So it’s been 3 weekends and 3 races. And boy do I love to race! Especially these Olympic distance races, they are fast and fun. I love seeing how hard I can push my body before it tells me to stop and the shorter races are pretty much at threshold the whole time. So this Sunday’s Wauconda Olympic distance race was no different. The advertised distances were a 1 mile swim, 24 mile bike, and a 6.2 mile run. So it wasn’t exactly the normal Olympic distance which is a .93 swim, 24.85 mile bike and 6.2 mile run. So the swim was about 100 meters long and the bike like .85 miles short but the run was right on. And I must say, I LOVE wearing the Snapple Triathlon Team blue kit! I swear it makes me faster, or at least easier to identify. It’s nice hearing “Go Snapple” in races instead of “go number xxx”.
The swim was in this warm, murky, and very weedy lake. It was a non-wetsuit swim so I wore my Xterra Velocity-M Speedsuit that I have been wearing when the water is too warm for a wetsuit. It might not make the swim faster, although I think it does, but it means that I don’t have to take time to change into a top in transition, or swim with my top that has pockets. The race was pretty small and my wave was even smaller, only like 20 people, so the beach start was pretty simple. Once in the water I was fighting with weeds but finally we got out far enough to swim without hitting the weeds, well without hitting them every stroke. During the swim I got weeds caught in my chip a few times which was annoying. So the objective of the swim was to swim pretty hard, as I have been the last few races, but the problem with this swim is the sighting was terrible. It was decent on the way out but once we hit the turn there were no more buoys and we were supposed to sight a strobe light on a small shack where the exit was. I never saw that strobe light so I was counting on other racers to guide me. I think everyone had trouble so it wasn’t just me but it was very annoying. And the swim was long (backed up by many others I spoke with) so combine that with crappy sighting and I got a crap swim time. But I know it was long because the 100 yard average for my swim was 1:38 and for me that’s like a warm up in the pool. I think I left time out on the swim because I did not push hard enough but oh well.
Swim time: 29:00 (28:02 on exiting water)
Now time to push the bike, hard. This was a 12 mile, 2 loop course with some rolling hills but nothing too bad. I got on my bike and immediately started passing those in earlier waves. I was cruising, feeling good and pushing hard. I wanted to improve on my 1:05 bike split from Lake Zurich so I pushed harder than that race. The first loop went by without much issue and when I came around the start of the second loop my Garmin dinged to tell me it had been 30 minutes. Wow, pretty good, pushing around 24 MPH and I did not feel like I was killing my legs. So on to lap 2. Now this is where some fun happened. By this time the sprint distance athletes were on the course and many of them were on touring bikes or mountain bikes so they were going pretty slow compared to me. Now most of them rode on the right so passing was easy. But every now and then I came upon some people who just seemed to not care about others and rode in the middle of the road. After a few passes with the polite “on your left” I started to get pissed. Not only is riding like that illegal but it is dangerous because me passing them on the left means I have to get close to the center line and it is also illegal to go into the other lane. So after yelling “on your left” I found myself saying “stop riding in the middle of the damn road” to some people. But whatever, I was still feeling good on the bike and ticking the miles off. I get near transition, un-velcro my shoes and slip out of them to make transition easy then hop off the bike at the dismount line. Interestingly my power during this race was lower, 214 average power, than Lake Zurich, 218 average power, but the time was 4 minutes faster. I guess either my position sucked in Lake Zurich or the wind really had an effect on the time.
Bike time: 1:00:51 for an average of just under 24 MPH (214 average power, 220 normalized power)
I get into transition and see no bikes on my rack, sweet! I start putting my socks on, yes I wear socks during a triathlon!, and I hear someone behind me say “nooooo not socks”. So I laugh a bit and tell him it’s worth the few seconds to save my feet from blisters. Then I grab my race number, which is on a shoe string because I forgot my race belt, and put my Garmin on and I am off. My dad tells me I might be winning the race which was nice to hear at the start of the run. I knew this was a small race but there is no way in hell I should be winning a race now, but I don’t dictate who shows up! So I go off on a suicideish pace for me because hell if I am going to get caught! I hit mile 1 and look at my watch, 5:48. Holy crap that was fast! Let me slow down a bit. I get to the point where the Olympic and sprint distance runs go different ways and go straight, the volunteer seemed a bit shocked to see me, further making me think I am in the lead, then a few seconds later I hear her tell someone else to go straight. Crap! This guy behind me is crushing it. He makes the pass but I see that he is in the relay! Great, no need to worry! But this is where the course turns hilly. It is pretty much all up and down from here with some steeper hills, but steep is relative to how my legs were feeling then and they did not feel good. I learned that I need to get better and running down hills. I don’t think I get enough out of the down hills because my turnover isn’t fast enough. I hit the turnaround point, which was nice because now I get to see how close people are to me, and after about a quarter of a mile I see someone from my wave. He looked good, so I knew I had to keep my pace up to keep him from catching me. Down to 2 miles to go. Now it’s time to push it but it is tough with the rolling hills. 1 mile to go. I turn around to see if I can see the other guy but see no one. I can see the finish! Now time to sprint it in. I see the finish clock and I am 20 seconds away from breaking 2:10 so I haul ass to the finish. And I just barely made it! 2:09:58.
Run time: 38:19 for 6:11 min/mile which is my fastest Olympic run split!
Final time: 2:09:58 for 2nd overall and 1st in my age group
Now the only issue with me breaking 2:10 was it was not truly an Olympic race since the swim was long and the bike was short. But I will go ahead and give myself the 2:10 because the extra 100 meters would take me 1:46 at my average pace and then add in the extra time since the swim seemed a bit long, I would say I could give myself maybe 2-3 minutes on the swim. The bike being short .85 miles translates to about 2 minutes on the bike. Hell, if anything my time would be less if the swim and bike were correct distances! But either way I am happy with my effort, especially the run on a tough course. Now time to kick training into gear for Ironman Wisconsin in September!