I went into the Naylor's Beach Triathlon with a pretty specific goal. While my triathlon racing had been pretty successful so far this year, I felt like I wasn't quite performing up to my potential because of poor decision making and pacing. And with a 1/2-IM coming up, I wanted to improve that. Poor pacing in a sprint tri can be worked through, but in a 1/2-IM it could bite me pretty badly!
Heavy rain on Saturday kept me at home, rather than camping out at the race site, so the family staggered into the car at 5 AM on Sunday morning for the drive over. The rain continued intermittently, and when I got to the race it was coming down heavily again. I got my packet, hung out in the car, and finally slogged over to set up my transition area. Finally, 5 minutes before the first swim wave, the rain stopped, the sun came out, and a rainbow stretched across the river we'd be swimming in. The weather was great for the rest of the day.
I seeded myself at the front of my swim wave, and got off with no trouble. We were swimming in the Rappahanock River, which is wide, brackish, and tidal at the race site. Current was negligible at the start, but as I rounded the first turn and worked downstream, I found myself getting pushed strongly towards the left, and had to correct constantly. My swimming rhythm felt pretty good, so I told myself not to worry, it was the same for everybody. I managed to stay on course pretty well, sighting off the buoys and my fellow swimmers. As I turned the final buoy and headed in, I was pretty well satisfied -- the pace felt good, and I seemed to be pretty far up in the field. My watch gave me a split of 28:43.
T1 was a bit more of a thrash than I normally like -- not enough body glide on my legs and feet. But I got out in good shape and started off on the bike without much traffic around me. My mantra for the bike was "tempo." Paradoxically, my new tri bike has been a two-edged sword. I'm faster on the bike, but I'm also more tempted to go for broke and hurt my run leg. Today I'd keep the RPMs up, save my legs, and take what I got. The strategy felt pretty good as I was riding. I had a solid tempo going, but never put myself in the redzone. Nutrition went smoothly, with regular drinks from my aerobottle, and a GU at about the halfway point.
At about the halfway point of the ride we started hitting some fairly stiff head and cross winds, brought in by the changing weather. I kept to my mantra, downshifted to lower gears so I could keep my tempo up, and stayed patient. I came into the dismount with a stylish shoes-off flying dismount and went into T2 feeling good. The bike was unofficially around 1:16, for about a 20.5 average.
T2 went smoothly, and I was out on the run in no time. By now the sun was out and it was getting a bit warm. My plan was to split the run into three parts -- 2 miles getting into a groove, 2 miles picking it up, and surging to break up the last 2 miles for a strong finish. Holding it back a bit, I got into a good rhythm running and breathing at the start, and was encouraged to be picking off a lot of other runners. I popped two endurolyte tablets at the first water stop, then half a gel at the second, washing each down with water and pouring half the cup on my head.
After two miles I was averaging around 7:30/mile and felt good. Picking it up, I hit mile 4 at around a 7:15 pace, and then started surging to break up my pace and stay focused. By the time the finish line came into sight I'd caught a group of 30-something runners, but couldn't quite hold with them as they found some fresh legs for the final sprint. Still, I was ecstatic with the run -- 44:47, my first time ever under 45 in a triathlon 10K.
All in all, a very satisfying day. I beat last year's time by about a minute, on a day when most times were slower than last year. More importantly, I'd really had a consistent, solid effort all the way through. A good training program was at the heart of that, but I helped myself by smart decision making -- it was a valuable lesson!
PS -- Got second in my AG, and won a plaque and a tote bag.