Kathy and I arrived in Muncie on Thursday evening. Well, not technically Muncie, but Anderson, which is a small town about 30 minutes outside of Muncie. Apparently, Muncie doesn't have a lot of hotels and most people I knew were staying in Anderson - specifically at the Hampton Inn, which is where Kathy and I stayed. Very friendly, great staff, free breakfast INCLUDING race day... I recommend staying there. But just FYI if you're a foodie triathlete and pick your races based on what you can eat while you're on location - not a great restaurant selection in Anderson. Mainly things like Ruby Tuesday (we ate there twice), Olive Garden, etc.
Friday was check in and bike drop off. The race site was at the Prairie Creek Reservoir Park, which has one lane in and one lane out. Really pretty area - it was just in the middle of nowhere. Since there wasn't a whole lot to do in Anderson, Kathy and I killed a lot of time at check in and bike drop off. We actually went there twice. The first to picked up our packets, buy swag (my standard of a race water bottle, sticker and M-Dot name shirt) and go to the athlete briefing for a bit. The second time, we dropped off our bikes, went for a run and met up with a few other members of our team, FTP Coaching. We also picked up a VIP parking pass from the nice people who lived across the street from the race. Y'all - if you do this race in the future, do yourself a favor and get the VIP parking. As I said, this race is pretty remote and free, close race-day parking is hard to get.
On Saturday morning (race day), Kathy and I headed over to the race site crazy early - like 5:00 am. This was a little annoying since our age group was the last one to start that morning, but we had been warned that traffic could get really bad due to the limited access to the site. Both of us would rather be there for an extra hour rather than stressing about making transition cutoff while sitting in traffic.Once we got our transition areas set up, we tried to stay loose and killed time by chatting with friends and meeting some new ones. One thing I love about triathlon is that, for the most part, people are SO friendly and man, do triathletes love talking about our sport - myself included. I'm not one to talk to random strangers on a plane or some place like that, but get me at a tri and I'll tell you all about the tri scene in Nashville and what races I've done.
Me and Kathy pre-race
The mighty Team FTP!
Sometime around 8:20 (the race started at 7:00), our age group finally given the horn to go. Unlike Raleigh, I counted the buoys in Muncie. I knew there were eight buoys out to the red turn buoy, two across to the next red turn buoy and then eight buoys back. Though I didn't feel as strong as I did in Raleigh, counting off buoys really helped me mentally. At least I had some idea where I was on the course. That is until I turned back towards shore where the sun completely blinded me. BLINDED ME. I could see a few feet in front of me, but forget about being able to sight any buoys. Mind you, these weren't small buoys either. They were several feet tall. Very easy to see under normal circumstances. But due to not being able to sight, I went off course several times and had to stop to gain my bearings more often than I would have liked. There was actually one time I popped up and said "Where the F is the buoy?!" If you know me at all, you know I'm generally not a cusser, and I'm definitely not one during a race. I really don't want to be pegged as a jerk triathlete. But I was just so freaking frustrated because I couldn't see! And then I was embarrassed when some nice volunteer (that I hadn't seen, you know, because I was blind...) said "It's right in front of you." Oops.
Once I finally made it to land and ran what was possibly the longest run into transition ever, I jumped on my bike for the ride. This course had some pretty sketchy roads condition-wise heading out, but once we got on to the main road, it was newly paved asphalt and closed to car traffic. Basically a triathlete's dream. Pretty flat too. It was a two lap course with a strong tailwind on the way out. Of course, this meant we had a strong headwind coming back in. So strong that my MPH dropped by 2 MPH both times I hit it.
By the run started, it was hot. Fortunately, not 95 degrees hot - it was in the low 80's, but that's still hot when you're racing and don't have a lot of shade. I paid more attention to my nutrition than I did in Raleigh, and didn't over do the calories on the bike. Good news! I didn't puke once! I did make the mistake of going out too fast. You think I would have learned not to do that by now, but no. I felt OK until about mile 6, when the heat started to hurt me a bit. The course was also a lot hillier (good-sized rollers for the entire course) than I had anticipated. I was really trying to not walk because I knew once I started, I wouldn't be able to stop. It was about this time that I saw two women in my age group that were running close to me. We would ping-pong back and forth, passing each other along the course. One of them started chatting and while I would have loved to have spoken to her, I was in so much pain that I basically just nodded along with what she was saying. At one point she asked if I could keep this pace up until the end. Though I wasn't sure, I told her I'd try. This was when we came along the other woman, who was walking at this point. I, nicely, hit her arm as we ran by and said, "Come on - we age groupers have to stick together." With this, she started running again.
The three of us ran together for a bit. We laughed about having to start last and how happy we were that there were people behind us. I can't tell you how great it was to have people to run with during these miles. Eventually, we split up though. As much as I'd love to say that I was the bad-ass and outlasted them both, I was not. The heat and hills just got to me a little too much, and I had to slow down. I was able to keep them in my sights though, and actually caught up with one of them close to the finish. We ended up crossing the line all within one minute of each other. Of course, we found each other, thanked each other for the support and hugged at the end! THAT'S what triathlon is all about!
I don't know who you two are, but you ROCK!
Kathy had finished about a half hour before me, because she's a bad-ass. She had a great race and finished 11th in our age group. She also took this awesome photo of me prancing across the finish line.
What was also awesome about this race? Free ice cream for the finishers! Forget about post-race catering! I went and got ice cream first thing!! Woo Hoo!
Nothing better than free ice cream.
Me and Kathy post-race
Didn't have a medal with corn on it before. And now I do!
I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed this race. Granted, part of that had to do with the weather. While still really hot, considering this race is usually in the 90's, we were lucky. I also had a ton of friends racing and we passed each other on the course several times. It's so much fun to cheer on your friends while you're racing. I hadn't really had that kind of race experience since Chattanooga full in 2014. I would absolutely do this race again, and can see why it has been voted Ironman's favorite 70.3. It's a big race, but with a home-town feel. Yes, the area lacks in things like a great restaurant selection, but everyone is so friendly (the volunteers were amazing), and the race ran so smoothly that things like restaurants don't matter. It was just a great experience all around. If I have this weekend open next year, I'll be back.
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