He's baa-aaack... : ) That Haiti trip took more out of my time and energy than I expected, so it's been quite a while since I've had any updates. I'll post a recap of the Haiti trip soon, but for now just a quick post about my last race of the year - the Toyota US Open Triathlon in Rockwall, TX (near Dallas). I participated in the Olympic/International distance race; and there was also a Sprint race.
This was the final event in the Lifetime Fitness Series, so it attracted a number of professionals (Hunter Kemper, Matt Reed, Greg and Laura Bennett...); as well as elite AG qualifiers from the previous events. Nice venue for the race, and for the most part it was well run and organized. There were a couple of problems with traffic control (riders/runners being forced to stop), so hopefully they'll work that out for next year's race and beyond.
For myself, I ended up with a fairly good swim and bike, and a good run; finishing 10th in my AG (out of 57) with a time of 2:26:48. I think I may have held back a little more than necessary on the bike in order to focus on a good run; but such is the nature of triathlon. Finding that perfect balance between the bike and the run is somewhat of the holy grail of the sport. Push the bike too hard, and the minutes you gain are lost (plus some) on the run. Hold back too much, and the time gap to the people in the front is too large to make up on the run. Part of the mental aspect of triathlon that makes it fun! : )
Here's a recap of the race with a few pics and finishing video:
The bike racks were numbered, so no need to get there too early... I arrived around 6 and had plenty of time to get things ready, check out the transition area, etc. At 7:15 I made my way down to the dock area and started getting warmed up and ready to start the race. My wave was the next to last Olympic wave; so I got a chance to watch the leading pro men and women swim and exit the water to T1. Most of them were out of the water in under 20 minutes! After that, I headed over and got in line with my fellow age-groupers.
The swim was a time-trial start. We were all lined up single file by age-group and number; and they would send us in one after another about 2 seconds apart. I actually like and prefer that type of start, as it allows everyone plenty of room to swim right off the bat. Others seem to love the chaos and pummeling of the mass start, but this suited me just fine. It was also a wetsuit legal swim, so that helps me as well.
The swim felt good, and I tried to concentrate on body position and a good long pull. Nothing too eventful during the swim, although I am glad that I have learned to breathe bi-laterally. When we turned at the first buoy, the sun was directly in our eyes if we breathed to the left. If anyone only knew how to breathe to that side, it made for a tough swim. It did seem like it was taking me a long time, but when I exited the water I was under 29 minutes - which for me is a very good swim (I figured the swim was also a little bit short, which was later confirmed by my Garmin).
I got my wetsuit off without much of a problem (no wetsuit peelers for this event). Quickly changed into my bike gear and headed out of transition. One thing different for me was that I put my bike shoes on, instead of having them clipped to the bike. The bike mount line was at the bottom of a hill heading out of the parking lot, so I figured it would be a bad idea to try to be clipping in while going uphill. Short run to the bike mount line, though, so that worked out well.
The bike course was a little hilly (lots of little ones, nothing major); and had a lot of turning involved; as well as a few spots where the road was not in great shape. None of that was terrible, it just added up to a difficult bike course for me (I like flat, smooth, and long roads to use cadence and hold onto my speed). I had driven the bike course the day before, so I knew what to expect, and tried to be careful not to burn myself out on the bike. In retrospect, I might have held back just a tad too much; as I think I could have gone slightly faster and still had a very good run. Ended up with 21.1 mph avg, though; which was around the 15th fastest bike split out of the 57 in my age group.
T2 went quick, other than one of my shoes coming off the bike, but that only cost a few seconds. Slipped on my run shoes and grabbed hat and race belt, and took off on the run.
Right off the bat was that hill out of the parking lot; then another good-sized hill on the first road. Tough start to the run. Once I got past that part, things leveled out and I was able to pick up the pace. I had one friend there that I wanted to see if I could catch, but at the turnaround I saw that the gap was a little too much for that to happen. I still used that as motivation to run hard and close as much of the gap as I could, though : ) The run finished going down those hills that I started with, which is hard on the quads! I just let myself fall through it, and made good time on that last mile. I ended up with a 6:57 pace for the 10K, and was really happy with that. It ended up being the 2nd fastest run in my age group.
After cooling down and grabbing something to drink and eat, I met my wife Susie over at the Clif Bar booth where my friend Chris was working. We talked for a few minutes, and then Susie and I headed to our hotel to clean up and check out. Then we went back to the race venue to get my bike and gear out of transition, and headed back home. One more race in the books, and the end of a fun racing season!
Now I'll take a short break, and then it's time to ramp things up and start getting ready for the Boston Marathon and Ironman Texas next year!!!
Help the kids!
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation: to find a cure for childhood cancer for kids like Ishani ... Please help them by donating HERE
Hope For Kidz: program to help educate children in Haiti