It's back - after a humbling Triathlon last time -I have to say I was pretty excited about my performance this year. We had 3 teams this year:
Annie (Mother-in-law) and Dave were the DANNIE STYLTONS
Molly (Sister-in-law) and I were the HOT TOMOLLYS
Meanwhile Casey (Cousin-in-law), Meghan (Esposa), and her Dad Tom and brother Matt and "friend" Nikki were there as the ATHLETIC SUPPORTERS.
The race start was delayed by 1 hour due to thunderstorms but we all got to start together at 10:18.
Canoeing ~6mi [54 min, -10 min from last FALL]
Molly and I again got off to a fast start in the canoeing and didn't look back. I think there are a few reasons we were able to shave 10 minutes off our time.
1) We improved our canoeing technique from last year
2) I actually "trained" for canoeing this time by lifting weights, my arms weren't nearly as tired as last time
3) The water was higher so it should have been running a little faster
4) We found all the great lines in the water this time!
I really enjoyed the canoe this time - and Molly said she did as well. We put some good distance between our start group early and didn't look back. Near the end we were passed by 2 men who asked what our start time was - and they were dismayed to hear that they started 2 mins behind us and had been working hard all that time to gain 2 minutes!
I think we could continue to get better and stronger in the canoe - but it was nice to know we put some time on the competition (10-20 minutes on some teams in our start group. And although the water was higher - it seemed less treacherous as I didn't see as many teams dump in the water. We also didn't see as many teams as before since we were moving better.
IMPROVEMENTS for next time: I needed to bring a water on the canoe. I did last fall but forgot this time - I think it contributed to being dehydrated which I think hurt my run and bike - but more on that later.
1st Transition [0 mins, - 2 mins from last fall]
I didn't bring a change of shoes this year - I figured after running the half marathon in wet shoes (I mean standing in ankle deep water at the start line) I knew I'd be fine. Just don't wear cotton socks! I also bought a water-proof arm band so I didn't have to move the iPhone from a waterproof bag to and arm band.
6 mi Running [64 minutes to killer hill, = to last fall]
Only now in looking at the time did I realize that it was equal to last year. I thought it would be worse. I didn't feel good at all during the run - I think I was starting to get dehydrated, it also started getting warm and the sun was burning off the early morning rain into a humid disaster. Molly stayed with me the whole way - so I am sure I added some time to her race - but it was fun. I was disappointed because this is a section I wanted to be more aggressive on than last year. I was hoping the training for the half marathon was going to help - but after the knee issues I really hadn't run since the half marathon a month ago.
Running will have to be an improvement area for me for the fall - and I think staying hydrated would help.
Killer Hill [7 minutes, +3 versus the fall]
After the killer hill debacle last year where I took it easy running only to get destroyed trying to run the hill - I knew it would take me 5 minutes to walk up, and about 7 minutes to walk up easy. It was still hard but I felt better at the top this year.
In the morning with the rain - we have to walk down killer hill to get to the start - and it was wet and sloppy and people were slipping and falling HARD. I thought we'd see a lot of carnage on the hill but it was basically dry by the time I got there.
2nd Transition [~5 minutes, +3 mintues from last fall]
From my experience last time on the bike - I decided to make sure I hit the rest rooms at the top - I also didn't feel that great so I removed my polar HRM strap and got a drink. The 2nd transition time is split with 3 minutes of that in the "Hill Data" and 2 minutes in the "Biking Data" as it depends on when I start and stop my iPhone GPS.
Biking [1:17, -13 from last fall]
Once again I was looking forward to the biking the most since it is what I have done the most training for. In fact since the half marathon I almost only biked since it is easier on the knee. It's unfortunate that the event I am most looking forward to and probably most prepared for is last. Pretty much right out of the start my legs started to cramp. It would come and go, and I'd occasionally have to start peddaling to try and massage them - or the pain would be so sharp I'd grunt and swerve to grab my leg and people around me thought I was crazy! I didn't have much else to do other than try and drink a lot as I assumed it was from dehydration - so I drank my entire water bottle in the first 6 miles or so. Next time I'll have a second water bottle on my bike. I was able to muster through the pain in most areas, I ended up using one gear lower than I normally would for each situation to keep the force low - it seemed to help my legs, also I varied how I was peddling. Sometimes when my legs were working I'd just keep on peddling no matter how tired I was because I didn't know when they'd go bad on me.
Afterwards I heard that 4/6 of our group had issues with leg cramps - and I saw some people on the side of the road with problems, or when they tried to run to the finish they looked like they had leg cramps so who knows - it was pretty bad and in fact there were a few times I thought I'd end up pulling over and just quitting because when your legs hurt and you are on your bike it is a lonely feeling as you are a LONG way from home. I heard Dave had to pull over and work out his leg cramps for ~ 10 mins on the side of the road, what a bummer - I've been there as I pulled over last year to rest and take a bathroom brake which wastes a lot of time when you are on a bike!
So NET I felt a real strong sense of satisfaction just for finishing the race under the circumstances.Going in to the race my goal was to make it in under 3 hours and 30 minutes total. When I was 2 miles from the finish I knew it would be close - I started really pushing it, and according to my watch I pulled in to the finish area one minute under my time. I came in pretty fast (our team slogan is "coming in hot!") and I ran to the finish - total time 3:28:22! Not only did I over come the leg cramps - I finished under my goal time - which was 15 minutes faster than last fall!
Also to note on the bike - the wind might have been stronger this year than last fall - but I thought the wind direction was much better as some really long straight-aways from last year didn't have the head wind this time, it seemed like the head wind biking legs were shorter. I think it was pretty windy - but I also have been using the drop bars on my bike since getting a professional bike fit. Now riding in the lower more aerodynamic position is SO MUCH more comfortable for me.
One of the reasons I was able to beat my time was my intimidating "triathlon" bib number markings. Serious triathletes have their number written on them - and I looked the part. I think that gave me an edge!
The HOT TOMOLLYS and their manager in HOT TOMOLLY gear my parents sent us:
Overall I was pretty pumped up about this triathlon. I was in better shape for it than the last time - so finishing wasn't an issue like last time where I hit a wall on the bike part. Also I saw the benefits of my training in the canoeing (lifting weights) and the biking (training) so I am more motivated to do more training. Also I felt a much better sense of accomplishment finishing this year versus last fall. Last year when I finished I felt a little defeated as the course I think won the battle - this year I distinctly remember passing the part of the bike where I had to stop for a rest last year and I felt a strong sense that I can conquered the course this time as I still felt strong from an endurance standpoint. Even with the legs cramps I felt great knowing I could over come those and still finish strong - and while no one would be bragging about my time I feel great about it and think I can probably still get better.
So all in all while it took me a while after the last triathlon to want to do it again - I can't wait for October 3rd this year to do it again!