It’s taken far too long, but I’ve finally made up a page with some of the good pictures from the wonderful race in Valdese, NC. This is a hidden treasure of a race, with a really nice pool swim (traffic only one lane in each direction), an indescribably hilly bike course, and a pretty flat run. What makes it so special is the town support, culminating in a lovefest of an awards ceremony over a communal barbeque lunch.

I had many clients and girlfriends at the race, and to a woman, each won an age-group or category award. Personally, I learned that working on volume doesn’t necessarily dull speed (what little speed I have), and that pushing the bike is an advantage. My bike time was about a minute faster than last year (despite a misstep, see below) and my run was exactly the same time I ran in 2006, so the run didn’t seem to suffer from forcing the bike. In fact, I was the fastest woman there (which underscores the size and beginner-friendliness of the race), so now I can say I’ve won a race.

Yes, I managed to miss a turn on the bike course, but happily rectified the mistake within :30 when the sheriff hollered at me. Some others weren’t so lucky; Paul W., who’s pictured in the second photo on the page, went a few miles off course but enjoyed watching his twelve-year-old son Matthew do well. Matt has an awesome tri bike and rides it like a pro! We met them at the 2005 race, when Matthew was ten and just getting into the sport. A lovely family. Also pictured is Christy K., another Valdese/race circuit friend, with the most comment-worthy bike of the race, which took its maiden voyage up and down those hills. The last pictures show Robyn and Rachel of Tri to End Homelessness, with their little sister Holly and her fast friend from Asheville, as well as me, Katy B., and my yoga student/newest client Ruffin P. Can you tell we are happy, if a little stinky and under-made-up?

Two other images stand out, but I didn’t get them with the camera. One was our lovely young waitress at Fatz Café in Morganton. (Eating the Fatz “rolls,” which are really doughnuts, has become a three-year tradition, just like the race itself. I stuck with my own tradition of drinking a draft beer; Wes would agree that Whispering Peaks [a.k.a. Pounding Headache] cabernet is not a wise choice, even at the bargain price of $10 a bottle, and even if it’s your birthday. “You have no idea how hungover I am,” he told me at the finish line. Still, he took over twelve minutes off his time from the year before, when he had a calf cramp and chose to lie on someone’s lawn till it passed.) The waitress wore a rubber bracelet with her daughter’s name on it and explained she never took it off—”Except when I tan.” The other was the lobby of the Sleep Inn, full of people eating the continental breakfast. There were obviously two big groups staying at the hotel: one was the triathletes, and the other a band of Mennonites, the men in beards and the women in bonnets.

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