Yesterday I completed the Lonestar Quarter Ironman down in Galveston, my first triathlon of the season. It went very well! I missed taking 3rd place in the Athena cateogy by — get this — 15 lousy seconds! And I didn’t even finish 4th. I finish 5th, with my friend Cathy ahead of me by 15 seconds — and the 3rd place finisher ahead of her by literally a step. I knew they were there, but I couldn’t match their finish. I tried, but their kicks in the last tenth of a mile left me in the dust. But that was the only negative on an otherwise fantastic day, and I’m not upset about it, because I had a better race than I expected! I’m pumped! I beat my 3:20-3:30 predicated finish by almost 10 minutes!
Here’s the breakdown:
0.6 mile swim – 22:19
T1 – 3:10
28 mile bike – 1:32:39
T2 – 1:14
6.5 mile run – 1:11:30
Total – 3:10:56
My swim time was a little slower than normal, but realistically I expected that. I haven’t spent enough time in the pool lately and it showed. Also, I got really nervous before the race started — which I didn’t expect. Something about the first race of the year plus the general excitement surrounding an event as big as Lonestar gave me butterflies, and it was a good 5 minutes into the swim before I really calmed down and got my breathing under control. I had to do way too much breaststroke to get my breathing settled. With more pool time, that should’ve been more like 19:00, but that’s ok. I just wasn’t feeling the swim today.
I didn’t wear a watch in the swim, so I had no idea how I’d done. I felt much stronger at the end than at the beginning though, so I left the water feeling good. Last year I really took my time in transition and spent something like 7:00 there. Not so this year! Last year I worked on improving my transitions and it showed today with my 3:10 T1 time. And that was with me doing brisk walking instead of running into the transition area from the swim exit (a distance of almost a tenth of a mile).
I had a few moments of trouble getting my shoes clipped into my bike pedals but soon I was off. It was windy, as it always is in Galveston, but the winds were not as strong as last year and they weren’t aligned with the road. Instead, it was a direct crosswind — so direct that I got no wind help in either direction and average the same speed the entire time. I covered the first 14 miles in 46:00 and the second 14 miles in 46:39. Without the wind to worry about, it turns out that I’m very consistent! And faster than I thought!
Before the race I’d told Jose to expect me to do the bike in about 1:45 — a 16 mph average — and 1:35 at best. Well, I came in under 1:33! That’s an 18 mph average! I am soooooo excited. SO excited. Did I mention I’m EXCITED? That is the 2nd fastest average I’ve ever posted on the bike portion of a tri, and it was over the quarter iron distance, not just a short sprint! My biking has started to improve this spring, and I think it has something to do with the fact that I’ve been spinning consistently on my trainer once per week. While spinning, I often do intervals just to make things more interesting — not really realizing that the intervals were probably great training. This week if things work out at Webster Bike (that is, if the 54 cm Felt S32 that they have fits me and feels good), I’ll be upgrading to a tri bike. Yes, after 5 years in the sport, I’ve finally decided that I’m worthy of a tri bike. 🙂 So that will only be even more awesome! I can’t wait.
Fortunately Jose padded my times and was there to cheer for me despite me getting back early. (He was there at the swim start, swim exit, bike return, run start, run halfway point, and finish line. He is the best.)
I was so excited about my bike split that I zoomed through transition in 1:14. Jose had to run from the bike in point to the run out just to keep up with me himself! I was feeling so good I did a little jump in the air over a curb, right in front of some of my BAM friends cheering for me. I started racing down the sidewalk and once the excitement of transition passed, I realized I was gasping for air and running WAY too fast. I walked for a few seconds to calm myself down and put on my Garmin (which I’d been holding in my hand after grabbing it off my bike) and then started running again at a much more manageable pace. From the start, I’d planned on doing a 5/1 run/walk but that was difficult. I couldn’t run for more than about 3 minutes without my calf muscles starting to burn like crazy — as bad as I’ve ever felt them burn before. This continued for the first couple miles, so I amended my plans and just ran when I could, and walked when I needed to qwell the burning. At mile 2.5, I grabbed a Gu from the aid station and downed it with some water. That helped a lot — I immediately felt more energetic, and my calf muscles finally stopped their screaming.
Despite the fact that I was having to walk more than I’d hoped, I thought I was making ok time. I saw Jose just past the mile 3 marker and he told me something about 2 hours. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, and thought he was saying that it had been 2 hours from the start of the bike to where I was then — and I knew that couldn’t be true. It turns out he was trying to tell me that it had been 2 hours from the start of the race to the start of the run.
My Garmin was in multisport mode and I couldn’t figure out how to record mile splits, so I didn’t have a very good idea of my pace, just my overall time from when I started the bike. So I just kept pushing. I could see my friend Cathy in front of me and tried to catch her, but she and I were maintaining the exact same pace. In the end, I made up a few hundred feet on her but couldn’t overtake her. She came out of the water 5 minutes ahead of me and finished only 15 seconds ahead, so between the bike and the run, I almost did it. Next race! 😉
My goal was to average 11:00 miles, and 1:11:30 is exactly 11:00 pace! How’s that for meeting my goal? I was really excited to discover that I’d done well on the run, especially since I felt so bad at the beginning. It’ll be nice once my Wednesday night class is over at the end of April and I can join everyone for the Wednesday night brick workouts. I need them.
A bunch of my other BAM friends — Sam, Jessica, and Heidi — passed me on the run. They’re all fairly new to triathlons but are very experienced and solid runners. As always, it’s the run where I lose ground. I told Jose after the race that if I were a 9:00 miler, I would actually be a pretty decent triathlete! Oh well. Todd, our BAM president, passed me on the run as well — and he was doing the half ironman! But to be fair, his race did start more than an hour before mine. And he’s fast.
All in all, I had a great day. And I must’ve raced hard, because today I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. My legs are sore, my butt is sore, my neck is sore, and my arms are bright pink with sunburn. I put sunscreen on before the race, but I borrowed it from another race since I’d forgotten my own in the car. Hers either wasn’t strong enough or wasn’t waterproof, because it looks like I was wearing NO sunscreen at all. My shoulders hurt. Ouch.
After doing a ton of sprint triathlons and one half ironman, this was the first time I’ve ever done a middle distance race, and it was really a lot of fun. The distances were just about perfect. The only thing I could have asked for is a slightly longer swim (at least once I get back into normal swim shape), but the true Olympic distance swim is another 400 yards beyond what I did yesterday. I am trying to decide whether to do the Battle of San Jacinto Olympic in three weeks. I want to, but I will be out of town over the next two weekends which will prevent any good bike rides. So we’ll see.
After doing the half ironman last year and the quarter ironman this year, I can safely say that the Lonestar Tri, put together by Endorfun Sports, is a top-notch event. You will not find many triathlons that take care of you like this one. Between Endorfun and Tri On The Run, the Houston area is incredibly lucky to have some of the most awesome races around!