Every time I go to New Jersey, something goes wrong. Google Maps drops out just past the GW Bridge; I get accidentally shunted off onto a toll road; the traffic is inexplicably terrible in the middle of nowhere . . . Things just don't go well for me when I go to Jersey.
During this particular trip to Jersey, we got lost in the middle of nowhere in the pitch black after midnight and couldn't find the state park campground. Turns out that we were actually in the state park. New Jersey's signs are not well-lit.
The race itself didn't go poorly, though; let me tell you about it.
As you may have guessed, we stayed in a state campground for this race. We drove up on Friday night after work so that we could make more of a weekend of it. We had trouble finding the campground, but the park ranger was super helpful. We called ahead to tell her we were going to be late, and she left all of our papers for the camp site at the park office, which was long-closed by the time we showed up. The campground was really nice. New Jersey's signage may suck, but the state parks are beautiful!
On Saturday, we went to the race site to swim and play. The lake was small, warm, and the color of . . . iced tea? I was pretty freaked out about the water color, until the guy who was setting up the bike racks told me it's from all the cedar trees nearby.
We had hot dogs and s'mores for dinner. That's what we always have when we're camping.
We had the campground mostly to ourselves, except for another woman (in the 30-34 age group, not mine) and her mom who had the same idea. I met them in the bathhouse the next morning while I was getting ready.
This race had day-of packet pick-up, which was terrific. I like to see races that still have same-day packet pick-up. I think that's one of the signs that it's a grassroots race.
Lots of expensive bikes there, though. That doesn't always bode well for the asshole factor (i.e. the number of assholes present who think their races are more important than anyone else's).
Swim: 1500 m in 31:28
Not terrible, especially considering I was still freaked out to be swimming in a lake full of warm iced tea. It was a wetsuit legal swim, but I didn't wear mine. I would have gotten too hot, and I don't like the constriction on my chest and shoulders. I don't remember much of the swim, except that my back really hurt by the end of it.
Bike: 40 km in 1:20:36 (19 MPH)
This was, hands down, the easiest bike courses I've ever seen. It was almost pancake flat, lined with trees on both sides, absolutely no wind. The road was completely closed to traffic, too. Great course for a fast bike split. We did three or four loops of the same stretch of tarmac, though, so it was kind of boring.
The assholes were out in force, blowing past slower competitors on their aerobars with their spaceman helmets with nary a "Passing!" or "On your left!" One guy blew past me close enough to have knocked me over without making a sound. Not sure what the point of that was. Triathletes are notoriously poor bike handlers. How did he know that I wouldn't flip out when he got that close to me and knock both of us over? And really, does it consume so much oxygen that a simple "On your left" is going to blow your race performance? Is it that you're less aerodynamic when you open your mouth to speak? These are the guys who pay $1,000 to do an Ironman in Manhattan, aren't they?
I have to admit, though, that I did do kind of an asshole thing of my own. It was near the beginning of the course, winding out to the main looped section. There was a woman on an aero bike slowing waaaaay down for a corner, so I took the inside line. I yelled at her, "On your inside! ON YOUR INSIDE!" She almost clipped me, swinging back into the corner. I had to hit my brakes. As I got out of the corner, she shouted after me, "You mean on your left?" She passed me within a couple of miles anyway, so I'm sorry for being an asshole, lady in the pink tri suit. I needn't have been in such a hurry.
Run: 10 km in 1:10:12 (11:20/mile)
Ugh. Half of this run course was on sand. It was awful and I hated it. I don't know if I will come back to this race or not, but if I don't, a big part of it will be because of the awful sand on the run course. And it's not hard-packed sand; it's soft, thick sand. It really destroyed me.
Coming back towards the finish line, about half a mile from the end, I heard people cheering for the girl behind me. I knew she was pretty close, so I put on a little bit more speed and finished strong. That little burst of speed at the end won me first place in my age group, and the chick behind me got second. If I'd succumbed to exhaustion a bit earlier, those places would have been switched!
Total: 3:04:59 (1st F25-29)
Not my worst olympic time ever, but certainly not the best. This was a really fun, down-home race (even if there were a bunch of assholes there). I don't know if I'll go back or not (because sand), but I enjoyed the weekend.
If you're considering signing up for this race and you have more questions about it, please leave a comment!