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...