Yesterday was my birthday, and to celebrate, I did my first race of the season. It was a short sprint at the local YMCA, the “Y” Tri, put on by FIRM Racing. 300-yard pool swim, advertised 10-mile bike, 2.5-mile run. A good way to start the season IMHO.
Going into the race, my goal was to go under an hour. I also targeted this as my ideal Speedo race since it’s short, and I didn’t want to expose my tri-suit to chlorine. So Friday last week, I went out and bought a new Speedo, black with red racing stripes. It was, as you can image, VERY sexy, and in fact, several people commented on it.
“No,” I told them, “I’m not insane. The fine folks at Tri-Fuel will want to see these pictures.”
So I get in the pool, warm up, and generally get ready to race. Folks start queuing in our starting order—we were seeded by approximate swim time—and suddenly my wife runs up to me. “Oh no!” she says, “I forgot the camera!”
“What?! But I’m wearing a Speedo!”
Well, they had photographers, and I know they took pictures. As soon as I have some, I’ll share. Until then, you’re just gonna have to wait with what I’m sure is breathless anticipation.
This being both a pool swim and a very short race in general, part of my plan was to see what I could do for a 300-yard freestyle. I figured, what was the worst that could happen? I might as well blast it out and see what I could do. I was seeded fourth, with the first five or so people all entering approximate swim times of 3:30. I don’t know how they figured the order out, but I can tell you that if there is a next time for me with this race, I’ll enter an approximate swim time of 3:29 and avoid the rush and confusion.
In any event, they started us at 15 second intervals. I pushed off when they told me and promptly caught the guy in front of me—just before the half-way mark. At that point, the pool was pretty crowded, so I let my man pull me for the next 125 yards, passing him on the last 25. On my wife’s watch, I was 3:23 to the wall. Official time was 3:32 by the time I got out of the pool and ran across the mat. 1/7 AG, 2/71 Overall.
It was a short run from the pool to transition. I threw on my shoes, helmet, one glove, and my new biking jersey—the jersey that zips all the way down the front that my wife had given me just that morning for my birthday. It was a very well-timed gift because the air temp on Sunday was right at 60-degrees, a little cold for riding in just a Speedo—and I started running for the road. Ran across the mat and realized I’d forgotten to put on my race belt! Oops. And, oh yeah, I’m still carrying my other glove. So I stopped and put on my race belt and started pedaling, meanwhile fooling with my glove all the while.
Eh. Not the smartest transition ever, but effective. Kind of a microcosm of the race in general. Official Time: 1:19. Probably add another 15 seconds fooling with my race belt, but that got added onto my bike time because I’d already crossed the mat.
It was an advertised 10-mile ride. My bike computer put it at 11.2 miles. Either way, it was a two-loop course, flat with a few little risers but no real descents.
Coming off that foolish transition, it is perhaps no surprise that I again did something stupid. Look, I swam hard on purpose, and that’s fine. I’ve been nursing a nagging running injury (pulled groin) all spring, so with that in mind, I’ve done 99% of my anaerobic work in the pool. I was READY to swim fast. But my plan of carrying that over into the bike and just hammering wasn’t smart. I mean, it was okay—I had to go fast no matter how you look at it—but I haven’t done much fast riding at all this season, and I was unprepared for how quickly that caught up to me out on the road. Plus, I came out of the pool with a heart rate of maybe 165 or 170, and so when I got on the bike, I probably should have laid back for a mile, gotten my HR under control, and then started picking it up slowly. I don’t know that that would have actually made me faster, but it certainly would have hurt less than getting on the bike and going straight into a full speed attack did. Regardless, after the first three miles, I knew I needed to slow down and get back under control or Bad Things were going to happen. Fortunately, I was feeling a lot better by the time I hit the second loop, and overall I wouldn’t say it was a bad ride, just dumb. A smarter execution would’ve seen me average over 20 mph on a fairly flat course, I’m sure. Still, it wasn’t bad. Just more painful than absolutely necessary.
Bike 11-miles: 33:42. 2/7 AG, 11/71 Overall.
Nothing to see here. The biggest news was that I decided it was overcast enough that I didn’t need my sunglasses anymore. T2: 1:19.
So I’ve never been a great runner, and coming off a running injury, I knew I wasn’t gonna run well here. It’s okay. At least I’m running again. And the fact that I knew I was gonna have to lay back on the run informed my strategy earlier in the race, so that I was actually running much easier than I had been riding.
It didn’t help that I saw NO ONE on the run. The guys in front of me were all a good deal faster than me, and the guys behind me were well behind by virtue of the staggered swim starts. So I basically cruised a 2.5-mile jog, feeling good and happy to be racing so soon after my injury earlier in the season. I definitely felt the lack on miles on my legs, but you know, I can start putting those in before the next race, and it’s not like I’m out of shape or anything. I crossed the finish line feeling groovy.
Run 2.5: 19:26. 5/7 AG, 27/71 Overall.
Total: 59:19. 1/7 AG, 8/71 Overall.
I would’ve needed to drop 9 full minutes to get on the Podium, and that’s enough time so as to make me feel happy about doing well rather than pissed at just missing a better finish. My goals were to go under 3:30 on the swim, average over 20 mph on the bike, and finish in under an hour overall. I did most of that, and now I’m ready to get back to work prep’ing for the next race.