I was up early to drive my friend Corey down to the race with me. My pre-race nutrition plan was a simple one: eat one Peanut Butter Chocolate Builder Bar each hour until an hour before the race, with a shot of liquid nutrition in 8 ounces of water about 20-30 minutes before the race as well. After I set up my transition area, I meet up with my friends and chat a bit before settling into some pre-race rest and warmups. I was also able to see the longer course triathletes begin their swim as I was in my preparation zone.
Swim: After seeing a lot of swimmers in my wave I decide to line up to the outside and plan to slide over as the wave thins out. I swim in a strong and purposeful manner, though not at my hardest. I am able to angle back into the main swim lane without too much trouble and take the turn and line up to the laddered exit and cross the mat in 10:49.1. (13th in my AG)
T1: I had a pretty good T1, I had a long run in and back out trying to weave around walkers and people standing around. Due to the tightness of the lane between the racks, I end up rolling my bike over towels, shoes and stuff left in the way. 1:31.2 (2nd in my AG)
Bike: I started a bit slower than I could go until I adjusted and got into a rhythm and then I pushed as hard as I could and stay around my lactate threshold heart rate or just above that. I passed a ton of people and felt very strong on the bike. I got passed by two elite wave cyclists and two age groupers, though the age groupers only passed me as I took a drink going in a turn, one of them I passed right away and the other just stayed right in front of me since we were near the end of the bike and there was a lot of other bike traffic we were both passing around. 38:21.7 (2nd in AG)
|Photo from the TriHou Facebook page where I was about to dismount the bike|
T2: Not much to say, I was in and out pretty quickly. I had a very minor issue with one shoe and paused very briefly to grab my water bottle, chug a drink and toss it back toward my stuff. I saw one guy in my AG just in front of me and passed him heading out. 1:08.8 (4th fastest in my AG, though one of those had a favorable spot not near the rest of the AG athletes). It's strange to think of it now and not notice it then, but there didn't seem to be any bikes around my rack other than the one guy I chased out of transition.
Run: I ran and I ran. When we went on wet grass and a grass hill, I just kept running, passing several on the grass and the hill. My HR was in the 170s and I kept going close to as hard as I knew I could keep going at this point. I was wondering why I did not see anyone marked in my AG as I ran (though some numbers were smudged). After the turnaround I saw another ORR athlete behind me and he caught me a bit later. I couldn't remember if he was in my race or AG or anything for certain, but I tried to keep him as close as possible for motivation and pushed harder in the return part of the run. I was feeling about out of steam late in the run and just pushed my run effort out until I saw the finish and found some energy. As I was about 50 yards from the finish line and I heard a runner behind me and found the energy to go a bit harder to the end. 16:12.9 (3rd in AG--the second and third place finishers were slightly faster on the run).
Total - 1:08:03.9 Now I know I have been improving and took on this race to provide my best competitive effort, which I did, though I still surprised myself with this time as I didn't see myself finishing faster than the 1:10:-1:12:00 range for this race at best, and more likely closer to 1:12:00 to 1:15:00.
I hung around to talk to friends and cheer in teammates for a while and had some fun. As I go around to see my finishing time and place, I run into Corey who high-fives me and tells me to check the results and smiles. I see Mike and Kelly of ORR near there as well, who ask me if I'd seen them and they smile and tell me to go look. In truth, I had thought I could compete for a podium spot with a good race, and I did my best to leave all my effort on the course this day in that effort. I figured these friends were confirming my effort to secure a podium finish in this race was a success, but to see my name on top of the AG was a bit of a shock, but a happy shock nonetheless. Yes, I won my age group! "WOW!!!!" doesn't describe how I felt.
|Award acceptance photo taken by Corey. I also got a tub of Strawberry HEED endurance drink.|
I know I won my AG in Montgomery a month ago but that was a much smaller race. Here I was not only first in a competitive AG of a competitive race, but was the 26th male and 27th overall of nearly 500 athletes and I did not see myself as being THAT athlete.
My friends say that this doesn't surprise them, though it surprises me. I may not feel like I am letting any false limits define what I am capable of achieving, but I guess I better start thinking that like my friends now and accept that things have changed for me in all ways except perhaps how I saw myself.
Oh, and just to fill in the details left open in my report above, it turned out the guy I passed in transition finished in 4th place and that the reason I didn't remember seeing anyone else in my age group (ages are written on the triathlete's calf) is that I was actually ahead of them all.As it turned out, I needed every bit of speed I had for this win, seeing as how the second place finisher was 11.1 seconds behind me and the third place finisher was 10.0 seconds behind him.