DATELINE September 11, 2004:
The Triathlon at Pacific Grove is my favorite triathlon. It was my first ever race in 2000. Last year I posted my slowest EVER Olympic Distance finishing time in Pacific Grove. This year, my goal was to beat last year's time by one hour or more. My best finish time to date on this course was the very first time I did it at 3:02:39. My Personal Record on any Olympic Distance course is 2:47:57. Last year's time here was 3:49:29, so I was pretty confident. I was also looking to beat my PR, but that was more of a secondary goal.
The swim is two 1/2 mile laps in a kelp forest. The first lap was horrible. I swam decently, but the kelp slowed me down horribly. Going through a kelp frond is like swimming in jello. Sure, it works, but it isn't fast. The second lap, on the other hand, was like magic. I started to sight correctly, was able to spot the kelp fronds and wove my way around the majority of them. I'm not sure if I figured it out, or I just got lucky and missed the majority of the kelp. Either way, the second lap was MUCH faster than the first lap. 34:58 is not a great swim time, but I'll take it considering the difficulty of the swim.
The bike was the bike. I'm pretty much dialed on on my bike speed. Sure, I can get faster, but that would require a level of dedication to my training that I'm not really willing to devote. I have too many other interests to put 20 hours a week into -just- bicycle training. I've always wanted to beat 1:20:00 on the 40km bike and I'm pretty much there. For the four Olympic distance races I did over the summer, my bike splits have been
1:26:15 - Tri for Real #1 (June)
1:19:34 - Tri for Real #2 (July)
1:18:05 - Tri for Real #3 (August)
1:17:54 - Pacific Grove (September)
As you can see the trend is improving, but I'm close to the top. I only improved by nine seconds in the whole month of August. This tells me that I'm not going to get much faster. But I'm okay with that.
The run went pretty well. I am learning how to really push myself on the run. When I first started triathlon, I was told by someone, "Don't worry about the run, it takes care of itself." In the last few years, I've learned that is completely wrong. The run is probably the second most important part of the race. A good clean run can make up a lot of time. A lousy run can cost even more. This whole year I've been struggling to get my triathlon 10km times under one hour. In a pure running race, I can beat 50 minutes (49:30 in the Human Race last May). Plus, I honestly think that getting to be a stronger runner will make me a faster cyclist too. So I was happy to see my run time come in at a speedy 50:55, an 8:12 pace!!
Overall, a very good race experience!
Afterwards, we went home and got smashed. A great time was had by all, even those that can't remember it (and shall remain nameless to protect themselves).