So be sure when you step. You step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tempe International, Take Number 3

After crunching in a single yet satisfying speed workout, and 4 swims, into last week, I felt confident about this event.  After struggling in my two previous races, this was going to be THE race that did not suck.  Really, that was my main goal – not to suck.  Of course, I preferred to place overall or snag a PR, but at some point, you get desperate and just hope for a decent outcome.

There was quite of bit chatter in the morning about some out-of-state college elites that “ran a 17 minute 5K off the bike.”  They sounded stupendous, if not super-human, and dissolved any hopes I had about placing in the top 3.  But, I was okay with that – it did not affect my primary goal of not sucking.

I warmed up and, like every year, the race started late.  This year, it started an HOUR late.  As my body cooled-down, the race adrenaline started to dissipate.  And so did my motivation.

Eventually the race did start though and in the brutal swim start, I found myself awakened as I tried to swim through a sea of bodies and flailing limbs (as shown at Minute 1):

Although wetsuits were legal, it was not worth the hassle for only 400 meters.  Instead, I borrowed my friend’s neoprene speed suit.  It was less buoyant than a wetsuit but it did help a little – since I naturally sink when I swim, I need all the help I can get.  I felt like this was the first time I really raced the swim…every time I saw a pink swim cap, I pushed to pass it.  After 200 meters, I finally escaped the pack and I was actually able to swim a little.  And then, the swim ended.

We had to run up a long ramp to get to transition.  I managed to pass a few women.

But once in transition, I struggled to get the speed suit off – T1 felt like an eternity. 
But in reality, it was faster than last year:  1:03.

The first few minutes on the bike were slow.  I had a little container of apple-cider vinegar and it took some skill to remove the lid while keeping on hand on the bike.  But, I swallowed quite a bit of lake water and was relying on the vinegar to save me.

And it did!  I had not a single stomach issue, not even a single fart, for the rest of the race.

The bike was good – same course as last year.  My time was a few seconds slower but that is negligible.  It was the third fastest bike split.  I am pleased.

I rushed in T2, resulting in my best transition ever:
56 seconds.  

The run began with a long descent down a staircase.  And then up a little hill and around a corner.  Once completing these obstacles, I passed the girl I was chasing.  I passed a second girl about a half-mile later.  After that, I didn't see any other females.  I passed plenty of dudes…somewhere during Mile 2, I zoned out.  Keeping focus has been one of my racing challenges.  Last year, I had a competitor who raced me during the entire run, pushing me to run my hardest, and get the fastest female run split.  This year, I ended with the third fastest split – and a mediocre time.  There was a second staircase in the race (I do not remember that from last year?) and I am convinced the course is long – no female broke 21 minutes.  So needless to say, no one ran that alleged 17-minutes.

Final times, results and comparisons:

Swim:  Last year – 9:26 (not much training, no speed suit)
            This year – 7:15

Bike:  Last year – 33:49 (22.1 mph)
          This year – 34:02 (22 mph)

Run:  Last year – 20:26
          This year – 22:04 (ouch)

Final:  Last year – 1:05:58, 2nd overall
          This year – 1:05:26, 4th overall

I was 20 seconds away from third place – one of the downsides of a waved start is that you don't know this.  Could I have ran 20 seconds faster?  Sure.  But, I didn't.   HOWEVER, I did not suck – so I walked away with success and even more importantly, with my first PR of the year. 

It may not be a mind-blowing PR but I will take whatever I can get.

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