July 31st, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors
By Kathy Braginton, Team OAM Now Triathlete
After my last race in the cold and the rain, I was asked whether I was happy and if I had fun. At that moment, it was hard to answer. However, I thought about that question often over the next 2 weeks leading up to the Clark Lake Triathlon. I have only raced at Clark Lake one other time and that was 7 years ago. So, my goals going into the race were to improve on my previous time, have fun, and most of all be happy. The next time someone asked, I’d be prepared.
Upon arrival, I quickly discovered the size of the field had decreased since 2008 as there would only be 1 wave start for the women. I prefer a single wave start because I can see what place I am in during the race. I was happy! In addition to my preferred start, the roads were finally dry on race day and I was able to top off my tire pressure. I was happy! Then, the transition had pre-designated spots by race number. I was assigned a great spot near the Swim In/Run Out. I was happy!
Because Clark Lake is shallow and warms quickly, it has a good chance of not being wet suit legal, but with the cool summer we have had so far, the swim was wet suit legal. Again, I was happy!
The women were the last wave in a 3 wave start. As a result of two swim waves starting before us, the water was stirred up and I found I had a hard time settling in on the swim. I had to alternate between freestyle and backstroke. I found myself quickly losing my “have fun/be happy” mantra and had to dig deep. As I came out of the water, I found myself way back in the field of women. I knew I had my work cut out for me on the bike.
The bike course is known for some rough sections of road and those roads have not improved over the years. Therefore, they turned the bike course into a 2-loop course. The 2-loop course consisted of mostly smooth roads with a few gentle rolling hills. On my first lap, I found myself behind the lead men who were completing their second loop. I was able to maintain a similar pace to the lead men for 3-4 miles. I recorded the fastest female split on the bike and came into T2 just behind the lead female. Now, I was happy! Because I have done several races with the lead female, I knew she was a fast runner and I would not be able to catch her during the run leg, but hoped I could maintain my position near the front.
I exited T2 with the 3rd place female and quickly discovered she was a fast runner as well; I was dropped to 3rd place. The run course features flat, paved roads that run alongside quaint lakeside cottages. The people of the neighborhood were out cheering on the runners with signs and hoses creating a fun atmosphere. The women’s field consisted of many fast runners.
Despite running just under my goal pace, I was caught by 4 more women. I was able to finish as the 7th overall female and 1st in my age group taking more than 9 minutes off my time 7 years ago. I was happy!
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