Ironman was two weeks ago and the months leading up to Ironman were filled with loooong bike rides, loooong runs, and looooong swims (because Ironman is all about endurance, not speed - well, not for me anyway). Ironman is all about LOTS of lists, preparation, yada, yada, yada. And now that Ironman is done, I want short, fast, and as little preparation as possible. Enter: the Summer Super Sprint. I heard about it yesterday around noon - online registration closed at 3pm. Race was this morning at 7:30am. As little preparation and hassle as possible - CHECK. The distances were 400yd swim, 8 mile bike ride, 2 mile run. Short - CHECK. Fast... well, when you are schooled by a 14 year old girl, you can't help but feel slow. But it is useful to take solace in the fact that said 14-year old girl also beat the entire field, men included, by close to two minutes.
The race was small and local (we'll call Manasses local because it only took me 35 minutes to get out there at 5:30am) and I thought it was well organized and everyone was very nice and friendly. I was able to nab a prime spot for my bike right near the bike-in/bike out area and it took a whopping 3 minutes to get myself set up in transition. And when the nice volunteer who body marked me said, Well, you certainly don't look old enough to be 31, I could've hugged her - see, NICE volunteers, tell the racers what they want to hear.
The swim was a 400yd snake swim in the pool at George Mason University's Manassas campus. You were seeded by your race number and it was a time-trial start, with racers getting into the water about five seconds apart. On the registration page they asked you to give an estimated time, rounded to the whole number. I went with 6 minutes since I feel like Flanagan's morning Master's at Hain's Point have given my swimming a much-needed boost (see: cutting 10 minutes off my swim time at Ironman Lake Placid - and yes, I'm going to mention that victory every chance I get, thankyouverymuch). This landed me with race number 15. Ahead of me were fourteen kids, all of whom looked like they had belonged on the swim team since they were in the womb - aaaannd judging by their swim times, this was probably true. I was a little concerned that I had seeded myself too high and my goal became: Don't get passed by a 10 year old. Shortly after the start, it was my turn to slip into the water. While I wasn't able to hang on the feet of the 10 year old in front of me, the only person that passed me was an overzealous 40 year old guy who probably went out too hard, seeing as he lost steam with about 100yds to go and I passed him back. Even though it was only 400yds of swimming, it was all out, something that I completely stink at.
I was so proud of myself because it felt like I zipped right out of transition - then after the race I saw everyone else's transition times and I was at least 30 seconds slower, womp, womp.
The bike course was two loops of a four mile course, all within University grounds. This meant it was all a bunch of out-and-backs, giving me a chance to practice U-turns on the bike (something which, after almost biting it on the U-turns at Placid in 2011, I obviously need to work on). I didn't fall off my bike and the turns were relatively painless, thanks to the really wide roads and the fact that I wasn't aggressive with them. I think my fast-twitch muscles are on hiatus, judging by how sluggish my legs felt at times on the bike. I was also huffing and puffing and sweating buckets - by the time I finished, I probably looked like I'd done a ride substantially longer than eight miles. Proof that short and fast is NOT my forte, but it's fun to give it a try anyway. The course wasn't very crowded when I first got out there, thanks to my swim seed, and the out-and-backs gave me a chance to see who was in front of me. There was one girl who seemed to be ahead of the entire pack, by a wide margin. I tried catching up to the guys who were in front of me, but it seemed like our bike speeds were relatively similar because I wasn't really gaining or losing any ground to them. The second loop was a bit more crowded, but everyone stayed to the right and it was never an issue.
Again, I felt like I was super fast, but definitely wasn't compared to everyone else. womp, womp squared.
Only two miles! I couldn't remember if it was a one loop or two loop course and as we headed further and further away from the finish area, I had my fingers crossed that it was just one giant loop (it was). Since it was only two miles, there really weren't any excuses to take it easy - this was especially true when I looked behind me after less than a quarter mile and saw another girl hot on my heels. At the first out-and-back, the middle school girl who was leading the race passed me going in the other direction, making it look like 6:15s were just a walk in the park. I didn't wear my Garmin (see: NO HASSLE, a simple stopwatch will do), so throughout the race I really had no idea what my pace was OR what mile I was at. After probably half a mile, I felt myself settle into the pace and while it didn't feel comfortable, it felt sustainable. I noticed that the girl behind me was falling a little further back, so that was a small boost in confidence - though I did the entire run portion scared that she would catch me. This isn't really a bad thing because it forced me to pick up the pace and not ease up and get too comfortable, though at the time I was cursing the fact slowing down wasn't an option. It may have only been for two miles, but short and hard hurts. I was pretty happy to see that finish line come in sight.
I ended up getting second female overall and fourth overall out of men and women combined. I was sandwiched in between the 14 year old girl who won and the 16 year old who finished right after me. Thank goodness for that nice volunteer who bodymarked me and said I didn't look my age, as I felt kind of like a grandma between these two in our awards picture. Sigh. But age issues aside, I would keep an eye out for an up-and-coming triathlete named Elizabeth Edwards, she was strong and fast in all three disciplines and she made fast and easy work of beating the top guys by almost two minutes (a huge margin when the distances are so short). It was such a fun race, and over nice and early so I still had time to eat breakfast with my high school friends Megan and Rachel and their husbands - three of them are in training for a fall marathon and between the five of us, we demolished an entire loaf of bread for French toast and slabs of bacon and lots of fruit. Then it was a surprise party for my neighbor Georgia (happy birthday Georgia!!). All of this before noontime - I've never been so productive on a Sunday morning!