My second sprint triathlon was a solo endeavor. The family was tied up doing other things, and the race was about an hour and a half from home, so I didn’t have anyone coming out to see me race.
I was kind of okay with that, for this one. So much of triathlon training is done in isolation, and my plan was to look at this race as a hard training session for my 3rd race at the end of the summer. so it kind of fit.
I prepped my gear at home, wandering about in the same fog that settled over me the day before the first race. I felt incredibly tired, as if my body knew what was coming and was trying to get all the rest it could beforehand. It probably was.
The drive down was fantastic, taking me though the mountains on some roads I’d never seen before. The race was taking place at a state park with a campground, so I had reserved myself one of the very last tent sites and borrowed a backpacking tent from a friend (our family tent was too large for me to want to deal with). I planned to head down in the late afternoon, set up camp, drive the course, get some dinner and have a relaxing, solitary night camping outdoors. When I woke up, I’d already be at the race site.
That’s pretty much how it went, too. I set up camp without trouble, then was able to drive the bike course (which included the run course), pulling back into the campground just as it was getting dark. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found – it was a 14-mile loop that was downhill or flat for the first 75% of the ride. There was one significant climb, but it wasn’t anything I was afraid of, having done a lot of climbing in my training over the summer. Then a flat run into T2. The run was on the same course, with some slight rolling hills.
I picked up dinner at the local store, as well as some fuel for the next morning, and after a small fire at my campsite and a few minutes reading, I went to bed.
The next morning I woke up feeling pretty good. I had slept well, which was good considering the extra variables that camping can potentially throw at you. After my morning routine, I suited up, got my transition gear on my back (in a backpack this time!) and rolled over to check-in.
The scene for the swim was amazing. I couldn’t imagine a much more beautiful place to do a swim.
After I got set up in the transition area, which was quite crowded, I wandered around the beach playing the “age game.” Everyone had their ages put on their calves at body marking, so I would look at a person and mentally guess their age, then look at their calf to see how close I was. It was awesome to see so many people, particularly older people, in amazing shape. And plenty of others working hard on it. That’s one thing I’ve found about going to these events – the atmosphere is pretty inspiring. It always feels like a pretty good crowd to be hanging out in.
- 600 yd Distance
- 12:14 Duration
- 2:02/100 yd
The swim was a wave start from the beach. It proved to be a much better swim than my first race, in terms of the crowd. The swimmers spread out quicker and I wasn’t really fighting anyone for space the whole way. There were people close enough to me that I could have drafted if I had that skill in my playbook, but as of this point I’m still learning how to just get the swim done, so I just focused on what I was doing and tried to keep my rhythm. I came out of the water feeling less tired than I did during my first triathlon, and felt ready for the bike.
The transition run was short, just up the grassy lawn from the beach. I had no trouble getting into the area and locating my machine.
- 13.94 mi Distance
- 39:50 Moving Time
- 621 ft Elevation
- Avg Speed 21.0 mi/hr
- Max Speed 40.7 mi/hr
As expected, the ride was a blast. I was able to keep a pretty high speed up for most of it, especially down a couple of big hills where my weight went to work for me. I passed a bunch of people without even really trying, letting gravity and inertia do a lot of the effort, and at the halfway mark I still felt very fresh and prepared to attack the hill.
I kept it steady on the climb, focusing mostly on my cadence and trying to keep my spin rate up. I didn’t want to sprint it, but I didn’t want to go too easy, either. I felt like I hit the right mark, especially as I caught a couple of people in my age group on the way. One or two superstars with full aero gear passed me on their way to the second lap of the Olympic distance course. I did my best to remind my brain that they were not my competitors; nobody was, in fact. Just myself.
I crested the hill and then cruised the last two or so miles on the flats around the back side of the lake back to the transition area. No troubles again on transition; just racked my bike, switched my shoes and headed out.
- 3.10 mi Distance
- 27:47 Duration
- 8:58/mi Pace
I was able to shake the jelly legs at about a mile, and then felt like I had my feet back under me. I found that the small climbs and descents on the run course really helped; working against a little elevation seemed to clear out the dead feelings somehow. I did get passed by a few people I had caught on the bike, but I was expecting that, knowing that running is probably my weakest discipline. I kept at it and was able to finish feeling pretty strong. For my current state of training, my final pace was really fast.
Results were posted live on a screen next to the transition area, so it wasn’t long before I was able to see how I did. I was expecting to see something like my first race, but was pleasantly surprised to see my name considerably higher in the standings – with my overall time of
1:23:52.5, I finished 4th in my age group, and 26th overall out of 166! Later, the results sheet was revised to remove the top 5 finishers out of their respective age categories, leaving me 2nd in my age group! My transition times improved over my first race, at 2:14 and 1:25. The results also confirmed my internal convictions that the bike is my jam, especially when there are downhills: I had the 12th fastest bike ride of the day.
After picking up my race shirt and watching some more folks finish, I went back to pack up my campsite and drive home. I felt satisfied and very happy with what I had accomplished. I was already looking forward to the next one.