Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wurst Tri Ever

For the third straight weekend, I competed in a triathlon (the others being the sprint distance Lost Pines Tri and Olympic distance Austin Tri). Amazingly, my body held together for the most part, and for the third straight week I beat my goal finishing time. My goal for this race was to beat my time from Jack's Generic Tri of 1:18, to make this my quickest sprint distance triathlon (different courses aren't exactly comparable, but still). This race was produced by the same people that did Lost Pines, and again had a relatively small field (250+ participants), but it seemed to have attracted some higher caliber athletes from San Antonio. There was a bloc that took home most of the top awards, leaving my time of 1:16:59 16th overall and second in my age group.

I wouldn't have done this race at all except for the fact that it started with a water slide. A couple months ago, I had a dream that I did a triathlon with a water slide, so once I heard about this race I knew I had to do it despite already being signed up for races the two prior weekends. That wasn't the only unusual thing about the swim- it was actually two swims, with a little run uphill in between. The first ~150 meter swim was in a spring-fed, natural bottom pool, and the second was in a 50-meter lap pool. The swim actually went pretty well for me, even though I'm still not a fast swimmer. The natural pool was not very deep, maybe 7 or 8 feet, and the water was quite clear. I think this, psychologically, gave me a big advantage over a typical murky lake swim, where looking down gives no sense of movement or direction. I did almost all of the first swim freestyle, sighting the buoys occasionally and not going wildly off course like Austin Tri. I did swim the final 10 meters to the exit ladder breast stroke. Swimming freestyle was easy in the Olympic pool, with its clear water and nice big stripes along the bottom. I started well behind the fast swimmers, but I still felt good about managing to pass a few people in each pool. The slide was fun, but I think for me it's just another tick mark on my "bucket list" and I don't know that I'll go out of my way to repeat the experience.

For some reason I was a little disequilibriated after the swim. When I tried to shake the water out of my ears on my way to transition, I almost fell over. Then I had a hard time standing putting my cycling shoes on. I made the decision beforehand that, in order to improve my "King of the Hill" time from transition to the top of the first hill (which offered an additional award), I would put my shoes on in transition and then clip in after the line (rather than clip the shoes in ahead of time, then put them on while already cycling, like I did at Austin Tri). This nearly proved disastrous, as with my loss of balance, I had a tremendously difficult time clipping in and nearly hit a curb ten feet out of transition (moving very slowly). Once I did get clipped in, I pedaled hard to get across the flat section before the road went uphill on the other side of the Comal. It normally takes me a couple of miles to really warm up to the bike, and today wasn't really an exception to that. I gave that hill all I had, but I probably could have done better if it wasn't first thing on the bike. In the end, I wound up being 12 seconds behind the King of the Hill winner. Looking at the results, it seems I was third in that category, but there's no prize for that. Probably the toughest part of the rest of the ride was the traffic. The bike traffic wasn't too bad, but with the roads open, there were also some cars and trucks. Most of the vehicle traffic was on the outbound section of the out-and-back course, so the return wasn't as bad in that regard. I think I passed three cars and trucks that were held up behind slower bicycles by crossing the double yellow line. There were also a couple of bikes blocking the left track that wouldn't get out of my way that I had to take evasive maneuvers to pass. The only other problem I think I had on the bike was that I nearly missed a hard left turn coming off of a good downhill where I hit 40 mph. I had to jam on the brakes hard, but I did make the turn. Overall, I wound up with the 7th best bike split with a 21.7 mph average speed. Not too bad.

Coming into this race, the run was the part I was most worried about. My left knee has still been bothering me. I taped it up again, but it didn't feel nearly 100%. I decided against wearing my calf compression sleeves, and that old calf cramping started again early on during the run. I started off pacing behind a guy, but after the first 8:33 mile, my legs were feeling better, and I passed him for a 8:20 on the circuitous second mile. I guess in order to add distance, the run course made some turns down side streets, instead of just running the perimeter of the residential neighborhood. I picked up my pace for the final mile (actually 0.94 miles by my watch), all the way to a dead sprint once I got onto the asphalt of the parking lot/finish line. According to my watch, my pace for the final "mile" averaged a 7:30 minute mile. Overall, according to the results, my average pace was 7:58/mile, and the 52nd quickest run split of 23:55. I hung around for cookies, sausage, and awards until after 11, then drove back home.

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