Today I raced in Jack's Generic Triathlon. With a new venue (Lake Pflugerville, which also hosted a tri in June) and a new "double" intermediate distance (two laps of each leg versus one lap each for the sprint), there's no way to compare my time this year to last year. And since it wasn't quite Olympic distance (it was a 1000 meter swim, a 26-mile bike, and 6-mile run), I can't compare it to any of my races at that distance. Also, while the swim and run courses were basically the same as Lake Pflugerville Tri, the bike course was different. Based on an educated guess, I thought I might finish somewhere around 2:30, and somehow I hit it almost exactly, finishing with a total time of 2:30:16.
The swim was different than any race I've ever done. I've done a race with a beach start (Buffalo Springs); I've done a race with multiple swim loops (Corpus); I had never done a race where you have to run across the beach between laps. For one thing, while Lake Pflugerville is a nice enough place, the sand is rather coarse, to put it gently. This ain't no Caribbean sugar sand. In a race situation, however, I tend to put that sort of thing out of my mind. My bigger problem with the swim was that I got massively off course. I don't know why I had such trouble, the sun wasn't blinding me. Something about the turn buoy just messed me up. On the first loop, I made the turn, went a little ways, and thought I was well to the outside of the triangular course. I was sighting to a buoy, but somehow it didn't seem right. I switched to breast stroke for a better view, and realized I was inside the triangle. I was surprised I still managed about 10:30 for the first loop. On the second loop, I swear I passed the turn buoy twice. I have no idea what really happened, my watch data looks like I was pretty well on course. Maybe I just got confused, since the turn buoy looked just like all the others. I could have sworn I made the turn, swam a little ways, then I was back at the turn buoy. The timing equipment apparently didn't register my swim exit; by my watch my total swim time was 23:05.
The bike went pretty well. It probably wasn't the greatest idea to raise my seat height about a centimeter the day before a race, but I've felt like my seat was too low for quite some time. I did ride 20 miles yesterday without any issues. My hamstrings were still tight after getting off the bike, but less than it has been in shorter races, so I guess the saddle height is better now. As is typical, since I'm a much stronger cyclist than swimmer, I passed tons of people on the first lap (when it was just people doing the intermediate distance). I was passed a few times, and there were two or three guys I went back and forth with a couple times. The second lap, when all the sprint racers were on the road, there was crazy traffic. I know it's illegal and stupid, but there were a few times I was in the oncoming lane of traffic to pass slower cyclists. My bike split was 1:13:04, for a 21.2 mph average. I also set a personal record for average power in one hour (at least as far as I've been keeping a record of that) of 251 Watts.
The run was okay. Better than I thought it might be, considering the heat we've been having, but nothing spectacular. I held a fairly steady ~8:30 pace for the first 3-mile loop around the lake. At the start of the second loop, I walked through the first and second aid stations for a drink (I did get drinks on the first loop, but kept running). When I was running, my pace wasn't as steady on the second loop, and hovered around 9 minutes. I finished the run in 51:00; I had decided beforehand anything under 1 hour would be okay. My "official" average pace was 8:30 per mile, but that must be based on 6 or 6.2 miles; according to my watch the total run was 5.77 miles and my pace was 8:50. I had enough left for a decent run to the finish line, but not exactly a real sprint.
I recovered with a ton of water and carbs and stuck around long enough to see a friend get an award for first in his age group for the sprint distance (I was 6th in my age group, so no award).