Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ironman Texas

If you read my report from Ironman Louisville last August and asked "Why would anybody subject themselves that," I must admit I had a similar thought re-reading that recently in the build-up to Ironman Texas on May 18. To remind myself of how miserable it was while I was doing it, I had a bit of dread knowing something similar was in my future. I guess I was hoping the experience from having done one, as well as two more half-distance races, would somehow make it less miserable, and also take less time. While I missed my time goal of 14 hours, I did improve in every split, and I would say the misery was less. Greater than zero, but at least it was less than Louisville. One other thing to note at the top- somehow my swim rank was higher than my bike rank, the first time that's ever happened to me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Republic of Texas Triathlon

This is a belated report for the April 14th Republic of Texas Half-distance triathlon. There's no particular reason it took me so long to write; I was hoping to finish it before Ironman Texas, I just never got around to it. While my overall time of 5:54:18 was a few seconds quicker than the Kerrville Half last September, I can't claim a half-distance PR, as the bike was a few miles short (by my GPS anyway). In a nutshell, my swim wasn't terrible (my second quickest after Buffalo Springs); my bike felt terrible, even if my time for 53 miles wasn't terrible; my run felt pretty good, even though it wasn't much quicker than Kerrville, and a long way from my 13.1 PR. With only about 40 people doing the half distance (many more did the sprint and quarter distances the same day), I finished 19th overall and 4th in my age group (though I would have been top 3 in almost any other age group).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pflugerville Triathlon

The Lake Pflugerville Triathlon today was my first race since Ironman Texas four weeks ago. I think I've finally recovered from it. Today's race hurt a little, but I still managed to cut just under two minutes from my overall time from last year. Most of that came from the swim, which dropped from 11:24 to 9:43; I was about 15 seconds slower on the bike and about 45 seconds quicker on the run. I must have lost a few seconds in T2 because I walked out (instead of running), trying to get my slightly overcooked hamstrings to behave. Despite cutting my time and moving up in the overall rankings, my age group rank dropped from last year, thanks to moving up to what is, apparently, an even more competitive one. This year I was 42nd overall and 15th in my age group.

I must have started further up in the swim than I usually do, because it was an all-out brawl to the first buoy. Guys were swimming over me, I was getting kicked and punched in the face, smacked on the back; it was chaotic. Somehow after the first buoy, about 100 meters in, the field spread out more and I had a much easier go of the rest of the course. The weird thing was that the turn buoy was just past the second marker buoy; apparently for the next wave it came loose and was way out of place, maybe it wasn't quite as far out as it was meant to be for my wave.

I had forgotten that this race last year was the debut of my power meter. This year it was the debut of my latest go-fast goodie, a disc rear wheel, which is a little more aerodynamic and a little bit lighter than the race wheel I had. I'm not entirely sure how a new toy coupled with a new personal best 20-minute average power (and higher average power overall), resulted in a slower time than last year. I'll say the wind was more beneficial last year (the wind was low this morning). The other likely answer is that I went too hard on the first few miles and had to back off a little for the rest.

My legs were not happy when I got off the bike. I took a leisurely walk to the end of transition. I was going to continue walking the one uphill of the run course, up to the level of the reservoir trail, but decided to just give the old legs a shot. Fortunately once I started running, they didn't feel too bad. My calves were firing pretty hard at first, but thank goodness I finally remembered to put on my compression sleeves before the race. I was going a fairly steady 7:30 pace, which is better than I expected, but still kept getting passed. After the third guy in my age group passed (and I couldn't possibly chase), and it was certain I wasn't going to be on the podium (I had no idea how many in my age group were ahead of me the whole way), I almost "gave up" and slowed down, but I figured I could tough it out a little longer. A few 40-44 year-olds flew past me as well, for an extra kick in the rear. My friend Andrew, whom I had passed in the latter portion of the bike, was running hard when he caught me in the last few hundred meters. I picked up my pace, hoping to at least finish with him, if I couldn't stay ahead of him, but I couldn't quite keep up and finished a few seconds back.

I stuck around for the awards, three out of my many friends racing won medals. I'll have to start lying about my age or just have to wait many more years before I'll be on the podium...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

CapTex USA Triathlon Paratriathlon Nationals

This year's Capital of Texas Triathlon was a completely new experience for me. It's fitting that the race that three years ago inspired me to attempt a triathlon, and two years ago was my first Olympic-distance tri would offer something else new. CapTex was once again the site of the Paratriathlon National Championship. I was inspired and kind of fascinated watching the paraathletes last year while waiting for my race to start, so this year since I wasn't racing (I had no intention of doing a race one week after Ironman Texas), I signed up to work with the paratri. I wound up working as a handler, randomly paired up with a challenged athlete. Myself and another handler helped out Ashley Cooper-Heath, a wheelchair-bound athlete from Georgia. Because of the logistics involved, my complete lack of experience, and having somebody relying on me, I was a nervous wreck all the night before and through the race. Even though Ashley's race didn't go as well as she hoped, the part I was involved with (the transitions) went relatively smoothly, with some room for improvement. Overall, it was a great experience, and if the championship is in Austin again, I would definitely be part of it.