The triathlon season has officially begun for me now that the Couples Tri is in the books. My goal was to beat last year, and [spoiler alert!] I did! But my overall feelings about the race are mixed. Here’s why…
Going into the race I was confident that I trained hard (for 5 weeks) and I felt ready. My number one super fan and I woke up dark & early so I could set up my gear in the transition area. Unfortunately that also meant a lot of waiting around since I was set to start in the second to last group. We found a grassy spot near the swim exit and relaxed while the first (eight) groups went off before mine. Before long though, I was on deck and finally ready to get things underway.
My group of 66 partner-less guys (remember, I signed up as an individual instead of as a “couple”) waded into the water ready for the starting horn to sound. With 800 meters of flat, murky water ahead of us, there was a quiet tension broken up by occasional nervous laughter.
So off I swam, in a generally straight line, towards the first big buoy. Fortunately there were no kicks to the head or scrapes across my back as people tried to find their bearings. The swim route is a big triangle and I took each side of the triangle as its own event. For my first open water swim of the season I tried to take it easy and stay focused on breathing. While in the water I remember thinking to myself “hey, this isn’t so bad”. Looking back, maybe I needed to push harder… But before I knew it I was approaching the Swim exit and getting ready to run up to my bike.
Out of the water I was feeling strong but dialed it back to save my energy. I saw Ev cheering for me and the other athletes (but really just me) as I ran up the hill to my bike. Once in the transition area I quickly swapped my swim gear for my bike. In no time (well, two minutes thirty-nine seconds) I was out of transition and ready to ride.
I was most excited to get going on the bike. A couple weeks ago I got refitted on my bike, added aerobars, and got new shoes. I felt good and I felt fast. The course is notoriously hilly (it’s the same as the Decker Half Marathon), which meant slow uphills and fast downhills. Since I started in the second to last group there were a lot of people in front of me.
The miles ticked by on my Garmin, some extremely fast and others not so much. There were several hills where people had to get off their bikes to get over the steep hills. I pushed the pace when I could rather than coast down the hills. I was all about speed.
Compared to last year, I took about 30 seconds off my time. Here’s a side-by-side of last year and this year, about 30 seconds faster. HOWEVER! According to the official race results, I was 7, yes SEVEN! seconds slower this year on the bike. I really felt like I was flying so I’m pretty disappointed with my bike time.
Off the bike, rack the bike, change the shoes, run! I flew through the second transition. My main focus was on making up time on the run.
Ev was waiting for me as I started the run and I’m not sure if she heard, but I said to myself “HERE WE GO!” It’s a trail course that winds through the park, partially shaded but never completely out of the sun’s brutal grasp. The whole time I kept the effort nearly maxed out. As a point of pride I wasn’t passed for the entire run.
The course wraps around itself a little so I got to see Ev cheering me on again! Standing directly behind her on some platform was a group of three fellow TIR teammates who erupted when they saw me. Hopefully I didn’t look as bad as I hurt. On the backstretch there’s a big downhill, and just over the fence you see the bikes riding up that same hill. I shouted across to them that it was the hardest part of the course and to keep pushing. From that I heard some laughs from runners ahead of me who informed me of the nasty hill we runners were in for soon. My response? I flew past them ready to tackle their hill.
To be honest, the hill was nasty. But with the finish line in sight there was no stopping me. Just as I was pushing towards the finish I saw Kim, another TIR teammate, finishing up the run and gave her a high five just before crossing the line.
Here’s the side-by-side for the run. Nailed it.
All that said, here are my times. The parentheses are how I compared to 2011.
Swim 800 m: 18:21 (+0:06)
Transition 1: 2:39 (-0:26)
Bike 11.2 mi: 36:12 (+0:07)
Transition 2: 1:15 (-0:08)
Run 3.1 mi: 22:02 (-1:04)
Total 1:20:32 (-1:23)
A fellow (much more advanced) triathlete friend put into good perspective for me: in only 5 weeks, I’m already back to where I was last year after 5 months of training. I wish my swim and bike times were faster, but my goal was to beat last year’s time and that’s what I did.
And of course, despite the ups and downs, I refueled like a champion with Coolhaus.