who booked it on out of there.
Smiling even though it was tough!
Crystal's turn to run a half marathon
Mike crushed the bike course, it was so HILLY, with an average speed of 18.5 mph and a time 3:01:55. You can read about his ride, here.
Run Leg (13.1 miles) - 1:55:51
Mike and I packed up our stuff, after he changed, while we were waiting for Crystal to come through one of the four times we would see her on the run. We saw her come in about 45 minutes after the exchange had been made and she looked strong! The run course was really hard, but I had confidence in her.
Getting rid of her arm sleeves
We waited for her to come through again, which was at the half way point and she pushed on. We had some more time to kill so we just walked around a little bit and made sure we had everything taken care of. We chatted with Joe and then Crystal came through again! She gave the thumbs down signal, but I still thought she was doing really well.
Since the next time she would come through would be when she could make her way to the finish line, the three of us walked up to the finish and waited for her arrival. We got to see some people finish their races, with big smiles on their faces, and then Crystal came running up the hill! Since we were a relay team, we wanted to finish together and we got in swim/bike/run order. Crystal crushed the run with another sub-2 finish, with a time of 1:55:51.
We held hands as we crossed the finish line and we were done! We had come in 2nd place for relay teams and had finished in 5:31:39!
After getting our medals and taking a few finish line photos, we grabbed some food and then got ready to leave. Unfortunately, Mike and I had to leave almost right away so we could get to Boston in time to surprise my mom at the Red Sox game. Crystal was nice and stayed for the awards, since we got one, and we bid farewell to our friends.
Luckily, we get to be reunited again for the MDI Marathon in one month!
Jump if you love tri relays!
I had a great time doing a triathlon relay, and I would love to do one again in the future!