Sunday, August 15, 2010

One Week Later: Who Would Believe?

One week ago, I would never have thought that I’d be racing today. I kept hoping that I’d feel well enough to do the Rattlesnake sprint, one of my favorite races, but realistically didn’t think I’d be ready. And, I didn’t want to do anything stupid and set myself back with an injury or something. In fact, I could hardly walk without pain on Monday, but every day my legs kept getting gradually better, so that yesterday I was only minimally sore, but I had a feeling that I’d wake up today feeling fine. I didn’t set my alarm, but went to bed a little early. I woke up at 5:15am and decided that I wanted to race. My legs felt fine. My right hamstring was just a tad sore, but it was a tad sore prior to the 70.3 last week. Got to the race site, went for a 10 minute warm up on my bike, and then warmed up in the water for another 10 minutes. I felt pretty good, but really was just looking forward to having fun. In fact, I kept the idea in the back of my head that if I ever felt bad, or something hurt, I would shut it down and just enjoy being out there. Fortunately, that never happened.

The Rattlesnake has a unique individual start, and they start the women first and then the men, beginning with the oldest first. Interestingly, there were about 30 men who raced the Olympic yesterday and then the sprint today, they started in the first group, probably more than 10 minutes ahead of me. I actually caught a number of them. That meant about 300 people started ahead of me on the rectangular 750 meter course. The tough part was that most of them were slower than me, so I had to weave through and around a bunch of people. I ended up taking a more outside line to try to keep from having to swim over everybody, but this also meant I swam a little farther. I felt great from the beginning, was smooth, form was good and I was going fast. As I neared the first turn buoy, I breathed in a mouthful of water. Not swallowed, but breathed in. I literally was unable to breathe for about 20-30 seconds. Initially I kept swimming, trying to avoid panicking, and then I did a few breast strokes until I was actually able to breathe again. As soon as I could breathe I got back to swimming fast. I figure that this little episode cost me about 30 seconds (at least). Then, I stubbed my big toe on a rock getting out of the water, but was able to jog up the hill to the transition area. I got into T1 in 9:35, 29th overall (out of 455). Of note, if I’d been around 9:00, I’d have been close to top 10 on the swim (fastest time was 8:00). I continue to be incredibly happy with my swim results, because I wasn’t winded coming out of the water and felt good getting on the bike.

Had a fast transition and headed out on the bike, there was a tailwind and I was flying. Unfortunately, I had a bunch of women ahead of me, many of them doing their first triathlon, which meant they were all over the road, and I had to put on my brakes several times to avoid running into or over them. I pushed pretty hard to the turnaround, in fact, averaging 202 watts. I continued to push hard the whole way back, hitting some very strong headwinds, but staying aero and averaging about 195 watts on the return trip. Of note, my best 30 minute wattage was 202 watts, which interestingly was the last 30 minutes of the bike. This was my best 30 minute wattage ever, training or racing. I averaged 20mph (ok, 19.7) on a hilly, windy course. My bike split was 24th overall, only about a minute and a half from the top 10 as well.

Good transition to the run and headed out trying to run fast. My breathing was probably every 2-3 steps, and I just kept pushing. My legs were not hurting, although they didn’t have much “snap” to them. I kept pushing as hard as I thought I could and maintained a very solid effort for the run. I don’t know if I could have gone too much faster. I will admit that I didn’t finish with the feeling that I was about to throw up, so perhaps I could have pushed harder for the last mile or so. I might have left 30-40 seconds out on the course. On the other hand, I’m sure I’m not completely recovered from last weeks race, although my results would suggest otherwiseJ. My run time was 24:15 (78th overall), for an average pace of 7:50. This has been my standard 5K run pace this season, though I know I’m capable of going faster.

In the end, I finished 30th overall, second in my age group to my usual nemesis, Guy Sigley. Guy beat me by 4 minutes on the bike and about 4 minutes overall (our swim and run times were almost the same). Guy was 9th overall. I’ve got to be quite happy with my results!

I’m really looking forward to just enjoying the next 6 weeks of training and doing a couple more sprint races. I’m trying not to put any pressure on myself, this is my hobby and I’m supposed to have fun doing it! I think that this is a good omen.

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