Graham Beasley Triathlon, Sprint Tri, year 2.
Year 1 results:
500m swim + T1: 16:26 (127/210)
20km cycle: 39:29 (94/210)
5km run + T2: 26:26 (63/210)
Overall placement: 86/210
Year 2 results:
500m swim + T1: 13:07 (77/228)
20km cycle: 39:47 (63/228)
5km run + T2: 24:45 (54/227)
Overall placement: 58/227 (44/125 men, 7/17 age group)
I knocked 4:41 off of last year's time.
We had company this morning. That, combined with an early departure for an out-of-town race, precluded family attendence. So I hit the road just before 7am, with my bike and a bagload of gear behind me. Unlike last year, this year I parked on a quiet street, with nobody around. I walked down, grabbed my race kit, hit the washroom line, then went back to my car for my gear. I grabbed a spot in the transition zone near the water, which would be a disadvantage for T2, but gave me choice of an end-of-rack position.
I spotted Brian, who I ran with in the North Bay Tri. He was doing the Half Iron distance. I set up my transition area, then pondered going for a swim.
I really wanted to test out my wetsuit, and my general ability to swim, before the race started. After clearing it with a race marshall (by then the half iron swim had started), I got in near the Swim In, and swam across the river and back. The current was noticeable, but I felt pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. Then again, swimming was NEVER my strength in triathlon.
I left my wetsuit on (I'd gotten it done up once by myself, and wasn't about to take any chances), and headed over to the start line. Last year they'd encouraged wearing water shoes, due to the prevalence of zebra mussels. The prerace email hadn't mentioned them, but when I got to the docks one guy was nursing a nasty cut on his toe. Uh oh. Apparently, they were back.
I stayed on the docks until the last possible minute. I had to put my feet down once, to get into the water, but was advised that I'd be ok if I went slowly and tested the bottom gently. The 20-29 wave left, then it was our turn.
I started behind the front wave, and tried to start out strong, smooth, and most importantly aerobic. I was less concerned at first with going straight than I was with avoiding collisions. I had someone swim up my back a few times, but there wasn't a lot I could do about it. Surprisingly, whenever I looked up, I seemed to be headed pretty close to the right direction.
As with last year, we do about 225m into a stiff current, then turn around and do 275 with the current at our feet. I probably would have preferred to start slowly to build confidence, but the truth of the matter was that the current necessitated starting with power. It would be easier and much less costly, I figured, to ease up on the return journey.
About 50m before the buoy, I realized that I was swimming alone. Of course, there are two possible explanations for this. I chose to believe that I was having a good swim. It felt like I was. I breathed every 2 or 3 pulls, depending on how I felt, and ocassionaly stopped, looked up, and sputtered. I made the turn alone, which I can tell you is a huge blessing.
Off the turn, I sighted the 3 buoys, and aimed slightly to their left. Someone was swimming well off to my left, close to shore, but that looked like they were adding distance. I stuck to my guns, stuck to my line, and let myself glide a bit more between pulls. I started to get a bit winded, and felt a bit constricted in the wetsuit, but I was far from panicked. I passed under the bridge, positive that I could hear someone cheering my name. Not likely, but it felt good. On the other side, I angled to shore.
I quickly got to my bike, and sat down. Off came the wetsuit. Um, what comes next? Off with goggles and swim cap, on with glasses. On with helmet, since the rules are so tough. Socks and shoes were next, I forgot to dry one foot before I did, though, so the first sock was tough. Grabbed my race belt with my bib, took a swig of Gatorade. Anything else? Nope. Time to clip clop to the mount line.
As you can see above, my swim + T1 was over 3 minutes faster than last year. I don't think my transition was anything special, so I'll say it was my swim.
Feeling good, but winded, I got on my bike and started going. It felt like I was going to need a minute or two to get my legs. I got up to 90rpm and tried to ease my way out of town.
I recalled the course being primarily gently rolling hills. Actually, I was pretty much looking forward to the ride - flat, but with the opportunity to get some speed off the downhills.
I hit the rollers almost immediately, but was still struggling to get my heartrate down. I passed a few of the 20-something triathletes, and a few who were in the sprint duathlon. I was maybe 7 kilometers in, approaching the first turn, and feeling good about my pace and my slowly descending heartrate whne one of them went by. You know. One of those people who ride like they're from another planet? Fancy bike, aero bars, spinning some crazy gear the rest of us reserve for downhills? Yeah, that.
Mentally, you allow for that, of course. I watched the guy who wasn't even in my age group go by, and kept at it. The hills got a bit rollier, and I resolved not to push too hard, until I'd seen the turnaround. Then I'd know I was more than halfway done, and could push a little more.
I thought they'd changed the route a bit from last year, but the turnaround out by Almonte looked familiar, and I kinda had an intuition that it was coming. Just past it, I was passed by two riders of the human variety. I tried to stay out of the draft zone as they eased by me, the first two "human" riders who'd passed me on the day. I repassed one on a downhill, but was repassed the next uphill, which was fine. The speeds I was holding weren't everything I was hoping for, but I was moving.
When we finally hit town, I was still in touch with at least one of the passers. I thanked the police officer who was keeping the one busy intersection open for the race. I tried to keep it going right onto the bridge, then broke hard for the dismount line. Suddenly, my ride was over.
Feeling-wise, I was pretty happy with my ride. While I can't keep up with the superhumans, I thought that I was decently fast, but still had some room to improve. From the results above, I was 18 seconds slower than last year, and 31 positions higher. Hmmm.... Maybe the course was a bit hillier than last year. Maybe it was windier. I'll call it a cautious victory.
T2 was again incident free, but no great shakes. Someone on my rack didn't have to change shoes, and passed me in transition. Oh well.
Onto the run I went. The run is usually my forte, but at this point in my training, I wasn't expecting blazing speed. I quickly broke the run up into thirds - the first third, up to 2km, I'd keep my cadence high, but stay relaxed. In the middle third, from 2-4km, I'd keep myself slightly breathless. Over the final third (1km, yeah yeah, mathmatically they're uneven, but any racer will tell you they're close) I'd do whatever I could (even if that wasn't much).
I was passed around 1.5km by a nice young lady (20-something) in a green top. It's sad, but I don't have to be very far into the 30-something age group for 20-somethings to be "young ladies". Somewhere, someone's laughing at me. Oh yeah, that would be me. Anyways, my exertion-dazed mind told me that she was already 5 minutes ahead of me, so I would never have beat her anyways. Just after the 2km mark, a 40 year old man passed me. Again, I figured he was ahead because of the different start time. This time I was right. Fortunately, I'd passed a few runners of my own, including at least one in my age group.
At the turnaround, I took stock of what was behind me. I saw two likely candidates for people in my age group who were maybe 15 seconds behind. I simply could not afford to let up on the way home.
I ran through the water station, and dumped water on my head. I hadn't noticed heat on the bike, but it was getting hot - probably already 25 and humid, I'd say. Green shirted lady wasn't pulling away from me, which gave me some courage. I could imagine the guys behind me, though, and I knew I'd have to break them with pace, or they'd catch me at the end. (No illusions of TdF grandeur in me mid-race, eh?)
The 4km mark seemed to come early. I couldn't see the bridge, I couldn't see the turn. I passed another young lady who was struggling. To be fair, I probably sounded to her like I was. I was losing control of 2-and-2 breathing, and I wasn't quiet about it. Still, I didn't really think I'd picked it up.
Then, there was the bridge. It seemed so close. 400m? Dunno. Can't go just yet. We make the turn. Somehow, there are 5 or 6 of us, all close, including green shirted young lady and 40 year old guy. Someone recognizes someone else, and invites them to "go". Suddenly, we're all going, picking up the pace, soaking up the cheering, eying the finish line greedily. Behind me is quiet. No real point in passing anyone in front of me, and no real inclination too. I finish strongly, but not insanely.
I ran 1:41 better than last year. I know last year's run felt awful. This year's run didn't feel great, but was probably still around 23:00 for 5km. Not bad for being a bit low on speed yet.
Once again, I really loved this triathlon. Familiarity made me comfortable, which put me in a good state mentally. If I want to move on to olympic distances, I may have some work to do. For now, though, I'm pretty happy with the current state of my fitness.