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May 14, 2006

2006 BFAST #1


Ho-hum. Another breakthrough PR. ;-)

This one by nearly 10 minutes. It should be noted that this breakthrough can be partially attributed to conditions and timing more than anything else. My previous PR for this race was my first triathlon ever in July of 2004. The three BFAST races in 2005 are not true apples to apples comparisons. One race I was the running leg of a relay and the other two races had horrible ocean conditions (we ended up doing a run-bike-run duathlon in one). Because of this, the PR stood too long. My abilities and fitness levels last year far exceeded my abilities of the previous year, but other factors impacted the results.

That being said, I broke my PR by 9:54, and I'm not apologizing.

Going into the race, the goal was to break 1:06:30. This was a very doable goal, but for some reason I felt the bike prediction was a bit of a stretch. When James and I arrived at the race, a sign was posted saying the water temperature was 70 degrees. Wetsuit legal. Awesome. You also can't see the ocean from the registration and transition areas, so we didn't know just how good the swim was going to be. James and I were near each other in transition, so we went and set up. James then met up with eventual women's champion for the day, JC Hanley-Pinto. I needed to stop off at the pottie. Good move on my part (pun intended).

Race time was getting near, and I wasn't sure what wave I was in. I was a bit worried about missing the start, so I ran down the sand trail through the dunes to the beach. Oh my gosh. Is that a lake? The ocean was eerily calm. Sweet. As a I walked down the beach to the starting area, I didn't see many white swim caps. Uh-oh. And I did see a bunch of guys lined up in front of the water. Keep running. Finally, I saw that my age group wasn't the first wave, but the 34 and under men were. The 35 and over men would be the second wave. As I put on my swim cap and goggles, and noticed that I was one of the few wearing a wetsuit, someone pulled my zipper cord. It was my neighbor Peter King who had just returned from Europe after a 10-day trip. He complimented me on my race at St. Anthony's, and fixed my zipper so it wouldn't kill me in the swim (something Karen forgot to do at St. Anthony's).

The first wave went off, and it was time to start mentally prepping: find the buoys; determine where to start; comment on the smooth water conditions to a couple of the other racers; 3-2-1-GO!

I ran into the water in the middle of the pack. Finally, when the water was at my hips, I started swimming. No dolphin kicks for me yet. Maybe soon. I got into a rhythmn pretty quickly, but I couldn't find any free water or someone to draft. I kept hitting feet. Whenever I did find a free space, I was quickly joined by some others. I don't think I was passing a lot of folks, I think I was just in an uber-pack of mediocre swimmers. I was passing some, but it seemed like there was a large pack that stayed together for the entire swim. I guess this would be a new phenomenon for me, since I'm used to being the tail end of the swim, with the only traffic concerns being presented by the wave that starts 5 minutes behind me. I ended up crossing the mat into T1 at 8:56, an improvement of 4:08 over my previous best swim. I was also 19th out of 32 in my age group in the swim, so I am now a member of the middle of the pack on the swim.

I grabbed some water while running into T2, and yelled out my friend Sherri O'Brien, wife of the race director (he is an excellent triathlete). I had stripped the wetsuit down to my waist as I ran to the rack, and jumped on my ankles a couple of times to get out of the wetsuit. On with the shoes, helmet and sunglasses, and off we go. T2 took 2:00. Not bad, but it could be improved.

Again, I had a problem clicking into the pedals. Either I need to practice clicking the suckers in, or I need to practice starting with them already clicked in. Maybe the latter. The bike course is a big rectangle, with the first and third stretches the shortest. I started picking people off immediately. I started thinking that I might be a little anxious, and these people were going to catch and pass me immediately. Never happened. My speed fluctuated throughout the course, depending on what the wind was doing. There were a couple of good stretched where I ratcheted it up to 25. Then there were some other stretches where it was an effort to keep it at 21-22. Thak goodness my bike computer decided to work for the entire ride. I paid more attention to cadence, and made sure I didn't let it drop below 95 rpm. On the last stretch home, I passed my neighbor, Peter. He is a great swimmer and a very good biker. I knew I was kicking butt if I was able to catch him before the run. We yelled encouragements to each other and sped towards T2. I think on the entire bike course, maybe 4 or 5 folks passed me. And the ones that did were absolutely flying. I felt very good about that. Not sure exactly what my time was for the bike leg. Nobody does. If you look at the results, there was a serious glitch with my bike time.

T2 was a nightmare. As I ran towards my rack, I couldn't figure out which one was mine. They were so empty. I couldn't find my shoes either, because I has thrown my wetsuit on top of them. I went to the racks on either side of my own before I finally found mine. On with the shoes, and off I go, putting on my cap and race belt as I ran. Peter and I left T2 at the same time. I was griping about the time I lost, with him laughing at me. Not sure what my time was for T2. Not sure I want to know.

The run felt good from the start. As the running muscles started to warm up and stretch out it became more comfortable. Again, I started picking off some more people. Just before the one mile mark, the leaders from the first wave were heading back. As I pass the one mile mark, I look at my watch. I think it said 48 minutes and some change. If I average 8:30 miles I'm going to make my goal. A little while later, I saw James heading back. During the run, I have realized that today's conditions are about as good as it's going to get: calm ocean, slightly breezy bike course, and cool temperatures for the run. There is no doubt I will break 1:06:30, but can I break the stretch goal of 1:05:00? I reach the turnaround, and realized I haven't seen my friend JB heading back. I have never beaten JB in a race. As I start back towards the finish, I pass JB heading for the turnaround. One and a half miles to the finish. Knowing that JB is behind me motivates me to pick up the pace. He is a terrific runner and I would like to beat him. With less than a mile to the finish, I hear footsteps. I try to hold off whoever is behind me, but ultimately I get passed. Not JB. As I get closer to the finish, I really start picking up the pace. As I near the curve to the finish, there is about 200 meters to go, I start the kick. I cross the finish line with my arms raised triumphantly. Woo-hoo. 1:03:39. I finished the run in 22:10.

Walking through the finish area, Sherri O'Brien and Guy Cudihee are collecting the chips. I chat with both of them and then go looking for a drink.

I think everyone had a really good race. Bill Bishop finished in 1:12:00, which is right around his goal. Peter was very happy he broke 1:10:00. JB told me he has some training to do, specifically on the bike. I ended up beating him by 30 seconds.

Looking back at the results, I completed the bike leg in 42:44, and didn't have a time for T2. However, if you add my swim, T1 and run times together and subtract from my finishing time, bike and T2 took 30:32. Based on the problems I had in T2, I don't think it's unreasonable to estimate that transition taking 1:32. That leaves 29:00 for the bike leg. Smoking! And even if T2 was less than 1:32, I had a sub-30:00 bike leg. I thought it was a stretch before the race, but perhaps my bike fitness is stronger than I thought.

Except for the transitions and the bike mount, it was a terrific race. Looking forward to June's race, I willl continue to work on the swim and spend some time practicing jumping on the bike.