The only race I repeated in my two years of triathlon competition is the Y Freedom Tri in Pearland, Texas. So it is no surprise that I might consider doing this fun local race again this year. I watched the race website this year as the race registration stayed open longer than it had in past years. Meanwhile I was slowly but surely continuing my recovery from Ironman Texas. As the last weeks before the race were rolling around I became more certain that I might not be fully recovered from Ironman Texas but I still felt up to doing the race. At the same time I had been talking with Karen, a running friend of mine who had been considering attempting a triathlon. In the end we came upon what might have been the obvious match for us, which was to enter the triathlon as a relay team. After some coordination and explanation, we had a plan and went with it on fairly short notice.
We arrived early enough to meet, get checked in and set up the transition area with time to spare. Karen and I discussed how the race would progress and where we each needed to be and at what time. I was doing the swim and bike and Karen would be doing the run in our relay effort. As the race got near I lined up for the pool swim in my time-seeded location and waited for my turn to go. My swim went well and I finished on my plan schedule, I could have gone a bit faster, but being a pool swim there are certain difficulties in trying to pass the swimmer ahead of you and I was happy with my pace and still held a bit of effort in reserve. I exited the pool and moved towards the transition area. I left the pool area in a time of 6:30 (about 6:00 of swimming and :30 of running out of the pool area). I moved quickly through transition and exited in 1:11--dropping 1:04 from last year as I had the energy to move quickly. Then I moved on to the bike. This was where I wanted to hammer out some hard effort and work on my time to be as fast as I could be. Last year's time was 36:14 and I wanted to be at least 3 minutes faster and hoped to be less than 33 minutes (20 mph pace). I was able to keep up a solid effort for the whole ride as I hoped and maintained a true race pace cadence. When pedaling got harder I shifted down and when it got easier I shifted up, but I held my cadence pretty good. I got passed by 4 riders and passed more than I could count in that time (including passing one of those that passed me!). I can easily say this was my best bike performance on any triathlon! In the end I made it back to transition with a time of 32:40 (20.2 mph pace), making my time goal. I parked my bike and handed off the ankle band and chip to Karen and away she ran. It was a warm and humid morning already and she had a pretty sunny run, but she did well and ran a personal best 3 mile time around 24:15-24:30 (the actual time is not yet posted due to a timing issue).
We finished in 1:05:55 and had a great time, and Karen enjoyed her first-time triathlon experience as well. However, there was a special surprise in store for us as we were the first place finishers in the Mixed Relay Team Division, with a great presentation by a cool-looking George Washington.
In the end, you would think winning my first triathlon award would be the special part of the day, but the truth is sharing this experience with a friend for her first time really made me feel better than taking home an award. This day reminded me in a special way of why I really do these events and why I really enjoy them.