Smack-dab in the middle of a 4-day long weekend, when it seems everyone else is relaxing or out working in the yard, I decided to get up ridiculously early to do a sprint tri. I've mentioned before how I don't like getting up at dark-thirty (ok, at least it's light this time of year), yet I keep choosing to do things that force me to.
I ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal and banana, and mixed a bottle of Vega Sport for the drive into the city. The race was at the Juan de Fuca rec center: a 750m pool swim, 20k bike, and 5k run. Easy peasy, right? After all, I did an Ironman a mere 6 months ago, so this should be nothing.
Arrived, racked my bike, scoped out the routes through the transition, chatted with friends, then assembled on the pool deck for my heat. I'm not a huge fan of pool swim races, as I prefer to swim my own race, but at least I was the first in my lane (total 3 of us in the lane) so that was good. At the signal, I pushed off and went pretty hard for the first 100 meters, but when I looked at the pace clock it said 1:35, and I felt like I was going harder than that. That story would continue.
After counting my 30 lengths, I hopped out (looked at my watch - 13:04 - ok but I felt like I was working harder than that), waved to Jason who had ridden in to watch my race, walked out of the pool (not allowed to run on the deck...), and then ran the long way to the transition area. It was down a roadway, around a hockey arena, and into a parking lot. I grabbed my bike, and ran with it another really long way out of transition. For some reason, the organizers decided to make us run out of transition, out of the parking lot, and then down the road a bit before we could mount our bikes. Huh?
The bike course was actually quite pretty. It went down a nice descent to Esquimalt lagoon, through the lagoon, around and then back up. Twice. So I got a super-sweet descent twice, a windy flat lagoon twice, and a steep climb twice. I tried to push as hard as I could, but for some reason felt I should be going faster than I was. Maybe because I was back on my road bike with clip-on aerobars instead of the Transition. Maybe it was just the day.
Starting lap two.
At the end of the bike, my split was 41:00, but my Garmin said 18.5k rather than 20. An ok time I guess since I haven't really been doing any high-intensity stuff on the bike. Back into transition, I fumbled getting my socks on, slammed a gu washed down with some Vega Sport, and headed onto the run. I was thinking of going no socks, but glad I put them on as the run was on a bark mulch trail, and by the end I had a lot of bark pieces in my shoes. For only 5k, it was harder than I thought; up, down, around, and up some more. Not to mention, the trail was really soft, and it seemed like I was sinking in on every step. Kind of like running on pillows.
Approaching the turn-around.
I just couldn't push hard on the run. I tried, but my legs felt heavy and I couldn't get them to turn over. I wasn't having the run I wanted, especially since I have been working on running and have definitely been running faster than I did that day. I wanted to run 32 minutes, instead my run split was 37. I turned in 37 minute run splits for the two sprint races I did last year, so it's disappointing that it seems I haven't improved yet. But - I will say this run course was way harder than those. And I think I have improved, I just didn't have it on the day.
Positives: I had fun, got to see some friends, raced in nice weather (overcast, not too warm, not too cool), got a super-sweet Adidas zip-up with my entry. Negatives: I didn't ride or run the splits I thought I would. No biggie, really, because now I have a time to beat next year.
How does such a short race (total time 1:36) hurt so much?
UPDATE: I just looked at the "official" results, and I had the fastest swim and the second-fastest bike (bike times include T1 & T2 in the results) in my age group. So that's something.