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The TRI THE ROCK Triathlon was my third triathlon of the year. A 300m swim, 30km bike and 5km run. This was my first race since the birth of my son Jonathan in June. I had done very little running during the summer to let my hip injury from earlier in the year heal up. Instead I had concentrated on my bike, improving my 20km time trial time to 29:46 an average of 24.99MPH. My hip had been feeling better before this race but I figured that I would try and break the top 10 on the bike and see how things felt on the run. Initially my goals were a 5:30 on the swim, 45:00 on the bike and 25 something on the run.

I awoke at 4:30AM and realized that Jonathan had not gotten up for a feeding yet. It was a strange feeling actually getting up at 4:30AM because I wanted to and not because the baby was hungry. I quietly left the house and headed out to the race just before 5:00AM. As I approached the race site my bike time goals were changed as I saw the hills. The course looked very hilly. With this in mind I removed my pump, and several water bottle cages from my bike to avoid the weight since I wouldn't be needing them in the race.

After a long walk to the transition area I set my bike up and was ready to go. A quick look at the outdoor pool showed that it was a 25 yard pool, not metres. This would effectively reduce my time by 10 percent. Since I had signed up the day before I had been given a start time of around 6 minutes and thus was starting some 20 minutes after the first racers. I opted to lounge by the pool until it was time to start.

It was interesting watching the early racers. The first guy started breaststroking after 2 lengths. He had obviously misjudged his swim time. Also people began walking near the end of the pool for the last few laps which seemed odd. Once I started I quickly passed two people in front of me and then settled into a good rhythm considering it was my first swim since my previous race in June. As I reached the edge of the pool where others had been walking I realized why, the pool was only 3 feet deep there which made it impossible to go under the buoy lines. I finished the rest of the laps without being passed or passing anyone either. Total time 5:21 under my goal but a bit slow after taking into account the 10 percent reduction in distance because of the pool length.

T1 took 2:21 which included a long run up several sets of stairs from the pool to the transition area. After mounting my bike it took what seemed like a very long time to get my cleats clipped in during which two people passed me. Once clipped in I was off and quickly passed the two who had gotten by me but I noticed some rattling on my bike. I wasn't sure what was causing it so at the next turn I pulled over to check things out. Nothing seemed wrong so I chalked it up to the brickwork I had been biking over. At this point I been passed again by the same to people so with some renewed vigor I passed them for good.

The course was on some pretty rough roads except for a 6 mile stretch in the middle. It had a number of rolling hills which made it pretty enjoyable. The skies were overcast and there was a slight breeze so for August in Texas it was a perfect day for biking. I checked out the numbers of the competitors as I passed them and near the end I was passing people with start numbers in the 50s meaning that I had made up over 10 minutes on them. After missing the last turn I slowed as I hit the transition and finished the bike with a time of 51:40 for an average speed of 22MPH over the 18.9 mile course. It was slower than I had hoped for but not bad considering the hills.

T2 took a mere 30 seconds and then I was off on the run. Thankfully the start was downhill so my legs easily got into the rhythm. I prepared myself to get passed by all the good runners but other than one guy who eased on by I only got passed by 3 people in the first half of the run. The run was extremely hilly and reminded me more of the Escape from Alcatraz race in San Francisco than a race in Texas. My hip was feeling good and I hit the half way mark in 14:00. I was shooting for a negative split so I cranked things up and realized that I was actually closing in on another runner. I finally caught him around the 3 mile mark and I cranked things up for the finish. Feeling pretty good I completed the run in 26:56 and a total time of 1:26:55

I hung around for a while watching the other racers coming in and realized that I had finished a pretty good race. As it turns out I was right. Overall my bike was the 5th fastest split meeting my goal to be in the top ten (which means that my wife will now let me by some aero wheels if I want them :) and my time was good enough for 6th out of 27 in my age group just 2 minutes out of a medal, and 17th overall. This is my best placing in a race to date which makes me wonder if the top racers didn't show up since there is a big Olympic race with cash prizes in another 2 weeks. At any rate it was a fun race and has proved that my bike training has paid off.

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