Lowell Mill City – Race Report

Lowell Mill CityLocal, fun, and such nice people!

The preparation:  Relaxed. I love my checklist. No thinking. I had everything on race day.

Race morning: Triathalife is what happens when you’re making other plans. (a theme?)
The link for directions didn’t get me all the way to the race – close, but miles away. I looked on the website for the venue address – nothing! Oh man did I need a bathroom, so I drove around looking for a Dunkins – uncomfortable! Eventually I saw a car with a tri bike cross in front of me – sweet! I made a left turn and sped off in the same direction. The car was out of sight by then, but eventually I see traffic cones – and then I see the race organizer – YAY! I park the car and walk urgently to the bathroom – Ugh!  I didn’t arrive at my planned time I and still needed to do the walk back to the car to get my bike and gear. I practiced my breathing and letting go (aka “not freaking out”) and settled in to what I had available for time.

The venue & transition set-up: This was a small race, so transition set up was easy, everyone was helpful and accommodating with space.

On the beach:  Still messin’ w/ the new Garmin. All buttons, no warm up, I know better.

The swim: Ugh, I feel like I’m swimming upstream.
Merrimack River SwimOk, I was swimming upstream. We were in the Merrimack River and this was my first river swim. The lack of warm up means my breathing needs to catch up to my effort. On the positive side, I‘ve practiced this, so I’m able to stay cool and at the edge of what I can handle until just past the turn-around for the sprint. While swimming, I can’t figure out why people aren’t near the buoys and everyone’s over by the wall – weird. (I’m told after the race that the river veterans know that they’re more protected from the current there.) With 2 buoys ahead I feel queasy or dizzy or seasick.  The whole river is rocking – not good. (I learned after the race that boats were passing, making wakes) At the turn around, I have my breathing and my stroke in a happy place and the water has stopped rocking.  I head back with much more strength and the current working with me. (Apparently, the swim was over a mile – so later I will feel better about my time.)

T1: I ran right past my shoes
I wore earplugs to see if I could manage my post-swim dizziness better. It seems to work – no dizziness. I was happy that I covered my calves in Glide; it was much easier to get the wetsuit off. All in all a pretty uneventful T1 – Yay! (So uneventful that I didn’t hit the button on my Garmin, either)

The bike: Challenge #1 & thanks for my bike angel
I felt ready. I was going for my first 20 mph average oly. The initial straightaway on the main road without hills was awesome! I worried about my run after pushing for over an hour, but rationalized that this was research and it was time to find out what happens I push 20 for 26 miles. My goal was to stay in aero as much as possible. There were some hills where I kept my left arm on the bar and body low, but moved my right hand wide to the brake and this was enough to make me feel in control. There was a long section where I didn’t see other riders and where sections of the roads were in rough shape. The volunteers were awesome.
Lowell Mill City TriathlonSomewhere near the end of the first loop, I realized that my aero bottle had cracked and water was leaking on to my legs. It wasn’t too hot, so I figured I’d be fine, but pushed up my second snack to make sure I’d have water left to wash it down. At the end of the first loop I felt strong – and overall time was aligned with my goal of finishing in 1:18 or less. On the 2nd loop, a strong female cyclist (#714) passed me. It was perfect timing; she became my bike angel. I kept her in sight and tried to mimic her lines and channel her strength.  She did bring a drafting male caboose with her. He was on my wheel for several minutes. He kept calling “car back” like we were on a weekend group ride. Eventually he passed and grabbed my bike angel’s wheel again, before moving on – very odd.  My average coming into transition was 19.7 – I was quite happy. So close!

T2: nothing notable
Belt on, sneakers on, run. Too smooth – I paused to figure out what I’d forgotten.

The run: I really wanted to hit my goal…
I got to run with the Hoyts! How cool is that?! I ran with the Hoyts! It was awesome and an honor.
I don’t know exactly why I passed on my run snack. It had something to do with the intersection of too much time on the internet the night before and the bike being shorter than Quassy. It wasn’t my best thinking. (Even if it’s all in my head. I like knowing I’ve had a hit of energy that will sustain my last 30ish minutes – 100 calories at mile 2 would have been terrific.)
I needed to quiet my thoughts and encourage my body at lot. I kept re-setting to “good form”.  I can’t ever know if anything would have been different (other than not having the “what if”) but I have a hunch that I won’t skip my mile 2 snack again. On the way out to the turn-around, I had this thought, that Olympic distance really wasn’t my thing, I’m not good at them– I should stick to the sprints. “What was I thinking?”
As I got to the turn around – I realized that I only saw 3 women go by in the other direction and felt sure the closest was on a relay (she was). Hmmn, maybe I’m ok at the oly distance.  The return felt long.  It wasn’t the crazy alp like hills of Quassy – just one long slight hill until the last ¾ of a mile.  It became mental/physical challenge and my legs were tightening. The last mile felt long and I wondered if I’d slow or walk. Then I saw the relay woman, who was just ahead of me, completely miss the left turn around the parking lot.  I hollered for her to “turn – turn – turn!”  When my yelling finally registered, she came back on course. I was happy to be competing and supporting. This is what I love about triathlon.
Lowell Mill City TriThis interaction of cooperation/competition fueled a final kick and a strong finish – and then I ran right into the river to cool down.  I really had nothing left – I’d pushed and given everything I had. Ahhhh – this feels awesome!  (In review, my lap paces told the same story – I had a 7:30 average after the first 2 miles and slowed from there – the last full mile was over 8:00 – the last .2 @ 7:20)

The finish:
By the Numbers:
Swim: 21 / 33:00 / 2:05 T1: 2:25 Bike: 23 / 1:17:11 / 2:58 T2: 1:03 Run: 15 / 48:28 / 7:49 Total: 2:42:09
3rd Overall & 1 cool new bowl

2 thoughts on “Lowell Mill City – Race Report

  1. Thanks for posting a great race report. And thanks for the tips on the current. If my ankles ever allow me to run again I will consider that race. Congratulations on your finish.


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