|Run course at about 2.5 miles|
One thing that I love about triathlon is the planning, preparation, and execution that have to take place. To do well, you can't just show up and race. It's important to lay out your transition carefully, thinking about each step that you will take and the order in which you will do things. Overlooking one small step can easily add time to your race. It also helps to establish 2-3 goals that you can play with depending on how the race is unfolding. These are low, medium, and high goals, and by having some variety, it makes you much more adaptable.
After arriving and setting up in transition, it was clear that the weather was going to be more cooperative than originally planned. There were a lot of folks dressed in tights, jackets, etc., but it just didn't really seem necessary as the sun continued to shine. I decided to go with my arm warmers for the race, and I stashed my gloves in my helmet for the ride (I wound up not needing them, once I got to the bike). After a few bathroom breaks, and a visit to check out the pool, I took a small warmup jog about 20 minutes before the start and I felt just fine.
After a one minute transition, I was out on the bike, and headed downhill towards the highway that would take us out towards the airport. Almost immediately, a gal on a tri bike came rocketing past me, and disappeared ahead into the distance. Still, I was making good time and managed to avoid any more passes until about 4-5 miles into the course. A few minutes in I heard a rattling sound, and cursed the fact that I really needed a tune up for my bike. As I rode on, I realized that the knocking and rattling was the result of the sensor on the front fork getting bumped and repeatedly hitting the wheel. My bike speed kept varying from 25 mph, to 2 mph, back up to 24mph.. After a couple of miles, the speed reading disappeared altogether. I kept on and reached the turn around in good time (this was helped by the downhill direction, and the wind at my back). As I headed north, the wind smacked straight into me, and I found myself struggling to maintain any kind of pace at all. The slog back to the university was a little more challenging, and I was passed by another 1/2 dozen riders or so. Still, I kept riding and pushing and managed to finish the bike in a decent amount of time (40:37, about 18.6 mph, but 9th in my AG). Not my fastest riding, but pretty good considering the wind. I was much more tired when I reached the transition, but I was able to strip down to my shorts, grab my goggles and head for the pool.
I found the pool swim, surprisingly easy after the run and the ride. There was a fair amount of space between me and the other swimmers, and so I didn't have to deal with others interfering with me. I work out in this pool quite a bit, so it was familiar to me. Being a little more fatigued, I definitely took more breaths than I usually do, but I still felt fairly strong. Halfway through the swim I began to notice some bubbles in front of me, and soon found myself staring at another person's feet. I had caught someone in front of me. After a minute of following, I was able to get around them, however as I got to the last lap, I felt someone rocket past me, executing a perfect flip turn. It seemed like this gal was out of the water before I had gotten halfway back through the pool. My swim was a 7:53, the fourth fastest in my age group.
I managed to extract myself from the water, and head towards the finish line, with enough energy left. In reality, I probably didn't leave it all out there, but I felt really good about my performance for such an early triathlon. Although I didn't place in my age group (I was sixth), I did manage a top 20 finish overall for the race, which I felt very good about. It seems that many of the top AG triathletes are between the ages of 40-50, so I may be looking forward to fewer podium finishes compared to last season when I was first and second in my age group at a couple of races. But racing season is definitely upon us. Next week I'll have another race report from the Horsetooth Half Marathon in Fort Collins, and then there's about a month before the Colfax Marathon in May. I will need to do some serious training to get ready for that one!