I’ll call it unofficial because the kind folks timing the race misplaced my timing chip. I had to quickly recall my finish time so they could do the final results. Or more accurately, I asked them to put in my time so I would place in the group. Not that I’m an award hound (actually I am), but this race was the first in a series of races that accumulate points for a season Championship.
The race director was commemorating the “rebirth” of Lake Guntersville State Park with this race. The park’s campgrounds and many trees were destroyed by the epic tornado that ripped through Alabama and this area last year. He plans to give a portion of the race fees to the park as well. Hence, the Rise of the Phoenix. Neat idea, I thought.
If you’ve read the previous posts, you know I was preparing to test my fitness this race. It was my first Olympic racing with the powermeter. I’m still experimenting to find the right bike power output to maximize my run at different race distances.
The day started with the alarm clock chirping at 0400. I was fortunate to get 7+ hours of sleep. Pt. Mallard park was hosting a SoulStock concert. The amps were cranked up and the house was vibrating despite being 3 miles away. I spent 30mins feeling cynical and saying “Figures, Figures”, then thankfully fell asleep.
Got to race site with plenty of prep time. Unpacked the car, and set up transition. I took a quick spin on the bike and then did a few yards in the water. Wanted to warm-up more but we were called out to hear pre-race instructions and the USAT rep rules.
The swim was a wave start. I went in the second wave about ?3-4 minutes after the first. It was counter-clockwise and very choppy for some reason. This part of the lake is busy with boat traffic so that probably was the culprit. Water temp was 75 degrees, so wetsuit legal. I lined up to the left on the buoy line and went out hard for the first 100y, turned left at the first buoy, and then hit the chop. I successfully swallowed 2 mouthfuls of refreshing lake water. How I don’t have an infectious diarrhea now is amazing. We turned back south after a few mins and into calmer water. I settled into a good rhythm and kept good form with bilateral breathing. I started passing folks and stayed on a few swimmers feet. The swim looked long from the shore and turned out to be about 2100y (my 910Xt had 2050y). I figured there was a problem when I exited in 30:53. It was slow enough for an Olympic swim that I knew the course was long. Found out later that one of last turn buoys was slowly creeping away, lengthening the course. The last swimmers probably swam 3 miles…nah..just kidding. But there was a 1:01 swim time. Ouch. That’s basically a float with occasionally a pull. But I’m sure they had fun!
It didn’t bother me long as I ran up to transition and stripped the wetsuit. Jumped on the bike and shot out. T1 was in the 1:20 range, I guess. The first 3 miles of the bike were in the park with big rollers. This was the slowest part of the course. I got through running just under 19mph. My power was a little low but knew the next section was fast. Passed a few bikes on this section, flying along at 24mph, trying to keep the power up on the downhills. I was behind a couple of guys who seemed to match my speed. At miles 8.5-12.5 we climbed a little but then turned back down. I was a little slower here but still steady. My average power was still 10 watts lower than I wanted but my legs were not super-fresh. They were feeling the 80miles I did earlier in the week. That’s what you get if it’s not your ‘A’ race. I think my coach is testing me surreptitiously.
The long climbs came up at miles 14 and 16. I was pushing 120% of my FTP to maintain 12mph. Gotta lose some belly fat. The two guys I followed took a wrong turn so I was ahead of them at this point. I pushed the pace home and finished in just under 1:11. My Garmin measured 25.66miles which is pretty accurate. Happy to have pushed past my goal time. Overall, my normalized power was at 91% of FTP. That was in the goal range with a good cadence also. I counted the bikes in front on the out and backs and concluded I was running in top 15. It was encouraging to see few bikes racked in transition when I returned.
Good thing about wave starts with your age-group is you can truly race one another. I exited T2 in about 30secs and took off running. My legs felt fresh but I needed to pee. That’s generally a good sign in a race but a liability in a short one. I ran about 3/4 mile and ducked into the trees. I lost 30+seconds but man I felt better. Unfortunately 3 guys passed while I was watering the foliage. I gave chase for another mile and caught up with Chris D. I chatted with him as we hit the big hills. It was a challenging run to say the least. I could feel it heating up too. It didn’t occur to me to push the pace. I remembered at mile 4.5 that I was there to race. I passed Chris and the next guy and finished with a 6:44 mile (@45:22-10k). Too much left in the tank, oops. My watch time was 2:31:03. Good enough for 12th overall and 2nd in my age-group. Realized later that the other guy in my age-group passed me while I was playing with the poison ivy. Doh!
Overall, I stayed in the top 10% in all three sports. My bike split was 7th best so I must be improving. I took a lot of positives away from this race. My run splits keep getting better. This run split beat my last by 3 mins. Still need to trim the weight down some more though. Just have one more hilly triathlon on the schedule this year but that’s months away. Can’t say for sure if the swim was faster. I can only speculate that a accurate 1500m may have taken 24++ mins (maybe, that would be faster for me, nice!)
Enjoyed talking to Dave T., a fellow DTriClub member. He finished his first Olympic distance triathlon in 2:49. He narrowly missed out on 3rd in his age-group by 50 secs. Still an awesome race. Other than misplacing my timing chip, the race was well organized. I had to recreate my splits with my watch. I had the 3rd, 1st, and 4th fastest time for the swim, bike, and run in my age-group, respectively. It’ll definitely be a race to keep on the rotation if I’m free. Can get a PR just by having the correct swim distance.
Back to training and work. Fun’s over for a while…depression sneaking in.