The Capital of Texas Triathlon took downtown Austin by storm on Memorial Day. I registered just two weeks before for the Sprint distance, figuring the Olympic distance would be too much for my second-ever tri. Compared to the Rookie Tri this race felt like the big leagues. There was serious prize money ($12,500 to the winner), pro athletes, and plenty sponsors and vendors. It also had more than its share of breakdowns and issues, but I won’t get into that here. Here’s how everything went for me as I’m still trying to find my way in this whole triathlon jungle.
Ev and I drove down to the race around 8:30am, about an hour and a half before my start wave (and an hour and a half after the first racers started). I got into the transition area, found my bike where I left it on Sunday, and set up all my bike and run gear. Once I was satisfied with my setup I left the transition to find Ev and scope out the swim start.
The race was broken up by distance, sending out all Olympic distance swimmers first and then starting the Sprint distance. My wave was last to go off, at 10am, which gave me plenty of time to moan about how nervous I was about the swim. And moan I did until they called the black swim caps to the staging area.
The swim start involved treading water for about 2 minutes while waiting for the gun to go off (read: nightmare). After bobbing up and down for
an eternity 2 minutes we were off. I actually stayed calm throughout the entire swim, focusing on my breathing and keeping a rhythm. The 750 meter course started with the current, making some quick right turns, and then fighting back upstream towards the finish. Once we turned up stream I could really feel the waves crashing on my head. There were no “kicked in the head” incidents or other war stories to report. Overall I was very happy with the swim, finishing with a faster-than-my-goal time and respectable placement. I came in 37th place out of the 57 in my age group. Not last!
Swim Time: 16:52
Swim Place: 37 / 57
The jog from the water to the transition area was pretty long, which skews my T1 time a little. I had already lined everything up for the bike, including putting baby powder in my socks and leaving an extra water bottle out for rinsing my feet. And just like the Rookie Tri, I had sock issues again! Foot follies notwithstanding, I was out of the transition area and on my bike. I can tell Transition 1 is going to be where I need the most practice. There was a long way to go from the water to the bike, and then out to the bike course, but compared to the rest of the field I was still slow.
T1 Time: 5:00
T1 Place: 45 / 57
The bike course was a 6-mile loop where the Olympic Tri did 4 laps and the Sprint did 2 laps. This whole multi-lap setup meant there were always people to navigate around. There could be slow, mountain biking Olympic participants on their fourth lap getting passed by high performance triathlon bikers on their first lap. There were several 90-degree turns and three hairpin turns per lap which made for some technical biking. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but it made it great for spectators to see their athletes pretty frequently.
I’d say my bike performance was better than I expected, averaging 19.1 mph. My goal was sub-40 minutes, to which I was right on target. I passed a lot of people, but again they could have been on their 3rd or 4th lap. It did feel good passing some fancy bikes though. I have a lot of work to do for longer distance biking, but for these Sprint distances I feel like I’m strong enough now to put up respectable times and still have something left for the run.
Bike Time: 39:40
Bike Place: 10 / 57
The second transition was much faster, both in actual time and also in relative placement. I rolled my bike through the grassy transition area and found my running shoes eagerly waiting to get going. I knew that the toughest part (the swim) and the longest part (the bike) were behind me now, and I could floor it from here on. The tricky part was going to be dealing with the Texas heat. As I racked my bike and swapped my shoes I dumped a bottle of water on my head and jogged out the gate.
T2 Time: 2:14
T2 Place: 22 / 57
Here’s where I got to show everyone what they were up against. As soon as I got onto the run course I was passing people. In fact, over the entire 3.1 miles I was passed by exactly zero people. My mile splits were ridiculous: 6:52, 6:50, 6:52. In 90 degree weather, after an hour of hard effort, I rocked the run course. It was pretty flat except for one short, steep incline going over a bridge. Most of the field that I saw (a mix of Sprint and Olympic racers) were walking at this point. The heat was definitely a factor.
I’m grateful for my running fitness at this point, seeing how much others struggled in the late stages of the race. It will be interesting to see how well I pace myself in longer races. So far the few triathlon runs I’ve done have been short enough that I could go all-out and just hang on. Regardless, after this race I know I’m on the upper edge of all athletes when it comes to the run.
Run Time: 21:13
Run Place: 5 / 57
I’m extremely happy with how everything went. I certainly see a lot of room for improvement in the first transition, and some work to do in the second. So far I haven’t practiced these at all, which is reassuring that I can get better. The race data below is all still “preliminary” according to the results people, but it should be relatively indicative of how I did. There were apparently a lot of mishaps with how the race was organized, but none really affected me. With a prerace goal of 1:28:00, I can’t complain about my overall finish time. As for next year, I’m currently on the “I’ll sign up for the Olympic Distance” side of the fence.
2011 Capital of Texas Triathlon – Sprint
|Swim||750 meters||16:52||2:14 min/100m||404|
|Bike||20 km||39:40||19.1 mph||117|
|Run||5 km||21:13||6:50 min/mi||20|
*Rank is for that individual event, not placement at that point. So I had the 22nd fastest run, not that I was in 22nd place at that point.
|Class Position (Men 25-29 Sprint)||14 / 57 (24.6%)|
|Gender Position (Men Sprint)||88 / 464 (18.9%)|
|Overall Position (All)||106 / 790 (13.4%)|
All these results are taken with a grain of salt. The timing company had some major botches and have been going through all the data, line by line, making corrections. I also manually counted the total numbers and where I ranked, so it may be off by a few, especially as they update data.