Devil’s Lake Off-Road Challenge Sprint Triathlon

It rained a lot yesterday. This made for a VERY muddy race. But the day started off beautiful, low 60s and full sun breaking out. Water temperatures were around 72°F, a bit chilly, but not NEARLY as chilly as my perception had me believe. I could have went without a wetsuit, but why not? I was a running a little behind arriving to the venue because I got lost (again), had 15 minutes to set up in transition before it closed. Rushing, I set everything up as best as I could and started putting on the wetsuit (whew, what a workout). Rushing through that process, I managed to get the right knee twisted up, which didn’t make the swim as easy for that leg. But whatever, it was a MUCH shorter swim than I had been doing.

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Got in the water 5 minutes after the guys. Water was beautiful, clear, slightly wavy. Then we were off. Hit a bunch of people, bunch of people hit me. Weeds appeared about where you could no longer touch (which was quite a ways out!), which slowed me down a little…I don’t like weeds. I was able to focus on my strokes and my breathing quite well this time. I was still on the slower side, but I had people behind me. The goal was to not be the last out of the water. In the last turn, I managed to pass 3 other girls, which gave me a last little boost. As soon as I could stand, I did, and lifted my legs high and ran to transition. My swim was about where I thought it would be, about 9 minutes, but it was also about 450 m, not the 400 lol, I will count every meter extra!

Got on the bike and headed out. Oh the hills were alive with this one. The first 2 miles of the bike were straight up. Walked a little of the steeper parts trying not to blow my legs for the run (like I did last time). I succeeded. Flattening out, I ran into countless long stretches of MUD, lots and lots of wheel-turning mud. If you didn’t have momentum going in, it made it hard to pedal through it. One shook me off the left, but I managed to push off a tree and continue on. Lots of little ups and down, overall managed to go faster on average. This was part of the same course I had during the Dances with Dirt Half I did earlier this year so I knew parts of the course which was nice. Although it was not as fun spinning through wet, dense, grassy bits. The familiar gave me more confidence and before I knew it the first loop was over. I started passing some other females, and was going well until I hit one of the mud ditches the wrong way.

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I went sliding for about 12 feet on my right side with the bike still under me. As much as it was gross, I was stopped by the grassy patch ahead and “brushed” myself off. I got back on the bike, removing large chunks of ground and mud I had collected in the crash, but my bike did not go. I panicked. I started doing an inspection as people started passing by, one by one. All that time I had made up was now gone. I finally got gunk out of my rear cassette and technical bits around the derailleur and found my chain just hanging there. I put the chain back on by some miracle, and the bike protested for a few meters, but I got it shifting again and got back on my way. This put me way behind and inevitably behind 2nd place in my age group. The last 2 miles returned back to transition, and were all downhill, and it was fun getting to use my tech knowledge to gather speed. I was so afraid I was going to crash from skidding on gravel and going downhill (hard to see what was ahead because of the angle of the sun and such through the trees), but all was good.

I returned to transition and tried to hurry myself along, dropping bike and helmet (almost forgot haha), and grabbed a gel and headed out again. As soon as I was out of transition, I realized I had forgotten my run bib, whoops. I stopped for a hot second and thought about going back to get it, but I don’t know exactly how timing mats work and I didn’t want to set it off the wrong way so I went out to the run hoping they didn’t hate me for leaving it behind.

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As expected, the trail led straight up the east bluff, for 1.9 miles. The last bit was the hardest, and in fact, the hardest heart-rate spiking segment I had on the half marathon for Devil’s Lake. I ran as much as I could up and up. I was so glad to see the turn around and headed straight back down as fast and safe as I could manage on loose gravel and dirt. Thank you Altra trail shoes. The run was rather uneventful so I’ll just leave it as it was a big climb and a bid descent haha. Entering the finisher area on the grass, I managed to pass a few more people. I got to the finish 35 minutes after the run start…a little slower than I liked, but I blame part of it on the hesitation I had coming out of transition and getting water at the aid station. I finished in 1:47:37 (unofficial), which was pretty good.

The race was a lot of fun. It would have been nice to have not crashed, costing me 2nd place. Post race, I hung out with Aida, and we took some pictures in the lake with my bike. I did throw my bike in the lake, which helped getting some gnarly bits off. I will def do this one again next year…I’m coming back for 1st!! Also, no damage done to me in the crash. Getting the bike inspected though! It had a rough time of it after the mud incident. I also enjoyed wearing my #inknburn of sugar skulls which seemed to match the theme for devil’s lake

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