As I expected, Saturday night led into a very restless Sunday morning. I managed to get some sleep between 3 and 5 am, I think. It was tough wrestling with the ghosts of the triathlon. They kept trying to help me by wanting to go through the first transition, and then the plan for the biking hills, and then the run strategy, and then the second transition, etc, etc. I had heard that the night 2 nights before the event was the most important night of sleep for the triathlete. Apparently that’s because you are not going to sleep well the night before.
I arose around 5 am to make my final checks, feed the dogs, eat some breakfast and load up my gear. We got away and to the site a few minutes before 6:30. Setup went smooth and by 7:15, I was ready to go. I did make a couple stops by the porta-potty before the race, just in case. I’d paid for that lesson last year. I wasn’t going to waste it. I also ran into an old friend, CM, from my early days at my work place. She gave Dr. K an invitation to join her all-girls workout club. It was good to see that she was doing well. I’d see her again in a bit.
I wore number 68, which set my start time around 7:49. In this race, someone started every 15 seconds, so we all stood in a line until our turn. Soon enough it was my turn. The starter yelled “Three, two, one, go”, and I was off.
My first mistake was trying to wear my heart rate monitor during the swim. I didn’t expect to get my HR during the swim, I just didn’t want to have to put it on during a transition and I did want it for the run. I had noticed that I was the only person wearing one, but not until it was too late to ask why. There was no problem until the first swimming turn where I pushed off the wall and felt the strap of the monitor slip down to my waist. The second turn pushed it down to my butt and the third turn took it off. It remained at the bottom of the pool for the remainder of the race. I felt a real distraction from this turn of events and I think my swim suffered for it. Swim time – 4:45 (250 meters).
My swim didn’t feel great, but the finish came up a lot quicker this time. I managed to pull myself from the pool and run out the door into the very cool October air. This year, unlike last, I was going for time. There was no time to dry off or put on socks. It was time to do what needed to be done and nothing more. I mixed up the order of things in the transition, but I managed to put on my bike shoes, my shirt, and my helmet in a reasonable time and head for the bike start.
The bike portion went well. My concentration for the bike ride was the hills on the course. They are big and the first three come at you one after another. The second hill is the worst on the route. I set my mind to climb mode and made those hills mine. My lungs ached during the entire ride, but I wasn’t letting up. My Secretariat motivation from Friday night cut at least a minute off my time. I do remember getting a bit of a ice cream headache about halfway through. The cold air running over my wet hair made me a little uncomfortable. It was about this time where I almost drove my bike in a ditch for no good reason other than lack of concentration. The two were probably connected. Bike time – 34:00 (10 miles).
I returned to the transition zone to prepare for the run. It was a good long way from the bike dismount point to my spot in the transition zone and another from my spot to the run start point. This added a ton of time, like a full minute, to my race. I again messed up my plan. First, I headed up the wrong row of bikes and had to do an about face. Once to my spot I had trouble hooking my number belt around my waste and finally forgot to drop my glasses. All of those mistake probably added another 20 seconds. Not awful, but significant. You brain just doesn’t work the same when you are tired and my performance here proves that.
As expected, the run started slow and got better as I went. There was never any real need to start walking, but I did shuffle through the first mile or so. This is where I saw my old work friend again. The run course doubles back on itself 3 times. CM had started about 10 minutes ahead of me in the swim. When I saw her during the run, she was up by about 2 minutes. By the second switchback that time was down to a minute or so. It was more motivation than competition that made me want to catch her by the finish. at switchback 3 her lead was only about 150 yards, but we were only a half-mile from the finish. I picked up the pace and I could see her ahead of me with a quarter mile to go.
I think 100 yards was as close as I got, but the distraction of the chase helped pull me to a good finish. Run time – 26:36.
My time for this race last year under very similar conditions was 1:23:36. This year I bettered every segment except the second transition and posted a time of 1:09:20 or 14 minutes and 16 seconds better.
I thought before the race that 1:05 might be possible. After the race I knew I had given a little more than I had to give (Translation: I felt like crap for the rest of the day). Now, the morning after the race, my head still has a bit of a buzz and my lungs have a distant ache and my ankles have rough spot or two, but I’m pretty much recovered. It will be a while before the pain of yesterday’s triathlon recedes enough for me to try again, but I will. I think I’ll wait a few more days until I start to work on that.