Summary: International distance. 2:37:57, 1/10 AG 50-54.
The Big Lick International, at Smith Mountain Lake, has been around for over 20 years, but this was the first time I've ever traveled to it. The race has a reputation for being a pretty challenging course, with a lot of rolling hills on the bike, and a pretty challenging run course. Complicating the day would be unseasonably warm weather coupled with a late start -- meaning a hot, sunny run.
I rolled out of bed at 4 AM, loaded the truck and hit the road. Got to the race site with no problems, even before packet pickup had opened up. I picked up my packet when they opened, got marked, grabbed my chip, and snagged a good spot on the end of my rack. I puttered around for a while with my set up, then settled down to wait.
Since the race was serving as the mid-Atlantic Collegiate Championship, waiting was pretty entertaining. Lots of college kids running around in their team kit getting set up and pumping each other up. College tri teams are always an interesting contrast. Since they're strictly club teams, you'll see everything from serious young athletes, like the young lady from Virginia Tech with the P3 racking next to me, along with kids who are doing their first or second races ever.
The swim was wetsuit legal and comfy at 77 degrees. My wave, the fourth, started on the beach. I lined up on the outside and found pretty clear going as we charged to the first turn of the triangular course. Not much to report on the swim -- I had a good rhythm throughout and no problems siting as I went along the course.
The swim ended with a quick jog up the beach, up a short flight of stairs and then a relatively long run to transition.
After my last race, where I'd had some difficulty with my wet suit, I'd planned ahead. I'd trimmed 1 inch off the legs of my suit and applied liberal amounts of PAM on my legs and the inside my suit. Of came the suit, quick as a whistle. On with my glasses, then the helmet, grabbed my bike and trotted out.
T1 to the mount line required a short run up a pretty steep hill. I was a little breathless as I mounted the bike, but got riding and got my feet into my shoes without any problems.
Then the fun started.
Three times in the first four miles I dropped my chain. No rhyme or reason, except that each time I was in the small ring. Well, enough of that, I'll just stay in the big ring. After getting my wits back about me, I settled into a good rhythm, passed a couple of guys in my AG and was starting to enjoy myself. But the second half of the course is harder than the first, and my decision to stay in the big ring started telling on my legs. Still, I didn't want to risk another thrown chain, so I kept grinding away.
The last mile or so was a nice relief as the course sloped back down to the lake. I jumped off at the dismount and trotted down the hill barefoot into T2. Not the best bike, but at least I didn't panic too badly after the snafus at the start.
T2 -- smooth sailing.
No fun here. It was definitely hot now. The first mile was uphill, around 8:15 then picked it up a little on the next couple miles. But I didn't have any legs to go faster -- it was just suck it up and grind it out. At least most of the other people I saw on the course didn't look like they were enjoying themselves any more than me.
I managed to slog through a couple of difficult miles at 4 and 5, and picked it up some on the last downhill mile. Still, I was darned happy to see the finish line.
Swim -- 29:15, 5/10 AG
T1 -- 1:31, 1/10 AG
Bike -- 1:13:43, 1/10 AG
T2 -- :57, 1/10 AG
Run -- 52:29, 1/10 AG
2:37:54, 1/10 AG