I haven’t done a similar distance race to this one in 2 years so I was pretty excited to see how I would do in a “short” race like this one. The previous two seasons, I raced primarily ½ Ironman distance with 1 Full Ironman 2 years ago- also my first season.
Additionally, this was to be my first race representing Team FC and I knew that seeing my team mates out on the course was going to be both inspiring and challenging- as some are much faster than I.
One nice thing about this race is that because it is a shorter distance, it starts fairly late in the day (7:30am) relative to the 6-6:30am starts for ½ and Iron Distance races. That meant I got to sleep in longer than usual.
Luckily, I found a room to sleep in only 7 miles from the race course which made logistics a breeze.
Race morning I was up at 5am. I enjoyed a leisurely shower and breakfast prior to packing up my van and heading out to the course at around 6:15am. I arrived at transition at 6:30am- roughly one hour prior to the start of the race. Again, I generally get to the transition area right when it opens at 5 am for a ½ distance race to give myself lots of time to prepare materially as well as mentally.
My goal for this race was really to blow the cobwebs out and get the season formally started with a bang. I was curious as to what my bike and run gains and swim losses would be from the winter training.
My age group 40-44M didn’t start until 7:45am so I suited up at the Team tent and went in for a quick warm up about 10 min prior to the start of the Elites at 7:30am. Water temp was cool but not uncomfortably cold- always a relief as I’m pretty sensitive to the cold.
The swim waves were about 3 min apart so I watched 5 waves start prior to mine- elites, young’uns, ladies, and younger men. I am not the fastest swimmer but I like to get a good position, but for some reason, I found myself on the right side which would put me on the inside of the first bouy turn- not a desirable position as I don’t like the scrum. I was pretty relaxed as usual at the start- I don’t sprint the first 200 yards like most- which allows me to get a good, comfortable, position in the swim pack.
My swim was pretty uneventful aside from various people swimming over me in the start, and random others throughout the course. My sighting was not as exact as I would have liked. I didn’t garmin this part of the course but my gut and the time I posted tells me I didn’t come close to swimming as straight as I would have liked.
Again, I swim steadily but don’t push the swim as I planned to do that on both the bike and run.
I have been stuck on wearing toe socks and, so far, this is my fastest transition with them. Without them, I would likely have a ~2-2:30 T1. Based on the results and my placement- I will likely have to start biking and running sockless this season. Time to buy a smaller pair of shoes…
Bike: 1:04:17 @22.4mi/h
The bike was flat and fast. I kept myself to roughly 85-95% of FTP on the ride- with a few spikes and some drifting into the higher territories as my mind wandered. There was a TON of drafting, blocking (people riding two wide), and 3 or 4 big pelotons on the course – always annoying as it is against the rules, unsafe, and totally unnecessary.
I resorted to using my voice to get people to make space for me to pass, and used my brakes at times to keep out of the passing pelotons and draft packs. I could see how someone could unconsciously get caught up in a pack and not really be aware, but many of these folks in the packs, I noticed, looked like experienced athletes. I make it a point to not cheat. I race and train for myself and if I podium someday, that would be gravy on top of the joy this sport brings.
The road out from transition was bumpy and I lost my cockpit bottle about ½ mile into the race. Luckily, the cockpit bottle was an experiment- coconut water for hydration instead of regular water for such a short race. Needless to say, I had a seat tube bottle of water as a backup so alls well that ends well. About a 1.5 miles prior to T2 I fueled with a gel, to prepare for my run.
I came to the bike dismount just as my team mate Caroline Wilson was dismounting and we ran into the transition area together- added bonus!
This was my fastest bike split to date so hopefully, I will be improving my bike times this year.
This is a pretty simple transition as I already have the socks on- switch the shoes and hats.
Run: 42:45@ 7:07/mi
The start of the run is always challenging as your feet feel like bricks- there is residual numbness from the bike and it takes at least a mile or two for the run stride to feel comfortable. Turns out I ran the second loop faster than the first and ended up with an overall pace exactly at my running threshold pace. Guess the practice at threshold (a recent development) is paying off.
I love seeing my team mates out on the course and with a two loop bike and two loop run, I saw many of my team mates- some multiple times. Additionally, running by the team tent, I was inspired by my teammates who had finished as I finished my first run loop.
Overall race time: 2:16:33.
This was a great time- I had ballparked 2:15 so I am very optimistic that this season will see my times improve greatly over last years. Last years best performance was a 5:35:05 at the Superfrog ½ Ironman with a 39minute swim, a 2:40 bike and a 2:08 run. My goals for this year are ambitious: Sub 5 hr ½ Ironman. I think this is entirely possible given my improvements in both biking and running. Cleaning up my transition times will give me a few minutes to spare as well.