Today's race was the Reston Sprint Triathlon. While the Reston Triathlon has been a well known local event, the sprint was a newbie to the local tri circuit. This was their first year, but the experience of the organizers showed, and the race was well organized with plenty of volunteers. Before I get into the report, let me give you the stats:
Swim: 8:37 69/130 males (400 meters )
Bike: 35:08 22/130 males (12 miles)
Run: 24:31 26/130 males (5k)
Total: 1:11:35 33/130 males (33/250 overall; 4/11 20-29)
Woke up this morning at 5:15 and jumped right out of bed, ready for the day. Started off the day with a big bowl of oatmeal and TT and I were on our way out to Reston. One problem. As we started packing things into the car, we noticed it started to drizzle. I had just checked the radar and noticed that there was NO rain anywhere on it, so this must be a random sprinkle. As drive a bit further on the highway, we notice the rain is starting to pick up. So much that I had to put my windshield wipers on the 2nd setting. I was getting a bit worried, but had faith in weather.com (I know I shouldn't) that the day would turn out great. By the time we got to the race site, it had stopped raining and roads were starting to dry from the quick shower. It was bit cool, but not bad.
After we set up our transition areas and got body marked, we both walked over to the pool to check the water temperature. Took a swipe with my hand and it was warmer than the air, so I felt that would be great. By the time they started the race with the pros going first, the temps had warmed up about 5-10 degrees warmer, and it was great race weather. The day turned out to be a great day.
Swim - 400 meters 8:37 69/130 males (400 meters )
The swim set up was a snake swim in a 50 meter pool, so we went out and then pushed off the wall into the next lane over for each length. Once they called my number range over to the pool, we all lined up and dropped into the deep end of the pool 10 people at a time and lined onto the wall one by one. They started us off 10 seconds apart and it was very well organized I must say, despite my concerns that it wouldn't be. The water temperature however, felt much colder than it did earlier, probably because of the rise in the air temps. They gave me a countdown and I was off. The first 100 meters flew by and it was great that it was only 1 lap, instead of 2! I'm so used to swimming in a 25 yard pool, so the lack of monotony made time fly by faster. I passed a few people, but was passed by one person (in a full wetsuit though). I felt really strong on the swim and held perfect form the whole way to the finish. I hopped out of the pool, only to see TT cheering me on. She and I exchanged best wishes for each other and I was off to T1.
T1 - T1: 2:17
I had a good spot in transition, right in the middle, which was great, because the bike left at one end and the run left at the other, so being in the middle meant no long runs to either side. I got all my stuff on pretty easily except my race top, which as usual had a difficult time getting down my wet back. I future races when I wear race tops, I just need to wear the top in the swim, it will save me more time in transition than any drag it might cause in the pool. And if I am wearing my wetsuit, even better. I was all set to go running my bike to the transition exit when one of the race officials stopped me to tell me I couldn't take another step until I clicked my helmet buckle. I told him that I was planning to when I mount to save time for transition, but he made me stop. I was pissed, because I had to find an empty spot to lean my bike against while I get my helmet on. This caused me a good 5-10 seconds, which among several other should-a would-a could-a's, affected my final standings.
Bike - 12 miles 35:08 22/130 males
Since I've been racing, the bike has been my weakness. I feel completely comfortable on the bike, but its just my pace that has always suffered. When I look at my results from previous years, it was always my bike that I placed the worst in. This year my focus has been getting a lot more time in the saddle and it certainly paid off! I was hauling, at least according to my standards. On the first lap alone, I passed about 10 people. After the first lap, it was difficult to see how many people I was actually passing, since there were more people out on the bike, and this was a staggered start. All I know is that I must have passed a good 30 people on the bike course, some of which I passed twice. For the first time, I felt very strong on the bike. The end of each loop had a long climb, topped with a steeper grade as you get toward the top. Most people cracked like a walnut on the hill, because they stayed in too difficult a gear from the downhill that preceded it. I shifted early and spun my way up, picking people off left and right. That is where I did most of my damage.
This was short and sweet, the way it should be. I was in, racked up, popped my shoes off, slipped on my running shoes, threw on my race belt and visor and I was on my way. Only one problem - I had started to get a stomach cramp toward the end of the bike.
Run - 5k 24:31 26/130 males
I'm not exactly why I got the stomach cramps (possibly from pushing hard on the bike?), but it really held me back in the first mile. I was really looking forward to hammering the whole course, but my stomach held me back big time. The start of the run was a big downhill into some rolling hills in tree covered paths. Very scenic, but back to the race. I just couldn't push and the gel I was planning to take at the beginning of the run was on hold, because I knew taking anything would make it worse. Basically, my stomach was the only thing missing the equation. My legs felt fine and wanted to go fast, but my stomach wouldn't let me. It wasn't until near mile 1 that the cramps went away. Once I felt good enough, I took the gel and picked up the pace. My split on mile 1 was probably in the neighborhood of 8:00 - 8:30, which is way less than my goal pace of 7:00/mile. After I started feel better, I picked it up and started passing people left and right. After the slow start to my run, my legs felt fresh and ready to hit top speed for the rest of the time. I was hitting close to 7:00/mile pace for the last 1.5-2 miles of the race maybe faster. Once I spotted someone, I'd reel them in and pass them. I sprinted the last .5 mile, which was mostly up hill, and brought it strong through the finish. The funny thing was someone tried to sprint with me. I had passed this girl with about 50 yards to go and was striding it in, but I start to hear the crowd getting louder. I turn my head and see this girl sprinting, so I had to put on my fast twitch switch and dust her for the finish. It was a fun way to end and the crowd loved it. Unfortunately, it was really difficult to tell how fast the person you were passing was, because of the staggered start. All I knew is that I felt great and finished strong.
After the race, I went to transition to pick up TT's camera to try and snap some shots of her. Fortunately, she started 30 minutes after my wave started, so i was able to see her come in on the bike. I ran with her into transition, trying to give her encouragement, and saw her off onto the run. She looked strong today and finished even stronger. It was a great day for the both of us.
After the race, we hung around for the awards. We missed them announce my age group, so I went over to look at the official results. 4th place in my age group and 33rd overall. I was really happy. Until I saw that I missed 3rd by ONLY 9 seconds! ARGH! Stupid helmet event in T1 may have cost me some hardware. Oh yea, and thank you stomach for cramping up when the rest of my body said "GO!". Obviously, you can imagine the things that have gone through my head that I should have done differently. But all I can do is be proud of my major improvement in the bike and a successful first race of the season.
PS - Be sure to congratulate TT, now that she is an official triathlete!