I've mentioned a few times recently, I feel like maybe I'm off on training a little, but it's not like I'm at zero. I'm just not doing a ton. I didn't really train specifically for this race even though I selected this race to satisfy a goal in December.
Back in 2009 when I did this race the first time, my wife picked up the packet for me. Last year (2011) when I did this race, she picked up the packets again. This time I was all set to go pick up the packet and see what the deal was ... and my sister-in-law went instead. Options were, all day Thursday at the sponsor gym, most of the afternoon Friday (that's when we went) or, of course, Race morning.
The race started at 8, we live four miles from the race venue, so we elected to get there by 7. The whole family would go at the same time. My alarm went off at 5:15, I doddled in for a while then got up and got some stuff together. At about six my wife started to stir, I told her they didn't need to try to get there with us, since the kids were still sleeping, getting everyone mobilized and out the door by 6:45 didn't make sense. So my sister in law and I hopped on the bikes and just rode over to the race. I loved it, so easy.
We probably got there kind of early, or at least earlier than 7. There were plenty of choices in the transition area. I chose a spot that I think I had last year. I figured that would make it easier to find my bike :)
We kind of hung out for a while, checked out the lake. They announced it was the water temperature 82, it didn't feel quite as warm as Lifetime which was supposed to be 80.5, but it wasn't cold either.
Bethany was in wave two, and I was in wave four so I left six minutes after her. Unlike last year (where I only left three minutes after) I was pretty sure I would not catch her on the swim. Two reasons, first she's much faster than last year, and second 6 minutes is a HUGE portion of a 400 meter swim even if you're planning on really cranking through the swim.
The swim felt good, I lined up at the front, and really pushed hard right away. Surprisingly I was able to get some dolphin dives in on this race. I had gotten in the water for a warmup swim and was really surprised how shallow the entry was. We'd start in knee deep water and could easily run 20 feet before it was much deeper than waist deep.
I think I pulled away from the group pretty quickly. Right about the turn around I caught the bulk of the group before me, and about half way back I caught the stragglers of the group before them.
On the way out I did another dive or two and then really pushed hard out of the water. This was easily the best swim for me of the year, I felt great, the traffic was light, the course was really easy to follow.
On this course, like last year, it's just an out and back, but what makes it super easy is they also string a line of much smaller buoys between the larger orange ones. You have to sight a lot less.
|Coming out of the water. In contrast to years past, I actually passed that girl on the run-out|
The bike starts with an uphill climb that isn't super steep but covers about 100 feet of rise over a mile. I tried hard to not spike my heart rate, but also get up to a decent speed.
I saw and passed Bethany about 3.5 miles in, I didn't say anything as I went by because I didn't really know what to say. A variety of things popped through my head, but I couldn't settle on anything and then the moment passed.
Right from the start of the race I was sort of going back and forth between three or four other people. I'd pass them on a hill, they'd pass me on the flats, another hill, some more flats. Thankfully this course has more hills than flats, and I dropped the last of them on the last "big" hill. As I went by the guy said "good job" and I didn't see him again till after the finish. I thought for sure though I'd see him on the run. But I had a good 6 miles or so on the bike to build the gap, so maybe that's what saved me.
Along the way my average speed was creeping up, there was a slight wind coming from what felt like the west-north-west, and on this course that basically means you spend most of the time with the wind not at your back, so I was happy with the speed. I was slowly making my way toward my goal.
The rest of the bike went well, I eventually passed my speed goal and just kept pushing.
The first mile or so of the run was sort of a struggle. First, I took off out of transition like a shot. I slowed down pretty fast though because my heart was racing, and then you hit pretty much the only hill of the course. Again it's not super steep, but it does go on for a little more than half a mile. After that though it was pretty smooth sailing.
I was holding a good pace, it felt good and while I wasn't really staring at the watch when I would look down the average pace looked good.
A couple of people passed me, and I'd try to hang with them, but they were all running sub-7 minute miles, and that's pretty freaking fast for me so they'd just pull away. It occurred to me that, based on looks alone, two of these guys may be in my age group. This year they didn't label us by age group, so I had to guess. But honestly these guys were cooking, so while it would have been nice to be able to keep up with them, I didn't worry about it.
|Coming into the finish, pushing hard|
I had said to myself that I would start pushing the pace with a half mile to go, some time just before that there was a large group of walkers (not part of the race) and when I ran around them I picked up the pace without even realizing it. I really felt like I was cruising as I came into the finish. I saw my family, and my daughter didn't come out to run with me :(
I crossed the line, thought (just for a second) I was going to puke, and then hung out with the family a bit before the rain started and we left.
The swim – A little slower than my predicted pace, but it was still good for first overall.
The bike - A little longer than my predicted time, but I think the course is actually longer than they say it is, because the watch registered almost a half mile further. So actually this is faster than I planned on. According to the race results the average speed is 20.5, but they are basing that on 13.5 miles. According to the Garmin (two years in a row it reports the same distance) the average is 21.3.
The run – About a minute faster, which means about 20 seconds per mile faster than I was planning. I took it out really fast, just before I backed off the pace I was right around 6 minute miles. After that I just tried to keep the pace up, I did pick it up a few times when people passed me (mainly just to see how fast they were going) but then I'd settle back into it.
I looked at the running speed graph, according to it I accelerated through the course, getting as fast as 5:30 pace coming into the finish
Overall this was good for fourth in my age group, and 21st overall. Sound familiar? While I was shooting for first in my AG per the December goal, the reality is that I did better than I wanted to, and you can't control who shows up to the race.
I had a great time. That time is only a minute faster than my goal, but if you look back over the years at this race I have made some HUGE gains.
I'm not sure what's up next, I'm contemplating one more sprint this year. I'm enjoying the last few sprints I've done, and one more may be just what the doctor is calling for :)