This year the Donner Lake Triathlon was a check-in to how I felt during the race since my main event, Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa was a week later. Every race, I make sure to prepare the night before and double check all my equipment to ensure no meltdowns during the race. Race morning, I got to transition with just enough time to get my stuff set up and put on some sunscreen. I hate being late but also too much time before the race makes me overthink. Luckily, I’ve done this race before and knew what was ahead of me. Also, I wasn’t supposed to be going 100 percent.
Just as I got back from my swim warm-up I heard “Women 39 and under, men over 50 and Clydesdale, you have 5 minutes.” I walked over and got in the mental space of just relaxing and trying to remember why I sign up for these triathlons. The countdown began and next thing we were off. Swimming is probably my best event out of the three so I got in front right away. Tracking the first buoy is always hard because you’re staring right into the sun. It seemed like forever until the first buoy but after the turn, it was a breeze. I exited the water feeling good and made my way to T1. Last year T1 was a nightmare, I lost my timing chip (so I thought) but actually just ended up sitting on it when I took my wetsuit off and the Velcro stuck to me. With that said, I was not going to make that same mistake.
Anyone who has done the Donner Lake Triathlon will tell you that the bike is no walk in the park. You immediately start the 3.8 mile climb to the top of Donner Summit and don’t expect any flat road along the way. Getting to the top is refreshing because I tell myself the hardest part is over at least until it’s time to turn-around and come back. This year on my way back, my chain fell off and it wasn’t an easy fix. It got stuck between my frame and luckily a nice participant, David, stopped and helped me. I got back on the road and didn’t let the hiccup hold me back. Again, this race wasn’t supposed to be 100 percent.
I always love coming to T2 because I know that I’m almost done, I just have the run around the lake. This run in particular is nice because you have a lot of shade along the way and it’s pretty flat. I noticed that there were no volunteers at the turn by the campground and it did confuse some first-time participants. As feedback for next year, I would make sure there is someone at the turn or have a clearly marked sign. While the run is mostly flat, the 4.5 mark to 5.5 has a hill that I walk but every hill has a descent and this one in particular leads to the finish line.
Overall, Donner Lake Triathlon is one of my favorite events because of the beautiful scenery and friendly participants. I finished 2nd in my age group and took 7 minutes off my time from last year even with my chain incident. I definitely feel prepared going into my Ironman race and this course was a great test…especially the bike. Way to go Big Blue Adventure for putting on another fantastic triathlon.