My 2003 triathlon season has come to a close. Last weekend I raced in the 2003 Treasure Island sprint-distance race.
Last year, this was the race that was a big eye-opener for me. After studying for my P.E. exam and doing NO exercise for four months, this race kicked my butt. This year, I was going into this race with three crushing failures in previous races. My finish time at the (half) Vineman in August was 45 minutes slower than I hoped. My finish time in the (half-marathon) Vineman Relay was 20 minutes slower than I had hoped. And then the humiliating defeat at the (olypmic distance tri) Pacific Grove race was my slowest time EVER -- even my first Wildflower race was faster by over ten minutes!!
After Pacific Grove, I decided to make a training plan which I (mostly) stuck to. Some of this was due to Karen "keeping me honest" and providing encouragement. Some of it was due to the installation of new showers at my office, which allowed me to do workouts at lunchtime. And some of it was just plain old stubbornness. In any case, it seems to have worked.
This race was a new Personal Record for a Sprint distance. This is the only sprint distance race I do each year. This was possibly my best race EVER. It was the first time I've felt like a "real" Triathlete during a race.
My swim was "long"; I went WAY wide on the course and probably swam an additional 100 yards making the 440 yard loop. But when I got out of the water (20th out!) I still felt fresh and not completely tapped like I normally am after a swim. I was swimming 100 yards in 1:50 during training, so I had budgeted 8:15 for the 450 yard swim. My swim time was significantly slower than this, coming in at a meandering 11:24.
T1 was amazingly fast (for me). I normally budget 5:00 for each transition. I know I'm slow in transition, and I account for that in my goals. This time around, however, I was out of transition in only 3:40 (22th fastest in my age group)! Maybe it was because I was not so out-of-breath while trying to put my bike shoes on. Maybe it was the flaming socks that Karen bought me. Maybe it was just that I've finally figured out how to do transitions. In any case, I got changed quickly and on the bike.
During the bike, I was passing people. I was still getting passed too, but almost all of them were from the next higher age group. Some people are just faster than me. I can accept that. And I have no problem with it, either. So when I'm passed by a guy that is 41, that's fine. Who knows, maybe he's the fastest guy in his age group. But the point is that I didn't see ANYONE pass me on the bike that was in my age group. Looking at the results, there was one guy in my group - only ONE - that passed me on the bike leg. The people faster than me were already ahead of me. On the other hand, I passed quite a few people in my group on the bike. I stumbled a bit on both the mount and dismount; I probably could have made up 30 to 45 seconds between the two of them. While that may not seem like much, in a race this short, a fraction of a minute is a major difference. I was shooting for a average speed of 18MPH or 41:26 for the whole 20km ride. despite the lost time (which was ALL counted in the bike leg) I was pleased to turn in a time of 38:43, or 19.26MPH!!
T2 was similarly fast. Instead of the 5:00 that I had budgeted, I was in and out in a mere 2:19. Of course, this transition is supposed to be FASSST and I was ranked 39th in my age group for this one. I still thought it was fast (for me).
Usually when I'm doing the run, my body is running on fumes. As I'm watching people go past me, I look down at their calf and see way too many of them are in my age group and I keep falling back further and further... but that's all I can do. This time around, I felt strong during the whole race. I kept my pace the whole way through the run and I was passing people one by one. I would pick out someone a few hundred feet ahead of me and set my pace and in a few minutes I would pass them. Then I would pick out a new person and pass them. I was hoping for an 8 min/mile average or 24:51 overall for the run. I blew that away with a 7:35 pace and a run time of 23:31!!
After all was said and done, I still had enough energy for a sprinting charge across the finish line. My target finishing time of 1:30:00 was completely blown away. My prior times were 1:26:20 (2001) and 01:29:07 (2002). This year I rocked both of those times with a stunning 01:19:37 finish! (119th overall, out of 538 and 19th in my age group, out of 52)