Only a couple days late...not too shabby!
This was our first triathlon of the season, and my apprehension was slightly high for this race. While my training has been good in terms of volume, I had some slight worry over the quality of my training. Nonetheless, I was looking at this as a good test of where I was at.
So the night before, over our usual pre-race meal of delicious breakfast at Village Inn, we discussed our race strategy (we actually have race strategies now) and potentials. While we agreed T should have no problem PRing in this race (her time was around 1:58) my time was 1:48:04, and when we looked at it, it seemed there was very little room to slash time. Last year, my swim time 16:22, my bike was 56:50, and my run was 29:36 for a total time of 1:48:04. Perhaps I could swim a bit faster and run a bit faster, but a PR seemed a bit out of reach. Regardless, I just figured I'd go out as hard as I could, race like I knew how to race, and see where that took us.
We got up to Boulder early, which we like to do. In fact, we got there before transition even opened. Not a bad problem to have, really. We got into transition and went our separate ways. I found my rack and hung my bike up and spent a few minutes getting my transition area ready. It's kind of funny how as I get better in this sport, my transition area has shrunk. I then went to take care of pre-race business and found T in transition. We chatted for a bit, then sunscreened up and took our bikes out to test my new tri shorts. Then we re-racked our bikes and waited to get ready.
Eventually, we got our wetsuits on and headed down to the res. The weather was perfect for a race. The wind was non-existent, the temperature was about 70 degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. Although we knew that was going to be short-lived, as the forecast high that day was 100 degrees!
I listened to the National Anthem, then hopped in the water to do a quick lap around the swim beach. I felt good about that and eventually got into my wave. When I waded into the water a couple minutes before the gun, T came over and hugged me one more time and to wish me good luck. I positioned myself near the front on the inside. The countdown began, and then the gun went off.
This year, I am choosing to adopt a slightly new swim strategy. Normally, I start in the back, but I have figured out that I am generally a pretty good swimmer in these races and tend to swim over my competitors, causing no small amount of discomfort to both me and them. This year, I am going to start more towards the front, keeping myself pacing with the better swimmers in my age group.
I started off by swimming pretty aggressively. I don't know if it was the warmer water or the fact I was in a different starting position, but I just forced myself to go. I got my breathing under me pretty quickly and settled into a nice groove.
Sighting was difficult on this swim, but I was swimming directly into the sun, which is a problem in pretty much all our tris. I just tried to keep the buoys in front of me, which I was successful with. As I made the turn forming the trapezoid, I was feeling good, but was also aware that I was swimming pretty aggressively. As I've found in my running races this year, I haven't really needed to slow down even though I was obviously going fast. Same thing with this swim.
Swimming back in, I started spotting a lot of swim caps of the wave that went in front of me. I was utterly enjoying my time and when I hit the sand, I knelt for a second to catch my breath, then ran out of the water. Time - 15:21
People say you need to practice transition. I disagree. Just take your time and you'll be fine. That's what I did. Stripped off my wetsuit quickly, threw on my helmet, shoes, and sunglasses, and I was gone. Time - 2:31
I am familiar with this bike course, and let me tell you. The first 5 miles suck. Essentially it's all uphill, with immediate rollers greeting you. It's tricky to get your breath under you, and even more tricky to start hydration.
I worked hard to get my legs under me, but I was finding my quads were burning, and that was something that never really went away. Working hard, I got my breathing under control before the serious climb came, and was also able to start my hydration. I wasn't planning on eating my waffle until later in the ride. I had broken it in half so I could do some early and some late, if need be.
When I got to the top of J, which is about 5 miles, I started riding a bit harder. Going down a steep hill with a turn, I passed a few people and started sustaining 22-23 mph. I ignored the aid station and kept going. My quads were still burning, but I never felt the pain in my hamstring and didn't worry about it too much.
The only part of the ride that I didn't feel went well was the diagonal road, which is a rolling, slightly uphill part of the course. I was feeling a bit fatigued and didn't really have the strength to push it hard. Somehow, I made the turn onto the road that led us back into the res. As I came up and down the rollers, I shifted to a higher gear, allowing myself to spin my legs out. I dismounted at the line, jumped off, and ran into transition, not knowing my average speed or time. I didn't care, to be honest. Time - 55:36
Again, just hurried my way through. No worries there. Time - 2:29
I knew running right away that something just felt off. I not only didn't feel fast, I was hurting. I chocked it up to having pushed myself a bit harder on the bike, and now I was unfortunately paying for it. The run comes up a small hill, then is flat for nearly the entire 5K. A simple out and back.
Looking at my watch early on, I quickly ran some numbers in my head and figured as long as I didn't fall apart, I had the opportunity for a PR, anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 second. But it certainly seemed like a daunting task, with the sun becoming hotter and my legs becoming more sore.
I took water at the first water stop, attempting to just maintain my pace. I didn't really have an interest in trying to push it at this point, just wanted to hold a certain pace so I could make sure I finished.
Turning back down the main stretch, I continued to maintain, and briefly figured I'd PR in this race by about 2 minutes. Not knowing whether it was because of the swim, bike, transitions, or a combo of all 3, I knew one thing: it wasn't because of my run!
A short way from the finish, I saw T. She tried to high-five me; I was kind of in a daze, so I didn't reach out. Oops.
Rounding the corner, I ran hard to the finish line, knowing I had PRed in the race. I stopped my watch at 1:46:08, which was an unofficial PR. Run time - 30:10
My official time? 1:46:07, for a 1:57 PR. Not bad, all things considered.
I got to see T finish, which is always nice. We grabbed some pretzels, a bagel, some oranges, and a can of soda, scarfed it all down, and then packed up. I was sore, but it was worth it. I was proud that I was able to push through the pain and PR. Even better? I know there's STILL room for improvement, especially on the bike and run.