What a difference a year makes!
Last year (my first season in triathlon) was always about "covering the distance." Now, with a full year of training under my belt and an actual training plan, triathlon is about racing!
Swim: 1.5K (.93 miles)
Adrenaline pumped through all 46 competitors in the Men's 30-34 age-group, as we bobbed around in the water before the start. The siren sounded: GO! Everyone pushed hard, lots of contact, I felt very alive: feeling so fortunate to be able to do something like this. I swallowed lots of salt water, and knew an upset stomach was in my future. I reached the mid-point and thought back to last year and how I had to turn over onto my back to rest at this same exact spot, unsure if I'd be able to finish. There would be no stopping this year - all those early morning swim sessions at the Y, had given me the confidence/ability to go hard the whole time. I found some open space & settled into a great rhythm. The salt-water was cloudy, so I couldn't see much - BANG! I swam right into the kick of the swimmer in front of me. Felt like I got hit in the nose with a baseball bat. You know that feeling when you get hit in the nose & your eyes start to tear up? I checked for blood, but there was none to be found...my nose felt like it was in its normal position, so I started back up. I kept pushing until my hand hit the sand; disoriented, I ripped off my goggles & swim cap and headed up to transition.
Swim Time: 26:33 (1:37/100 yards)
AG Rank: 18/46
Transition has always been a weakness for me, as I have a tendency to take my sweet-a$$ time. My training partner is a master of transition and has helped me appreciate how much "free" time can be saved in this area. The day before the race I actually practiced transitions. During the swim, I mentally prepared for T1. Once I got out of the water, I ran up the hill to transition & executed a near flawless T1!
T1 Time: 1:26
AG Rank: 4/46
Bike: 40K (24.7 Miles)
For the first time in a race, I ran out of T1 barefoot and hopped on the bike with my bare feet on-top of my shoes and begin pedaling. Then I eased my feet into the shoes and tightened the straps = success! I started pedaling & came to a hill, so I downshifted into the small ring & hit the pedal...my chain bounced off the small ring & pinched between the frame & the crank. Down goes Charlie! I hit the pavement hard, banging my hip & elbow against the ground...my training partner checked to make sure I was OK, as he rode by me. I just got a power meter and changed-over to a compact crank set. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to use it outdoors prior to the race. Obviously, I'll need to practice shifting with this new component. From my data file, it appears I lost about 2min 30sec due to the fall.
Now I'm pissed - fury fuels my biking effort over the next 10 miles. It began to rain, I barely noticed...I was trying to make up for lost time...I hammered flats and downhills as the rain beat down. I hit mile 16 and descended down a rolling hill - at the bottom of the hill there was a sharp incline, so I shifted quickly to the small ring...it happened again. FAHK! This time I coasted into the gutter and fell into a ravine on the side of the road. I got up, fixed my chain, and hopped back on the bike (lost another 1:30). Thankfully, the last 9 miles were uneventful and I rode into transition very frustrated.
Bike Time: 1:14:02 (20.1mph); Avg. Power: 191 Watts
AG Rank: 18/46
Uneventful...rack bike, throw on running shoes, grab watch/nutrition & go.
T2 Time: 1:08
AG Rank: 13/46
Run: 10K (6.2 Miles)
I set out on the run & everything in my body was hurting: nose, hip, elbow, knee, foot, - but for as physical as a triathlon is, I think it's even more mental. My goal for this race was to break 2hrs 30minutes (which I had made very clear to my friends & family supporting me) and I was determined to achieve it. I was hurting, but honestly no one cares/remembers if you were hurting or not feeling well - all people remember are the results.
The run course tested us early, with several rolling hills over the first couple of miles. I settle into a comfortable pace, but had to keep reminding myself that racing isn't about being comfortable, it's about giving everything you have. So I pushed and pushed - continuously quieting the negative thoughts that tried to creep into my head. I reached mile 5 at (total race time) 2hrs 21 minutes, meaning I had 9 minutes to run the last 1.2 miles (7:30 pace). GAME TIME! I committed to pushing as hard as possible to the finish. I ran mile 6 in a "give-it-all-I-had" 6:26 & pushed up the final hill (.2 miles) to cross the finish line in 2:29:08! I collapsed to the ground physically exhausted, but mentally satisfied.
Run Time: 45:59 (7:24 min/mile pace)
AG Rank: 11/46
Total Race Time: 2:29:08
AG Rank: 13/46
Today, I literally woke up feeling like I had been assaulted last night. My entire body aches and random bruises & scratches appeared overnight. Despite the pain, there is nothing I would have rather done on a beautiful Saturday morning in September!
Special shout-out to my training partner Dan, who raced his heart out to post an incredible 2:18:50 result. Tremendous job buddy - I appreciate how much you've helped me improve as a triathlete this year.
Great to see my QT2 friends Steve/Mel/Dave out on the course - great job guys!
Last, but certainly not least - thanks to my Dad, Ann, Michele, & Natalie for being the best race support crew out there.