Another race has come and gone. This one holds a special place in my heart because it was my first triathlon back in 2007. I ran this race last year, but didn’t have the opportunity to improve my time because I was injured.
Let’s get the important stuff over first:
Thanks to Sharon and David for coming out to cheer us on! It was a blast to have you there.
Bill: 1:12:35 which is a 10 minute improvement over 2007 (1:22:56)
Jenn: 1:41:31 which is a minute and a half improvement over 2008 (1:42:55)
Time breakdowns later. Right now let’s talk about…weeds!
You may recall from last year I spoke of the forest of lake weed that had grown up in Drake Lake. I even posted a representative photo at the top of the entry to visually describe what it was like swimming last year.
This year, we’d been told by the race director that they had brought in some carp to eat the weeds as they grew; that there wouldn’t be any at all during race day. I withheld judgment, given the floating mats of lake weed I got to plunge through last year.
Happily, the lake was clean as could be (of weeds). Not a one came out to clog up my goggles, or get in my face, or cling to me as I rose from the deeps like the creature from the black lagoon. Well done guys!
The race day weather was great. Partly cloudy and mid 70′s. High humidity though (I’ve been fantasizing about the first day that is cool and low humidity around here). Everybody was friendly and the volunteers were great, as always.
Swim start was the usual confused muddle as we filed to the start line by twos. We were set loose at about 3 second intervals to head into the water at which point I’d already moved up five slots. A lot of people who do this race don’t hit the water running. I end up passing people before I’m even really into the water. You gotta do the high-legged run into the lake, guys, and then dive for it. Seconds count!
I had a (slightly) amusing scene when I had to pull over off my bike right outside of the transition area. I called a volunteer over (“A little help!”) to hold my bike while I adjusted my timing strap which was flopping around1. She came over very tentatively and asked over her shoulder, “Can I do that?” Yes, you can.
The bike course was normal, some shifting through ups and downs as we passed along the first couple miles and then just grinding through the course. It is not a technically challenging ride, with only a few sharp turns. I wondered if I were going to receive a drafting penalty during the first mile because I got caught up in a group of good riders that was being paced by a race marshal. I made an effort to show I wasn’t drafting even though I refused to drop off the group (it was very congested at this point). Thankfully I did not get a penalty.
Coming into T2, I did a flying dismount (after cursing the woman in front of me during the final approach, there’s about a 300 meter no-passing zone and she was going slooooowwwwww) and ran to my rack. I actually passed people going down the aisle, which was kind of cool. I was happy that my legs weren’t trashed like they were at Chattanooga. I’m not entirely sure why because I wasn’t holding back on the bike. Whatever. I was happy. A quick transition to run and off I went on the 5k course.
The 5k course for this race has a bit of evilness at the very beginning. Within half a mile you’re doing these quick whoopdee do up and down little hills. Not a one is more than 10 feet high, but they’re steep on both sides. This is cruel on legs that aren’t yet ready for the run portion. Yes, I know. I can hear you saying, “Suck it up, wimp!” but I can still complain that it hurts.
I pounded through the 5k at my best pace. About a half mile in, a guy (who’s number I did not get) passed me and I noticed that he was in my age group. I commented on that and he smiled and kept going. He ended up being my Rabbit for the remainder of the race. I kept him in sight as well as possible.
My 5k strategy for triathlons is pretty simple: First mile, survive. Second mile, maintain and push a bit. Third point one mile, let it all hang out. I managed this well, and I pulled up with my Rabbit about a half mile from the end of the course. He had been leap-frogging with a teenage (18) year-old woman in a tri-suit. I pulled past them at this point and mentioned, nicely, not cruelly, that they better not let me win and both of them took off after me. We were running flat out across the Drake Lake bridge and past other people. Both of them hung in until we came to the last uphill before the turn into the finish chute. I honestly don’t know what happened to them, but I started sprinting with everything I had left (not much) and left them behind.
Overall it was an excellent race for me. Obviously I crushed my former PR in this race, but the way I handled the various legs was just about perfect. I would have beat my former PR even without a good race; I’m in much better shape. I’m also back to the point where I was in High School with respect to “running through the pain”. I got out on the run course and thought to myself, “This hurts a lot, but it’s only for 20 minutes. You can put up with a lot for 20 minutes,” and off I went.
Of course, this has a downside, as I commented to Jennifer after the race: I haven’t run a race in the past year where I wasn’t going all out, balls-to-the-wall. I haven’t been racing for the fun of it. It is fun, but I need to schedule a race where I’m out there just for the hell of it, relaxed and carefree.
I had a great time and look forward to next year’s race.
|Swim (1/3 mile)||8:42||12th in my age group|
|T1||1:50||21st in my age group|
|Bike (13.9 miles)||37:39||28th in my age group|
|T2||0:50||3rd in my age group|
|Run (3.1 miles)||23:35||24th in my age group|
|Total||1:12:35||18th in my age group|
I’m pretty psyched about these numbers. It’s not like this isn’t a competitive race. Some notable things:
- The time difference between 12th and 8th in the swim is only 20 seconds. If I could knock off 40 seconds, that would’ve put me in 5th. That’s totally doable by next year.
- T1 was very tightly bunched. I did it in 1:50 and was 21st. 10 seconds faster I would have been 8th. 10 seconds slower and I would have been 60th.
- Not much to say about the bike, just that I getting sick of being passed going up hills.
- T2 was spot on. Don’t think I could have done that any faster
- Run times were great. Next year I’ll be working on my 5k times so this should come down.
- 18th Position is awesome for me. That’s the top 15% of my age group. This qualifies me for age group nationals next year if I choose to go.
1: I almost always end up with a timing strap that is too big for my leg. Next time, I’m bringing a safety pin or a needle and thread and I’m tacking the loose end onto the strap. I lost 10 or so seconds on that, which would have moved me up in my age group!