Because St. A's is a regional championship race, the top 1/3 of each age group qualify for Age Group Nationals. Had I known how much my running would come along this winter, I might have paid closer attention to my bike and swim which would have given me at least the chance of a bat in hell to qualify.
No matter what, this year is my year of stepping up. I want to start playing with the big kids. To that end, I accepted a small sponsorship from the local sunglass company, Boston Bill . They give me free sunglasses and comped race entries, I race in their schwag whenever possible. Given that they get free entries to races like Steelhead, as well as local stuff like St. Anthony's and local tris/5Ks, this adds up pretty quickly.
But I'm writing about the race. Or the important stuff I want to remember:
This was the first race where I ran without a bike computer, heart rate monitor, or Garmin 305. I simply pushed myself to maintain a certain breathing rate and accepted whatever pace that gave me. Missed my sub 3 hour goal by only 3.5 minutes on a crappy weather day. I consider it a great success. Talking to a few of the locally famous age groupers, they said they don't use the pace guides either. Definitely going to do this again.
Yes, the swim was bad on the way back in. The first 1/3 of the course ran us along the pier which broke the surf and kept the wind down. The long leg was down wind and with the tide but the swell was big. It was an endless cycle of getting sucked back into the wave and spit forward. You could only site if you were on top of the wave. Sure, I tried to swim but the waves set the pace. The final turn took you back into these waves at an angle and against the tide. Add in the waves reflecting off the seawall back onto the swim course and it feels like you're in a blender. A few times I simply held my breath and tucked up as the wave crashed down. Never felt scared, just beat up. Swim nutrition: glass of milk for breakfast with coffee. One hammer gel, 2 lava salts, and 12 oz of water about 30 minutes before my wave start.
Got stuck in my wetsuit during T1. 1 minute lost. Must.shorten.the.legs.
The bike gave us the chance to really experience the breeze. 20+mph steady south winds which for St. A's means mostly headwind or crosswind. Simply took off out of transition until I hit my "fast bike" breathing rate and held steady. Any time the gusts slowed me down I would count to 10, then spin up for 5 seconds to see if I could eek out a little more speed. Played hop scotch with a few girls in my age group. My fastest time ever on this course was 1:14ish when I served as the biker on a relay team so I'm pretty damn happy with 1:20:?? on a windy day after a vigorous swim. Bike nutrition: 30 oz of my ironman training mix. Probably about 300 calories. Plus 3 lava salts.
Great T2 transition. Realized that I forgot to put out a gel but rather than waste time digging it out, I headed out onto the course.
The run started very well with an 8:3something for the first mile. The plan was simple: keep the same effort and don't walk except for water stops. No water stops after mile 3 because they aren't going to do any good. I had no problem maintaining that effort but my pace faded. My quads cramped going down a pathetic excuse for a bridge around mile 2. There was no kick. I gagged down a few sips of gatorade in an attempt to revive myself. BLEAH! WTF was I thinking. Wasted more precious time getting water to wash that down then got caught behind some people at the water stop. Tried for a pace revival after mile 5 and was rewarded with 1:00:32 for the 10K. Not too shabby but not sub60 I wanted.
Post race thoughts:
Overall, I'm happy with my performance. It's a PR at the olympic distance. Racing without the gadgets was a success. Plan to do it for all my tri's this year.
If I want to compete, I have to train a lot more. Half marathons and 15ks gave me the fitness to finish safely but not competitively. I simply ran out of gas on the 10K which played with my head. It's not that coach didn't try to give me workouts. I just didn't to them this winter. I ran and did CrossFit. CrossFit sure makes me look like a triathlete and gets me compliments. Unfortunately, it doesn't actually make me a faster biker or swimmer. Biking and swimming does that. Shocking.
There's 10 minutes between me and age group nationals, 7 of those minutes are in the swim. If I want to get those podium spots, I have to attack my limiter. I've known this for a while but now that my bike and run times are coming down, my swim times look pathetic.
Short term goal: Olympic distance tri May 15th. Between now and then my goal is to ride with the faster group ride at least once a week and get in the pool. See what happens. Long term goal: Boston Bill is willing to sponsor my entry to St. A's next year so I'm going for a spot at Age Group Nationals.