It's Sunday afternoon. I've got coverage of the Paris - Robiax bicycle race tuned in on Versus, so I figured I would multi-task and get my thoughts together about today's race.
PRE-RACE CHECK IN/EXPO
I headed over to the Irvine Crowne Plaza Hotel yesterday afternoon to pick up my bib, timing chip and "goodie bag". There was also a mandatory pre-race meeting to go over the race course, show your USAT card, and sign the liability waiver. Let's talk about the waiver. It was just a standard USAT waiver, but it seemed like the volunteers where taking this part a little more seriously than I've experienced in the past. Maybe it's because Kring & Chung, the race's named sponsor, is a law firm. Think about it. Litigating triathletes. I wouldn't want to have to mess with one of you guys, but I'd be stoked to have one of you as a friend. Send me an e-mail.
The free t-shirt, as usual, was lacking. If any race directors are reading this, hit me up. I'll make you some killer stuff.
This race was a tremendous experience. It was nice to drive 20 minutes from the house and have Mary and Ian along. The course was great, the volunteers where great, and the mood amongst the competitors was fantastic. Some guy was telling jokes in the few minutes leading up to our swim start, and everyone around was laughing, seemingly relaxed and loose. I haven't really experienced a start quite like this before.
And it didn't hurt that the water was, I dare say, warm.
That said, after reviewing the goals I set for myself, I did end up falling a bit short. And I can't say that isn't a (tiny) bit disappointing. But, years ago when I tried to play golf (and sucked), someone said to me that "it doesn't matter how poor your golf game is, you'll always make that one shot every round that will get you back on the course next week".
I had one of those shots today, though it's not like I was in danger of quiting racing. It's just that when I came out of the water, I was pleased enough with the swim that even if my bike ending up bending in half or I ran into a tree while running, the swim was good enough to make it a great race regardless. More on that...
Here is a video of my swim wave start as we approach the first buoy. I'm hard to pick out, but that's the point - I'm actually in the pack for the first time.
The last couple weeks of open water swim practice paid dividends this morning. This was because I was actually able to complete the swim comfortably and without any drama, self inflicted or otherwise. In fact, it was a whole new experience. Usually I get dropped immediately and as a result there is no one around me. Today I was in the pack for the entire half mile and it was full contact swimming the whole way. I even swam over someone for the first time, but felt bad because I know what it's like. Still, it's another point to check of my "to do while racing" checklist. I also got kicked in the face a couple of times. It was awesome, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Because it meant I was IN THE PACK!! Sure, I was towards the back of the middle, but I was in it.
The perception of time was different. In past races, I felt like I was in the water for hours, because I was miserable. So it was always a surprise to look at my watch and see my actual time. But today, the swim felt like it was over in seconds. So when I came out of the water I looked at my watch and had a different kind of surprise when I saw that I was in the water as long as I was. Of course, that's not really a great surprise. But it's way better than being miserable, that's for sure.
880 yards - 18:29 minutes - 2:10 mins per 100 yards
I knew about the hill but I didn't KNOW about the hill. And that little SOB was steep. The course is two loops, so I had to go up it twice, once at about mile 4 and again at mile 11. The first time I had my gearing all wrong and had to stand up and power through it. At the top of the big grade, the course turns right on to a much smaller grade that still felt like a big grade to me because my legs where thrashed. So I figured this was good time to spin a bit easier and have a bit to drink.
The good news is that you also go back down the hill. So after the turn around I just hammered on the pedals and went way out of my comfort zone in terms of down hill speed. But I survived.
The second time I hit the hill I was more prepared gearing wise. But my legs still burned and my heart rate still shot up. And as I started to power the downhill again, I had to hit the brakes to avoid a crash. I hope the guy was OK.
The rest of the course was pretty flat. As I had hoped, there wasn't too much wind. So I pedaled away, and managed to stay in aero position nearly the whole time. Aero is still new to me and is still a little uncomfortable, but I just sucked it up. Maybe like with other things, there is a "tipping point" and now that I have managed to pull off 15 miles more or less in aero, it just gets easier from here. We'll see this week in training, I guess.
15 miles - 46:59 minutes - 19.15 MPH
You guessed it, this is me coming out of transition and on to the run course. Mary told me there where a lot of bald guys in black, red and white tri suits today. That's why there is no video of me on the bike - she didn't know who was who.
The run was pretty routine. The initial results on the race's website showing me running it in 24:40, but I don't have a T2 transition time showing. So T2 is included in my run. I figure my transition was at least 2 minutes because I had trouble getting my Zoot TT Ultra 2.0 racing flats on. Which is funny, because they are designed to slip on to your feet super easy. I'm not sure where the disconnect between me and the shoe is. Oh well.
I would guess that my T2 time was about 2 minutes. That would give me a 22:40 running time, which would be about a 7:34 pace. That sounds about right. I was looking for 7:30. Good enough.
There was another hill just before the run turn around, but I've been doing a lot of trail running lately and I was able to power up really quickly.
At about 2 miles, I had a bit of a scare when a woman behind me starting howling and panting really loud with each step. My initial reaction was that she was in some serious distress so I slowed a little to turn and look. But as I turned, she blew by me. My initial thought was that she was just really getting into the run. But after she passed she quieted down. I guess she was just really in to passing me.
3 Miles - 24:40 - 8:13 pace (Including T2)
Adjusted to the relative distances of all my previous races, this was my fastest to date. Yet it was only good enough for 20 out of 44 in the Male 40-44 age group. This is a tough age group, but I'm OK with that. Because if guys my age are going faster, I can too.
Overall, it shows I came in 164th, but I can't quite figure out how many people raced. Maybe they will update the results.
It was a great race, I'll be doing it again next year.