Last Sunday I participated in my second triathlon of the season, a local sprint tri held in my neck of the woods. While the weather wasn't optimal for racing (ie. lots of wind), the results were good. I ended up finishing the 500m swim/15 mile bike/5k run in 1:14:53, which was good enough for 9th place overall and 3rd in my age group. Here's how things went down on race day:
Thankfully the race wasn't too far away so I was able to sleep in until 5. Ate some breakfast and was out the door by 5:30. I got to the race site and there was a bug infestation! As soon as I got out of my car I was swarmed. No amount of swatting kept them away so I got my bike ready as quick as I could and speedwalked to transition. Note to self: bug repellent in the transition bag would be a key addition.
I snagged a decent spot in transition, got set up, and then proceeded to chat the rest of the time away with some friends until it was time to board the bus to the beach. I got into the water beforehand and swam a few hundred yards. They said the water was 60 that morning, but I don't believe them. 65 probably. Everything felt pretty good so I didn't do too much more than that. I swam back in and found a few more friends from our training group to chat with before the start.
The Swim: Oh Billy, here we go! Run in, couple of dolphin dives, and I'm on my way. A little crowded, lots of contact, but for the most part I feel like I'm swimming real well. Took a pretty good straight line alongside the buoys. I didn't have to sight too much. I figured as long as the water was still frothing all around me from all of the other swimmers I couldn't be too far off. Just before the turn in to the boat ramp I got stuck behind a couple of guys moving a little slower but we were so close to the end that I just hung back and drafted on in. No sense trying to pass in the last 50 yards.
I hit the boat ramp and it was a little slick. Luckily there were a couple of volunteers there helping pull people out. Thanks for the lift, dude! Time for the loooong run to transition. Seriously, it was a good 30-40s worth of running. I passed a couple of people along the way too! I was more than pleased with that swim effort. Shaved over 2 whole freaking minutes off of last year's time!!! It's great to see all that off season work pay off.
Swim time: 8:36
Swim pace: 1:34/100yds
OA Rank: 26/225
AG Rank: 7/21
T1: 1:15. Aside from the wetsuit really getting stuck on the ankles this wasn't too bad. I did waste a lot of time getting my feet free though.
The Bike: To sum up the ride in one word: Wind. From some accounts you would have thought that a tornado had rolled through, but in reality we faced a steady wind in the low 20s with gusts near 30 mph. Sucky for sure, but it was compounded by the fact it was an out and back course with a pure tailwind to start and an epic 7.5 miles back into it to end things.
Heading out of the park I passed about 3 people struggling to get into their shoes. That always makes me smile. After that I settled in and enjoyed the speedy wind-aided trip out to the turn around. Before I got there I counted about 6 people ahead of me which is right where I expected to be. The 180 turn was interesting. I took it a little fast, skidded the rear wheel a little, but managed to stay on the road.
Holy mother of God! That's a stiff wind! I thought I could stay in the big ring, but quickly reassessed that decision. Things absolutely slowed to a crawl. I'm glad I don't have a bike computer because if I had known my speed it would have been even more demoralizing.
But I fought through. I kept my eyes on the guys ahead of me and tried to catch up. One of the guys I had passed earlier repassed me. A few minutes later I retook him. We did the leapfrog thing all the way back, each of us taking a 2-3 minute legal pull at the front, before the other would take over. It was a long haul back, but I made it eventually even though I think I lost a spot or two during that stretch.
With the exception of the Pigman long course last year, this may have been the most relieved I have ever been to get off my bike so transition was a welcome sight. It was still a good ride all things considered. My split was 3 minutes slower than last year, but I think times were down all across the board for everyone.
Bike time: 42:50
Bike Pace: 21.01 mph
OA rank: 11/225
AG rank: 4/21
T2: 0:38. Nice flying dismount and then a quick in and out. I knocked my glasses off taking off my helmet, which may have cost a few seconds, but really not too bad.
The Run: The legs did not want to turn over right away. They're usually not that cranky coming off the bike but it took me over half the run to get settled and into a groove. Starting out, I just set my sights on the guys ahead of me and and ran as best I could. Unfortunately I wasn't gaining any ground. Hit the turnaround and kept moving. I had a pretty good lead on the guy behind me so I wasn't too worried. Was a split second away from dumping a cup of gatorade on my head at the aid station. That could have been ugly. Maybe I need to yell "water" a little louder. The rest of the run was uneventful back to the finish. I wish I could have pushed a little harder during this run, but I didn't really have that extra gear I needed today to close the gap on anyone.
Run time: 21:33
Run pace: 6:56/mile
OA rank: 21/225
AG rank: 5/21
This was another good race put on by our local crew. I was hoping to move up a couple of spots in the overall from last year, but all in all I'm not too disappointed. I'll take a top ten finish in ANY race. I think regardless of whatever happened later in the race I'd have to consider this a personal victory based solely on the swim improvement. I'm still smiling about that.