I had been looking forward to what might be my last triathlon of the 2000
season for a while. However a nagging foot injury that I got three
weeks prior to the race refused to improve even with icing and almost
no running. My original expectations for this olympic distance race (1.5km
swim 42km bike and 10km run) were to finish in around 2:40-2:45 and
if things went well maybe even 2:30. With only a week left before my
race I opted for no running and an extended taper to try and let my foot
The night before the race my wife and I had supper with a coworker at the office. It turned out that they had some friends visiting that evening from Austin. Heather was planning to do the race the next morning and her friend Narsi (sp?) had come to watch. We had an awesome supper and visit with them. We all left fairly early around 9:30 to get some rest before the race.
Race morning came too early as usual. I got up just before 5:00am and had a shower and a bowl of cereal. My wife soon joined me and by 5:20am we were on the road. We arrived at the race site just before 6:00am and I proceeded to unpack my stuff and get my bike ready. It was a little difficult in the dark but things went fairly well (I must remember to add a flashlight to my race checklist). Even at 6:00 it was pretty muggy outside. Dallas had cooled off the week before the race into the low 90s but the humidity at 6:00 suggested that it might heat up again. By 6:20 my wife and I started towards the transition area with all of my stuff. We couldn't find the camera which I couldn't remember packing so we were a little disappointed.
Setting up my transition area went pretty quickly. I met Heather as she was setting up her bike. Charles from Dallas also stopped by and said hello. With my transition area ready Michelle and I headed back to the car so that I could grab the last of my race gear. Now that the sun was up we were able to see the camera in the back seat where I had packed it the night before. We both headed back to the start area for the pre-race meeting where we meet up with Heather and Narsi. We grabbed some pictures and then Heather and I got ready for the start while Michelle and Narsi headed of to watch. Since Heather and I were in the same wave we got into the water together and lined up near the back.
The swim was two 750m laps. After the first lap we would exit the water, run through the start chute and repeat the swim. My goal was to keep the swim under 35 minutes and hopefully around 30 minutes. I decided to keep an easy pace and try to keep long strokes. I stayed to the outside of the main pack and out of the crush. I reach the first bouy with little contact and stayed wide as I rounded the corner. I headed for the next bouy and kept pace with the pack around me keeping my strokes relaxed. I was soon rounding the final bouy and heading for shore. I could see a steady stream of people in front of me as I sighted and could see some of the people around me from the previous wave. I soon hit bottom and walked the last few metres to the exit ramp. A quick check of my watch showed 13:40 well under my goal pace. I slowly jogged my way around the start chute and with a quick check of my goggles I was back in the water on the second lap. People were much more spread out on the second lap and I found my self swimming a little off course. I was able to round both bouys with no contact with anyone else and was again heading back to shore. I went a little off course and reached shallow water a little sooner than I expected. I had to wade 30 metres or so until I reached the exit ramp. Total swim time 30:24. Pretty much on target. I jogged to my bike and got my jersey, socks, cleats, helmet and sunglasses on. As I jogged out I saw that Heather's bike was still on the rack. I could also see that a good number of bikes were already gone. Time for T1 2:36.
After a relaxed swim my legs felt good on the bike immediately so I quickly sprinted up to cruising speed. The bike course was a 'P' shape with a repeat of the loop at the top of the 'P' The course was pretty flat except for a slight hill on the last out and back at the bottom of the 'P'. My goal for the bike was to beat my previous time on this course of 1 hour 18 minutes. Since I wasn't sure of how my foot would handle the run I decided that I would push a little harder on the bike. I had also decided to try drinking my own 'Gatorade' mix instead of just water. I had tried one bottle during my long bike the week before and it had worked out well so I figured that two would be even better. (Hmmm trying something new one race day. I should have remembered this was not wise) I passed numerous riders on my first loop. There wasn't to much wind and I was able to cruise anywhere from 20-25 MPH. The number of people in front of me thinned a little on the second lap and a couple riders from a later wave eased on past me. I tried to keep them in sight and chased two of them for the rest of the race.
As I neared the end of the second loop I finished my first bottle of juice and started on my second. By this time I was really wanting some water instead. With nothing else to drink however I continued to guzzle my juice. As I started the final out and back at the base of the 'P' I saw Michelle and Narsi waiting on the median. I called out and waved hello. The wind started to pick up and my legs began to tire. As I climbed the only real hill on the course I could see my speed slowing as I hit 18 then 17 then 16 MPH. My legs were beginning to tire and I was starting to crave some water as I finished off some more juice.
I soon reached the final turn around an with a tailwind I cranked it up to 28MPH for most of the way back to the transition area. I was able to catch up with some of the riders I had been chasing. A quick glance at my watch showed that I was going to be pretty much around the same time as my last race. (After adjusting for a slightly longer course my time was actually about 2 minutes faster) As I turned back into the park towards the transition area I waved again at Michelle and Narsi who were now waiting for Heather. I was leapfrogged by one of the riders I had passed as I entered the park. I couldn't let this happen so I speed up and passed him on the next corner as I sped towards the finish. As I reached the transition I got out of my cleats and slowed. A quick jog got me back to my rack where I met Charles who had finished the bike leg for his relay team. He congratulated me as I headed towards the start of the run. Time for the bike 1:15:01
As I exited the transition area I tested my foot and it seemed a little sore. Since I was thirsting for water I stopped and downed two cups (probably not a great idea). Refreshed I started my run. Almost immediately I started to get some major cramps. My choice of only having juice on the bike was striking back. I hobbled on for a minute or so and then opted for a short walk. The run started with around a quarter mile loop that ended near the finish line. Then the course curved away from the finish to do a second loop of about a mile. The rest was an out and back through the park. Since the first loop ended around the transition area there were a lot of people hanging around. It was very tempting to just stop and take my first DNF. With this in mind I did a quick systems check. My foot was not feeling that bad so if I did quite it would be primarily due to my cramps. Since that was not due to an injury I figured that it wasn't a good enough reason. Besides my wife was expecting me on the run. I decided that I couldn't be seen walking by the finsh line so I sucked it up and began my hobble/jog past the crowds and was able to keep it up until the first aid station about half a mile away. I fought the cramps until just past the aid station when I opted to walk again for a while. I checked my watch, five minutes for around half a mile a quick calculation showed that I was headed for a very slow 6.2 miles. After a minute of walking I started my gimpy run again. My cramps finally felt better but I kept it slow to avoid another incident. I hit the mile mark in just over 11 minutes. The slowest mile I have ever run in a race. I was feeling pretty slow but a quick check of my foot showed that all systems were still a go. I had now run further in the past 11 minutes than I had in the previous three weeks. With that thought in mind I continued on and decided that I would only walk at the aid stations.
By this time I had been passed by a lot of people. As I neared the mile and a half mark I saw someone who had just passed me start to walk. I figured that this might be my chance to catch someone. I plodded on but didn't gain much ground before he started to run again and pull away from me. I soon reached the next aid station where I grabbed a drink and walked until it was finished. More people passed me but I had reached a state of equilibrium. My cramps were gone and as long as I kept the pace fairly slow my left foot was agreeing to continue without much complaint. The second mile marker arrived and a look at my watch confirmed my fears. I was in fact slowing down. Almost 23 minutes for just two miles. Over a minute and half longer than my 5km PR. Off in the distance I could see the turnaround over 2 miles away on the top of a dam. It looked awfully far and I thought again about how nice it would be to stop. However since my foot was putting up with things I decided that I could continue. Several minutes later I saw Michelle and Narsi walking back towards the finish. I gave a weak wave and told Michelle that things were so-so Cheered by seeing her I plodded on determined to see her at the finish.
The next aid station was at the start of the dam. I grabbed some more water and looked ahead for the turnaround about a mile down the road. All I could see was a steady stream of people heading out and returning, and all of them seemed to be moving faster than me. I was now over 35 minutes for just 3 miles. There was no shade along the dam and it was starting to get very hot. I tried again to keep up with a group of people as they passed me but the increased pace soon caused my foot to protest and I opted to slow down. After a few minutes I saw someone ahead start to walk. He had a knee brace on and looked pretty tired. With a burst of energy I ambled on past and was pleased to have finally passed someone. The turnaround seemed to take forever to arrive and I was glad for the water that I received there. After a few moments of walking I was back on the home stretch with just over 2 miles to go.
Just after the 4 mile marker I saw Heather coming towards me. We greeted each other and then continued on. By now I was starting the feel the heat but another systems check showed that the gut was doing well and as long as we went at half pace my foot was agreeing to continue. I soon came upon a person bent over on the side of the road. I asked him if he was okay and he replied 'No I'm not feeling very good' I wasn't sure what to do so I figured I would tell the next volunteer I saw about him. Just after I passed I heard him cleansing his stomach. Yummy ;) Pass number two completed. At least I wasn't in the worst shape on the run. I reached the four mile mark in 46 minutes and knew that I wasn't going to beat an hour on the run. I figured that I still had a shot at breaking 3 hours overall though. At the next aid station I poured some water over my head and felt a little better.
I kept looking for the 5 mile marker but never did see it. I could tell that I was still slowing down and I was waiting to see when Heather would catch up. Just after the final aid station I heard her call out. She asked if I wanted to run into the finish with her but due to my foot I opted out. She speed up and was looking pretty good as she rounded the final corner towards the finish. I saw the 6 mile marker and I knew that I was pretty close to three hours. I wanted to speed up but I also didn't want to crash this close to the finish so I just kept my pace. As I neared the final hundred metres I could hear the now familiar sound of footsteps from people coming up behind me. Some people begain to cheer for them and a lady ran out to pace a lady in the group to the finish. After being passed by more people than I could count I was tired of letting people cruise on by. I decided that I was not going to let these people pass. I began to speed up. I made a quick deal with my foot to ignore pain for a few moments and with that deal done I continue accelerating. I could sense the group dropping away from me as I speed up to almost sprinting speed. As I entered the finish chute I could see that I was just under three hours and I eased up a little and began a shuffle hop as my foot let me know the deal was now off since I was pretty much done. Just a few seconds later I was across the finish line in 2:59:38.
Overall I had a decent swim for me of 30:24. My bike was a couple of minutes faster than my previous time on this course good enough to put me in 72nd place out of 305 after the bike. Then there was the run. 1 hour 10 minutes and 50 seconds over 20 minutes longer than previous times at this distance one of the 50 slowest times in the race. Overall I ended up 31/44 in my age group and 182 out 305 overall. With a respectable run I would have moved up a number of place. With a decent run I would have a really good race. Overall though I was pleased with my effort and results. I also have a very good chance of beating my PR at this distance next time.