2006 St. Anthony's Triathlon
What a race! The conditions were not as good as last year and I STILL destroyed my Olympic Tri PR by 14 minutes. All of the yardage in the pool paid off. I dropped 7 minutes off of my swim time in rough conditions. Add in incrementally faster transitions, and 2 minute improvements over last year in both the bike and the run, and you get a 9% improvement in performance.
We left the hotel at 5:30 am and walked over to Vinoy Park. I got body marked and went into the transition area to organize my things. On the way out, I spotted fellow blogger and triathlete Joe Reger. I have read Joe's blog for a while, and it was cool to get to meet him. On a funny note, I finally remembered how I found Joe's blog later yesterday afternoon. In a past sprint triathlon, the goodie bag included a sample of Nair for Men. I did a Google search to see what other triathletes had to say about this goop and found an entry on Joe's blog. Joe's Nair entry is the 3rd result on Google for the search "Nair triathlon."
Karen and I then casually walked over to Spa Beach and waited for the start. No lines for the potties so I took care of business and put on the wetsuit. Next thing you know, I'm swimming. For the first time ever, I didn't freak out 200 meters into the swim. I was confident in my ability and knew I belonged there. Speed of course is a different story. With this confidence, I didn't worry about swimming wide. I stayed right in the middle of the pack and got into a rhythmn. I did get off course a couple of times with the rough seas, but for the most part I didn't stray too far. The only blunder was forgetting to start my watch. I remembered about 3 minutes into the swim, but didn't know for sure what the difference was between my watch and the race clock until I asked a guy on the run.
Climbing up the stairs at the seawall wasn't as difficult as last year. There were volunteers pulling folks up onto the stairs, and I didn't see anyone fighting to get on the right side of the railings. Swim time was 31:13, as opposed to 38:17 in 2005. I heard Karen yell at me as I ran into T1. Yikes! Lots of bikes missing from my rack. The wetsuit came off very quickly, shoes and helmet on, and I'm ready for the bike leg. For some reason, the rest of my body had not yet caught up with my head. I couldn't get my shoes to click in to save my life. Finally, they did and I was rolling. I saw Karen on the left after the first turn and yelled at her. She wasn't expecting me to be off so quickly. T1 time was a snappy 2:13, 2 minutes faster than last year.
The bike portion featured some wind, but it seemed like I really hammered on the sections where I had a tailwind and just kept it steady when I had a headwind. I know I had some serious adrenaline flowing because I never felt like I was getting tired. The only downside is I forgot to bring a Gu. I had placed one in my bike shoe so I wouldn't forget. In the future I am taping a gel to my bike. Having the aero bottle also helped. It didn't affect bike handling and I was able to stay hydrated without reaching down. My cadence was very consistent and it seemed like the bike portion flew by. I knew I was doing well when I heard the Garmin beep for mile 22 and the timer was at an even 60 minutes. The goal was to average 21.5 mph and I was at 22 mph with just 3 miles left. I had a duel going with a guy on a Cervelo P3. Seemed like we passed each other a dozen times. I also need to remember to time passes better back in the area around the golf course. A couple of my passes included fun rides over the speed bumps.
The only other notable things to happen on the bike course was a SOB in a big Cadillac who decided he needed to back out of his driveway in front of me. To his credit, he punched the gas to back out, but I still had to slow down a bit because I didn't want to get creamed. Fellow Hammerheader and future pro Will Pearce passed me at mile 16 of the bike. Finally, a squirrel with a death wish darted in front of me right before the turn at the airport. If he had been a step slower, we would've both been toast. Even with these adventures, bike time was 1:09:19, another improvement of 2 minutes.
Hopping of the bike at T2 was an adventure. Putting your foot down on the bricks is like stepping on ice. I thought about sliding my feet out while rolling, but again, I didn't want to wipe out on the pave'. Run in, rack the bike and slide the shoes on. My insole slid when I put my left shoe on, so I had to take it off and put it on again. I made sure I grabbed a gel, my race belt and off to the run. T2 was a respectable 1:26.
The first mile featured a nasty headwind. I saw the lead women heading for the finish. At the first aid station, I took the gel with some Gatorade. I think my first split was around 7:36. Not bad considering the headwind. My pace remained even until about mile 4. I could sense my body slowing down. It was around mile 2 when I had a chance to ask a guy who was my age what his watch said. I determined my watch was off by 3 minutes. It was good that I now had that information because it allowed my brain to focus on splits and calculating what I needed to do to hit my goal and my stretch goal instead of how my calves were feeling. At the 5 mile mark I knew that 2:30 wasn't going to be possible, but I could still beat 2:35. What a sense of excitement knowing that I was obliterating my PR. Of course, I kept wondering if my calculations were wrong and it wasn't as good as I thought. Or maybe I wasn't 3 lengths back somewhere on the bike course and got a penalty. None of that panned out and I crossed the finish line with thumbs up for my girls in a time of 2:32:28. I finished the run in 48:18, a full 2 minutes faster than last year. Karen forgot about the 15 minute delay in start time and wasn't sure I was happy with my time until I explained to her how the time is calculated in a triathlon.
Race day was a very pleasant experience. Staying downtown made a world of difference, as did leaving Emily and Maggie with my parents. Karen was now able to concentrate on helping me get ready for the race and actually watching the race. Afterwards, she was very excited to tell me about everything she saw. Describing how fast the pros are, telling me about the bike wipe outs on the bricks, and actually getting to see her husband 5 different times during the race.
The good news is I get to mark off another goal from my list for 2006. The goal was to break 2:35:00 in the Olympic distance. Based on the confidence I have right now, I might get to check another goal off in 2 weeks and go under 1:05:00 in my first sprint of the year.
Hmmmm, and there is also that lofty goal of completing my first half Ironman.
Google Earth file now available.
Forgot to upload my heart rate statistics. My average heart rate for the race was 158 bpm. The highest it ever got was 171 bpm. I haven't modified my zones since I had to reset the watch a couple of months ago, so my default Zone 1 is still 80 - 160 bpm. I was in that zone for 1:38:33. I was above 160 bpm for 53:44, and below the zone for :11. The only place I can imagine having time to allow my HR to drop below 80 would be in one of the transitions. Might just be an anomaly. I think I might need to invest in the new Forerunner 305 with built-in HRM so I can actually see my HR as it relates to where I'm at. ;)