The PR's just keep rolling in. No complaints here!
I was eleven days out from Rev3 Quassy and felt that I hadn't quite fully recovered. I could handle the sprint no problem, but my left hip was still a bother - mostly on the bike - and I hadn't felt the full tank of energy.
My guess was I would be a minute or two slower than the first race. That would put me at about a 1:05. However, if you recall, the swim was longer last time, which means I should be able to cut out a minute or two; maybe back to 1:03 realm? But I still wasn't confident I could/should bike/run as hard - back up to 1:05 or so. Given the 'All Over The Place' guesses, I decided to focus on smaller details.
The water was warm enough, though still chilly, to go without the wetsuit. So in order to attempt cutting out transition time, I swam in my tri shorts. I also went without a jersey, I biked in my running shoes (less transition time), and biked blind (aka: without a cycling computer). It's a sprint so the extra minute in transition is a much larger percentage of the finish time. And the computer is just a distraction at this distance.
This week the coordinator had his swim rope (how he measures the distance from shore to drop the turn buoy), so we did the planned distance (~600m) instead of a ball-parked marker (~800m). Surprisingly, while the first 50 yards or so was just as chilly as expected, it warmed up quite a bit after that. I'm sure part of it was body heat and racing, but I was glad I didn't have the wetsuit on. The turn buoy was definitely closer this week and I managed not to swing as far left as I normally do; I stuck on the left edge of the group.
As a first in any triathlon, aside from the nearly 180 degree turn at the turn buoy, I swam continuously from start to swim exit. I usually end up swimming a stroke or two of breastroke here and there. Yay for me!! I popped up a bit early - I couldn't get my legs out of the water yet - but trudged ahead and ran out anyway (no use in falling back into the water to swim 5 yards).
Speed is the name of the game. My bike was close to the swim exit, so I got to it, fell right to the ground and put my running shoes on. I stood up, put on my sunglasses, snapped on my helmet, grabbed the bike, and was off! I crossed the timing mat and looked down at my watch...
Swim + T1 - 10:01
The first sprint was 12:33, so I was already 2:12 ahead. This week's swim was shorter, but transition should also have been shorter since I didn't deal with the wetsuit.
I ran out to the mount line, did my flying mount, charged out onto the two loop course and just HAMMERED it! As I had crossed the timing mat I heard the LBS owner yell "Go Billy!" Call me competitive - I knew he was right in front of me and I automatically painted a target on his pink jersey. I caught up to Billy within a mile or two and passed him.
Side Story: Billy is a member of my triathlon club and has done everything from sprints up to Ironman. I admit that I somewhat look up to him and plenty of others for advice based on their experience. The first thing Billy comments on as I ride up to him is "I can't believe you use [toe] cages." I told him I don't own clips or cycling shoes and he told me I'll add at least another mile per hour with those; "The shoes are almost as important of a purchase as the bike." So as I go riding past Billy - someone I look up to - I feel even more confidence building up.
Back to the report. Remember how I kept losing grip of the Gatorade bottles at Rev3? Yeah, that's not because of the Gatorade bottles. I dropped my own bottle half way through the first lap; I'm just not practiced enough with drinking from the frame bottle.
As expected, I was breathing hard from swim exit through 3/4 mark of the first bike loop. It's majority down hill that last 1/4 of the loop and I can catch my breath. But then I entered the second loop thinking I had to hammer it again through the hills, so I did. My hip felt ok until half way through the second lap. I do feel I backed off a little, but I still pushed the pack. Then with 1.5 miles to go, I hit a small pothole and heard an odd noise. Aside from my GU pack flying out from my bento box, into my face, and onto the road, I noticed that my saddle bag had detached from the my Bontrager Race Lite rear cage holder. While riding, I tried to rip the bag from the stem velcro loop, but it wouldn't budge. I finished the last mile while looking down every few seconds to make sure the bag hadn't dropped off. It wasn't until that last mile that any cyclists passed me. I had 5-6 pass me on the last strip.
My saddle bag and I both made it to the dismount and I ran into transition.
BIKE - 30:53
The week prior was 31:07. Now I was 2:28 ahead having dropped another 14 seconds on the bike. The course states it's a 12 mile ride, but while I did ride blind, I had the computer stowed in my bento box. It had my average pace at 23.17mph with a max of 40.23mph. And I love riding blind! I might even ride my Olys blind.
I racked my bike, tossed my helmet, and grabbed my hat as I took off. Couldn't have been more than 15 second.
From the bike rack to the trail we start on (30 yards distance) I could feel I was really running. Can you blame me? I wanted to pass all those guys who passed me in the last mile of the bike. I did all that right in transition - SUCKERS!!! haha Anyways... I rounded out onto the road and quickly passed one guy before the immediate hill. As per my plan, I took it easy up the first hill, but still passed another guy. I crested the top and WOSH!! There goes a guy in gym shorts. "He must be a relay" I'm thinking to myself. I risk the breathing and ask. Nope. He's an individual. "Damn! Nice job" I manage while I already see him getting smaller in the distance. Confidence just dropped.
Not 15 seconds later, another guy runs passed me. I take a quick look back and see there is no one else coming. I'm not even a mile into the run and I already feel I need to surge. I take a few steps to contemplate my moves and decide "What the hell!" I pick my pace up and decide to stay with this second guy - I'll call him Yale since he had a Yale tri club jersey on.
I already had a center stitch developing that I couldn't seem to shake, so I had to slow down on the downhills and forced myself to push the uphills as much as I could to keep up with Yale. It went smoothly through mile 1 and 2. At the last turn where I know it's 1 mile to go, I look down at my watch... 54:xx Holy Sh*#!! If I can run a 6:00 final mile, I'll be under one hour. You've got to be kidding me!
Throughout the entire last mile, I kept trying to surge to bridge the gap up to Yale, but a minute into every surge, he'd seem to pull away again. I tried again and he maintained distance. With about one minute left until the final turn into transition, I knew it was useless. I wasn't going to pass him today. And to my surprise, gym shorts guy hadn't gotten far ahead of either of us. As I ran up to the timing mat, I passed the LBS owner who shouted "Go Kurt!" I crossed the finish line and finally was able to let my diaphragm relax, letting the stitch subside. Man do those things suck!
T2 + RUN - 19:45
Same EXACT time as Lake T No.1, which means I ran slightly slower this week having made up time in transition, but overall quite a close match for pace. If it hadn't been for the stitch, I think I could have knocked off a few more seconds per mile easily enough.
FINISH - 1:00:39
Three for three on PRs this year!! Lake T No.1 was by almost 9 minutes. Lake T No.2 was by 2:46. However, if you want to be honest, 2:12 of that was b/c of a shorter swim course, so I would have only beat my PR by 14 seconds with the bike. Either way, still a solid PR by effort alone. And I took fifth which means right before gym shorts guy passed me, I was in 3rd!!
I surprised myself here. The swim was faster by no surprise, but felt an equivalent effort. The bike was slightly faster and I feel the bag issue and my hip slowed me down a few more seconds, so I have some room to budge there. The run was tougher this time around, but I have a lot further to travel into the "pain cave" before I hit my max. My goal is to dive off a cliff as much as possible at Lake T Sprint No.4. If I blow up, I blow up. But I want to know how hard I can push myself and hang on.
But then the best part of the whole race!...
The LBS owner approached me after the race and asked "If I give you one of our tri suits, would you wear it?" Ummmm, heck yeah I would! So I stopped at the shop Friday and picked up a set of tri shorts & jersey. They come in green and pink. I went in planning on green (it's my favorite color), but walked out with pink. It's going to be a lot easier to pick me out in races from now on!
Questions1. Have you ever had another athlete that you latched onto in a race and used as a pacer?
I've used people as a motivation in front of me to stick with as well as the sound of another person's feet behind me to keep ahead. I'm super competitive and having athletes around me is a big motivation.
2. Do you ever ride blind?
No, not literally blind. I mean without your computer - no pace, distance, power, cadence, or any type of data. I actually quite enjoy it though if I have aid stations on course, I'd like to know when to expect them (maybe they should have signs - "Aid station in 1 mile").
3. Is there a color you would avoid for race gear? I can see this being more of an issue for guys.
I surprised myself with how much I liked the pink suit. But before that, I avoided red at all costs. Then my bike turned out to be red, so I tried to match the gear. So I guess no color is out for me.
3. Is it jynxing myself to admit that I'd love to PR in every race this year?
The sprints are going to be tough since I have four left, but the rest I might be able to pull off.
Swim fast. Bike smart. Run hard.