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Athens is the first triathlon of the season in the north Texas area. It usually draws a pretty good crowd of athletes for the 300m swim, 12 mile bike and 3 mile run. The race follows a time trial start based on swimmers estimated swim times. Due to my late entry I ended up not being seeded and instead was placed at the end after all the other swimmers. Knowing that I would have to fight through a lot of slower swimmers disappointed me somewhat but I was excited to see how my winter running would help my run time.

My wife, my 8 month old son and I left around 6am for the race in Athens about 2 hours away from Dallas. We arrived in plenty of time and Michelle fed Jonathan his breakfast while I signed in and got my stuff ready.

After waiting a while the race began just after 9:00am. With a start number of 437 I had over an hour to wait until I would need to get into the pool. I took the opportunity to watch the first bunch of people head through the transition area. It was cool outside (high 40s to low 50s) with a strong north wind. It was fun watching all the different people and how they tried to speed up their transitions. It confirmed in my mind that leaving your shoes clipped to your bike is only a good idea if you have practiced a lot. After watching a number of near collisions I headed back into the pool area to wait with my wife and my now napping son.

An hour after the first swimmer started I finally got into the water. I was fortunate to be the fourth swimmer of the unseeded group. They waited three minutes to let some of the slower swimmers get ahead of us and then we were off. Within a couple of lengths I passed the two swimmers in front of me. As I neared the next swimmer he moved to the right. I figured that he was letting me pass. Instead he was going around a backstroker who saw me and also headed to the right. Expecting a major collision I sprinted to the left and made it past without incident. My wife saw the pass and said that there was also a swimmer coming in the opposite direction at the same time meaning that there were 4 people abreast at one time in one lane. With this pass made I had clear lanes for the final two lengths to the finish. I exited the pool a little slower than the previous year with a time of 5:40.

I complete the first transition in a speedy 1:11. Since I had felt pretty warm while watching the earlier athletes I opted to not put my jersey on to save time. I clipped in and began to accelerate. As I changed gears to the big ring I dropped my chain. As I slowed to a stop to fix it I turned my cranks backwards inadvertently wrapping the chain around itself. A 10 second fix turned into over a minute long struggle as I had to put the bike on the ground to finally get the chain back on. With some disgust I put the problem behind me and continued on my bike. The course was fairly rough for the first several miles and I cruised by a lot of slower riders. It was actually a little disconcerting as I found myself going 5-10 MPH faster than any of the riders around me. As I returned to the transition area the cold weather began to numb my hands a little so I decided to not try and take my cleats off before the transition area. I then finished the bike and headed into T2 a little bit chilled with a time of 35:38.

In T2 I fought off a cramp in left leg as I tried to get my shoes on. After stretching it out I limped out with a very slow transition time of 1:45. I quickly got up to speed on the run and continue to pass a lot of people. There were only a couple that eased on past me just after the turnaround. After fighting a pretty strong wind I sprinted to the finish in a time of 22:50 for an overall time of 1:07:07

Overall I ended up 47th out of 420 people. In my age group I ended up 10th out of 50. I was a little disappointed with my result at first since I hadn't felt mentally sharp. It was also hard to pace myself because I started so late in the race. I am used to biking and running with faster people that push me on a bit more. Dropping my chain on the bike and cramping in T2 didn't help my feelings either. However after reflecting on my results I find that I felt like I still had more left after the race which was a good thing. If I hadn't dropped my chain I would have been in the top 10 overall on the bike, and if I had been mentally a little sharper I could have shaved a good amount of time off of my race. Overall given the circumstances I was pretty pleased with my start to the season.

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