I love this race. That’s all there is to it. The bike and the run course are pretty and scenic, and that just makes me happy with the entire thing. Even better is that the race draws a lot of my favorite running and tri buddies! In addition to all my BAM teammates, Cassie was out racing, Jessica was in from Austin, Debbie came along with me to do her FIRST tri, and Jon was out cheering and taking photos.
I hadn’t thought about my goals for this race until yesterday as Debbie and I drove through a ferocious thunderstorm on our way home from packet pickup. This race has no Athena category, so I knew I wouldn’t be in the running for an age group award, but I still wanted to do my best. My training in July was pretty solid and included greater concentration on running than a few months ago, but I hadn’t been in the pool since the Y Tri at the end of June. (I know! Bad Sarah!) Then of course I went on vacation where I didn’t train at all, and spent the last two weeks getting back into the groove.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of myself, but I set an aggressive goal of a 6:00 swim, 33:00 (20 mph) bike, and 33:00 run. Add a couple minutes for transition, and I decided that 1:15 would be a good goal. It was just over 4 minutes faster than my finish last year, and while doable, I’d have to push myself to get there.
Debbie and I got to the park with plenty of time, but after having to wait in a long line for the bathroom I felt rushed making my way over to the start line. I got there only about 7 minutes before the start of my wave, and those minutes passed quickly. Before I knew it, I was diving into the water to start the triangular course. The swim was rough! Girls everywhere, kicking and pulling and all running into each other. The fact that the swim course was marked by noodles that were not staying in straight lines didn’t help. At one point I sighted the large buoy marking a turn and headed straight for it, only to run into a line of noodles that were zig-zagging their way from buoy to buoy.
By the time I finally got into some clear water after about 200 meters, I started to catch people from the first wave that had started 4 minutes earlier, so it got crowded again. I never had clear water the whole time, but I still turned in a pretty good time of 6:09, 9th in my age group and only a few seconds off my goal. If only I could’ve found a clear spot or some feet to draft…or, just wait till I get my Speedo LZR Racer which will obviously turn me into the female version of Michael Phelps! 😉
I grabbed the hand of a volunteer to make sure I didn’t fall on the slippery boat ramp and ran into transition. Shoes, helmet, bike, GO! T1 time was 1:13 — 3rd fastest transition time in my age group.
Time for the bike. Despite my lack of biking in the past few weeks due to vacation, I still wanted to go for the elusive 20 mph. While I’ve averaged that number on my Garmin in races, I’ve yet to see it appear in the official results since the time it takes to mount and dismount while standing still is also included in the bike time. It’s a fun course, with mostly smooth roads, one sizable uphill, and one sizable downhill. In between there are sections of very gradual inclines and similarly gradual declines. I absolutely hammered the thing in my attempt at the 20 mph average. I got passed only 4 times, while I passed dozens and dozens of people. Things got crowded on the second loop in Eisenhower Park, and I found myself calling “on your left” over and over.
I saw everything from 17 to 27 mph flash on my Garmin, with large portions spent right above 20 mph so I knew it would be close. In the end I didn’t quite make it, clocking 33:35 for an average of 19.7. Given a flat course and fewer turns (there were more than a dozen 90 degree turns, and I haven’t figured out how to take those at 20 mph without crashing hard!), I might have gotten there, but it wasn’t meant to be today. I’ll get there. I was 13th in my age group on the bike today — there were a lot of fast cyclists in my age group.
I sped through transition, taking only a moment for a deep breath before leaning down to change shoes. I was on the run course 53 seconds later.
I flew through the first couple hundred feet, pumped up by transition and the cheers of the crowd. Then I realized I would fall over if my heart rate didn’t come down soon! I’d pushed so hard on the bike that I felt absolutely awful once the excitement of transition wore off. But when I was only about two tenths of a mile in, I saw my friend Cathy coming in on the bike. I knew she’d started 4 minutes after me and I really wanted to beat her (she’s usually my main Athena competition), but it didn’t seem like she was 4 minutes behind me. Moments later, I saw Cassie roll by on her way into transition as well.
Jon got the above photo of me right before I realized that I needed to slow down, and right after I almost fell tripping on the curb! Thankfully I caught myself. I felt really bad for the first mile. I wasn’t wearing my watch, but the split had to have been pretty awful. But after a swig of Gatorate at the mile marker, I was able to pick up the pace. After the turnaround, I started looking for Cathy, Cassie, and Jessica. Jessica came first, maybe 2.5 minutes behind me. Cassie was next, maybe 3 minutes behind. Cathy came just after that, right on the edge of being 4 minutes behind me.
Knowing they were all within striking distance really motivated me to run as well as I could through the finish. Jessica caught me with just under a half mile to go, but I knew she would — she runs miles in the low 8 minute range. I kept waiting to see Cassie, but I managed to hold her off and she finished about a minute behind me. As Cathy crossed the line, I really thought she had beaten me and it turns out that she did — by 7 seconds! She’s been training well lately and it’s showing.
My run time was 32:51, which I’m totally happy about. I knew it would be hard for me to finish the run under 33 minutes, but I did it. My first mile had to have been in the 11-12 minute range, so I was able to speed up and finish strong. My overall finish time was 1:14:41, so I squeaked in just under my 1:15 goal as well. Yay! I ended up 25th in my age group out of 69.
Cassie’s husband Manny took this photo of the 3 running bloggers! I guess now we are actually triathlon bloggers.
All in all it was a great morning and a great race. Debbie finished in 1:26, an outstanding time for her first tri and for her heavy mountain bike. She said it was both fun and exhausting, so hopefully she’ll want to do another one.
Next weekend is the Clear Lake International Tri. I am not fully trained for the distance, but I have enough training under my belt to get it done — and I just couldn’t resist doing a tri in my own backyard. After that, I have two months to the Hi-Fi Olympic Tri in Galveston which will be my final tri of the year. Two months will allow some serious training for a good showing there. I hope to take the Athena category, and will likely have more competition there than I usually do.