The history of the Angels Race is a story of loss and healing. The race was brought into creation by a man who lost his teenage daughter in an automobile accident and this is his way of promoting healing through friendship, community and the shared sense of loss that most of us experience to some degree or another at some point in our lives. Per tradition each participant chooses an angel and has their angels name written on their arm for the event. I chose Lauren Stewart, the young girl in my family who recently passed away of leukemia.
After arriving at the race site and setting up our transition areas a prayer was held and then the event began. I was nearly last of 400 into the water and my lovely wife, Denise, was 130th. From where I was standing Denise looked like she was having a very steady swim, but after the event we matched notes and both of us had to admit that our swims were much below what we had been expecting. Both of us took in water and were slowed down by it. I also had to deal with passing people, being passed and not being able to do my flip turns because people had to rest at the walls (including myself after I tried breathing water).
Made it out of the water and into the transition area in about 8 minutes. I had been planning on a somewhat lengthy transition to the bike and I think it was about 5 minutes. My lovely wife, who started 90 minutes in front of me was just getting back from her 15.5 mile bike ride and we hollered out as we passed each other in transition.
As I got on the bike my race began to feel like a race. Deep breathes, lungs screaming, max speed all out. I knew starting back as far as I did with the swim that I was going to have to be aggressive about passing with the bike and I must have stayed consistent passing folks for the first 13 miles of the ride. The last 3.5 miles, however, found me in a stalemate with a cyclist who kept passing me back every time I passed him. He dropped me with about 1/2 mile to go till the transition area, but my race was with the clock, not other participants.
Transitioning from the bike to run went smoothly. I would guess 3 minutes. Typically 3 minutes would not be a really great time to spend transitioning, but I hadn't practiced transitioning at all so my expectations were adjusted accordingly. Bike on the rack, helmet off, cycling shoes off, running shoes on, water bottle in hand and off to the 5k run course.
The run course went amazingly like the cycling course in that I was passing people consistently until I caught up to the same guy who gave me such a good run for my money on the bike. The only notable difference was that I was running on dead legs and I couldn't quite find the sub 7 minute miles that I had thought I would find. (Again, I only blame myself for that because I only ever did 1 rapid transition bike/run brick in practicing and that was like 3 months ago.) So, I catch up to pass this same guy with about 1.2 miles to the finish, but we end up pacing each other for about a mile instead. Their is a steep hill just before the finish and I guess he wasn't used to it because he had to stop at the top and catch his breath. I train almost exclusively on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I eat hills for breakfast and then come back for more.
Made it to the finish line feeling good and found my wife and son cheering me on. My lovely wife, who had been so worried sick about not finishing, ended up with a very respectable 2:23:11. I took a moment to congratulate her and collect myself and then we went to get our gear while we waited on the awards ceremony. I hadn't trained for this event so much as I just kinda stayed generally fit for it so I wasn't really expecting an award, but as the results got posted it seemed like I had a good shot at a top 3 in my category (Novice Male). I was thinking 3rd, but they called me out for 2nd so I took it!
The Angels Race was a great introduction to the world of triathlon and I look forward to doing it again next year. I think I have one more in me this year, but I'm not decided which one or how I would schedule it in. If I can get my swim game in order and pick up the transition times I might do 3 or 4 next year, but thats a year away...no need to get that far ahead of myself when I still have a full schedule of foot races to train for in the remainder of this year!