Well, I didn't do as well as I would have liked. But let me tell you about it in detail . . .
Breakfast was egg and toast (chickie in der baskie!). My heat started at 9:00, so I had plenty of time to hang out and relax at home before heading over to the DRC, but elected instead to get there at around 8 to take pictures. Which did not go as planned. When I pulled my camera out, it refused to turn on, which I thought strange, because I knew I had just charged it the other night. And the battery was fully charged! Unfortunately, I left it on its charger, still plugged into the wall. So no pictures. But the captain of the local tri team did get some pictures, so you can expect those in the near future.
One of the greatest parts about this race is that it has a friendly, communal feel. We all want to do well; many of us have been doing this long enough that we know what to expect from the race and from ourselves, and we want to see that happen. But there are plenty of first-timers, as well--swimmers or maybe runners who heard about the race and wanted to try it, or just everyday people who thought that this race was within reach. I like to imagine that this is what most races felt like about 15 years ago, before the sport developed into the veritable franchising opportunity that it's become today. Don't get me wrong--the big, well-constructed races are a great boon to our sport. But sometimes I wish we had more races where people didn't take themselves quite so seriously.
I digress. Fact is, it was a great place to hang out, even without the camera. Oh! My one complaint is that the (one) lady who was doing body marking would NOT draw a smiley face on my leg! And she wasn't very nice about it, either.
Swim - 500 meters in 8:30 (or so)
Oh, it was a great time. My time keeper (each competitor gets their own teenager with a stopwatch who follows them throughout the race) and I were shouting introductions to each other across the short-course pool. The girl in the lane next to me asked me to demonstrate a flip turn (she was all set to try them for the first time ever IN A RACE; needless to say, I advised her against that). The guy on the other side and I kept cracking jokes about how our tri shorts felt like parachutes when we pushed off the wall. And our heat started 45 seconds late, because someone put down their walkie-talkie. That's a great atmosphere to have around the beginning of a race, at least for me. It's too easy to stress out when everyone's all serious and concentrating.
Each heat had 12 participants, two in each lane, which means that every competitor has to split a lane down the middle (unless there's a DNS). I was hoping that the guy sharing my lane would be a good pacer, and he was through the first 150 or so. In fact, he was a little bit faster than me, so I encroached a little on the center (he was almost right on top of the lane line as it was) and got a little bit of a draft off him. Hurray! Less work for me! But after the first 150, I started brushing his feet. I was gaining on him. By the end of the next 50, I had passed him. I started keeping an eye on the swimmers in other lanes, trying to push myself by pacing off them, but I couldn't really see much--maybe a hand every now and then.
I finished my last length and pushed myself out of the pool, slightly winded, but not over-taxed, by any means. The official (a.k.a. head lifeguard) called to me as I got out, "8:30! Good work!" and I thought, "Sweet!" A couple weeks ago, I did a 500 m time trial, and I did that in 9:34, so I'm very pleased with my swim split.
T1: 49 seconds
Um, we were not allowed to run into T1, because it's on a pool deck. So we had to walk until we got out of the aquatics area, at which point we were allowed to run the 20 feet to T1 (folding chairs with our lane numbers on them). I threw my cap and goggles down (not on my chair, mind you), wiggled into my running shoes, and ran over to my assigned bike to spin my brains out for 6 miles. Had some issues getting my feet into the toe cages, but it wasn't worth it for me to change shoes twice.
Bike - 6 miles in 16:43 (21.54 MPH)
The stationary bikes we use for this race are the DRC's spinning bikes, the Lemond type that looks like a yellow X (which is great, because those bikes are highly adjustable). Which means that wattage and resistance mean zilch; it's all about how fast you can spin your legs.
And I can spin pretty fast.
So I held 138-150 RPM the whole time and was the second off the bike (third on the bike, so I frickin' passed someone on the bike "course"). I was cutting up the whole time. I sure hope I wasn't one of those obnoxious loud-mouths who aggravate everyone else. But I was having a lot of fun, even if I was!
T2: 16 seconds
I think this is a conservative estimate. T2 (I didn't have to change shoes) consisted of running halfway across the gym, up a flight of FRICKIN' stairs, and straight onto the indoor track. So I think 16 seconds is probably less than it took me to do all that. But it's convenient to guess this time, because it's included in my run split, and my run split is 18:16.
Actually, on second thought, let's say it took me 4:16 to get up the stairs and onto the track.
Run: 2 miles in 18:00 (or so)
You know, now that I'm looking back at it, this really isn't a terrible run time for me. It's the first race of the season; I haven't run in about two weeks; and it's been at least two months since I ran straight off the bike (especially after spinning at 140 RPM or so). Yeah, the more I write about this, the better I feel.
The real issue, at least for the first half mile or so, was some serious GI pain. Not "issues." Pain. I felt like I was going to vomit. And I say that pretty frequently when I'm working at this intensity, but I actually had to dial my speed back a bit, this time, whereas normally I can just push through it. I suspect it was the Accelerade that I had on the bike (I drained about half the bottle), which I was hoping would give me the energy I needed to run strong.
The DRC's track is 10 laps to a mile, and after the first 5, my stomach had settled down considerably, so I was able to push the pace a little bit (is it just me, or is that sentence the longest compound sentence ever? Shit, now it's even longer). About that time, a few of the guys from KSRVTC (my local tri club) showed up to start cheering me (among others) on. Having those guys cheering my name meant a lot to me; I'll admit I'm a bit of an approval whore when it comes to the older, wiser athletes in this city.
I felt my pace slowing again after the first mile, but at that point I was able to talk myself through it. "Remember when you were way back at lap 5? Doesn't it feel good to be at lap 15? Remember how much you wanted lap 17? Just a quarter mile to go, now!" The last lap, I turned on the afterburn, and brought it home with the big, Trihardist style (can I say that without it being ridiculously lame?)--"nnnyyyyyeeeeeeerrrrrrooommmm" (the sound of a plane landing).
Post-race: 44:19 (3rd in 20-29 F)
Post-race was ridiculously fun. Four of the athletes I coach were there, and I hadn't seen two of them for months. We made what I'm sure looked like an elitist circle (because that's what people think about Genesis members anyway, I think), but we were just catching up with each other. We all got to watch and cheer each other on. And everyone made it through! It reminded us of why we love this sport, but also sort of kicked our butts and reminded us that it's not an easy thing. Also got to catch up with one of my buddies who I met at the same race last year and has since gone on to great things in the 40-45 age group. She took 10 minutes off last year's time at this race, and in a race this short, 10 minutes is huge! Besides which, she beat me by 5 seconds.
44:19 was enough to get me 3rd in my age group, but not good enough for a medal. So no award for me this time. And man did it hurt! I haven't by any means been sedentary this year, but it's been a while since I went all-out like I did on Sunday. I am very, very sore.
This race kicked off my 2009 season. Not only was it my first race of the year, but it also kicked off my first week of training. I am now officially (as of yesterday) in training again. And I'll talk about that more soon.