3rd time's the charm!
Just like the previous two races, a group of people all moved right in front of me at the start, including a very large man wearing only a “Speedo” Speedo, if you know what I mean! I was fired up about the lack of respect I was being shown in the queue, and determined to put in a strong swim. I got the “GO” and really had a nice run and dolphin dive into the water and felt strong immediately. What a difference with a wetsuit! I felt nice and high in the water, and more importantly fast. I had practiced sighting and was swimming about as straight a line as I could and made several passes easily before the first buoy. This was one of those swims where there was just no sluggishness whatsoever; no arm fatigue to shake out, none of the post adrenaline rush comedown, just pure energy! I should probably note here that coincidentally this was by far the best warm-up I had done yet, as I didn’t get out of the water until the 5 minute warning. The best feeling I had during this swim was that I knew I was going fast, I was either drafting or passing the whole way, I swam a perfect line, and yet I didn’t feel like I was working real hard. As I came to the exit ramp I picked up my kick and even managed a somewhat quick pace on the jog to T1, which up to this point had really cost me some time.
Swim Time: 7:49 (6th Overall and 59 seconds faster than previous race).
I actually got to into T1 and was a little surprised at the lack of people in there for about 5 seconds until a couple of the elite wave people went running past me at full speed. I was honestly shocked that I had passed them on the swim, but I wouldn't bother them and they would be gone before I finished. I had practiced taking my wetsuit off after a swim several times without incident, however this time, in race conditions, I got the darn thing stuck on my ankle and lost a few seconds.
T1 time: 1:30
My tires were inflated properly this time and I knew what to expect on the course, and set out to not have any major blunders this time! I realized that there was no need to hammer the bike early and get my heart rate out of whack, so with an even cadence and a lot of shifting to maintain a constant effort, I felt like I was executing my race strategy perfectly! Then…..then nothing! The bike leg went great!
Bike Time: 30:55
One great advantage, I think, about being a better swimmer, is that you usually get a favorable bike rack position. At Eagle Creek I only had to go about 10 yards with my bike from the dismount line to get to the front rack. Unfortunately for me at this race, as the gal in front of me racked her bike, she also knocked down the entire rack as I was trying to hang mine up. I picked the entire rack up, with that gal's bike on it, re-set the stands, and finally got my own bike on the rack. I gave her an exasperated “oh come on!” look, and she gave me a “sucks for you” look right back. Manners people, manners! While you bike in right at the front rack, you have to run a loop through the transition area adding a couple hundred meters (oh boy!).
T2 time: 1:22
Run up a big hill immediately, then a very boring out and back through some parking lots, then finish going back down that hill pretty much describes this run course. The runners all passed me per usual, but I did engage in a great back and forth with a man in his 60s, which as a man in my early thirties, is really motivating! We passed each other several times for the entire run, which honestly was kind of fun, because typically I get passed and have no ability to keep pace with anyone. In the final stretch, he had pulled ahead of me and I was struggling to keep up, eventually dropping behind him about 100 meters. Thankfully, there was the long downhill, and if there’s ever been one thing that I’ve excelled at, it’s finishing strong, plus with my 50 extra pounds I had a lot more momentum! I ended up passing him in the finishing shoot with a sprint down that hill, and I felt impressed with myself for beating a guy double my age. Way to go Mike (said no one)!
Run Time: 24:02
Final time: 1:05.40. First Place Clydesdale. Official results here.
I had done it, finally! Planned, prepared, and executed my race strategy from start to finish and was really hooked on triathlon. I won the Clydesdale group, waited an exorbitant amount of time for the awards, and walked away with this awesome………soup bowl? Seriously!?! Some people do it for the fun, some people do it for the health, and some people do it for the terrible awards!
What was next for me then? I didn’t think I had the conditioning to do a much longer race, and I had already paid for one more sprint and put an Olympic distance race on my calendar “just in case.” I felt great physically and came to the conclusion that my run was really killing my times, so it was time to get faster! A few weeks later my season was over…with a running injury…from over-training….because I am dumb.