>Parker Colorado: Fall Frenzy Sprint Triathlon: September 13, 2009
My goal for this race was to try to beat 90 minutes for the 500M swim, 11 Mile bike, and 5K run.
I had run the same race back in 2006 so I was somewhat familiar with the course.
The morning started out windy and cold. Cold is bad, wind is worse. I got myself situated in the transition area by about 7:15 and with a 10:30 pool start I had time to walk the run course and check it out.
We wound up getting into the pool a little ahead of schedule. This was by far my best swim experience of the season. I opted to go in the third position in our lane, two ahead of me, two behind. The two guys ahead of me were pretty quick and pulled away slowly while the two behind me were rather slower than I was and fell back. That left me with a pretty open stretch in which to swim. I had estimated my swim time at 9:30 and came in at almost exactly that. I exited the pool feeling great and had a pretty good spring in my step as a jogged the 100+ yards to the transition area.
I got to my bike at the same time as a woman who was sharing the bike rack with me was getting back from the ride. We had discussed earlier whether it was cold enough to switch to a long sleeve shirt for the bike leg so I asked her opinion as we were both changing shoes. She said the wind had been bad and that yes, it was probably a good way to go. Fortunately I had guessed that would be the case and my long sleeve shirt was the one I had handy. I pulled it on, started reaching for my helmet and suddenly realized I had put it on backwards! Growling in frustration I quick pulled it back over my head, got it sorted right way round, donned my glasses and helmet and headed out. The whole mini-fiasco probably cost me all of 7 or 8 seconds…10 max…no biggie.
The bike ride start out blazing. I was feeling good and the up hills were fewer than the down hills on the start of the course. There are two nasty hills in the middle to last section of the course and these turned straight into a nasty headwind. On the first I gritted it out, getting way further into my granny gears than I had wanted to but managing it ok. The second, and steeper, hill comes right after a sharp right hand turn that forces you to lose almost all your momentum from the previous downhill. I blew my shift here and by halfway up it I was struggling. For a brief moment I thought I would actually lose enough momentum to have to stop and walk. It’s funny the sort of internal dialogue you have with yourself at that point:
“This is nasty. I need to walk it for a second.”
“WALK IT?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? SUCK IT UP!”
“Hey man, I’m losing pace and may fall over any second.”
THEN PEDAL MAN, PEDAL!!!”
The louder voice won.
I kept pedaling and finished in a decent time.
I got into T2 and prepared for the dreaded run.
Due to an ankle injury back in May I haven’t been able to do many training runs this summer…in truth probably only five or six all told since June. I glanced at my watch as I was leaving transition and saw that I had probably somewhere around 30-35 minutes to get the run finished if I wanted to break the 90 minute mark.
The run course passes right by the finish line on the way out, people headed in both directions and a LOT of spectators watching for their friends to finish. As I came through the first corner there a toddler, young enough to be still wobbly on his feet, staggered out right in front of me. I had seen him coming, thanks to the preparedness training of all those drivers ed films back in high school, and decelerated into an exaggerated slow motion spin around the kid all the while slowly saying “Ooooohhhhhh Nnnoooooooo!!!” This got a chuckle from the crowd. A few seconds down but good fun to be had and it helped the kid’s mom not feel so bad that her child had gotten in the way.
The run itself was a nightmare. I knew that I had managed to run without walking at all in 2006 but my training had been much better then. I also knew I could run/walk at something around an 11 minute/mile pace which was going to make it pretty close if I was to break 90 minutes. The course is 1.5 miles or so out and them about the same coming back. I was definitely stronger on the way back in, my watch spurring me on, but at my best I was still barely shuffling along like some ancient Chinese aristocrat at the end of a bad meal.
With about 50 yards to go you come to a steep uphill dirt back that climbs about 10-15 yards…steep enough the only a few people manage to run up it…most walk, leaning far forward.
I got to the top and had another conversation with myself:
“Dude, stop and catch your breath.”
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? THE END OF RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!!”
“Ok, walk slow then”
I managed to lurch into a shambling jog, gasping around the corner and through the finish line. I glanced at my watch and knew it would be close.
An hour or so later…
My glasses are still in my car so my wife is running her finger down the results list. I’m feeling pretty good that my name appears in top half of all finishers. She finds my names, traces across and then turns to look at me with a bit of a look…almost as though she has just smelled something nasty.
“Do you really want to know?”, she asks.
“Crud….yes”, I grunted.
“1 hour, 30 minutes, and 5 seconds.”
I said something that rhymes with trap, is brown, and means the same thing as a word for the sound made by a large bell…followed by:
“Are you kidding me?”
Put your shirt on right the first time, juke past the kid instead of clowning, don’t converse with yourself just run to the finish, to one less deep breath at the edge of the pool…ANYTHING gets you back five or six seconds.