This is marks the 9th week of the recovery from my broken rib & fractures…
This was the first open water swim triathlon of the season for me. I’d gotten two open water swims in prior to, but not at the location. The water was 20.2 C, making it wetsuit optional. The previous year, it was 17 C. I think I was the only one, Sprint or Standard/Olympic, that swam without a wetsuit.
I looked at how people were setting up, and opted to take the inside track. The rest were going to be swimming more distance to the first bouy, because they were swim at an angle. It meant that I didn’t have to fight with people, and I am not in a position where I can take a smack. But it meant that I had no draft, and no motivation. The result was my worst open water 750 m time to date – 17:34. To date, I’d completed the swim in under 14 minutes. My best was 13:30…
Admittedly, I’ve only resumed swimming in the last 3 weeks. There’s numerous aspects to why my time was so bad. At this point, I have no ability to see improvement in the pool – we switch to open water swimming in a week.
Transition (T1) and The Bike
It was uphill all the way out of the water. Even the bike racks were on an angle. My T1 time is pretty consistent at ~2 minutes. Part of that is because I put on socks and shoes. Running in shoes can make rough ground much more tolerable so you can run faster, cutting down the advantage that having the shoes on the bike might provide.
It was uphill to the mount line, and the line was not immediately at the road as I believe it was last year. The course was constrained to using only one lane (more about what can disqualify you below), so the space for the mount line was less than half the lane. It was two bikes/people wide, at best. It was a nightmare. Besides the people anxious to get around you at any point, you had cycling traffic from people already on the course. They were yelling to run past the mount line in hopes of alleviating the bunching, and it did not work. I don’t imagine everyone was as lucky as I was.
I’d ridden the course a couple of months back. Some of it I knew by heart, as I grew up in the area. This is probably the roughest pavement anyone will ever ride. Also, I remember the hills used to be so much steeper when I was a kid 😉
I knew spots to capitalize on, and what was coming. What I could not foresee was the congestion. There’s not supposed to be any, due to the no-drafting rules at this level of competition. Either you overtake, and the person you overtook has to fall back or vice versa. That’s what’s supposed to happen. But at least twice on hills, I rode on the yellow line to get around people who were riding 3 abreast. On one occasion, I heard someone shout about the fact that going over the line is an automatic disqualification (DQ). But the reality of triathlon is there’s basically no marshal to enforce this, or they’d have had to talk to the people 3 abreast I got around (which merits only a warning and eventual DQ). I’ve experienced people who would not surrender position as they should in other triathlons. I could have shouted at the idiots, but it’s a waste of energy to me that I’d prefer to use to cycle/compete.
Hills are always my chance to capitalize. Triathlon, at least the ones I’ve participated in to date, do not tend to have real hills – sustained climbs. Part of that is likely because of the bike weights and general rider ability I figure. The competitive threat to me is the people who are decent cyclists, in tuck/aero position for the downhills. Currently they’re in a better position that I am, but it only lasts until the next hill.
Eventually a few of us were trading spots (no drafting). But then my chain started slipping/skipping. I thought it was just the high gears, but I’ve since encountered it on a lower gear. It was incredibly annoying, but might have been good for me – I opted for easier gears than I would have mashed in, so I might have been approaching “spinning” and thus doing speed with less effort/better efficiency.
The stats say I was 12th fastest overall on the bike course for the Sprint (10th for my gender), with a 33.12 KM/h average. I was second in my age/gender category.
Transition (T2) and The Run
What goes up, must come down. It was downhill to the bike rack, and to the transition exit to start the run. There wasn’t anything of note about T2 that I can remember. Time was 1:44 minutes.
I haven’t been running, and to add to injury – the start of the run was a winding uphill. Foolishly, I tried to look like I could run until out of sight. My lungs paid for it – they didn’t recover until around the 2 KM mark, and still continued to get better. My 5 KM run time was 35:14.
What I’ve lost while recovering from the ribs shows. 1h 36 minutes is ~10 minutes difference to all my races to date, and primarily in both of my weaker areas as well as areas I could not train in. I’m not that surprised about the run time – it might not even be my worst run time. But given the circumstances, it played a role in how relaxed I was about this race. A friend and fellow competitor mentioned their surprise at my lack of anxiety.
Post Race Meal
This race always provides me with the ability to visit an old friend, who made me lunch. I had delicious curried chicken on rice with black turtle beans, and watermelon. Lemon cheesecake with blueberry sauce. There was no time for pictures… 😉
I asked if I could lick the plate, and got the response: “Not in front of the cat!” 😀