Wow, has it really been six months since I posted here? That length of time matches up to the length of time since my last race! Its been a few years since I had a six month break in racing. The difference between then and now is I didn’t stop training. What I did do, over the summer, was cut back a bit on mileage and focus on speed. We’ll see how that goes when the Miami Marathon rolls around but first up, TriRock Clearwater! I did this event 2 years ago and I really wanted to do it again this year.
I had a bit of a panicked moment when I discovered that packet pickup was all day on Saturday before the race but I would be in Gainesville for the Florida vs Vanderbilt game. Despite Competitor group saying there is no packet pickup on race day, they assured me I could go to Solutions and get my race packet. Since I live 45 – 60 minutes away from Clearwater, I decided to stay in a hotel overnight so I could get a little more sleep. This probably bought me all of about 30 minutes but I didn’t have to drive my car for an hour at 0-dark thirty, so there’s that. Race morning I got up, had my hotel coffee, and then rode my bike the 2.5 miles to transition to get set up. It was really about as stress-free a pre-race as I’ve had. The only bummer was that I woke up on Saturday with a slight cold and I still had it on Sunday. Nothing horrible but something to push through.
I always joke that my goal in the swim is to not drown. I really think its time to maybe get a little more serious here. My swim time was 36 minutes and I did it comfortably at that pace. And that pace is really pathetic. I was 12 out 14 in my division. On the bright side my swim endurance is great and where I used to feel like crap coming out of the water, that’s no longer the case. With my overall level of fitness, there’s no excuse for me to be going over 30 minutes on my swim at this point. Its time to make swim training more uncomfortable.
Cycling is why I got into triathlon a few years ago. I hadn’t ridden my bike for 5 or 6 years and I really missed it. I saw triathlon as a great excuse to get on the bike. But since I’ve been a runner now for so long, cycling wasn’t quite my strongest sport of the three. I think I can say, after my past 3 or 4 races, that’s no longer the case. My average speed on the bike has gotten faster almost every time I go out and race. This race was no exception. I’ve wanted to have a sub 1:15:00 split on the 40k leg for a while now and this race I did 1:13:59 which was good for 5th out 14 in my division. I felt absolutely great on the whole ride and came off feeling fresh.
This is where things have just not gone great for me in a few races now. In fact, the last time I had a really good run at a race was TriRock 2013. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite match that this year. To be fair, not only was I sick but the temperature & humidity was a huge factor this time around. It was scorching hot by the time I was halfway into the run which always has a terrible impact on me. I fought through it much better than I have in races past which I attribute to my smarter run training over the summer, letting me be more acclimated to the heat. A mediocre, but passable 1:06:15 finished off my day.
I did a pretty good job of getting in and out of transition. I’m not the world’s fastest at transition but the best I could realistically think I could do would be to cut a minute or two total off. I didn’t waste time in either T1 or T2 and the only thing I really wasted any time on was during T1 when I really fumbled switching my watch over to the bike. I plan to get a bike computer so I can leave my watch on which will save me some time. I also didn’t tie either of my shoes very well in T2 and had to stop and re-tie them. This was out of transition but definitely a waste of time. I could probably have saved a minute overall by fixing those problems. Not much but worth fixing!
Overall, I’m really happy with this race. I did as well as I could have hoped to do given my training level and the weather. I have two things I really have to focus on which are my run and my swim. The swim I just have to get faster. I don’t need to become the world’s best swimmer but if I can swim 1.5k in 30 minutes like I’m sure I’m capable of, that is going to improve my race significantly. When it comes to the run, I know what I can do on a 10k race. There’s no excuse for me to not at least run a 9 min/mile pace during an Olympic. If I can fix that and my swim, I could legitimately go for a podium spot. I don’t normally like to look at race times and play the what-if game, but in my age group at this race, if I had run even a modest 9:30, I would have come in 5th.
I’d definitely recommend TriRock Clearwater as a great race to get your first open water triathlon. Its just well run and a great course.