I’d like to thank Gina for giving up almost every weekend this summer to drive me all over New England! She books the campgrounds, packs all food necessary, cooks dinner and breakfast and makes sure I’m eating and drinking enough the day before. And to Steve for being at every race, leaving at 3am and driving numerous hours the morning of a race. He has molded me into an amazing athlete in his kind ways. He layers on advice about techniques when I’m ready for them and is at just about every workout pushing me. I don’t think I could find a better coach with such dedication.
After working 6 days this week because I took a day for racing last weekend, we left town at 4:45pm. Arrived in Greenfield at 8:15 with just enough daylight to pre ride one loop of the course. The roads were in incredible shape, smooth as butter! I wasn't super amped for this race, my legs were still a little heavy from last weekend, the long drive and the late hour of arrival.
I finished in the dark and we checked into the hotel that we’d spend just 9 hours in. Gina pre cooked dinner and we watched the Red Sox. Bed at 10:30 and up at 5:15.
The race morning jitters got me pretty good. I didn’t want to eat anything. I had half a banana, less than half a bagel w/ peanut butter 2 spoonfuls of yogurt and took in the rest of the calories in liquid form, Heed and Skratch added to my water.
We arrived at the race venue and checked in. It was a very nice small recreation area. They dammed the river and made a natural swimming pool about 4 feet deep for 1/4 mile.
This race was combined with an international race starting at 8am 1/2 hour before the sprint. We shared the transition area (TA) again.
I was hoping for a first come first serve set up in the TA so I could grab the outside again, no luck. Race numbers was stuck to the racks. I started setting up and went to put my race number on my belt but the number was way too small the holes didn't line up with the bungees. So I pulled out my fancy duck tape and made it work!
Between the mandatory pre race meetings, national anthem and TA closure it's very tricky to time a 45 minute warm up. The pre race meeting was at 7:15-1 hour and 15 minutes before we started. My warm up is a brick and my shoes were already set up. I really didn't want to come in right in the middle of the meeting or the national anthem. I really need to bring extra running shoes for this reason. I didn't want to wait until after the anthem to go it would be too close to race start. I waited until 7:20 and then found out the TA closed at 7:45. I decided I'd wear Gina's shoes for the run and went out on my bike. Had to keep an eye on the time to get my bike back in TA so I shortened my ride. My legs were a little heavy for both PI's not much I could do about it except push through during the race. I racked my bike at 7:40 and the race meeting was still going. Went out for my run and started feeling a little better.
I went down to the river to check out the swim course.
My mom and Jim drove up from CT to watch me race!
Once they were done we were given the ok to warm up. I was in wave 4 so I had plenty of time. The pre race email said the temp was 72. I hopped in and was surprised, it was way cooler than 72. We were all pretty cold at the start, my teeth were chattering. They counted us off and I swam as hard as I could. After 2 mins a piece of river vegetation got stuck across my nose. It stayed on my face for the next 5 mins I didn't want to stop to take it off. I kept laughing inside though. The waves were brutal and I swallowed enough water to last the rest of the race.
It was a short run to the TA. I switched my stuff and went to run out with my bike but the person next to me was pulling his bike from the rack and blocked me for a few seconds, it threw me off a little.
The bike course was awesome. The pavement was so nice and smooth and we got to do two laps! I passed so many people which I always find surprising. I feel training for biking is more accessible than training for swimming. It's easier to go for a bike ride then finding a place to swim. My legs were still a little heavy but I wanted to push them pretty far to see what I had.
I came in for my run and switched over in 33 seconds! I pushed hard on the bike so my legs weren't as fresh as usual. I started out a little slow but got into a groove after the first mile. I passed two guys and tried to widen the gap. I was passed by a very tall guy with super long legs. I told him those must be coming handy right now. He chuckled I stayed with him for awhile and then he began to pull away but I didn't let him out of sight. As we neared the finish I tried to catch him. I sprinted down the chute and if there were 20 more feet of course I would have passed him!
As I walked away I almost got sick I pushed so hard. I met up with Gina and Steve and they asked where that last sprint came from. I said I wanted to catch the guy ahead of me! They loved it. I chatted with my mom and Jim got a few pictures and they headed home.
A racer came up to me to congratulate me and he said he was going to London, he was pretty excited he'd know someone. He talked with Steve and they might be on the same flight. I elevated my legs and drank my recovery drink and went to change. I used the Presto Chango that Laura Brockett made me!
I was first again!! The guy I was talking to was also the first male. Greg Shea from northern VT and Meg Skidmore from northern NH drive a combined 8 hours and win a race in MA. It was a cool feeling.
They announced first through 3rd for the men and I watched what Greg got to hold up. It was a wooden plate. Then the photographer traded it for a piece of paper. I was curious. Then came overall women. I congratulated the second place and accepted my plate.
The exchange was a form to fill out. I would get the wooden piece mailed to me with my name engraved on it! I couldn't believe it I've never gotten anything like that before. Then I was pulled aside for a short interview with the local paper. That was a first too! Read all about it here: http://www.recorder.com/home/7935671-95/shea-bensen-steal-show-at-lightlife-triathlon
I said goodbye to Greg and gave him my Team Skidmore card and made sure we'd stay in touch. Steve was headed back and we were meeting my aunt and uncle in VT on the way home.
It was another good day, a very long day but good. Gina and I both didn't want to spend 3 hours in the car on Saturday after working all day but it was worth it.
We haven't decided where I'll be racing next. It's either outside of Boston or on Cape Elizabeth ME. really hoping is in ME, it's a lot closer!