This past weekend was the Kemah International Distance Triathlon (formerly known as the Gateway to the Bay Triathlon). I went into the race primarily as a practice tune-up for Ironman Texas in 7 weeks, but also hoping to set a new PR while following a heart rate goal. My personal goals for the race were to use my planned Ironman nutrition strategies and to finish between 3:00:00 and 3:10:00.
I spent the night at the local Holiday Inn and was less than 2 blocks from the transition area. After getting ready in the evening I had trouble sleeping for no specific reason. Right before midnight I suddenly think that I did not get my swim goggles out and realize that I do not have them. Apparently I left them at the gym during a final warm up swim that morning. Fortunately, I have a backup pair in my swim bag in my car. These were a pair I tested a few weeks back that work okay, but sometimes didn't quite seal perfectly. In the end they are better than nothing.
I wake up early--as usual on race day with 3 alarms--though the first one is enough. I make it out to the transition area just after it opens and get set up pretty quickly. After it nears transition closing time I walk over to the big paddleboat that they are going to use to take us out to the swim start. This start is one where they take us straight offshore.
Once the race started I had about 30 minutes until my wave went off and then I stayed farther back in my wave to take my time. Overall, I felt I did pretty well. The water was choppy and there was a bit of cross-current, but I kept a pretty straight line all the way to shore. I posted a time of 33:06, which is a few minutes slower than I had hoped, however it was still about 30 seconds faster than last September's Austin Triathlon time which was under much easier swim conditions. However, comparative swim times for most people were several minutes slower for Kemah compared to Austin for most so I must be showing personal improvement to buck that trend and have a faster time.
As I moved on to the bike I noticed that the wind had definitely picked up, I estimate around 15 mph for much of my time on the bike. This led to slow times into the wind and fast times with the wind. Overall I posted a time about 1 minute slower than in Austin, which did disappoint me slightly, but considering the wind that may have been the best I could do that day and stay within my heart rate guidelines. I did have one mishap on the bike, which was fortunately not a problem with me.
As I was mounting my bike and before I clipped into the pedals I got pushed from behind by a guy not watching and had to find the pedals before I fell over as I moved slowly forward. Fortunately, I kept control and was fine, however from this photo you can see the guy standing sideways across the path as he tried to reposition himself and was blocking the way of others.
Coming into the run I knew that my two good transitions were the difference in my time being slightly under Austin's previous time. However, I was still on my plan and I felt as good as I have in any triathlon at this point. As I set out on the run I try to move smoothly and not push too hard. It turns out that I push through Mile 1 in about 9:30, which was a pleasant surprise. Then around the 1.5 mile mark I had a chance conversation with a fellow runner coming up from behind and realize that it is someone I know. Ingrid and I spend a mile or so together chatting before she pulls ahead of me. Anyway, as Mile 2 rolls by I realize that is another 9:30 mile. By this time I am running by the Kemah Boardwalk area with the roller coaster and the Bay around me. Miles 3 and 4 get a bit tougher but go by around 10:00 each. Finally, comes the last part of the run which takes us over the BIG bridge linking Kemah and Seabrook across the Bay. This is one tall bridge to run over--and I do run over it. I am able to pass quite a few runners who are humbled by this bridge, which pleases me to no end. I love this photo where I had just blown by this guy from Bay Area Multisport (aka BAM!) who was suffering as I was smiling for the photo! Finally, after going up the hill, down the hill, looping around and back up and down again.....I am about 2/10 of a mile from the end. I try to pick up my pace a bit and head on through the finish in 1:03:21, which actually represents a 10K PR time for me as well.
In the end I finish in 3:06:14, over a 12 minute PR time for the distance (powered mostly by a 10 minute run improvement!).