Finally a race in my backyard. Well technically it was about 6 miles from home, but that is easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy. The purpose for this race was to do a race close to home so we could sleep in a little bit, well that sounds better than in reality. My wife was also doing this race, so we had ridden the bike course a couple of times and found some challenging hills and turns, making this one of the most technical courses I have raced.
The normal morning, except rather than a flatbread with pb/honey... I changed it up, Greek Yogurt and granola! Partially because we only had 1 flatbread and I deferred that to the Mrs. This was a good meal for me, as I would snack on a Marathon Bar before the race in transition. We had loaded up the night before to give us as much time as possible. This still involved us waking up at 5:30 AM so we could be out of the house by 6 and at the park at 6:15. There was a pre-race meeting at 7:30, and I like to get settled in, and get a warm-up for all 3 sports done ahead of time.
The layout was not ideal, you had to park a ways away and walk everything in. Even worse, spectators had to park much further, not ideal for my wife's grandparents to walk to the park when they would arrive. We arrived and setup our areas after trying to figure out which entrance was which. A quick bike into the wind to get my legs moving and a run to try and figure out where the run course took off from transition ended in a failed attempt, so I just kept running. When I got back, transition was closing so I grabbed my QR sleeveless wetsuit and headed to the lake for announcements and a quick swim.
There was a fairly strong WNW wind which would be in your face the first section of the bike loop. Temperatures were amazing though, a cool low 60 degrees made almost ideal race conditions especially with the heat we have been experiencing recently.
Not and out and back, not a rectangle, some combination of the two for a half a mile. Since there were higher winds, the lake was choppy, nothing like what it had been the days we biked the course when it was like glass. There was an occasional whitecap, but it paled in comparison to Lake Waconia 2009 The waves were rolling from left to right as you started the swim, thus pushing you towards shore.
A picture of the GPS track will give a better example...
This event was different than many in the past, my wife and I, both in 25-29 range would start in the same wave, 3 minutes after elites/relays. They took off and after about 100 yards some people who I assume to be relays were stopped and treading water. I am not sure what came of this, but I think the chop may have taken a few people off guard. That being said, for as much rain as we have had recently... the water was still shockingly warm. I was glad to have gone sleeveless, the wetsuit helped in the chop to keep me horizontal, but I would have been roasty-toasty in my full suit.
We took off, and I made a hard effort to get out front early. This came with a price. I had noticed the shore was sand for about 12 or so feet then turned to pea gravel which was a bit rough on the feet. Somewhere in there, I think I cut my toe a little, or maybe it was on my way to transition, but after getting home and examining it closer, there looked to be a very small grain of clear sand or glass in the joint/knuckle of my big toe. Luckily this did not affect my race at all as I only noticed after the race was done. I decided to dive in a bit earlier as running on the gravel was a bit uncomfortable, well I dove with too much speed, pop goes the seal on the goggles, both eyes full of water. I tried to swim and see if it was manageable, but it was not, so I stood fast and cleared them up, and started swimming.
I expected the way out to be rough with the waves forcing me away from the buoy and back to shore from my left side. As odd as it sounds, I took in more water when breathing on my right side than on my left, although the waves were coming from the left. I felt strong on the way out, passing some of the relay pink caps, and never seeing a green cap on the way out.
I was a bit thrown off by this since I am not normally the FOP swimmer. I was afraid I was significantly off my line, which made me sight more often, which actually was a good thing, my line was pretty good on the way out.
I turned around and headed back for the long "half" headed back in. This is the section I started to swim a bit crazy on. Still not seeing any green caps, I did not know what to think. I found myself going left and right much more, possibly due to the waves, possibly due to me not swimming well, who knows, but I kept moving, feeling comfortable and strong.
As I got close to shore, I still had not seen a single green cap.... ok well I must be the first out of the water, as I ran to transition I did not see any caps ahead of me, so I kept moving thinking I was in first. Looking at my watch, I was slow of what I expected which made me think the course was long and people just had issues with chop. Who knows?
A long run to transition, I peeled out of my top and had the wetsuit off my waist before I got to the bike, and would you guess it. I still got it stuck on my ankle. I got out of the suit and into my bike shoes, shades and helmet on, and away I go. After taking a couple seconds to put my race belt back on the rack since it had blown off from the wind.
This two loop course was the first multi-loop style race I have done. Heading out of the park there was a short stint on a road before heading west into the wind. The stretch had some elevation, but nothing terribly exciting, just the wind in your face which caused it to be much slower than I would have wanted. It also took a bit more pedaling than I would have picked right off the bat, but all in all it went pretty well. Another right turn to head north on a frontage road with a strong cross wind due to the interstate being right next to us. I made good time here and made a lot of passes, mostly of relay racers, but I did manage to sneak up on a few female elites.
The next segment is where the "fun" begins... A right turn into a dead end street, with some boards making a ramp up and over the curb at the end of the cul-de-sac to put you on a windy bike path. I was glad to be out early and get one lap done before it got congested. At the end of the path, a post in the middle of the trail which required some attention to not cause a mess. It pops you out in another cul-de-sac and you see the hill begin. At this point you are going slower due to the windy trail and post, to have to start climbing a pretty steep hill. I made some more ground here the first lap, going past some more relay teams.
Through some residential neighborhoods and then back out to a main road for a short descent before another large climb. Unfortunately there was construction at the end of the climb which made me spike my wattage to pass and not get pushed into a sign. The next segment was mostly downhill with one roller which got me some good speed, but was very short lived as it drops you back towards the park and a few tight corners followed by railroad tracks.
Right after starting the second loop, I caught glimpse of a 29 marking ahead of me and realized I was not number 1 out of the water, turns out he was about 2 minutes ahead of me on the swim, but as I passed feeling good on the bike he yelled out a "Yahooo!" or something to that effect. Feeling good that I caught someone ahead of me, but still not knowing who else could be ahead of me. I had a bit more difficulty on the hilly section the second time as it was more congested, but managed to get back to the park in fair time, only getting me a 21 MPH average on the bike. I suppose for the course it was alright, but I know I could have raced harder.
Nothing real eventful here, a quick stop to rack the bike and grab the race number and I was off.
I had no clue what to expect, outside of hearing some people say that it was hilly. I took off and as I rounded the first corner coming away from transition, I looked back to see who was following me. One guy that I could see, and he caught up to me quickly, but said "Relay" when he passed me. This was nice, obviously he knew I was scouting to see what I should be worried about.
The course starts off fairly flat and then goes into some smaller hills which seem to grow as you get further away from the park. I hit mile 1 right around 7 minutes and felt pretty good, but wanted to back off pace just a little to not blow up as I did not know what to expect the rest of the run. There were more hills! I hit the turn around and felt solid, right about 10:30 I think. As I headed back I was able to try and assess the situation of who was behind me and how they looked. Having only seen a hand full of guys who were obviously elites and a few ladies moving at a solid pace, I had a strong feeling I may have been in the lead for my wave.
I hit mile 2 and dropped the hammer, telling myself to not get passed by a guy running 6 minute miles in the 3rd mile. I had seen one guy that looked strong and did not look that far back from me at the turn around. Turns out he was probably a bit further than I realized (not really doubling the time since turnaround in my head) I pushed and dropped it down the last stretch when I hit the trail that lead back to the park. Slightly uphill on grass is not a great way to end a race, but I kicked it in and crossed the finish line feeling good.
Swim: 14:54 (1:42 / 100) A tad slow, but distance looked accurate
Bike: 39:51 (21 MPH)
Run: 20:54 (6:44/ mile)
Overall: 1:18:01 (3:01 shy of my goal) Good for 16/242 Overall and 1/10 AG. There were 3 others in my AG registered as Elite that took 5/7/15 overall. I was quite happy with the placement, which was a good offset to my overall time. I had a solid run that was the highlight of my day. I have less than a minute to go (in a tri) for my 20 minute 5k goal.
My wife had a solid effort as well, she was also a few minutes slow of her goal, but ended 6/14 in her AG, only 3 minutes away from placing third. Had she actually trained more than a couple of times, she could have made that time up pretty easily. What a great race! The bike was technical and challenging, the wind added to that factor as well.