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2022 White Lake International Distance Race Report



White Lake is only 1.5 hours from the beach, so I did not go to the race site until race morning.  On the day before, I still did my pre-race routines of washing my bike, eating waffles or pancakes, braiding my hair, and laying out Flat Erin to mentally rehearse transitions.  It was GREAT to be able to sleep in my own bed the night before the race, but my alarm was set for 3:15am to have time do my morning routine (including wordle) before gettin on the road at 4:30am.  

The weather on Saturday was gorgeous, maybe a bit windy, but warm and sunny.  Saturday afternoon, a cold front moved in, so we were welcomed with 55 degree, cloudy, windy, almost damp conditions on Sunday morning for the race.  BRRRR!!!!  I drove with the top down on my jeep... and the heat on HIGH. 

Once I got checked-in and transition set, I watched the sprint race start.  There is an hour and a half between race starts.  The water was already quite choppy when the sprinters started.  There were several athletes that went as far as the first sight bouy and came right back.  I needed to NOT watch this and get in my own head space.  So, I went inside to warm up and post my morning goal post.

Swim: 1500m /26:24  6th of 45 Female

This is a 2 loop swim course, where you actually get out of the water and run on the beach before you head back out to the 2nd loop.  Heading out to the first turn buoy was choppy coming from the right, so I did all of my sighting and breathing on my left.  Between the first sight boy and first turn buoy, I swam up on one of my teammates who was struggling.  I was worried she was going to stop her race right there and I knew she would regret that.  So as I swam by, I talked to her... "you are fine.  you've got this"  She nodded at me in acknowledgement, but I did not know if she went on until I saw her on her way out of T2 on the run (phew!!)

The swim from turn buoy 1 to turn buoy 2 was VERY choppy, but I leaned into the challenge remembering that every strong stroke here would help me get ahead of those speedy runners.  I wanted to use the swim and bike to set myself up to hit the podium.  The more space I put between myself and the speedy runners, the better chances of that happening. 

Turn buoy 2 to shore had a bit of a surf feel, that allowed me to use the waves to push me in.  The break from fighting the chop was welcome both laps!

Transition 1: 2:22 4th of 45 Female

The transition includes a longish run to the transition area.  Coach Sami was watching and yelling for me to run... I really thought I was, but she said I looked like I was tiptoeing through a tulip garden.  That made me smile, but not sure it made me move any faster - LOL!  Even though it was COLD... I stuck with no socks and no added arm warmers.  

Bike: 28 miles/1:20:30  2nd of 45 Female

As usual my time on the bike on this day was the most fun part of the day.  Riding Topsail Island for training has set me up to ride strong in the wind.  I watched my power and cadence and used that, instead of my perception of what the wind was doing to me.  I was able to pass several men and women on the bike, which makes me feel stronger and pushes me more.  This course is very pretty, mostly flat, decent road conditions.  I am still working on eating on the bike, I feel like I can't breathe well while trying to eat.  I am hoping that will come better with time.  For now, I end up slowing a bit more than I like while eating.  

Transition 2: 1:03.6 15th of 45 Female

I came into transition 3rd overall females, and both women in front of me had started 4 minutes ahead of me in the "younger" wave.  The announcer even said "Erin Byrge, you are a beast on the bike."  Huge confidence boost heading into the dreaded run.  Socks on numb toes did slow me down a bit in tranisition, but I managed to get out still in 3rd.  

Run: 6.2 miles/58:56  25th of 45 Female

This run course is advertised as flat and fast, plus it was a cooler day, so I wanted to make it happen.  Last year it was crazy hot (and I was carrying 30lbs more) and my run time was pitiful.  We run 1.55 miles out, 1.55 miles back twice to get to 10k.  As I ran out of T2, the announcer said "Coach says to be patient, Erin. You've got to run 6 miles" and I knew that Coach Sami was close to him, so I listened.  I looked at my watch when he said that and it said I was running 9:15min/mi - which is faster than I should have been going. So I dialed it back a bit and tried find a rhythm.

Overall the course is pretty flat (as advertised), but it feels more like 1.5 miles up a slight incline, then turn around and go down back to transition... repeat.  I was able to run every step of the first out and back and managed to lose only 1 spot in that first 5k.  Almost immediately after the turn around I was passed by 2 more (1 in my age group).  Since it was an out and back, I knew that I was pretty far ahead of the next female, so even though I could have probably run through my high heart rate, I ended up taking 5 super quick walk breaks in the 2nd 5k to control my heart rate a bit.  My overall pace was 9:20/mile which is a really good pace for me.  While I dropped to 7th overall and 2nd in my age group on the run (from 3rd and 1st), I had an awesome day overall and I crushed my time from last year!!!  

Overall: 2:49:32  2nd of 6 F 45-49, 7/45 Female 27/102 Overall

Next up: Crystal Coast Half Booty Aquabike on May 14th (8th weekend straight of racing)... yay for no running 🤪


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