The season has officially begun… and I’m super pleased with how things went. This morning at quarter to six I was up and at it eating and drinking (about 940 kCal) and out the door to make it to transition just as it opened, I drank another 100 kCal while booting around the race site. I got what I considered the very best spot on the lot.
It wasn’t the first spot taken, because people always want to run less distance with their bike shoes, but I was planning to mount with the shoes clipped in (see the picture) and I generally don’t have any trouble running with my bike. I went for the closest spot to the bike finish and run start.
I quoted a time of 14:30 for the swim, I figured best to underestimate by a few seconds (I was confident that I could swim sub 15) so that I would be stretched my people in my lane. It turned out that we had an old slow dude in our lane and a really fast teenager. So, a bunch of passing needed to happen and I jumped from the pool in a time of about 15:10. Including time to the mat (~100m with walk on deck): 15:38. (place 52/116)
T1 went alot smoother than last year when I got my race number stuck to my back because it was paper and I was wet… go figure. It was bound to be chilly racing at just a bit past nine in the morning. I opted to go for a cycling jersey with sleeves, admittedly not the most aero top I own but that’s okay. I wore arm warmers (which are tough to put on, I did most adjusting on the bike) and a skull-toque. The race number was on a belt.
I opted to go with shoes in the clips and fixed the left shoe (mount side) to the quick release with a small elastic which would break as soon as I started pedaling. I did a flying mount and had my feet in without much trouble. I was pretty impressed that it still worked with freezing cold and wet feet, I hadn’t practiced like that for comfort related reasons.
The bike course is 4.5 5 km laps, amounting to 21.6 km. I started out with a good spin to get loosened up but after about 400m I dropped the hammer. I maintained aero the whole time except for a 200m stretch that was classified as a “no passing zone” because of all the potholes and all the weaving that everyone was up to to stay out of them. I got caught behind a mountain bike twice in the section so I sat upright and got a good drink and stretched the legs a bit while waiting to get through it (automatic DQ if you pass, they did enforce it, poor guy).
The course includes a deadly hill (well 4 deadly hills I guess), Last year I was out of the saddle from the bottom and was quick but had a tough time on the top half where it kinks up and gets steeped just before you reach the summit. I elected to stay seated until the kink, at which point I geared up and sprinted out the really steep section. That’s how the pros did it in the ITU race last summer and it works well, your heart rate jumps anaerobic, but you reach the crux of the hill with speed and I think that makes a big difference. (Probably wouldn’t select this strategy for my 1/2 IM but it works for short races where “AET” doesn’t spell “DEAD”.
I was out of my shoes with a bit more than 100 meters to go and rode into T2, flying dismount and run with my bike. I was very impressed with my speed through T2. Time for T1 & Bike & T2: 39:57 (place 15/116).
The run course was flat and I thoroughly surprised myself with a blistering run considering I’ve been off my left foot for most of the last 2 months after Neil helped me destroy it. I started out with a 4:30 pace as I knew I needed to get my legs and wasn’t sure how the foot would feel going out. I stuck to that pace for less than a km and picked it up. I felt tight in my hip flexors (not enough aero riding yet this season, so they got tight on the bike is my guess) for the first 3 km and after a drink halfway I felt amazing and put a smile on my face. I hammered out the last 2 km and managed to feel destroyed at the finish line, which was one of the goals for the day. Time for the run: 20:18 (place 20/116).
Overall my time was 1:15:52. I placed 21/116 overall and 7/21 in my age group.
Anything I’d change? I did everything right based on my conditioning as far as I can tell. I need to practice aero because it’s rough on the body to ask 40 minutes of hard effort in that body position when you’ve been riding the rollers without much concern for good aerodynamics. It’s only going to be more important to practice this for longer distances this season. Unfortunately besides moving somewhere it’s impossible to get much practice before a race that comes this early in the season. I might be best off if I decide to go with arm warmers to just get them on my wrists while I’m still wet and then bike till my arms are dry and then pull them up. This doesn’t really get you warm very quickly but it would have prevented me from having damp arms all race. I don’t know which is the better decision though.