I'm very pleased with my first race of the year and I know my results were thanks to Winston and Carmichael Training Systems. I improved every category substantially (except for my first transition) and managed to place 8th in my age group (83 racers) and 55th overall out of almost 1,200.
Starting with the lactate threshold and VO2 max test in March, followed by 8 weeks of coaching gave me as much as anything a tremendous amount of confidence. I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor but I had target paces and was able to hit them. I wasn’t nervous, I slept great the night before and was ready to race.
I took advice out of Chris Carmichael’s book, "The Time Crunched Triathlete", and moved to the front of the swim wave but started wide and took the slightly longer angle to the turn. This gaveme more open water but still allowed me to take advantage of the draft of swimmers, like being on the outer part of a wing. In years past I would start near the back of the pack because I always freaked out at the thought of being swam over. Because I have become a bit faster and because of my experience at the clobberfest of Ironman Arizona last year, I decided I’d rather get swum over by a few better swimmers than fight through a bunch of slower ones. For some reason I didn’t feel great the first couple of minutes but quickly found my groove and took two minutes off my time from last year. I really liked the Aqua-Sphere Phantom team wetsuit, it’s like I was swimming in a pool, I can’t even tell you if the water was cold, and I felt super buoyant. As I exited, my wife cheered me on and I knew I had a good swim, as her wave hadn’t even started. Approaching T1 I was pleased to see that almost all the bikes were still racked in my row—I knew I was going to have a good day.
My first transition felt good, I didn’t feel like I had any major issues, but my time was terrible. I could’ve moved up two or three spots simply with an average transition. It’s the little things I’m sure, like having my shoes on the pedals, not wearing socks, and numerous little tricks I still need to perfect. Now that I know I can physically compete with the best, I need to learn to race better.
I then took more advice from the book and eased into the bike ride concentrating on a higher cadence to get the blood moving through my system and my legs warmed up. I then started cranking it out. I had targeted a 23.5 mph average and I knew the first half of course was uphill so I tried to keep my speed at 21 or higher for the first 5 miles knowing that I would make up the speed on the middle part of the course. I could tell my heart rate was a little too high during that climb but I also knew I would have several small downhill’s for slight recovery. I felt good on the ride and aside from one little incident where I got a bit boxed in, I was able to ride at any pace I wanted. I only saw a few people in my age group and I felt confident that I could chase them down on the run.
T2 went well and I bolted out for the 5k run. I was hoping for a 6:15 pace or better. I was flying a bit too fast to start and settled in quickly to a pace I felt I could barely hold. Instead of putting my watch on (I had left it in my feed bag on the bike, I didn’t want to slow at all trying to put it on) I just carried it and would check my pace now and then. A hill greets you in the first half mile. I let the terrain dictate my speed in the first 1.5 miles knowing I usually have a good kick at the end thanks to adrenaline. I was pushing it and kept reminding myself that it’s only a few more minutes….a few more minutes. Around mile two I was barely able to hold pace but by then it was slightly downhill and I knew in 6 minutes or so I would be done! The final motivation came when I passed two 30 something year olds (who would’ve started 10 minutes before me) and one said to the other, “the old guys are passing us” and the other said, “oh that’s the guy who did an Ironman for the Y”—like that made me faster—but I was flattered and pushed on with a smile.
Coming down the final hill towards the finish area I didn’t quite have my usual kick, which was a good thing in a way. I realized I had left it all behind, now it was time survive the final ¼ mile. I pushed it, was running about a 5:30 pace and saw my daughter cheering me on. It was the first time she had ever come to a race so it was great to see her on father’s day! I finished strong and had my best race ever!
I hit my goals; my swim was 12:58 for a 1:38/100 pace, my bike time was 43:45 for a 23.6 mph average and my run was 19:25 for a 5k for an average pace of 6:15/mile.