For perhaps the first time in 2014 (I didn't check that thoroughly), I set a new personal best at a race. I did set marathon and 70.3 bests this year, but those were both races I had never done previously. It may have only been 12 seconds, but it was still nice to beat last year's time at the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon, for a 1:11:27. Quick race stats (these exclude the open wave): I was 13th of 71 in my age group; 53rd of 678 overall; 51st guy out of 396 total men; 161/32/85 ranking for my swim/bike/run splits.
This is a good race, probably the only problem is that it feels like it's as far from my house as possible while still being in the Austin area. I didn't get enough sleep, a little over 4 hours, and still I didn't get to the venue until after 6am. Fortunately there were still decent rack spots open, so I got one near the aisle close to bike in/out. Like so many Austin races, particularly Texas Tri Series races, there were a ton of people I knew racing, including several members of my team, Big Pistachio. I said high to several, but was mainly focused on getting ready for the race. At 7:10, they let people into the water for a few minutes of warmup. I jumped in just to swing my arms a little bit. The open wave started at 7:30, and several of them were already finished with the 500 meter swim before my wave started at 7:39.
It was a pretty typical scrum start, arms and legs flailing into others' bodies. Between the chop of the swimmers and the waves generated by the winds, the water was roiling. About 150 meters in I got swallowed a mouthful of water and for at least a fraction of a second I considered just bailing on the race. I did continue swimming, and the rest wasn't so bad. On the return I did get a bit out into the weeds (literally). I was aiming for a bit of yellow I could see on the shore; I took a pause for a better look to make sure that it was in fact the swim exit I was looking at. My swim time was 45 seconds slower than last year, but it may have been a touch short last time.
T1 was fairly efficient, and I was off on the bike course. Overall the bike leg went reasonably well, I did end up being 18 seconds quicker than last year, for a 22.7 mph average. I recall four bikes passing me, at least two of whom were one age group up from me. One was my friend Ray, who zipped past me while I was passing someone else; he wound up being a few seconds off of the best overall bike split of the day. The best part of the course was along the 130 toll road frontage- the pavement was the best, and there was a great tailwind. The one time I looked at my computer on this stretch it read 30 mph.
T2 went smoothly; my friend Joey was working there and gave me encouragement. I asked if she had any spare hamstrings, as mine were bothering me a little; she unfortunately did not. The run was okay, my legs were working pretty well after the initial awkwardness of transitioning from bike to run. I wasn't exactly sure of my pace; it felt decent but I was not killing myself. When my mile splits did come up on my watch, they were in the 7:20-7:30 range. The numbers seemed good, but I felt so slow as I was getting passed again and again; my count was something like 10 guys who passed me. The pace was something I shouldn't have had a problem with, but I kept wanting to slow down or take a walk break. I'm not quite sure what kept me going the first 2.5 miles, but when I was really close to slowing down, with a half mile to go, I saw the pavilion that's next to the finish line and figured I couldn't slow down now that I was so close. Not helping my motivation was the wind. At the halfway point, at the far side of the lake, the trail turned and it started to get windy; at mile 2 there was another turn and we were heading straight into it. I just kept trucking along and told myself that whatever pace I was going would be good enough. My run time ended up being 12 seconds quicker than last year.
After I was finished I hung out with and cheered in my teammates and friends. One of the guys on the team is a professional photographer and he had his gear, so we took a few team photos. I skipped out on the team tradition of shotgunning a beer after a race. After awards some teammates and other friends went for Tex-Mex for lunch. One of the women is also doing Ironman Coeur d'Alene very soon and has done it before, so she gave me some info on the race. Then it was home for a shower and nap, with a brief stop at the bike shop to drop my baby off for a tune-up.