Celebrating the fact that I am back in school and free from 8-hour desk jobs (for the time being), I had my highest volume week of training since April 2013 coming into this race. My body handled the extra training well and I wasn’t too worried heading into the race as it was really just a “check the box” race (to get my 4th race in). I had no expectations; all I had to do was cross the finish line. Then I had one of my best races of the season (arguably the best race). (edit: just checked and this is actually a lifetime PB for the Olympic distance triathlon)
This was a two lap swim course in a fairly calm lake. I communicated with a couple of the men standing near me on the start line about what line they were taking (going left or right around the green buoy ahead of us) and therefore had a great start and didn’t get hit once. We were allowed to dolphin dive the first section of the swim, but barely reaching 5’4” this was useless and I started swimming right away (the tall guy beside me did about 5 dolphin dives). The first lap was very smooth, but coming into the second lap it was a bit of an obstacle course to avoid the two waves that had started after and were still on their first lap. Since I wasn’t worried about my overall time I kept my stroke very relaxed. Evidently I should do this more often as I had my fastest swim time of the season (although they are hard to compare as timing mats at the exit vary in their placement from race to race).
After a ridiculously slow transition (I told the volunteers that I was demonstrating how NOT to do a transition), it was off onto the bike course. I caught one person in the first 2 kilometers and from then on it was a solo ride. I could see one person occasionally up in the distance, but I wasn’t catching him, and I couldn’t see anyone behind me. After a lot of biking during the week I was feeling fairly tired so didn’t go too hard. I thoroughly enjoyed the tailwind as we headed east, but as we turned again to head south and then west again, my motivation was waning. With no-one around there was little incentive to go any harder so I just kept turning the pedals. Finally, someone caught me in the last two kilometers to bring me back to the fact that I was still in a race and I tried to keep with him (at a legal distance of course).
T2 was a little slow as my hands and feet were cold which made it a little harder to get my running shoes on, but soon I was off with the guy who had caught me on the bike. I thought this was awesome because it looked like I was going to have someone to run with. Unfortunately he only lasted about 900m at my pace and once again I was on my own. I felt pretty good on the run up until about 4.5km when the contents of my digestive system decided they didn’t really want to stay there. The second lap I was contemplating finding a bush, but couldn’t face having a slow time on Sportstats, so continued to run while listening to things shifting around with every step. Not pleasant to say the least. Counting down the kilometers it was a relief to get to the finish line (and the porta-potties) and was shocked and happy to see my time of 2:06:28. My fastest time ever for an Olympic distance race. Although my run time is still a far cry from what it was last year, I am taking the slow but steady improvements with a smile.
The reason for the high volume week is because I have decided that I will give Barrelman a shot next weekend. I am not ready for the season to end and my leg (knock on wood) is still in one piece so I am excited to support MSC with their race- I know it will be well-run as always and a great experience. I have never done a half-iron distance race so this will be a foray into new territory. I have no real expectations other than to try my best. I am sure that I will learn a lot of lessons on race day.