This morning was the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon. This was the 5th year for the race, and I’ve done every one of them. The first 4 years, my times got better. Unfortunately, this year I think was the slowest of them all. I say that because as of 9pm the official results are still not posted anywhere. I'm not very happy about that as I would love to know the official time; however, the unofficial time is somewhere around 1:33:00.
I knew going in it would probably be a slow race. First of all, I haven’t been doing a lot of tri training lately. I’ve been focusing more on my run training for later in the year. Second of all, the forecast for this morning called for 15-20mph winds at the start and at least 20mph by the time I would be on the bike. The forecast did not disappoint.
I woke up at 4:15 this morning and started getting ready. When I headed outside to load the car and raised the garage door so I could put my bike on the bike rack, I realized it would be a tough day. The wind was already really strong. By 5am I was out the door and on the way to the race. This race is open racking and I like to get there before everyone else so I can basically have my choice of rack spots. When I got there I was able to get an end spot about 4 racks from the bike exit. I can run faster without my bikes shoes on, so this is my preference. I was joined on the row by a couple of friends and a former pro triathlete.
I hung around in transition visiting with other friends, hit the port-a-potty’s and mentally prepared for a tough race. At 6:50 I headed out of transition and over to the swim start. On the way, I saw Joel and Roscoe and got a few licks from Roscoe. He was a happy boy to be out at the lake. I then continued over to the start and stood amongst friends until I headed down to get in the water. My wave went off at 8:03, 33 minutes after the start. Only two waves were after me.
As I stood on the “beach” waiting for my wave start, it appeared the swim would be a difficult one as well. I saw at least 4 people come back in quickly after starting. The waves were rocking. When they called our group I raced into the water and got close up front and on the inside. With one minute to go, I started my watch. Then it was time to swim.
As we started swimming I was taken back to my ocean swim in Florida. The waves were coming and I was rocking. I was also getting a face full of water quite often. I knew I would not have a fast time for the swim. I managed to keep a fairly straight line despite the waves trying to push me every which way and was actually surprise when I got out of the water to see about 13:XX on my watch (remember, I had started it early so this meant a 12:XX - although it was a ways to the timing mat).
I ran (ok, jog may be more like it) out of the water, skipping the pools they had there to wash feet off in. As I ran up the sidewalk one of the volunteers kept saying “slow down”. I know he was doing this in case the sidewalk was slippery but I was thinking “um, this is a race, I’m not slowing down”.
I headed into transition and to my spot so I could get ready for the bike. I expected to see an empty row, but instead I saw the former pro’s bike on the rack. Either he had dropped out, or he had already finished the bike. I found out later, he had already finished the bike. That’s what happens when you got off in a wave start so close to the end.
Anyway, I got my socks and shoes on, then my gloves and glasses, and finally my helmet. I grabbed my bike and ran as best as I could in the bike shoes toward the bike exit. I crossed the mount line and got on.
Remember, the race course is a route I ride regularly in training. I am very familiar with the course so I knew where I would have a tailwind and where I would have a headwind. I knew that right out of the start I would have a tailwind so I decided to push it here. I would have plenty of time to slow down later in the course.
As I rounded the first curve, I began to slow. The winds were a strong crosswind here, so I just tried to go as hard as I could and stay upright. As I passed people I would say “on your left” like I am supposed to. I said that one time and the girl said, “I’m trying to stay to the right.” I told her I understood because it was hard to stay right since the wind was blowing from that way. I knew at the next main turn, we would have a headwind for a while and I wasn’t looking forward to that.
I finally got to the corner and turned into the headwind and it smacked me in the face. Ugghhh. This is also where you have one of the biggest “hills” on the course. My speed dropped dramatically. I shifted into an easy gear and pedaled away. I even got up out of the saddle so I could keep SOME speed. I just did what I could do and told myself I’d have to be ok with the outcome. The good thing was that I was actually passing quite a few people and wasn’t getting passed very much.
We went around a few more curves and were just about to turn back west when I realized a girl was on my wheel. I think she had been there for a while and she would continue to stay there for a while as well. I told myself I would drop her when I could, but with the wind I just didn’t have any more in me than what I was already doing. Well, if she wanted to be happy with her race after drafting for a large part of it, so be it.
I kept playing leap frog with another lady and was actually impressed with her. She was younger (which meant she had gone off in a wave before me), but she was on a road bike with regular shoes and cage. Most people in races have clipless pedals. Clipless pedals make it easier, but she was doing just fine without them.
As we got closer to the toll road, I got excited. I knew I could fly on this part. It’s a slight downhill and we would have a tailwind. As I made the turn, I shifted appropriately and hammered. At one point I looked down and was doing 28mph. A lot of people were taking advantage of the wind here and coasting so they could rest, but not me. I wanted to make up some time. I went as hard as I could the whole way down the toll road until just before the turn.
The turn from the toll road onto the country road back to the lake is a pretty sharp turn. Last year I was going so fast through the turn that I almost hit the median. I learned my lesson and slowed down this year. The only problem with that is that as soon as you made the turn you were right back into the wind. It took a while to gain some momentum again. It’s also deceptive because you think at this point you are almost through and you are still a little more than 2 miles out. I just kept grinding away.
I was really excited to make the last turn back toward the lake. Tailwind!!!! I went hard until the finish and then slowed down to turn into transition. I rode right up to the dismount line before getting off. I “ran” my bike back to the rack and did a quick change of shoes, removing the helmet and gloves and grabbing my Gatorade and race number.
As I ran out of transition I put my Gatorade in my top so I could redo my ponytail and get my hair out of my eyes. As I started the run I grabbed a cup of water to down and then set off to run. And boy was it hard.
The first part of the run crosses the dam and the wind was straight into my face. I felt like I was trying really hard but barely getting anywhere. Joel was there with Roscoe again and yelled “go, B, go”. My response was “I’m trying”. I knew it would not be a fast run so I just made a decision to run the whole way. There were a lot of people walking into the wind because it was just sapping the energy out of them. I didn’t want to be one of those people. I will admit there were times I probably could have walked faster than I was running, but I kept running anyway.
At the first water station I dumped water on my head. It felt good because the sun was starting to pop out and it was getting hot. Even the wind was a hot wind. I was glad to turn north on the lake path and have a little wind at my back for a while, but with the final turn toward the finish we were fighting the wind again. I could see the finish but it felt like I couldn’t get there. Finally, I crossed the line. I was very happy to be done.
At the finish, there were some nice touches: they had freezer pops for us as well as an ice cold towel and a bike bottle full of cold water. The freezer pop was awesome!
After cooling down a bit I grabbed a piece of pizza and then waited around for transition to open up again. When it did I took some stuff to the car and then came back to wait for a friend of mine to finish.
Overall, despite the wind, it was a good day. I just wish I had some official results by now.