Standing at the start line. I can feel the sun at my back, rising over the hills, warming my legs, perhaps I will start perspiring soon. I would love to get racing now; the problem is that I am standing at the start of the half ironman triathlon, waiting for Dan to get his race going. My race will not start for another hour and a half, after the last triathlete from the Olympic distance race has finished swimming and left the area on their bike. It will be considerably warmer by the time my race starts. This event, in the desert at Lake Chelan, has multiple triathlons over two days. On Saturday they also have a 10K and half marathon, smaller events for those of us who do not swim or bike competitively.
It is fun to watch the swimmers and then see them zoom off on their bikes. I have plenty of time to find the start line and do a little warm up. About a quarter of a mile from the start, away from the crowds at the park I meet a guy (Tony) also warming up. I mention how hot it is and he tells me that he is from Florida, working in Chelan this Summer so the heat does not bother him. I get to the start, meet M1670 and then find out that we will be delayed about ten minutes as they wait for the last bikes to exit the area. Finally we are ready to race and we start off down a little hill, under brilliant sunshine and HEAT.
Mile 0.25 - Past Lakeshore Park and up the steep hill out of the parking lot. Right turn, I am in a crowd and almost trip on the pavement edge. Now a long downhill and a chance to sort out my pace. I know that with the heat there is no way I can run my fastest. I need to start out slower than usual for a half, but I really do not know how slow to go. My PR pace, and on a cool day I should be close to that is 7:40/mile. I decide on 8/mile today and if I need to slow I will, if I feel strong later in the race of course I will pick it up. Its always nice to be passing folks at the end rather than the one being passed, so even if I err and go slower than I can handle today, I'll still have a fun time.
Mile 1 - Scenic run along the lake, simple out and back. Except that we are on a road open to traffic, coming up behind us. Triathlete bikers coming towards us on the opposite side of the road. In a nice small pack, two younger guys right in front, seemingly very relaxed. I am next to a guy and I mention the heat and how I am not sure what pace I should be going, but that I do not want to get out too fast and pay later. He tells me that he is from Phoenix. Maybe I am the only one not so heat acclimated here.
Mile 3 - Aid stations are adequate but not the best. Heed ( I do not care for that drink) and water. Just a couple of kid volunteers and I missed the first station because it was too crowded, here the kids seem to wait until I am right there before taking a cup off the table, I could have just gotten it myself, but I appreciate any fluids at this moment. Here is the 10K turnaround and many of the runners leave us. Much smaller group going for the whole 13.1 mile race.
Mile 3.3 - Significant hill that I was not expecting. Long climb up, then back down. Sun is at my back, I am warm but not super heated. With the loss of the 10K racers, the crowd has thinned out but there are a few folks just ahead of me that I can focus on. Occasional house with homeowner and hose wanting to douse me. I want to keep the feet dry for now and will let them cool me off on the way back. Loose dog about to run into the road, I yell at him to go home and he does turn back to the driveway. I see Bill and then Dan on their bikes.
Mile 6.5 - Another uphill takes me to the turn around spot. Here, well above the lake, there is a rock cliff on the other side of the road. This location seems to trap the heat. I can feel the heat off the road and off the rocks. As I make the turn around and now face the sun, it seems even warmer. Legs have felt a little heavy today, but other than the heat I am cruising along, holding pace. I take advantage of the downhill and open it up a bit.
Mile 7.5 - Pass Tony. Look for the next runner ahead and try to slowly catch them. Most races I am trying to reach some goal time. Today my effort will be in trying to pass folks and get a decent placement rather than time. On the long uphill, but it is gradual and not nearly as bad as I suspected it would be when I was running down it on the way out.
Mile 10 - I instantly lose sight of any half marathoners in front of me as I am confronted with a sea of Olympic distance triathletes at their 10K turnaround. My somewhat lonely and spread out long run has become a mega event. All of them are going slower than me, but not by much. I wonder where Bill is. For sure I will see him approaching the turn around soon. Or maybe he is just ahead and I can catch him and finish together? In fact he is ahead but will finish ten minutes ahead of me. I let the hosers douse me and some kid with a super soaker gets me good. I am thirsty and my mouth is particularly dry. Must be the desert air. I should have taken an S!Cap as I can feel the fluids sloshing in my belly. Best way to cool now is to pour water on my head.
Mile 12 - Right on pace. I did good to pick that pace for today. Comfortably hard the whole way, but no wall or meltdown. Final hill to make it a good challenge at the end, then zoom down to the finish area.
Mile 13.1 - With chip timing the results are posted quickly and soon is the awards ceremony. I get a nice glass for finishing third (of seven) in my age group. The next day they have changed the results to bump the top three masters finishers out of age groups and have me listed as first in my group. Either way I get a glass and a medal. I'll give the race three stars, but it was a five star weekend. Getaway with Jody, cheering on good friends; there is much more I could say, but here I write about my race experiences only. I now have a record of 170 races. Next planned event is a trail marathon on August 29.
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