It's been five months since I had a "race morning", so it was kind of like learning from scratch. I had everything packed up the night before so that all I needed to do was put my bike rack on my truck, put my bike on it, and go. One problem...my bike rack doesn't fit on my new truck. Fortunately, I was able to put the third row seats down and get my bike to fit in the back with only taking the front wheel off.
So once I got all of that situated, I was on my way. In my typical fashion, I arrived very early to the race. I had plenty of time to set up my transition, check-in, get body marked and start to warm-up. It was pretty chilly setting up transition. I don't mind running in the cold, but just standing around is not fun.
Jessica and the kids showed up just before the start of the race. It's awesome to have such a supportive family...I know it wasn't easy to get them both up, dressed, fed and to a race 30 minutes away by 8:15am!
As I mentioned in the race preview, this race was in reverse. It started with a 3K run. The short run took us from the park entrance into the park and back. The route had a few small hills, but it was over so fast that it was hard to think about it too much. Since we all started together, I was able to see what place I was in. I hung with a group of two other guys most of the time, before passing one of them near the end. I finished the run in 11:22, which is a pace of 6:05 per mile (3rd fastest in my Age Group)...about 15-20 seconds per mile faster than I thought I could do.
I entered T1 in 12th position. Although I had never done a run to bike transition, I went over it in my head a few times and managed to get out of there in exactly 30 seconds, which was the third fastest transition in the field. My quick T1 moved me up to 8th place starting the bike leg. However, I once again had trouble getting my feet in my shoes after I started going and had to stop to get this right...cost me at least 10 seconds and I was passed by one guy while sitting still. I clearly need to practice this!
The bike portion of the race was a 6 mile loop of rolling hills. The bike is usually my strength, but I was struggling. I haven't had Flash out on the road since Ironman...and it showed. The trainer just cannot simulate hills, or maybe I haven't done much hill training. Either way, I was hurting! My legs were screaming at me the whole time to slow down. I knew it was a very short ride, so I just pushed through the pain. I did the 6 mile ride in 17:23, which averages out to 20.7 mph (2nd fastest in my Age Group). I never did catch the guy that passed me early on and I was passed by another guy heading back into transition (I was slowing down getting ready to dismount and he went flying past me, then locked up his brakes - almost falling off of his bike). So I came into T2 in 10th place.
I took my feet out of my shoes and took my gloves off while riding into the park entrance. I also did the run and bike in my tri shorts, so I didn't have any pants to take off before the swim. I believe that I was the only one in shorts, but it paid off with a T2 time of 53 seconds, the fastest in the field. With this quick T2, moved me up into 6th place entering the water.
Thanks to a recommendation fellow triathlete Bill Marks, I had stashed my goggles inside the pool area. I originally had planned to put them on while running from transition to the pool, but hadn't thought about how they would fog up after going from the cold outside to the hot/humid indoor pool. So I threw them on and jumped in for the 400 yard swim. My legs were burning and my lungs and heart did not want to cooperate. I was trying to focus on good form because I knew I was tired and trying to swim faster would only slow me down (if that makes any sense). I was passed about half way through the swim and just didn't have the push to hang with him. During the final lap, I passed someone else and ended up back in 6th place overall. I did the swim in 7:11, which is a pace of 1:47 per 100 yards (fastest in my Age Group)...but very slow by my standards and at least a minute slower than I could do if the swim was first. It's weird for me to say that I'm not happy with a swim that was faster than anyone in my age group, but I've been working hard on my swim and I know that I can do better than this. Fortunately, there is only one more of these races where the swim is last, because it's not fun!
My 6th overall finish was good enough for 2nd in my age group. The winner of my age group turned in the fastest run of the day and despite being faster on the bike, swim and both transitions, I couldn't catch him. He ended up beating me by 30 seconds. That almost minute and a half lead he had after the run was too much for me to overcome. In my defense, his pace was 5:19 per mile...no way I'm touching that kind of speed!
Next race is in three weeks and the distances are a little longer, time to get back to work!