Here it is. The race report for the last triathlon for a while so you can read how it all played out.
As do most full-time employed parents that try to be triathletes, I made some choices about how to spend my training time and how much of it to spend in the first place. In order to prep up for the longer swim and get my run in a good place, I might have made some sacrifices on the bike volume front. My bike fitness was at a peak mid-summer and that was rewarded by a big 10 mile time trial PR. Which is awesome and all but this is early November and I wasn’t so confident about the cycling fitness at this stage of the season. No matter. I was going to go for it anyway, and by go for it, I mean do the best I could with what I had.
Then in the bitterly cold early morning darkness of race morning I hear the announcement that the swim is cancelled. What? Something about ITU rules and the average of the air (37) vs. water (64) temperature. Sigh. I’m not going to worry about what I can’t change, so I go hang out with my home stay peeps that happened to be staying in the hotel near the swim-bike transition area. Yeah, strange arrangement, but it gave me and the family somewhere warm to hang out until it was time to start the bike. In lieu of the swim, everyone was started at 5 second intervals by race number. I was #842 out of just under a thousand. Which meant I had a little wait.
So what did I think about during the wait? First, I adjusted my nutrition plan on the fly and got ready to go. When I was lined up at the bike rack, I met Susan Williams, who was two slots down from me. She’s very nice and quite modest about her abilities. Her abilities, in fact, are ridiculous although the longer distance and lack of swim weren’t doing her any favors. Not that she needed favors to win the age group handily (yes she won). Oh. Sorry. Did I ruin the surprise? Pity.
This time of year, Henderson, Nevada is known for it’s windy weather, so I was a bit cautious at the beginning of the ride. I needn’t have been because it wasn’t bad at all. Maybe 10mph winds is all Henderson had to offer that day. No big deal. So all that worry some people had about the front blowing through the prior day was for naught. And to all those people who looked warily at my wheel cover during bike drop-off– no problemo amigos.
One thing I did notice within the first mile of the bike is the ease with which Susan passed and dispatched me out the back. There were others who passed me by later and I know there were ladies who started ahead of me eating up the pavement at a faster pace than I. Now, I don’t believe myself to be the awesomest cyclist out there, but I’m usually pretty solid in the women’s field. Let’s just say I was getting the distinct impression that I might not be in top bike form. Which, if you read a few paragraphs prior, shouldn’t be a major surprise. Life priorities and all.
One of the most interesting things I saw out on the bike course was an enormous, gray hairy spider creeping across the road. First, I saw a woman up ahead of me swerve around something and then thought I saw a crab. Wait a minute…crabs don’t live in the desert! Then I nearly run over that ugly bugger. Now, I can’t swear to it, but it may very well have been a desert tarantula. Can’t say I stopped to get a closer look or anything.
Anyway, as planned, I picked up my effort in the final 15-20 miles and reeled a few ladies back in that passed me earlier. This was the part on the mountain trail back into (and UP to) town. I finished with an OK but not amazing 4:04:xx and hoped I had left enough in my legs for the excellent run that I knew I was fit enough for. Maybe my bike fitness was off, but certainly I was ready to run pretty well. I would find out soon enough.
Tired legs and all, I felt good that first loop. The run course is 4 “loops” that are really double out and backs that run us by the finish area 7 or 8 times. It’s hilly, with each 4.6 mile lap including a solid 2 miles of climbing and 2 miles of descent. Not super steep, but definitely not flat.
I had no idea where I was against my age group homies, but I had a feeling I was out of the medals at that point. I later discovered I was in fifth after T2, but I ran down one woman with a 40 on her leg fairly early on. After the first lap, placement gets even more difficult to discern, so I really had no idea but I did see Susan Williams on the out and backs with an enormous lead. You’ve heard the saying “getting beat by a mile?” She was a good 2 miles up. Yes, it was like that.
Happily, I held my run together pretty well and only tapered off the pace a little on the final lap when I was getting twinges of potential cramps. Fortunately, the cramps held off and I held on for a 2:20:xx, which is a 7:35 average pace (no doubt the e21 helped). I am thrilled to report that this is the pace I hoped for and about 10-11 minutes faster than I ran at this distance at Grand Columbian in 2006 on a much flatter course. I may not have quite the same run speed of a younger me, but I do have superior run durability and endurance, which bodes well for the new marathon PR project for 2012.
All this left me in 4th place with a sizable gap of about 5 1/2 minutes behind third. As I mentioned in a previous post, the main goal was to go hard and leave no excuses on the course. That I did. I had hoped that would be enough to earn a bronze, but there were just faster, better prepared women there.
Even though I return without hardware this time around, it was a good trip. Many thanks to Rex and Jolene Mitchell for their hospitality and support. Many more thanks to Remy for being a real trooper during his first long plane trips and my colleagues for loaning us a travel DVD player and lots of fun DVD’s. I think the highlight of Remy’s trip were the bus shuttle trips between the airport and rental car place, although he was pretty excited about riding on the big airplane too. Also, thanks to Gary for hanging out with a sometimes obstinate toddler while I pummeled myself on the race course.
Up next– run focus!