It's unusual for me to be writing a second triathlon race report this early in the season. But I decided late last year that I wanted improve my racing at longer distances in preparation for an IM debut in 2012. So the Kinetic 1/2 looked like a good early season race to keep me working through the winter.
I felt good going into the race. I've done a lot more riding than I normally do this spring, and a pretty solid bike/run combo at an international-distance race a few weeks back looked like a good sign. And despite some issues with my knee in the winter that limited my speed work, my last few long runs had felt nice and smooth.
Sub 5-hours? Probably a bit of a stretch, but I was thinking I could get close. At least, I wanted to ditch my old PR (5:13).
The weather was a bit misty and hazy, but the water was a comfortable 71 degrees and there was no wind. I ran in from about the 3rd row on the beach start and found a good spot with some open room around me but plenty of other swimmers to sight off. Felt nice and smooth throughout the swim, popping my head up about every 6 strokes or so for sighting. Got out of the water in good shape and jogged up the long path to transition with a lot of energy. Lots of pool time this winter paid off -- I'm still not really fast, but the distance was no sweat.
Swim -- 36:05. 12/33 AG, 151/410 OA men.
My last race had been a disaster in T1, when I decided to put on arm warmers. No problem this time, the weather was perfect and I could go minimalist -- tri top, shorts, shoes, no socks, no gloves. Because the run out to the mount line went through a gravel parking lot, I slipped on my shoes rather than leaving them on the pedals. On the way, no drama.
T1 -- 2:15. 3/33 AG, 62/410 OA men.
I started conservatively on the bike, getting comfortable and settling in for the ride. The first couple of miles out of the state park are uphill anyway, so there's no reason to pound it hard at the beginning. As we got out on the course I got into a nice rhythm on the mainly flat-to-rolling course. I'd set my watch timer to 15 minutes, so each time it went off I got a drink, then stood up on the pedals for a few seconds and stretched out. Once every 3-4 intervals I fired down a gel (Honey Stingers).
Coach Debi passed me, then I passed her back, and I found myself out by myself for large portions of the ride. Around mile 30 I stopped briefly at a water bottle hand-off to top off my Cytomax concentrate with water and get free of draft pack that had sucked me up a mile or so before.
Through the second time around the course's loop I kept up a nice tempo, shifting gears to the big ring on the flats, but dropping it down and being conservative on the rises. Hitting mile 50 I was psyched -- I felt great, and was rolling along well below my goal time of 2:45.
A few seconds of wobbly legs off the dismount and I ran into T2 feeling ready to hit the run strong.
Bike -- 2:40:11. 14/33 AG, 146/410 OA men.
The run ended up being a "close but no cigar" moment. My goal was to do 8 minute miles, and after a slow first mile up the 3-loop course's first hill, I was on pace. By the end of the first loop I'd gotten about 20 seconds ahead of pace and was moving smoothly -- taking a short 30 second walk on every second water stop and alternating water/orange slices and HEED.
I started to give a little back on the second loop, but was still only about 20 seconds over pace by mile 8. But the cumulative effects of the course's hills had trashed my legs by now. I hung on, but by mile 10 I couldn't will them along any faster and started shoveling bucketfuls of time back. The last downhill to the line was gutting it out to try to get under 5:10 with some seriously sore and straining quads.
Run -- 1:49:28. 12/33 AG, 166/410 OA men.
Total -- 5:09:26. 13/33 AG, 144/410 OA men.
Tickled pink with a new PR, but humbled by the competition in my AG. There's a lot of fast guys moving up. The top three were all 4:52 or better, and there were 8 guys in the 5:01-5:09 range. Solid competition!
But, I think I've got a good base to move into summer training and racing. Let's see if I can drop that PR again at the Patriot's 1/2 in September!
Now off on a 6-day backpacking trip on Wednesday -- a great way to recover and relax!
"It isn't what you do, but how you do it."