Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jack's Generic Triathlon

On Sunday, I had what felt to me like one of my best races so far at Jack's Generic Triathlon. Even though the venue wasn't the greatest, I felt like I did really well and finished within my target time of 1:15-1:20, with a time of 1:18:22. Quite telling of my strongest and weakest disciplines of triathlon, among age groupers, I was 460th in the swim and 19th on the bike. Thanks to the disparity in distances (and being 116th in the run), I finished 80th overall, 15th in my age group. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that I had (by seconds) had a better bike split than my two really good triathlete friends IM and MG, but that's really only because IM's computer fell off her bike and she went back to get it.

On Saturday morning, I put my race wheels on my bike and took it over to the veloway for a 12-mile ride to make sure everything was set up properly and working well. In my head, the less experienced cyclists I zipped past must have thought I was some sort of pro in my full aero setup. In the afternoon I went to the company's summer party at a water park on Lake Travis. I suffered a scraped elbow from a water slide, which complements my scraped knees from rock climbing. I went for a ~200 yard swim in the lake to see if there was something inherent to murky open water that has been giving me problems (most recently at the Splash & Dash). I was able to do a half-decent freestyle, so it must just be the adrenaline of competition and the chaos of a mass start that's causing the problems.

I woke up at 5 on Sunday, ate breakfast, got all my stuff in my car, and headed down to the ski ranch (same venue as the women's triathlon I volunteered for). I got there at 6:15, which I thought would be early enough to get a decent parking spot, but apparently everyone else had the same thought. The parking lot closer to the highway filled up just before I could get in, and they sent me down the road to another lot. However, they didn't have anybody at that lot to direct cars, and since I was first and not that familiar with the venue, I went right past the lot. I eventually realized there were no cars anywhere near me, and I turned around to where everyone was now turning in. I actually wound up with a spot slightly closer to where I needed to go than if I had been the first car into that lot (at least the way it filled up). I was kind of ticked off about the parking, but managed to clear my head well before the race started. I got my bike racked and my stuff set up, and had a snack before heading to the starting area. I went in the water for a couple of minutes to check it out, and it was about what I had heard- very murky, almost no visibility; and although I tried not to get any of the water in my mouth (from tales of it being filled with goat crap), I could detect an odd taste. The open wave (which included IM, MG, and my swim coach) went off at 8:00, men 29 and under at 8:03, then my wave at 8:08.

I lined up in the water to the outside of the course, on the far right side. It may not have made for the most efficient route, but I was well away from the fray for almost the entire swim. I swam freestyle pretty much all of the first stretch of the U-shaped course, pausing a couple of times to make sure I didn't run into the structures for wakeboarding tricks for the pond's main purpose. That purpose helped mine as well, as I could follow the overhead tow cable rather than having to look ahead as often to make sure I was on track. At the far end I switched to breast stroke to navigate the turn buoys, then sort of alternated between breast and free for the back stretch. Two obviously very fast swimmers from the subsequent wave caught me right at the swim exit, but fortunately I wasn't run over by a whole pack. I jogged into transition, and for once made myself sit down to put on my bike shoes. I also used a towel to wipe my feet and face- I couldn't tell, but apparently this pond is notorious for leaving mud on people's faces.

The steepest hill of the bike course was very early on, on the interstate frontage. I passed people one, two, or more at a time the whole way. Several times I passed a clump of bikes, then had the road almost to myself for a few minutes until I came up to more people. I was only passed by three bikes, all of them fully aerodynamic, so I didn't feel too bad. Most of the roads were in pretty poor condition- the asphalt ones had giant cracks, and the smaller chip-seal roads are just inherently awful. I think at my slowest, up a couple of long (but not steep) hills was 15 mph, and there were a couple of places where I was going over 30 mph, giving me an overall average of 21.5 mph, which I'm pretty please with. The final stretch up the interstate had a tail wind, and I was really moving. My "nutrition plan" worked pretty well on the bike- I drank almost every drop of my electrolyte drink in my aero bottle over the course. Unfortunately I dropped the gel I had taped to the backbone before I even managed to open it. It turned out I didn't need the calories or anything, but I hate to litter.

I thought my watch wasn't reading properly when I started the run, because it was showing I was on a ~7 minute mile pace. I didn't feel like I was going that fast, and I hadn't planned on going that fast. I was worried about hitting a wall, so I pulled my pace back some and finished the first mile in 7:32. The second mile was a little closer to, but still faster than, what I was expecting to run, 8:01. The last mile started ~8 minute pace, but once I was off the road and onto the concrete sidewalk of the final run-in to the finish, I kicked it up for a strong finish, running 7:42. Since it was mostly an out-and-back course, I saw almost everyone I knew who was doing the race, and even passed my swim coach. I was totally out of breath when I crossed the finish line, but once I caught it again, I felt really good, and hardly any exhaustion. I immediately got a frozen drink, and went see if I could find any of my friends. I had a ton of other drinks and snacks, and managed to catch up with most of my friends. I got my bike and other stuff and headed home around 10:30. I probably should have taken a nap in the afternoon, but I went to a movie instead.

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