The first triathlon of the season is in the rear view mirror and it's time to analyze. I really do feel good about it all the way around. I'm happy with the effort, I'm happy with the time and I'm happy with the objectives of staying relaxed, hydrating well and finishing strong.
O.K., about the times. As a refresher from the previous post I wanted to complete the swim in sub-25, the bike in 1:15 and the run in sub-55. "Two out of three ain't bad", isn't that what they say? The swim was 27:50, bike - 1:05:10 and run - 53:42.
We (Trey, Bird and I) got to the venue in plenty of time. I think it was around 5:45 A.M. for a 7:50 start. We had to pick up our race packets, finish our coffee, get body marked, put on our sun screen, put more air pressure in our tires, take our bikes to the transition area and make sure all of our stuff was set up perfectly. It was also important to visit the porta-john, recheck the air pressure in our tires, double check to make sure everything was set up perfectly in our transition area, make sure our numbers were affixed to our bikes, helmets and race belts correctly, revisit the porta-john and recheck the air pressure in our tires. Visit the porta-john. Recheck the air pressure in our tires.
There was a professional category at this race and it was cool because Chris McCormack was there. McCormack finished 2nd at the Ironman World Championships in Kona this past year. He's a stud! The pros went off at 7:30 and they went off every 10 seconds. The amateurs started at 7:50 and went every 3 seconds starting with 101. My number was 1281 so by the time they got to me it was 8:53....that's a long time to wait around in a wetsuit....get's kind of hot. The cool part about it though, was that it allowed me to watch the pros finish the swim and transition to the bike. A true learning experience especially when their swim to bike transition is about 47 seconds....mine was 2:27. I need to trim some fat off of that in the future for sure.
By the time 8:53 A.M. rolled around I was absolutely ready to take the plunge. Even though the water temperature was a cool 74 degrees it felt good after standing around in my wetsuit for more than an hour waiting to start. I do like the staggered start versus the mass start for the simple reason there's not as much chaos in the water. You're slapping water and not as many arms, legs, heads and elbows.
The swim course formed a triangle and they used just about every wet inch of the small lake to complete the course. Buoys were on the left initially to help us avoid a dock that stretched out into the lake. Past the dock all buoys were then on the right the rest of the way home.
The importance of proper sighting and swimming straight can't be minimized. Although never in the military I did too much Army swimming (left, right, left, right). It not only adds distance to your swim but naturally time as well.
After the first hectic 4 or 5 minutes I settled into a decent rhythm...that is until I looked up and realized I was off course, then I kick myself, frantically changed directions and picked up my pace until I was back on course. Then I got into a decent rhythm again. All in all I felt comfortable with the swim and exited the water in 27:50.
As soon as I climbed to my feet in the water I began T1 by stripping my goggles and swim cap off and reaching for the rip cord at the back of my wet suit and unzipping it. Passing the timing device I grabbed a cup of water at the aid station and started jogging to my bike in the transition area while stripping the wetsuit over my shoulders and to my waist. Unfortunately there weren't any wetsuit strippers at this event so everyone was on his own. After grappling with my wetsuit trying to get it over the Philbrick heel I velcroed on my bike shoes, pushed on my shades, strapped on my helmet, squeezed down a GU, pulled my bike off the rack and headed for the transition exit. A 2:27 T1 needs to be cut down. In the future I'll take the GU and drink at the beginning of the bike and not during the transition.
Once on the bike you can settle down after the transition and get into a good cadence. It took me about 3/4 minutes to make that adjustment and find a good pace. I felt really strong and confident once on the bike and began passing people. My cadence stayed in the 92 - 94 range for most of the bike. It was a flat course with a few gradual inclines and no major hills. All in all I was pleased with a 1:05:10 and 22.6 MPH average on the bike. That was 10 minutes faster than my goal going in. I think I can get better coming out of and into the transition area.
Having unvelcroed my shoes while still clipped in near the end of the bike I pulled my feet out of the shoes as I came to a stop at the line going into the transition area. Being at the other end of the area it was a long run to my spot. Once there I put my back wheel into the slot sat down and reached for my socks...one of which was underneath my wetsuit and therefore was totally soaked. I slipped my shoes on, traded my helmet for a hat, sucked down another GU, chased it with some GU2O and strapped on my race belt with the number 1281 in front. Again, I need to improve on the 2:37 it took my during this transition and I think I can by simply taking in my GU and drink while exiting the transition area and carrying my race belt with me and putting it on while running.
While my running has improved I really wasn't sure what to expect. My legs really cramped up coming off the bike at the half in Houston last October. Fortunately that didn't happen this time...granted it wasn't as long a bike this time and it wasn't as hot. But I have been working on my running as well as doing at least one brick a week during training to get my legs used to running coming off the bike.
The run course had some pretty good rolling hills to it and was an out and back. Fortunately there was some shade intermittently. I took in liquids at every aid station which were situated at miles 1/5, 2/4 and mile 3. They had water and Gatorade at every station. I drank the Gatorade and poured the water over my head.
I caught up with a guy from Marion, Arkansas at the turn around and ran with him the rest of the way home. That always helps pass the time and it gives you incentive to keep going. One of my goals during this run was to not walk except through the aid stations. I was successful with that and didn't even walk through every station. I ran through the first two and walked through the last 4.
My goal for the 10K run was a sub-55. My time was 53:42 and I finished strong and felt like I could've gone further.......but glad I didn't have to! My next goal at this distance is to finish sub-50. I do have some work to do.
My overall time: 2:31:37. I was very happy with that time finishing 61 out of 126 in my age group and 374th out of approximately 900+ male racers.