Race Recap: The Cayuga Lake Triathlon

This past weekend I competed in the 11th annual Cayuga Lake Triathlon in Ithaca, New York.

On race day, my alarm went off at 4:00 AM.  I showered, braided my hair (which, by the way, I believe is the easiest style for triathlons), got dressed in my racing gear, added more layers of clothes due to the cooler morning temps, packed up my on-the-go breakfast, and headed out the door with my husband by 5:00 AM.

We arrived a little after 6:00 AM to triathletes scattered all around Taughannock Falls State Park.  After a quick bathroom trip, I was off to set up in the transition area and get body marked.

My swim wave wouldn’t go off until 9:20.  Being my first time at this triathlon, it was nice to have some down time to soak up the course maps, transition area setup, and to be able to watch the first few of the earlier swim waves take off.  The water temperature was 70.9 degrees, which meant only one thing, wetsuit legal!

Around 8:30, it was time to get ready…with some help of course.

Since I currently don’t own a wetsuit, I rented the Aura by Huub for the race.  Although the Aura is quite expensive, retailing for around $350.00, I would highly recommend it.  It was fairly easy to get on and my arms had no problem moving freely during the swim.  I had tried on a less expensive Huub wetsuit and it was much more difficult to get on and my arms felt stuck, not free to move much.

A little before 9:00 I did a warmup in the water and then headed to the corral with my swim wave, which included all females 34 and younger.


Swim: 750 meters

As I stood waist deep in the water, I contemplated the best start position in the crowd of female swimmers.  The front of the pack looked a little intimidating, as I didn’t know how my swimming abilities would compare.  However, there was no way I was going to sit near the back of the pack and play nice.  My final decision put me in the second row, figuring I would rather have someone swimming over me than me because I’m too slow, rather than me trying to use my extra energy to swim over someone who is too slow in front of me.

As the countdown began, my nerves took over for a little.  Nerves?!  No way.  I am prepared for this day.

And with that, the horn sounded.

I took off right behind the girl in front of me, drafting off of her.  Initially, there was a lot of splashing and it was hard to see.  During my first few strokes, I felt myself gasping for air and trying to site where I was going.

Luckily, the crowd thinned out and I was able to find a better rhythm.  Soon, all I could see were the kicking feet of the girl in front of me.  I continued to follow her feet with the guidance of the buoy line on my right.  Around the half way point, she veered off to the left, so I was on to find someone else to follow.


The swim back to shore proved to be a little more difficult.  The current of the lake was pushing me away from the buoy line.   Every time I swam a few strokes, I would look up and find myself way off course.  Unfortunately, this is where I lost a lot of time on the swim.  I tried to keep the buoy line in my site as I fought the current pushing me away from it.  The last bit of the swim felt like it took forever.  I was relieved the reach the shore.

The 750 meter swim took me 17:15, slow, but good enough for 25th female out of the water and 6th in my age group.

Running into the first transition, I unzipped my wetsuit and made my way to my bike.

I spent 1:34 in transition getting the wetsuit completely off and putting my bike shoes and helmet on  Then I was off to begin the 14 mile bike ride.

Bike: 14 miles

During the first half of the bike ride, there is a pretty big elevation gain.  Add in a decent headwind for the first 7 miles and you might be able to imagine why the first half of the bike felt tough.  I hit the turn around point and then headed back.  The second half was much more enjoyable with all of that uphill turning into a downhill.

Overall, I felt good on the bike and even passed a few to further my way up in my age group.  However, I was a little disappointed to see that the 14 mile bike took me 52:15 (16.2 miles/hour), which was around 3 minutes slower than when I had practiced it a few weeks prior.  I was the 31st female and 4th for my age on the bike.


Into transition two I went.  Bike racked, helmet off, running shoes on.  In and out in 1:08.


The Run: 5k

Now, it was time for the run.  I had fully prepared for my legs to feel awful and the plan was to just run through the pain.  As I started going my legs felt GOOD.  What?!  It must be the adrenaline rush from the crowd cheers.  I checked my Garmin for pace only to find I had not started it.  I tried fumbling with it for a little before I finally gave up and decided the run would have to be done based on feel.


The run is an out and back course, entirely on grass and trail.  There is a slight elevation gain until the turn around point at the falls.  It’s a beautiful course, but the terrain forces you to work hard for speed.

I wore my Saucony Kinvara Trail shoes and they felt perfect.

Being that the run was a short distance and the weather was cooler, I opted out of the water stops.  In my mind there was no time, I had to catch as many people as possible!


As the run continued, I felt stronger and faster.  I saw my family and friends around this point in the run and they only furthered my desire to pushing.  I definitely passed more people on the run than I did on the swim or bike.

As I rounded the last corner, I could see the finishing area.  I gave it everything I had left.  I think this picture captures the moment perfectly.


The crowd cheered loudly as I headed into the finishing chute (even though it doesn’t look like they are from this picture).

23:50 (7:41 pace) for the run.  Not my fastest by any means, but I was pleased to see I was the 6th fastest female and 1st in my age group for the run.

My total time was 1:36:02 on a windy course, a little over 2 months post injury.  I’ll take it, but it definitely has left me hungry for more.

68th Overall, 11th Female, 2nd in Age Group

(11th female at the 11th annual CLT!)  I love numbers AND triathlons!

My award was a necklace made by a local jeweler.  The pendant is engraved with the falls that are at the park where the triathlon took place.


I also love my husband/race photographer.  As you can see, he didn’t miss a moment during the race.  Thanks to my awesome sister, I was able to get a picture WITH him.

Thanks to ALL (friends and family) for the great race support!

A special thanks to Alex (one of the awesome race directors) who helped me get signed up for this tri and motivated me to do well.  She rocks!

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  1. Kat says:

    AWESOME job girl! Hubby took great photos, love your gear – way to KICK BUTT

  2. Amy says:

    great job Jenelle!!! Great pics!

  3. bethp262 says:

    Congrats! Great job and your run was impressive–a 7:41 pace after the swim and bike plus it looked like it was a trail surface too! The award necklace is really cool. Much better than a medal.

  4. Congratulations!! Mike and I saw everything set up the day before and I wondered if you would be running on the trail to the falls (we saw a table covered with a tarp and I figured that was an aid station). I like the looks of this race and I definitely want to do it sometime!

    I’m so glad you love triathlons! And I love your tri top!

  5. Amber says:

    Congrats on 2nd in your AG!

  6. Sarah @ Sweet Miles says:

    Wow way to go girl!! It looks like you rocked it! I would love to do one one day, this was great motivation!!

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