Yesterday was the start of my race season. Originally I had planned doing the Olympic distance race, but family obligations required that I change to the sprint. Given the fact that I’m four weeks away from IMFL 70.3, I went into the race with the objective of primarily using it as a training event.
The morning started with a quick thirty minute drive south of Jax to Marineland. For those of you who don’t know, Marineland is the original aquatic wildlife park in Florida. It pre-dates Sea World by leaps & bounds, having been established back in 1938. I arrived at the race site at 6:30 and quickly picked up by packet and set up transition. The weather was shaping up to be perfect; temps were in the mid 60’s and the water temp was 71°. I spent a few minutes chatting up some fellow racers and sipping on a mix of First Endurance’s EFS drink & Pre Race. (Let me tell you, if you’re a caffeine junkie like me, Pre Race is amazing. One serving gives you 200mg of caffeine – plus some other goodies). A few minutes before eight, I got into my wetsuit and made my way to the beach for the start. There were only about 100 athletes or so (45 of us were in the sprint, the remainder were in the Olympic). We started in one mass – no wave starts.
To say that the swim went well would be an overstatement. For some reason, my heart rate skyrocketed and I began hyperventilating. I made the 1st buoy and had to actually breaststroke for a minute to catch my breath and get my heart rate down. I got moving again and had a pretty good swim the rest of the way. The surf wasn’t too choppy, but in between the 2nd and 3rd buoys the waves were actually crashing on top of me. That made breathing a little interesting. I came out in :10:11 (20th place). The swim was probably 90 seconds slower than I had hoped for – especially given the fact that it was a salt water swim with a wetsuit. Oh well. We had a 200m run from the surf to transition, which included running up a very soft sand dune. I hit transition, struggled a bit with my wetsuit, grabbed my shoes, helmet and shades and took off. The lady next to me was taking a virtual shower in transition (she stood in a bucket and hosed herself off with a water bottle). Never ceases to amaze me at what folks do in triathlon. I had a really slow T1 time of 3:19.
Took off on the bike, and conditions were perfect. There was literally no wind and the road was in great shape. I kept a high cadence and kept my pace right at 19mph. The only bad thing about the race – and perhaps I should expect this in any triathlon nowadays – was that there seemed to be some significant drafting going on. I had a guy on my wheel for four or five miles, and I couldn’t shake him. There were no course officials out, so no penalties were doled out. Oh well. Right before the turn he passed me and sucked the wheel of a girl up in front of me. Murphy’s law set in at the turn – they both hit a reflector thingie on the road and went down. I passed & dropped them. Had a little head wind on the way back, but nothing too serious. Finished the ride averaging 18.5 mph (:40:19 – 19th place out of 42). T2 went much more smoothly than T1. In and out in 1:06!
The run started OK. I got about 200 yards out of transition, and something didn’t feel right with my left shoe – looked down & the tongue was flipped over. I stopped, fixed it and took off again. The run was a very flat out & back. Hit the turnaround and felt great. I ended up finishing the 5k in 26:09 (8:25 pace), which was the fastest 5k time I’ve had in recent history. (20 years ago, I could run sub-18 minute 5k’s…the only way I’ll see a 5k that fast now is if I do it on my bike!). I had a strong kick and felt really good the whole way.
My overall time was pretty doggone slow at 1:21:04 (good enough for 6th in my AG and 19th overall), but it was a good training run nevertheless. Nice start to the racing season!