Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Keuka Lake Intermediate Triathlon Race Recap

This past Sunday Mike and I made our return to the triathlon that started it all for us - Keuka Lake. Keuka Lake is special, it was our first triathlon (and as a result our first sprint triathlon) and our first (and only) Olympic distance triathlon. The only year we haven't raced there was last year, since we did the 100 mile triathlon instead, yet we still went there to cheer on our friends who were racing.

This year, we did the Intermediate (Olympic) triathlon again as a training race for our upcoming 70.3 races. A few days before the race, I set four goals: set a course/distance record (my time in 2013 was 3:11:55), go sub-3 hours, have all three of my leg times be faster than in 2013 (2013 times were: swim - 28:52, bike - 1:43:19, run - 55:52) and set a 10K PR during the run leg (my current PR is 54:42). I had a feeling I could achieve at least two of these goals, if not all four, but it would all just depend on how race day went.

Saturday Mike and I picked up our packets and we went down to the water to see how it felt. It wasn't too bad, but I figured it might be colder in the morning. After that we checked into our hotel about a half an hour away from the race start and went to dinner at the same restaurant we always go to, ha.

Sunday morning we woke up around 4:45am and left the hotel around 5:15am. Transition closes at 7:15am, but I am always worried about finding parking and this race designates rows but not specific spots in transition. I like to be as close to the bike out/in as possible!

We arrived at Keuka College and got our bikes ready. It was pretty chilly out, around 45-50 degrees, so Mike and I were both worried about being cold on the bike. At this point there wasn't really anything we could do about it (I did bring a jacket for the bike, but I knew I wouldn't want to deal with it in transition so I just left it in the car).

We got into transition and chose our spots as close to the bike in/out as possible. After that we got our body marking done, went to the bathroom and then went back into transition to make sure everything was set. We saw a few friends and chatted with them for a little while. We were lucky enough to be able to put our backpacks underneath their triathlon team's tent while we were racing.

 It was a beautiful morning!

Before we knew it, it was time to get our wetsuits on and walk down to the water to the start.

Swim Leg (1.5K or .93 miles) - Jamie: 26:37, Mike: 23:12

Mike was in the first wave and I was in the third wave of the Intermediate triathlon. After his wave took off, the second wave got in the water and my wave walked into the holding corral. Then it was our wave's turn to get into the water.

We had been told in the morning that the water temperature close to the shore was 61 degrees, but that it was a little warmer further out into the lake. It was COLD! I got up in the front of my wave and dunked under. Right after I did that, we were all called back and were told that there had been a miscount (they count athletes in and out of the corral to make sure that the same number of athletes in the water is the same as the number of athletes out of the water). We had to go all the way back out of the corral in order to be counted again. This took some time and our wave started a little later than we were supposed to.

Luckily, the second time the numbers matched and the announcer said we had thirty-five seconds to the start. I had dunked under the water again and I was ready. At the horn, I took off!

The water was still freezing, but I tried not to worry about it. I knew that I would warm up and I hoped that the announcer had been right about the temperature further out in the lake. The course is a big triangle and the Intermediate athletes had to follow the yellow buoys. The wind was causing some chop on the way out to the first yellow buoy and I felt a little bit out of breath, I just attributed this to not training in the water as much and the temperature. Admittedly, I was dogging it a little bit and could have probably gone a little bit faster. Oh well.

I could tell that I was in the lead group of females (my wave was all female athletes) and I just tried to get to the first yellow buoy as quickly as possible. When I made the turn, another swimmer bumped into me. She wouldn't go away but eventually I was able to free myself from her! It was hard to sight the second buoy due to the sun, but I just followed the previous waves' splashes.

When I rounded the second buoy, the tailwind provided a bit of a relief. I went by all of the in-between buoys and had started to catch up to the previous waves. Luckily, due to our later start it wasn't as congested as normal. I finally made it to the final two buoys and when I turned toward the home stretch, I was welcomed with colder water and chop. I was so happy to get to the beach again and I swam all the way up until my hand touched the bottom and then I got out of the water. I walked/ran along the beach and up the stairs, and I heard a man say, "6th female".

I still hadn't made it to the timing mat yet and I ran by a woman walking toward transition, which made me the 5th female out of the water.

Transition 1 - Jamie: 1:56, Mike: 1:49

As I ran toward my bike, I remembered that I needed to start getting my wetsuit off. This triathlon doesn't allow you to start stripping your wetsuit until you are up the stairs for safety reasons. My mind was a bit jumbled so I had kind of forgotten about it until I was already in the transition area.

I got my wetsuit off my shoulders and then I was at my area. I was a little cold due to the water and air temperatures so I put my sunglasses and helmet on first. Then I got one leg out of my wetsuit, put on one shoe, got the other leg out and put on my other cycling shoe. I noticed our friend, Greg, was already out on the bike course. We had said before the race that I would probably pass him in the swim (and then he would pass me on the bike), but due to my wave's late start and his KILLER swim, I didn't catch him.

I tried shoving my energy chews in my tri top's back pocket but my hands were too cold and the top was too wet. Eventually, I just gave up and threw them back on the ground (I didn't need them for the bike but figured I could save some time later on) and ran out of transition. I probably lost a little bit of time because of the chews and being a little bit disoriented. Hey, that's what the first tri of the year is for - getting the kinks worked out!

Bike Leg (40K or 24.85 miles) - Jamie: 1:34:57 (15.67mph), Mike: 1:17:51 (19.11mph)

After mounting my bike at the mount line, I headed out on to the bike course. As soon as I started riding, a USAT official went by me on a motorcycle. She hung around for about two miles and then when we took a right, she went straight.

The first 5 miles of my ride went pretty well. I was holding decent speeds and thought I might be able to keep them up for the majority of the bike leg. Then we made a left hand turn and the headwind proved otherwise. It wasn't horrendous at this point, but I could tell I wasn't going as fast as I would have liked. Some people that I had passed in the swim were starting to catch up to me, which always happens, and I just tried to pedal as fast as I could.

Both the Intermediate and the Sprint courses take you down into Branchport, where you turn around to go back up the hill you just came down. I took advantage of the downhill as best as I could and made the turn just fine since it is a wider turn. I settled in as I started to go back up the hill. When I made it to the "top" of the hill, I turned right and was greeted with a brief downhill. Then it was the start of what I affectionately call, "the death hill".

This hill is tough. It is about two miles long and pretty steep. I struggled on it the first time we did the Intermediate and on a training ride last year. I threw my bike into the little ring and just grinded it out. When I made it to the turn at the top of that hill, a volunteer said, "that hill has no mercy". I agreed.

The incline doesn't end there, the next four miles or so are also uphill and there was a headwind. I waited a little while to put my bike back into the big ring (I have dropped my chain a few times so I wanted to be sure that I wouldn't during the race) and started the slow ride to the second turn around. I saw Mike and our friend, Greg, on their way back down. Mike later told me that I didn't look happy, and I wasn't. I am a little frustrated with how slow these miles were. I guess I just need to ride more!

Finally, I made it to the second turn around. Right before someone flew by me to make it to the turn before me. I just focused on making the turn safely, but I almost ate it when I turned onto the side of the road in the gravel. I finally got myself back on the pavement and the fun started.

The rest of the course is amazing. I love it. If I could ride this fast all the time I would be happy. The combination of the downhill and the tailwind helped me to achieve amazing speed (according to Mike I still don't push hard enough, though). Miles 17-24 were as follows: 20.8, 21.4, 22.7, 23.6, 25.0, 25.8, 25.7 and 18.8 mph. Mike had one mile above 30 mph!

I made the second to last turn and knew it was almost time to start running. I didn't know how the final leg of the race was going to go, but I was going to give it my all. I made the last turn toward the dismount line, unclipped both feet and got off of my bike.

Transition 2 - Jamie: 1:37 , Mike: 1:46

When I got into transition, I racked my bike and started to get ready for the run. I put on my spibelt with my bib on it, put on my socks and shoes (I ride without socks) and then put my energy chews in my tri top's back pocket. I took a sip of water from my water bottle on my bike and as I was heading out, the guy next to me said, "have a nice run".

When I crossed the timing mat, I saw that my total time so far was 2:05. I knew that I was going to have to work hard to achieve my sub-3 hour goal.

Run Leg (10K or 6.21 miles) - Jamie: 53:01 (8:33 pace), Mike: 46:46 (7:33 pace)

The first thing I noticed when I started running was that my feet were numb. I hoped this wouldn't be an issue and I just kept running. As usual, my first mile was a little fast coming in at 8:03 pace. I was able to reign it in a bit and started to run around 8:30 pace.

Eventually, I saw Mike on his way back to the finish. He told me to stay strong and I kept going on my way. I was taking water at all of the water stops and I was passing a lot of people. A little while later, I saw our friend, Greg, and he cheered me on.

The run course is primarily flat, however, for some reason the slight inclines were taking more of a toll on me than they should have been. I attribute this to our lack of brick workouts this year. I kept telling myself that I would be upset if I didn't come in under 3 hours and that I could tolerate a little bit of discomfort for a few minutes.

I skipped the final water stop before the turn around and my pace had slowed a bit. It was still under 9 minute pace, but I tried to pick up the pace. When I made it to the turn around a volunteer said, "only a 5K left and with a tailwind". I was so happy to hear that! I was eventually passed by a few people, including someone in my age group, but I didn't let that bother me. The fourth mile was my slowest at 8:52 pace.

I was starting to get hot on the way back so whenever I took water, I would take a sip and dump some over my head. I had checked my overall time on my watch and I knew it was going to be close. I couldn't let my pace slow and I was able to speed up a little bit with mile 5 and 6 coming in at 8:34 and 8:47 pace.

 Happy to see the finish line

I finally made the last turn toward the finish line and as I got closer I heard Jenelle cheering for me (she crushed the Sprint tri!) and I saw Mike. I ran up the grass toward the finish line and I was done, I had finished my second Olympic distance triathlon.


Finishing Times - Jamie: 2:58:08, Mike: 2:31:24

After finishing, I found Mike and we went to look at the results that were already posted. We found out that he came in third in his age group! I am really proud of him.

Nut butter and wine, the typical award in this area!

Due to aging up, my age group is a little bit more competitive (the overall female winner is in my age group to put it in perspective). I did achieve all four goals that I set for myself, though, so I consider this race a success! I know that I can do even better (especially on the bike), but given that I just raced a 50K two weeks ago I am proud of myself.

I am excited for the rest of triathlon season!


  1. Solid first race of the season!! Well done, guys!! :)

  2. Holy cow, girl! You killed it! Congrats on such an amazing race. You and Mike are both such inspirations!

  3. Congrats on getting your 4 goals!! Have you looked at a chain catcher if you are worried about chain dropped? Good luck on your other races.

  4. Woo, great start to the season! During one tri I did in September a few years ago, my feet were numb on the run too due to the cold. It's such a strange feeling.

  5. Oh my goodness way to achieve all 4 of your goals. Plus PRing after a swim and a bike - WOW!