"The gun goes off and everything changes....the world changes....and nothing else really matters." Patti Sue Plummer
Today was the local sprint triathlon that takes place in the lake and on the roads where I train. I've done the race since it started. This was the 4th year and it continues to get bigger and better (and more competitive).
I woke up this morning a little unsure of what the day would bring. Every now and then I move a certain way and tweak a nerve or muscle in my lower back. Well, yesterday I did that and could hardly stand up straight or walk normal. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to race today, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway.
I woke up early and had my standard oatmeal breakfast and then loaded the car and headed to the race site. I got there early because this race is open racking and I wanted to get a good spot on the end. Got body marked and found a spot and then was told the bike out would be on one side and the bike in on the other and everyone would have to make the entire loop at one point or another. After hearing that, I moved my bike to the mid way point near the run out. I hit the port-a-potty and kept trying to stretch the back out. Since it was a local race I saw lots of folks I know.
As I was exiting transition I saw my family. Then I headed to the swim start area where they had the pre race meeting and stated that they were changing the bike in/out and you could now go in or out on either side. I was not happy as I had had a perfect spot in the beginning. Oh well. Too late to change now.
Next thing we know, the swim is starting. All the men went first and then the women went off in age group order. This meant I was toward the end, but I think there were 2-3 waves after me so at least I wasn't last.
When it was time to enter the water, I headed to the front and positioned myself on the inside. I've done this swim many times in practice swims and wanted to follow the buoys as straight as I could. When the horn sounded I took off. I started pushing fairly hard and felt like I was in the front of the pack. I decided to keep pushing as long as I could. By the second buoy (about 200 meters) I passed a swimmer from the wave in front of me. This gave me the energy to keep going. As I rounded the turn bouy to head back to shore, the sun was in my eyes and I had trouble seeing the next buoy. I finally found it and once I passed that I just focused on the yellow flags on shore by the swim exit. And I swam as hard as I could. And I kept swimming until my hand touched bottom and then I stood up and ran. Luckily for me the back seemed to be ok at this point.
Swim Time: 10:56 for 500 meters
I headed into transition. As I bent to put on my bike shoes I realized the back was not going to cooperate and I had to sit on the ground to get them on. I usually don't do that. I got back up, got the gloves and glasses on, put the helmet on, and off I went.
As I got on my bike I just hoped my back would cooperate. The first part of the bike course can be very fast if you do it right. Again, I've ridden this course many times in training and knew what I was capable of. I wanted to see if I could beat my best time and I wanted to be above 18mph for the course. A couple of miles in, there is a decent turn that heads right into a decent climb. If you don't know about it, you will slow for the curve and not have momentum to climb the hill. I got lucky and didn't have any riders near me heading into that curve so I was able to maintain my speed. I felt like I was doing a good job of pacing and was passing people, but really only got passed a few times during the bike portion.
Once we got passed the rollers we turned to head back to town and finally had a little bit of a tailwind. The problem is that this portion is a false flat and if you don't realize that you can lose speed here. I tried to keep my speed as high as I could. I kept thinking "push while you can because your back may not cooperate later on the run". I just hoped if the back DID cooperate that my legs would, too.
Just before hitting the turn to head down the access road of the toll road, a 51 year old woman passed me. Dang it. She made a comment about the tailwind and I told her to get ready to fly when she hit the toll road. I made the turn and gave it all I had going down the slight hill and straight away. You can build up some pretty good speed here. I think I may have built up too much and not slowed down enough for the turn to head back to the lake, though. I had to turn wide and hit the brakes. Oops!
As I got closer to the lake I saw my family, gave them a wave and a smile and kept going. One last turn downhill before a slight uphill into transition. I was happy because I knew I was close to my goal time of 45 minutes.
Bike Time: 45:04 for a 18.6mph average
I stopped right before the dismount line, unclipped and got of the bike. And the back had that pain. I thought if I would run through it it might go away, so I jogged to my transition spot. Once again, I had to sit to change shoes and I never do that. Despite that, it was a pretty quick transition.
The run out was a little weird as you had to run up the grassy side of the hill to get up to the run path around the lake. That was a little challenging with the back and my foot hit a hole right before I hit the path. But I kept going. I just wanted to keep a steady pace and try to run the whole way. As I got close to the dam I saw my family again. My back was still hurting at that point but the pain was getting less and less. I kept going and was even able to pick up the pace a little bit. Just before mile 1 I saw a women in my age group and made it my goal to pass her. Mission accomplished. The around mile 2 I saw a lady who was in my age group last year and passed me at the end. I made it a goal to pass her. Mission accomplished.
And so it was for the rest of the run. Just get to the next point or the next "rabbit". But on that back stretch, I got passed by a different lady in my age group and I knew I would not catch her. At this point I had no idea how far back I was, but I did not want to get passed again. At lease by anyone in my age group. I did get passed by several 20-30 year olds, but that meant I had passed them on the bike since they started before me, so I didn't mind. As I got closer to the finish I began to pick it up just a little bit. I crossed the line and was glad to be done.
Run time: 26:11 for 8:44/mile pace
Total time: 1:25:52
This was almost 2 minutes faster than my time last year and was good enough for 5th place in my age group. And that 51 year old woman that passed me on the bike - she won her age group. As the quote above says, once that gun went off, I seemed to forget about the back pain and race my race. But you can bet I'll be headed to the chiropractor this week!
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