Sprint Distance: 400m Swim, 20.4K Bike, 5K Run. This was my third tri, and my wife's second (first with an ocean swim). We did the ocean swim clinic Saturday, which turned out to be a great idea, as it got her comfortable with the swim conditions.
The conditions Sunday were nice, high-60s, low-70s air, 67 water, and small surf (probably 3.5 foot set waves). The only thing missing was the sun. I concentrated on starting slow in the swim, so I wouldn't start breathing too hard. I was able to get into a nice comfortable rhythm, alternate breathing every third stroke, but I was going at such a good pace I was right in the pack, and there was a lot of contact. I rounded the first buoy and sighted the second one, and settled back in to my rhythm, I checked my sighting after about a dozen strokes, and I was swimming out to sea a bit, so I adjusted my line and rounded the second buoy, and turned for the beach. I was hoping a set would roll through so I could bodysurf like I did during practice Saturday. That's the best - you just drop in and let the wave carry you to the beach, saving a bunch of energy and time. Well, all I got were a couple of little crumblers, but I got out of the water feeling pretty good.
I jogged up to the transition area, and started to change. I lost a fair amount of time here, as I was kind of fumbling and hadn't really mapped out the steps in my head. I finally got my ****e together and ran my bike to the mount area. I jumped on and started to go, but they added a new restriction this year; no passing on the park road. Of course, I end up behind a woman who is just cruising along, so I lost probably 30 seconds there.
Once we got out of the park, I sprinted past my roadblock, and settled on to my aero bars at about 22mph. The bike course is great - mostly flat with only a few turns. I spent 95% of the ride on my aerobars, spinning along at 21 - 23mph. I was fortunate as there were a lot of riders on the side of the road fixing flats. I caught my wife about five miles into the ride, so she had a really good swim and ride going. We yelled encouragement to each other, and I pedaled on. Reached the turnaround shortly after, and headed back the way I came. I passed many riders and was only passed by a few serious riders on serious TT rigs, so I felt good about that. As I approached the park on the return leg, I of course ended up behind another slow rider, so add on 30 seconds there as well. I took advantage of the slower pace to recover a bit so I wouldn't be dying at the start of the run.
My T2 was much better than T1. I lost the bike shoes and helmet, slipped on the run shoes, grabbed my number belt and a slug of energy drink, and hit the road. I didn't have much of the jelly-legs effect, but I could tell I had used a lot of energy on the bike. I started the run at a very slow pace, and immediately runners started passing me. I only hoped that not too many of the competitors in my age group would catch me during the run. I made a plan to only stop and walk at the water stations. I wanted to walk much more than that, but I managed to push through and keep 'running' at my slightly-faster-than-walking pace. I could only look on enviously as 150-lb runners kicked by me at 6-minute-mile pace. I kept with my plan of only stopping to walk at water stations (there were four total), but I was starting to feel the sloshy stomach effect, so I skipped the last station and kept on motoring. Once the finish line came into view (about .25 mile to go), I kicked it up a bit. I didn't want to be passed by any more non-elite runners. I did manage to make it across the line without being passed any more, but as with the last event I did, there were technical problems as I crossed the line, and the emcee did not announce my name or those of the runners that finished before and after me. I stopped my watch at 1:19 and change (officially 1:19:52).
I waited at the finish to cheer my wife in, and she came across looking strong and happy with her race. The announcer gave her a nice big welcome - Very cool.
I had two goals going into this event; better my time from last year, and finish in the top half of my age group. Goal 1 was achieved, as I knocked nearly eight minutes off last year's time. I just missed Goal 2, finishing 16th of 30 in my age bracket. The guy directly ahead of me in the standings was slower in the swim, bike and both transitions, but took 3 minutes out of me in the run. I guess I know what my weakness is. ;-]
Wifey finished strong in 1:34:36. After cheering some of the other racers in, we headed over for BBQ and a beer (at 10:00am - one of the perks of running an early race). All in all, it was a great day. Looking forward to next year!