Sunday, I did my first triathlon of the season. In fact, it was my first race of the year since the biathlon in March.
Because it was so short—1/3 mile swim, 10 mile bike, and 5K run—it was a pretty chill race for me. And that’s good, because, all things considered, if I’d put a lot of mental energy into it, I would probably have been disappointed.
After the longest winter and latest spring ever, the last 10 days or so have been ridiculously warm and beautiful, which warmed the water up 8-10 degrees in a week… all the way up to 61°F (16°C). This morning’s air temperatures were in the 70s, and we were all sweltering in our wetsuits while waiting for our chance to enter the water.
I had a really good time in the swim (8:12, or about 1:35/100 yards) and it probably could have been a bit faster if I’d swum a little straighter and tried harder to draft. I didn’t really feel super-competitive today and was more interested in just having a good time. Also I wasn’t feeling very well. (The reason why will become obvious later.)
I headed out for the bike with the early part of my wave—after being cheered on by my sometimes training partner Katrina, who was volunteering at the bike mount line—and was making good progress through the field. My heart rate stayed high, as I never really tried hard to settle into a long-distance pace. Even though I was out to have fun, I still wanted to race as fast as I could. I love it when I feel like I can do both. The winter was not kind to the roads, which had a large number of potholes and patches that needed repaving. I missed most but managed to hit a softball sized divot squarely while (fortunately) slowing for a turn midway through the ride. This caused my handlebars to wrench downward to the point where it would not be safe to ride my bike at all. I pulled onto the sidewalk just around the corner, got out my multitool, adjusted the handlebars, and was back on my way, having lost about a minute and a half back to all of the people I had just passed. I finished the hilly course in a respectable 33 minutes.
(Loud Guy, who last year accused me and a fellow rider of drafting, was there again this year and within the first two miles was already having loud, angry words about drafting with someone passing him as they both went by me. What a clown! I thought about him a few miles later when it was pretty obvious that someone was sucking my wheel. After a few checks behind me, I gently suggested, “If you’re going to pass, now is a good time,” and that was all it took to get him to fall back. See, Loud Guy? That’s how you do it.)
Before the race I had told Lisa that I really like the Season Opener run course because it’s hilly and hard and partly off-road. It can be totally demoralizing. Other people I’ve talked to don’t like it, but that just makes it better for me. As I ran out of transition, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to like or dislike this year’s run. I was feeling sluggish and tired and hot. I was, however, steadily picking off people on the uphills and the flats and blitzing the downhills.
It wasn’t my fastest time ever, but it got the job done at 1:09:21 for 8th out of 24 in my age group and 126th out of 370 overall. (I would have jumped up about 20 spots without stopping for the repair on the bike or needing to call a volunteer over in T2 to rack someone’s bicycle which had fallen into my space.) My blood sugar picked up right where it left off last tri season, going very high during the bike and run. The 411 mg/dL (22.8 mmol/L) that I saw afterward explains a lot of the unpleasant/blah feelings and lethargy of the race. This is (frustratingly) different than what happens when I swim or ride my bike or run when it’s not part of a race. Clearly I have some things to figure out and try out in the races leading up to Ironman Wisconsin. Hopefully I’ll get there.
Mechanical issues, bad diabetes mojo, and transition shenanigans notwithstanding, I had fun. I love racing, and I love that Lisa comes out to support me. She’s a sweet girl. She wore her bright orange “Team Jeff” T-shirt, and I took the opportunity to ham it up for her camera a bit. (This is how I know I could have raced harder if I’d wanted to.)
This morning I was back at the pool, with my second recovery week behind me and only 18 more weeks until the Ironman. Tomorrow I will post some of Lisa’s pictures.