The Bridgeland Sprint Triathlon proved to be a well run event. The race organizers did a great job putting on a fun event.
The day before the race I attempted to get fully hydrated and consumed water all day, plus 96 ounces of Gatorade G2 as well. I was quite surprised that this did not force me to take additional bathroom breaks during the day or night, which I concluded to mean that I was already dehydrated and needed all this to catch up to where I needed to be. From Saturday morning to Sunday morning I gained about 5 pounds, which I concluded was pretty much the extra fluid my body needed to have that I had been missing. By the end of my race I will feel very happy about going through the extra effort to rehydrate my body.
The 500 meter swim was a point to point lake swim, ending in an area adjacent to the transition area. The water was warm but well marked with big orange and yellow buoys. Given the course layout, many early swimmers swam too the first buoy and then along the aligned buoys, which actually lengthened their swim. I started out far to the left and just swam straight towards to distant yellow buoy that marked a right turn to stay clear of the pack. Unfortunately, I twice got boxed in by swimmers that could not swim a straight line and wasted a bit of time getting away from them (although at one point I slowed a bit to let them clear me and saw them swim their heads into each other in an almost Three Stooges kind of way). For some unknown reason I felt a moment of slight panic during the middle of the race, but calmed myself by remembering that I have done longer swims under worse circumstances just fine. I've never felt that way before during a swim, but am glad I got past it...especially since I was out in the middle of the lake at the time! In the end I finished the 500 meter swim in 12:17.
While the transition are was well laid out, they had to cram some unfortunate people way up in the grass on a hill adjacent to the parking lot used for transition that was way out from the bike entry and exit. I was one of the unlucky that got that area. Still, I had a decent 2:18 T1 time.
I had a pretty strong bike ride, if you go by that I passed so many more people than passed me--and generally the ones that passed me were pretty awesome cyclists with awesome bikes. My average speed of 19.7 mph was right around where I hoped to be, and I think represented pretty much my best effort for the course. I worried a bit that going hard on the bike might negatively impact my run, but I felt I needed to put out my best effort to see how my body would react on the run to somewhat tired legs. I finished my bike ride in 42:37. Unfortunately, the posted race times did not show a record of my bike time (in fact around 1/3 or more racers lacked a bike split) and showed an excessively long T1 time instead, so I calculated my speed based upon my watch split and the 14 mile known distance.
Transition 2 was about as good as it was going to get for me as I had to cart my bike way across the transition area and past the run start, before trekking back to the exit...but I still managed a 1:56 T2 time, so I really should not complain much.
My run was looking to be my biggest question mark going into this race. I have never run the whole course as part of a triathlon before (though I have run all but the aid stations), but I planned to run every step of today's run. The biggest complication today was the early heat, which I expect was in the mid-80's by then and very sunny. Fortunately, once we got past the first half mile there was occasional shade from trees, and most of mile 2 was on a tree-covered path. I covered mile one in 10:08, which I consider to be a solid time for any mile for me in any race, then I covered miles 2 and 3 in a combined 20:30 (I did not see the mile 2 marker.) which surprised me even more. I was definitely pushing a pace that took real effort for me, but I felt good while doing it. As I passed the Mile 3 marker I knew that there was only a half mile to go and I had been running alongside another runner from my age group that I had been determined not to let get away from me, so I pushed the pace for the last bit and with about 150 yards to go I ran all-out. I figured if I was going to get passed, it would not be easy on anyone to do it. I held off my challenger and beat him by 6 seconds, so I have to guess he didn't have what it took to stay with me at the end. My time over the final half mile was an amazing 4:30, for a 35:08 total run time. I held on to a volunteer for support while they took my timing chip and gave me a cold water bottle and an ice-cold, wet towel, before finally walking off to stretch out and meet up with my coach at the finish.
My stated goal for this race was to finish in the low 1:40 range (1:40 to 1:45), but I really hoped to get into the 1:30's. In the end I finished in 1:34:16, which happily beat my goals. More important to me, though, was that I gave a hard effort the whole race, which is what gave me ability to surpass my goals.
My next race is The Austin Triathlon on Labor Day, where I intend to settle an old score with the Olympic distance that still bothers me from last year.
70 days until IM Longhorn 70.3!