Prerace: My general level of fitness this year was on par with both 2004 and 2005, but this time my fitness was slipping from a high level, rather than building from a low level. For instance, my weight was five pounds under my weight from the previous years, but it was ten pounds heavier than it was in the fall, whereas in the previous years it was ten pounds less than in the previous fall. I had been swimming about as much as normal, and I had been doing some good long bike rides, but I hadn't been running AT ALL in 2006. So I expected more or less the same results as in my previous two seasons. My race plan was my normal "find some feet and draft on the swim, hammer the bike like crazy, then pretend I'm just doing a long brick workout." My prerace diet was, for perhaps the first time in history, excellent. I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm this morning, fully rested and in good spirits.

This was my first "low key" race. My previous races were all in North Carolina, and they were run by a company called SetUp, Inc.. Those races were generally large, and highly organized. The White Lake Sprint triathlon, which I've used as my season kickoff the last two years, usually has 80something people in my age group. The Pinchot Park triathlon had 74 men... total. The race was run in a much more relaxed manner. For instance, there were no assigned rack spaces. Each racer simply picked a spot and set up his/her gear as needed. Also, there was only one wave for all 100 racers. The start was the race director yelling "ready, set, go!"

Swim: The swim was uneventful. The water wasn't nearly as cold as I feared it would be. It started to rain just before the swim, but I never noticed. I never found a good draft, but I found several crappy drafts in serial, which is almost as good :-). Final swim time was 13:58, which I was happy with. I could have knocked off some more time, but I'm not a huge fan of attacking the swim. I tend to think of the swim as my warmup. AG from my Masters swim group (who won my age group by NINE MINUTES) came out of the water in 12:38, and he is much faster than me in practice. So I'm satified with only losing 1:20 to him on the swim.

T1: T1 was uneventful, smooth, and fast. My time of 1:55 was the fastest in my AG, and over one minute faster than the guys who ended up 1st/2nd in my AG.

Bike: I hammered the entire bike. I was only passed by one person, and that person was Josh Beck, who WON the national duathlon (run/bike/run... triathlon with a run in place of the swim) championships back in 2002, and is now a professional duathlete. I can't complain about being passed by him :-). He ended up winning the entire race, fully 18 minutes ahead of me. Freak. Two other dudes passed me at one point, but I think I pulled them back late in the bike. One guy passed me just before I hit the timing mat to enter T2, as I was futzing with my bike shoe. My bike time was 56:20. 2/9 in my AG, 17/74 OA. The guy who had the fastest bike in my AG was 3:38 faster than me, and the guy with the 3rd fastest bike split was 2:56 behind me. I picked up one AG position and 7 OA positions during the bike.

T2: I didn't get my right foot out of my shoe in time, so I had a weird bike dismount. My legs were also quivering as I put on my running shoes. Did I mention I hammered the entire bike? I suspect my T2 was still relatively quick, though. Ran my bike to the rack, slipped on my shoes (no socks to worry about), grabbed my hat, and I was off. T2 times were lumped in with the run.

Run: [Sigh] Same story as always. I gave back a ton of time on the run :-). But considering that I've only had a handful of runs longer than 5K this year, I honestly can't complain. My quads, hamstrings, and calfs were all borderline crampish the entire run, but my stomach felt fine and I was able to keep my HR at just under 170. With my stomach feeling ok, my HR at 170, and my legs almost cramping... there wasn't much more I could do. I was 2nd in my AG coming off the bike, 5:33 ahead of the guy who was 3rd in my AG. He ran me down, then put another 33 seconds on me. Grrrrrr... T2+Run was 25:50, 6/9 AG, 45/74 OA. As always, my run is really killing me. I'm not sure how much faster I would have been if I went easier on the bike, but my general impression is that my level of fitness would only have given me an extra 1:30 or so on the run, even if I were 100% fresh.

Finish: Final time was 1:38:03, 3rd/9 in my age group and good enough for a medal! Wheeee! I haven't won a medal for anything in over two decades. I would have been out of the hardware in any other age group, or if the 30-34 field were bigger... but it felt nice to get the medal anyway.

Stuff to remember later:

  • Watch electrolytes. I've only had two muscle cramps in my life (both times, calf cramps while swimming), but I think I came close today. I forgot to take an electrolyte tab before I started. Was my pre-race diet low in salt? Was it the hard bike, at lower-than-normal cadence?
  • Prerace diet felt great. (Slimfast + banana smoothie before bed, only liquids in the morning... hot chocholate, gatorade endurance, gel)
  • Gas-X before and after swim helped. No stomach bloat at all today.
  • In keeping with the "train your weaknesses, race your strengths" policy, I think I should train my running more (errr... or maybe just train it at all :-)), but continue to hammer the bike during races.

Final stats:

Stage Time AG Rank
(of 9)
OA Rank
(of 74)
Notes
Swim 0:13:58 3 27 OA ranking lower than expected!
T1 0:01:55 1 9 More than one minute better than the guys who finished 1st/2nd in my AG!
Swim+T1 0:15:53 2 22 Passed one AG, 5 OA in T1!
Bike 0:56:20 2 17 3:38 behind 1st AG, 2:56 ahead of 3rd AG.
Swim+T1+Bike 1:12:13 2 15 Passed 7 OA on the bike
T2+Run 0:25:50 6 45 Ughh!!! Had a 5:33 lead after the bike to the guy who got 2nd in my AG, and he only got 2nd by 33 seconds! I lost 6:06 to him on the T2+Run! This is absurd!
Total 1:38:03 3 20 Only got passed by 5 OA on T2+Run... that's actually better than expected.