Last August I did the Bridgeland Sprint Triathlon, a first rate sprint distance triathlon in the greater Houston area--and my blog entry for that race can be found here.
It was been hot this summer and today was no exception. I was sweating before I got out the door and to the car this warm and humid early morning, but that is what this summer has been like here. I was looking forward to this race and the chance to make an effort to go "all out" for a change in a way that longer distance events do not allow.
I got out to the race site early and set up my transition area. This year the race changed the transition area site to allow for more entrants (1500 in this race). This change also was one of the reasons the run distance increased by 0.15 miles. After this I was able to walk over to the area of the swim start and wait for the race to begin while I socialized with friends and teammates.
For the swim I began the race wide to the out side and attempted to swim a line that would take me to the inside by the turn buoy several hundred yards away. As a whole this strategy worked and I found myself surprised to be in fairly open water for most of my swim, or at least until I had to swim between the slower swimmers I caught from the 2 waves ahead of me. I had a good swim and only once got slightly out of line with my desired path. I finished in 10:21 vs 12:16 last year.
After leaving the water I ran all the way through transition to my bike and then ran it out to the road. The transition are was much larger than last year, but I had a decent location just about in the center of it all. My first transition time was 2:00 vs 2:18 last year.
This year my goal on the bike was to go out and maintain a hard pace, and then worry about the run when I got to it later. Overall, I did pretty much just that. In retrospect I could have gotten a little more speed out of my effort, but I took a bit of time to test the best mix of gears versus the cadence count I could maintain in those gears.
In the end I must have been successful as I averaged my best race bike speed ever in a triathlon at 20.8 mph. I passed so many more people than passed me, and I passed some of those guys later. I finished with a bike split time of 39:09 vs last year's time of 42:37.
As I arrived in the transition area for the second time, I also ran in and back out again, and I felt that I moved pretty well in moving from the bike to the run. My second transition time was 1:28 vs 1:56 last year.
I was very proud of my run effort today. I ran a hard and consistent pace, even when it was not easy to do so. I slowed my sprint to the finish a bit as I started to cramp entering the finishing chute, but I still felt that I had a solid effort on a hot day.
I ran every step of this run from within the transition area until the finish line. Once again I passed more people than passed me. I completed today's run in 34:01 vs 35:07 last year, and as I mentioned before this year's run was 0.15 miles longer.
Immediately, after the race I hopped into one of the many large tubs of ice water and sit inside and cool down for a minute or two--this felt absolutely great after this event! I spent some post-race time cheering in finishers, eating some of the great post-race snacks and visiting with my friends and teammates. On my way home I stopped for a special, personal post-race treat and had a peanut butter ice cream sundae.
I really feel like I am seeing improvement in my performance. I think this was the first time I finished in the upper half of my age group--certainly for a large triathlon event and I had a faster time than several people I know that I would expect to have beaten my time (although such comparisons are truly difficult if I don't really know what their motivations were for today's race. My final time for this race was 1:27:00, beating out last year's time of 1:34:14 by over 7 minutes--and I felt great and had a fantastic time doing it!