Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Austin Triathlon

I spent the midday period Sunday at the triathlon expo getting my race packet and looking around. During this time I had the good fortune to be able to meet and talk with 4 time Olympian (in three different sports!) and Olympic gold medalist Sheila Taormina. She was selling her book (which I gladly purchased and had autographed) on swim technique. She even posed for a photo with me and placed her gold medal around my neck for the photo!
I decided to go to her hour long talk which would start in about 15 minutes. I pick up a lot of good bits of information on swimming while listening to her talk--she is a very informative and enthusiastic speaker!--and hope that some of it will rub off on me in the long run. After the talk I have to head out to bring my bike to the transition area.

I get in a good early dinner that evening and set up my stuff for the next morning, then double and triple check everything before I set 2 alarms and call the hotel front desk for a wake up call. Before bed I went online to read posts from friends who had ran the Disneyland Half Marathon earlier that morning, and then I tried to think good thoughts forward about my race in the morning....

In the morning I am up and awake early with my alarm (the first alarm was sufficient). Instead of walking the 1.25 miles to the race site I grab a cab from the hotel (it seemed silly to drive myself and maybe have to pay more for parking than I would pay a cab!) which gets me to the transition area for final setup in plenty of time. I get everything set up and set out to look over the bike and run exit areas and calculate the best way to sight my return to my transition spot. Then I eat a bit of breakfast and take in some sports drink and water to keep hydrated while the time to close the transition area arrives.

I meet up with a few friends while waiting the 40 minutes between race start and the start for my swim wave (swim waves start 5 minutes apart). Mostly I am trying not to dwell on my recovery from recent shoulder and knee injuries and hope they do not negatively impact my day. My goal for the day had always been to beat a 3:30 time, but I was questioning how my body would hold up from the recent injuries (right shoulder and left knee). I felt like I was recovered enough to race, but you never really know until you go all out at race effort.

Finally, the time for my wave comes and I get in near the back of my swim wave group, as my plan is to find a comfortable pace that does not risk hurting my shoulder and concentrate on technique more than speed. I fall into a comfortable rhythm and feel really good early in the swim, none of the "what am I doing here?" type of thoughts even come into mind as I make progress. Somewhere between 1/4 to 1/3 of the way into the race I notice something uncharacteristic for me--that I am passing a number of other swimmers (I am quite used to being one of the last few swimmers in longer distance triathlons). By the halfway point I have passed at least one swimmer that started 2 waves ahead of me and realize that I had not seen anyone from the swim wave behind me come by yet either (which does happen in about 200 more yards). At this point I realize that I am having a really good swim (at least for me) and I keep concentrating on just doing what I have been doing up until now. Eventually I get out of the water and hit the lap time on my watch as I cross the timing mats on the way into the transition area with a 33:23 swim time, which is an awesome time for me, especially in light of the recent injury recovery. I quickly get into the transition area and take right at 5 minutes to get out onto the road. Shortly into my bike ride the skies open up with an unexpected rain--sometimes pouring rain--for about 25 minutes. With this rain my thoughts of pushing the fastest possible pace on the streets go away as I ride at a bit of a slower pace for safety, and even then slide through one turn but I maintain control and do not go down. Don't take this top mean that I went slow as I still got into the low 30 mph range on some downhills (although I was holding on for dear life as I did!) but I did not push as hard as I could go and let those riders wanting to go full speed go right on by me. By the end of my 3rd and final lap on the bike the roads are draining a bit and I go a bit faster in some areas before I need to come back to the transition area. My bike ride time is just under 1:23:57 at 17.7 mph, which is a bit slower than I would have originally liked but faster than I expected due to the wet roads. As I get through the second transition in 2 1/2 minutes I realize that I am well within the reach of my original goal of getting under three and a half hours as I am currently around 2:05 on the clock and can almost run 14 minute miles to make my goal., While I would have normally expected to run around 11 minute miles before my injury, I try to run a comfortable--though solid-- pace and walk every 5th minute to avoid pushing myself too hard. This works well early and I feel really good for about 2 to 2.5 miles. After this point I am starting to feel things get tough, so I take in a little extra race nutrition and try to push through it. After a tough mile where my friend Jon Walk caught this photo,

I start to feel better as I come near the finish area and head out on the second lap. By this point I have gone through the first 5K in about 36 minutes and know that I am well within my goal range. I keep on going, being buoyed by friends and others cheering me on. I am feeling good as I prepare to come up to the last hill for the day when I run by my old coach and friend Bill Dwyer who takes this photo.

It was just after this point as I headed up the bridge that I felt a bit of pain in my knee momentarily, so I decide to take an extra minute walk up the hill to ensure a solid finish as I am less than a half mile from finishing. I test the knee on the level road at the top of the bridge and it feels OK, but I still take my minute walk on my regular every 5th minute schedule. When I start running again the rest of the way to the end is either level or downhill and I run a nice easy run in from there, pausing briefly in front of a bunch of kids at the "super soaker zone" to get sprayed down with water and then head in for my final sprint. I finished with a run time of 1:13:39, about an 11:53 pace per mile and I finished the race in 3:18:31, which completely shattered my expectations and completed a great race experience for me.

Edited to add in response to Rae's post.

This was an Olympic distatance triathlon, which means 1500 meter swim, 40K bike ride and 10K run. I am a new user of KT Tape (though a satisifed one) and am definitely a bit sore today!


Rae! said...

what was the distance of this race??
I see you like the KTape. Love the stuff. How are you feeling today> Sore??

Glad you had a good race.

Amanda said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!! I told you it was good you listened to your body and let it heal and rest and that it would make you stronger and look at what you did! Not 3:30...no you killed in 3:18!!!!! YOU ROCK!