Sunday morning the Couples Tri came to town. The conditions were hot, the course was tough, and the competition was competitive. My goal, which wasn’t really explicit, was to be faster than last time. Since this race and the Rookie Tri are at the same location, with identical bike courses and transition areas, it made it easy to compare apples to apples. Each leg of the race is similar enough to the CapTexTri that I can see how I’ve progressed. So how did it go? Well keep reading to find out. (Here’s my race preview if you want to get caught up to speed first)
Race day really started off way before my 5am alarm woke me into semi-consciousness. The night before we had a friend’s house-warming party and another friend’s “yay Austin / engagement” party. Between the beer, the mingling, and the getting-into-bed-at-1:30am, it wasn’t your typical prerace routine. Regardless, the show must go on (and social lives must endure)!
Despite less than 4 hours of sleep, my amazing Support Crew came out to cheer me on with this sunrise coming up over the lake. We brought Hazel along for her first triathlon experience. We won’t get into it, but it was also her last. She’s strictly a marathon super fan now. Anyway, I got my bike and miscellaneous gear set up and found the crew hanging out in the shade. My race category (Male – Friends, Combined Age 70-94) was slated to go off first so I just hung out with the team until the announcer called us to the water.
Exactly like the Rookie Tri swim, we waded thigh-deep into the lake and bunched up behind the starting line. The water felt fine in this shallow area, but quickly turned way-too-warm as we got going. The general rule for triathlons is if the water temperature is over 84 degrees, wetsuits are not allowed. Well wetsuits were not allowed today because we were swimming in a bathtub. Between the warm water, the crowd of swimmers, and lack of recent training, it didn’t go as well as I would have liked.
The biggest issue was the warm water. I couldn’t get into a rhythm while I struggled to find balance between effort and staying cool. There was a lot more jostling of bodies too. With 43 people in my start group, I was surprised how it never really thinned out. The last
whining issue I’ll mention was my own inability to swim in a straight line. I wish I could see exactly where I went, but I’m sure I got my money’s worth for the swim course, zig-zagging all over the place. That’s OK though, this was the shortest (and weakest) leg of the event.
Swim Time: 18:15
Swim Rank: 22 (out of 43)
Running out of the water, up the long green mat into the transition area takes its toll. I was able to get myself up to my bike, and thanks to some clever Sharpie usage (i.e. putting an X on the top of my socks) I bypassed all sock issues this time around. It turned out to be my fastest Transition 1 yet! I was (relatively) quickly out of the gates and hopping on my bike in now time.
T1 Time: 3:05
This bike course is a tricky little devil. You start off with some nice downhills followed by equal uphills. You pretty much break even in terms of elevation right up until mile 7. It’s right around this time that you catch a series of downhills without any appreciable uphills. If you were paying attention (which I wasn’t), you’d realize that you were never gaining back the elevation on those uphills. It’s kind of like taking out a loan, where you get some money upfront, but then you have to pay dearly for it later on with interest. So over the course of about a mile you are deeply in debt and need to make a lot of big payments–payments you can’t afford–to get back to where you started. Like lots of other riders (some of whom actually hopped off their bikes and wheeled them up the hills) I took a pretty good beating.
Like I said, I’ve raced this course before, so I can compare my Garmin mile splits. Overall the total time was disappointingly slower this time around (by a mere 15 seconds). It’s really interesting (to me) to see how similar my races were on this bike course (click image to enlarge).
We were still ok though; as you finish up the bike you start to see runners, which meant redemption was still ahead in the form of the run.
Bike Time: 36:05
Bike Rank: 26 (out of 43)
I pulled into the transition area and saw Ev and Hazy cheering from the other side of the fence. I racked the bike, hosed myself down with my bike’s water bottle (good idea Ev!), swapped my shoes, grabbed my running water bottle and was off. The total transition time was smooth, though it was slower than the Rookie (1:09). That didn’t matter though, because now it was time to shine.
T2 Time: 1:23
Out of the T2 gates I was feeling tired but knew I could push it. The sun was starting to really shine itself so I was thankful I dumped the water on my head. Pretty quickly I felt myself struggling to pick up the pace. I don’t know if it was the heat, the lack of sleep, or a combination of the two, but I just felt off.
No question the most disappointing part of the race was the run. I had
reasons excuses for everything else already lined up, primarily consisting of not training and not caring. But the one constant in my training has been running, and if nothing else, I should have been able to knock out 3.1 miles. I know, I had just finished a swim and bike, my body was already tired, and the conditions weren’t great. Doesn’t matter. My goal on the run was sub-22 minutes. And I didn’t. Not even close.
Because of the unique “couple” start, people of all shapes and sizes started the race at various times, rather than starting with their age group. This resulted in some really fast people starting behind me and then flying by at some easy 6 minute miles. I battled my way through and was very relieved when I crossed the finish line.
Run Time: 23:06
Run Rank: (15 out of 43)
The surprise with this race is that my time was decent, but nothing felt good and it was right in the middle of the pack. I didn’t train for this race, didn’t sleep for this race, and didn’t care about this race, and still did alright. As for the “Couples” part, my teammate absolutely rocked it! Going into the race he told me he had never completed a triathlon. Well after a mediocre swim, he absolutely crushed the bike and had a very strong run. He finished about 6 minutes ahead of me.
I’m not as bent out of shape as this post might sound mainly because I didn’t have any investment in this race. I didn’t put in the work, so it wouldn’t be fair to expect a great showing. I still had fun and have more experience to take with me when I resume tri training after Chicago.
2011 Couples Triathlon – Sprint
|Swim||800 meters||18:15||2:17 min/100m||285|
|Bike||11.2 miles||36:05||18.6 mph||196|
|Run||3.1 miles||23:06||7:27 min/mi||88|