On Saturday was back in Smithfield doing the Three Pigs Tri. My approach this year was a little different that previous years. My only goal this year was to beat last years time and have a strong swim. Simple.
This was the site of my first Triathlon. My first taste of being a multisport athlete. So this is pretty much a fixture on my race calendar.
Since I have been doing tri's for about three years now, I do not have any problems sleeping before a race. I do not really get excited until I am at the venue. So Friday night was pretty routine. Packed my race bag, visualized the race and was in bed by 11.
Woke up @ 4:45, refreshed and ready to go. Had a PB&J sandwich and coffee. Loaded the car and we headed out by 5:15. Relaxed and ready for a great race.
Arrived at the site @ 6:00 unloaded the car and headed to transition. Was first in my section so I took the outside spot to setup. Double check every thing and went to get marked and my timing chip. Now the excitement starts to build, but just a little. Just thinking that its almost race time.
After getting marked and physically ready, I see Jon Parks. It's great to see another friendly face. We talk and that helps me slowly relax since I still had more than an hour to my start time. While talking to Jon, Jody comes up. We all stand around and talk for a few minutes. Jon's brother-in-law, whose doing his second tri also comes up and we talk briefly. At around 7:15 everyone heads off to make finally transition adjustments. The first racer is scheduled to start at 7:30 and I am excited to see his speed in the pool.
The first swimmer was Marty Gaal (my swim coach). He was off like a rocket. I normally watch the early swimmers and marvel at their techniques, but Marty was very smooth. Fastest time of the day.
I was number 302 so I started more than an hour later than Marty. I am sure he was almost finished before I started. Once it was my time to get in the water I was totally ready to go. I have really learned to relax prior to Sprints. So I was comfortable getting started. My swim start was good. I felt go into a rhythm quickly and felt really comfortable with my pace and effort. I stopped at the wall for more than a couple of seconds only once and that was due to other swimmers. I was able to pass a couple of swimmers and was passed by a couple. It was a nice trade-off.
The swim wasn't anywhere near as dreadful as many others. Before I knew it I was at the last wall and heading out of the pool. At the last turn I actually looked at my watch and saw that I was at 5:15. Not great, but not horrible. My sense of relief that the swim portion was over wasn't as pronounced and normal.
This swim I decided to wear a tri top. My thought was it would decrease my T1 time. Worked like a charm. No trying to get my shirt on. Gently put down my goggles, slipped on my shoes, while putting on my shades and helmet. Grabbed my bike and gloves and headed out. Smooth mount but had problems getting clipped in. I didn't let it bother me. I knew once I got started I could make up those couple of seconds.
Once I turned on Buffalo, I passed 4 riders and felt like I was getting into a good pace. There was a headwind so I wasn't able to go too fast but I was able to get a smooth cadence and kept my breathing in check. At about mile 4 I got "chicked". I was shocked. She rode past me smoothly and comfortably. I just shook my head and decided that this isn't going to happen. Headwind or not. So I passed her back. We played leap frog for about 3 more miles. Then we made a left turn and I left her. I looked back for a couple of miles and then decided that I was clear.
Made the turn for home and picked up the pace thanks to the tailwind. Was able to seriously fly without exerting too much energy. At about mile 10, I was passed by rider 309. He flew by me and checked out. There was not catching him. There wasn't anything I could do except tip my hat and keep riding. At mile 12 I looked at my watch again and I was at 47 minutes. I was excited about that. I started doing the math in my head. Another 2 miles, 6 minutes and then a 20 minute 5k should put me under 1:10. I could feel myself relax and speed up. Made it back to transition and my legs felt strong still.
I really need to work on riding with my feet on top of my shoes. Was able to get on foot out but not the second. So my T2 times was a little worse than it should have been. No worries. I didn't allow it to fluster me.
Racked my back smoothly, helmet off, running shoes on, grabbed my The Second Wind shirt and took off for the run. Put on my shirt over my tri top and kept running. Linda was right at the start of the run course and gave me my hat. I was all set. This course was great. Nicely shaded and flat. I felt like I should be able to really make up time.
Obviously since this is my strong suit, I felt like I should be able to run a sub 21 minute 5k. I was never really comfortable this run. My breathing was off and I felt like I was flopping my steps instead of smoothly turning over. I was able to maintain a decent pace. Once I made it to the halfway mark, I tried to turn it on, but I just didn't have anything left in the tank. I didn't slow down, but I didn't speed up either. Looked at my watch at the 2 mile mark and I was at about 1:04. I wanted to be sub 1:10 but that wasn't in the cards. I knew that I would not run a 6 minute mile so I just decided to do the best I could.
I didn't have any "help" since I didn't see anyone immediately in front of me to try to catch. It wasn't until about 1/4 mile for the finish that I spotted someone to race. I was able to catch one person there and then another in the finish chute. So I was winded at the finished, which is the way it's supposed to be.
Was happy to see Linda waiting and smiling as I crossed the finished. I slowly walked around and regained my legs and drank my 2 full bottles of water to re-hydrate.
Overall the race was very good as normal. The course was great and the volunteers did an awesome job with assisting. Love the venue and single lane swimming. The shaded greenway run was also a huge plus. This year it was not as hot as previous years which also was a blessing. I will definitely return next year.
My finishing time was 1:11:43. Last year my time was 1:14:32. So I improve my time by better than 3 minutes. Funny thing I was the 84th finisher both years. My first year my time was 1:16:04.