I’m just going to give you a warning ahead of time. This post is gonna be a bit wordy. Lots to talk about here. We arrived in Dallas on Thursday with no major problems and I continued to workout on the trainer and treadmill as planned. As the temperature was forecast to drop severely, I continued to track the water temperature for the swim online. My last check Saturday morning had the water temperature at 80 degrees (it was listed at 84 when I left KC).
I went to packet pickup later on Saturday and sat through the course talk. Well let me tell you something – that website was a DAMN LIAR. The water temperature was currently at 72.7 and falling. Wetsuits are competition legal at anything lower than 78 degrees. Between 78-83.9 wetsuits may be worn, but those that wear them are not eligible for USAT points. At 84 or over, wetsuits are prohibited. Long story short, I’ve never swam in a wetsuit before. I was afraid of freezing my rear off waiting for the start so I kind of wanted a suit. Conversely I didn’t want to drop $300 on a suit and try it out for the first time in the race (no more rentals were available). The triathlete’s motto (besides “I am clinically insane”), is “nothing new on race day.” No new equipment, no new foods, drink mix or nutritional supplements. Nothing that could jack up the race. Keeping this in mind I decided to swim in just my tri suit (since the one piece of triathlon gear I managed to leave at home was my speedsuit). I spent way too much mental energy on this decision.
The morning of the race I was up at about 4:30, grabbed my nutrition and was out the door about 4:45. I got to the race just as transition opened at 5:15. It was cold. I mean really cold. In fact it was 45 degrees. I set up all my gear in transition, commiserated with everyone else about the temp and got back into the warmth ASAP. My cheering squad arrived about an hour later and I got to visit with them briefly before the race start. I wasn’t really nervous about the race, but I wanted to get out of the water pronto. I thought I would perform poorly (relative to others) in the swim, and wanted to move to my two stronger events. I stood out in the cold for about two minutes before my wave was called and then it was time to jump in the water. That 72 degree water felt like heaven after standing in a spandex body suit at 45 degrees. Soon enough the horn sounded, and we were off.
Given that my shoulder injury requires breaststroke the swim went about as well as I could have hoped. No one tried to swim over me, and I swam around a lot more people than I thought I would. Initially I was worried I was going out too hard. Later into the race I figured out that the current was pushing us out, and people were having a problem sighting the course properly. Many athletes were swimming way off course and had to be herded back into the race by the kayakers. I finished the swim in 32:19. This is only 50 seconds slower than my rehearsal swim in the pool, so I am very happy with this split.
T1 went fine except there was a gigantic hill right after the bike mount line. I made the mistake of trying to mount right at the line rather than running my bike up the hill. I made it without incident – barely. There were plenty of other folks who tried to clip in instead of run up, and there was a lot of wobbling as everyone tried to get momentum. Of course there was also the dreaded EW3 (Every Which Way Wind) blowing at 15mph no matter which way you went. It sucked, but I just pushed through it. I passed more people than passed me, so I considered it a pretty good ride. There were no big hills, but lots of small to medium ones. Ultimately I finished the bike in 1:18, or 19.3 mph. Without the wind I think I might have been able to do it in 1:14. I really wanted to stay under 1:15 for the bike so that I had a shot at breaking 2:50.
T2 was pretty good. I ended up keeping on my jacket and gloves for the run. In hindsight I should have kept the gloves but ditched the jacket. In the end, I don’t think it really mattered all that much. The run was pretty brutal and it was really difficult to maintain a good pace. My plan going into the race was to run an 8:30 pace for the first three miles and then run negative splits (each mile faster than the last) all the way in. The hilly course made that unrealistic. There were almost no flat spots to open it up and I had to stick to about 8:55 just to keep my heartrate in check. Finally the last 2/3 of a mile was flat to descending all the way to the line. I left everything I had in that last push. I averaged just over a 7 minute mile coming in. I passed a dozen people and could feel my heartrate blowing up. I was just trying to keep it together until I saw my family and came into the finish. It worked. My 10k time was 54:05 or 8:43/mile.
I ended up with a time of 2:52:41. My goal was to finish in under three hours, but I was hoping to come in under 2:50. The conditions of the day made 2:50 a pretty lofty goal, so I am really happy with my 2:52. I have surgery two weeks from today and am really hoping I can get back to swimming freestyle. If that’s possible, I think I have a shot at a 2:30 Olympic Distance next year. With another year of training I think I could shave about 7 minutes off the swim, 7-8 minutes off the bike, 5-6 off the run and a couple more minutes in transition. A 2:30 Olympic is a benchmark in the sport, so I’d like to get there. However, it’s time to relax right now. My body needs some time to recover. I will probably keep running and I’ll bike occasionally, but nothing strenuous. It’s been a long 10 months of training and I need a break.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Kristen for all she’s put up with over the last season. I’ve been pretty hardcore about my focus on training, and she’s put up with a lot. There have been plenty of eye rolls and taunting, but she’s been awesome. She’s dealt with 8 PM bed times to accommodate my 4 AM training, bandaged my injuries, and suffered through endless conversations revolving around training. She even gave me my Ironman Kansas registration for my birthday present. That’s love folks.
For those keeping track at home, here’s where my weight stands after 10 months of training and eating better. I’m taking a few days off the hard core dieting as a postrace treat. I’ll probably gain a little, but I’m OK with that.
Current Weight: 193.5
Weekly Change: +.5
Total Lost: 66
To Goal: 3.5