06092019 – Cuyuna Off Road Tri

After several hot days, it was nice to wake up to a cool morning for the race! The cooler temps and threat of rain made for good race conditions, although the wind on the lake wasn’t ideal! I was a little nervous as we unloaded the kayak and found a great parking spot! Arriving early and getting a good parking spot is a good idea for this race, especially if family is spectating. They were able to go back and relax and warm-up in the van in between transitions.

The setting is so perfect! Below you can see some of the boats lined up on shore waiting to start. I didn’t actually even know how the race would start. Would we all run down to our kayaks and get them into the water? Fortunately, we started in the kayaks floating on the water!  I did a few paddles and then got back into line with everyone else and waited. I wasn’t the only one in a flat water kayak and there were even a few SUP’s in our “competitive” first wave. The second wave was teams or relays and the third was “recreational.”

A 3 mile out and back kayak was a long way and seems out of proportion to the rest of the race, but it was an out and back paddle in Huntington Lake.  At the start I felt like my boat might submerge in the slight chop from the other boats! Not a good feeling to start the hardest leg with. I quickly got sifted out the back of the pack and was in next to last place for almost the whole paddle.  I did manage to catch up to another person as we got to the turn around boat. The hope of the wind helping push me back to the finish wasn’t really there. I felt no noticeable difference, though my watch split times were a few seconds faster!  Shortly after the half way point is when the first canoe team went by me!  I was 3rd from last in my wave and got passed by a bunch of people in the second wave before I finally finished. I felt like I was paddling hard the whole way too!  Volunteers were helping take the boats, life jackets, and paddles up out of the water so I took them all off and started running up the hill to the transition area.  My 3 mile paddle was 45:26 (124/154 overall).

I was wearing sandals so I slipped out of them and into my socks and bike shoes. I grabbed my bike and headed out. A seat would have been helpful!  T1 was 1:43.  I picked a spot close to the paddle in/bike out part of transition as it was a long run up from the water.  Once at of T1 I took some water and headed down the road towards the trails. I was actually surprised at how tired my legs already felt. I didn’t realize how much I was using them to sit in the kayak! I have never actually raced a mountain bike before, but have obviously been passed and passed people while riding. It was interesting trying to do that while also maintaining some type of speed.  Most people were pretty respectful and communicative about passing.  The first section had a lot of passing.  One time I actually stopped and it took awhile before I could get back on. Lesson learned!  The trail layout was good! The bulk of the race was on Easy trails, but we did a few good climbs on the Intermediate trails. I have ridden all of the trails we did at some point, but man the 3 climbs really sorted out the pack.  One of the smaller climbs ended with a little loop on top and a lady wearing purple accidentally cut the course and ended back in front of me. This was annoying because I had just passed her and would now have to pass her again! Once we hit that first major climb on Mucker Mountain it was a long time before anyone passed me again. The second climb was up Hopper Hill and the final one was Roly Poly (but cutting up the service road). I realized it was going to be hard to take any nutrition or water while on the bike so I grabbed drinks whenever I could on a service road and the took the nutrition when we had a short stint on a grassy road that was still hard to do one handed! I probably could have gotten by without any nutrition, but I knew I was going to be out there for awhile.  The didn’t have miles marked, but there were a few spots where there was a sign that said how many miles were left. It was definitely deceiving because we passed the mile to go sign and then went up Roly Poly! The trails and scenery are so pretty, but I didn’t really get to enjoy the scenery! I felt like I was moving along at a pretty good clip for me throughout the race. I finished the 8 mile bike in 58:09 (93/155).

I had a longer run from the Bike In to my transition spot for T2 and then run out was back by the Bike In so T2 was 1:26.  Then off I went for the run.  My family was able to see me at all the transitions so that was fun to get high fives!! The first section of running is a set of switchbacks and shortly after I started I heard the crowd gasp as a rider flipped off his bike trying to transition. The run was a great course. Running on mountain bike trails is interesting as they are designed with that in mind, not running. For the first half that wasn’t a big deal, but a fair number of switchbacks helped to see who was around. I noticed that the lady in purple wasn’t too far behind me. I decided I wasn’t going to let her pass me. I maintained a steady pace and kept moving up the hill and enjoyed the elevation changes. They did have a water stop so I grabbed  a quick drink at around the halfway point. The second half of the run had way more short pump track type features which are fairly annoying for running on. I kept pushing, but was definitely feeling the fatigue as my legs felt dead on some of those features. I got passed by a few people in this section and kept thinking it was the purple lady. There was the same deceiving sign, I don’t remember what distance it said, but it felt like forever! There is also a false exit from the dirt trails onto the paved one for a brief moment and then back into the dirt before finally exiting the dirt for real and heading into the finish. Once we made the turn towards the finish I tried to pick up the pace. I didn’t have a lot left and I don’t really think it went much faster, but I did pass a few people and didn’t get passed!! I finished the 3 mile run in 22:07 (7:23 pace and 41/154).  I was pretty happy with that!

This is a post race selfie!! It felt great to be done with the race! I’m pretty happy with 2:08. It is crazy to think that I spent so much time on the kayak!!

Overall it was a great event and I had a blast. It started raining after I finished but never really came down hard. I would be tempted to do it again, but really need to work on the paddling part if I’m going to.  I saw an advertisement for an off-road triathlon that does swimming, mountain bike, trail run and that might be more my thing.  We’ll see!

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