I arrived in plenty of time and registered on site, got my bike racked up and then headed out on the return part of the run course. I ran out along the course for 7 and a half minutes then headed back. The part of the course that I ran was flat as a pancake but I did notice some hills rising above the left side of the path. They looked menacing and I thought they may foreshadow what was to come on the bike. However even with those thoughts I was completely unprepared for what was to happen next!
I got back the start line in time to do six 75 meter strides to complete my warmup. I then dumped my pants and laced up my flats and was ready to go. It was crisp and cool with very little wind. There was not a cloud in the sky. In short it was a spectacular morning.
The 5K had a uneventful but retarded start. Imagine an intersection and everyone is lined up facing north, but the race is going west. Its incomprehensible why they did not line everyone up facing west. After all the road was closed. Weird.
We all stared with the immediate hard left hand turn. I lined up a few people back but within 400 meters I had worked my way past most of the slower runners. There was a gap of 15 meters to the next runner in front of me and there were only a handful of runners in front of that dude. And that's pretty much how we raced. I was all alone from that point on. No one passed me. And I passed one or two 5K runners on the last mile.
We ran along the roads for the first mile, then we turned into a park and then out into a neighborhood. The road took a 90 degree turn to the east and I was shocked at what I saw. It was a huge hill. No it was a mountain. The sun was coming up right over the top of it which highlighted the beast. For the first two thirds it was a hard grade. The last third was like a cliff. In all of my years of road racing, I had never seen anything this steep. Unreal. The hill was three hundred meters long with a rise of 100 feet. For your reading pleasure I submit exhibit A, the topo map for Mount MotherEffer.
Thank god for long legs, as I am sure I made excellent time going down the back side. It turns out that where I turned around on my warm-up was just before the massive freaking hill from hell. Unreal.
My 5K split was 18:22 much slower than Allen, but Allen was flat.
[Editors Note: I was obviously brane-dead when I originally wrote this sentence. My Allen 5K was 19:03. That's a 41 second improvement in a month. And Allen did not have a mountain climb in the middle of its very flat run. My running is improving quickly. Thank you coach Vaughan! I finished the Keller run in fifth position among the triathletes (remember there was a simultaneous Duathlon and 5K run.]
I had strategically placed my bike as close to the bike-out as possible - minimizing the amount of distance needed to run in my bike shoes. My T1 was 56 seconds, the next to worse time in the top ten. The top master did it in :31, so I'll need to work on the transition. That said, I was :15 seconds faster than Allen.
Like Allen the bike course was a double looped affair. Unlike Allen I could not see anyone ahead of me. And I could not see any marks on the road. Thankfully a girl in the Duathalon came up on me and I was happy to let her by hoping that she knew where she was going. After a short while another guy came up and so the three of us traded leads. Then this big dude came zipping by AND he had a 47 on his leg which meant I needed to make sure to stay with him since he was in my age group. Up until that point I was pretty sure I was leading our AG. And I did my best to stay with that dude, but he got away. However, just before we headed into the second loop, we hit another set of hills. This hill was shorter than the run hill but still very steep and Mr. 47 was not doing well - in fact he got off his bike and walked the top of it. I was on the small chain ring and the big gear in the back and I stomped my way to the top. It was tough - but I made it. Allow me to submit exhibit B. This mountain features a 70 foot climb in 240 meters.
I hammered the second loop as best as I could and sure enough when we hit those hills the second time there was at least one other person on foot. Wow. Somewhere in the second loop Mr. 47 got by me again.
I headed home and was ecstatic that I completed the bike without going off course. I completed the bike in 38:53. The Polar CS200CAD reported a max velocity of 33.6 MPH with an average cadence of 99 RPM and a max cadence of 119 RPM.
I got through second transition in 1:01. If I could stomach running with out socks, that would really improve my T2 time! Anyway, as I ran out of the transition I realized that I still had my blades on - so I chunked them in the weeds. Then I got my goggles on as ran to the pool - that was a huge improvement on Allen, where I jumped into the pool with the goggles in hand, only to discover I was in the deep end! DOH! After the goggles, I ripped off my shirt and then I realized I still had my number belt on too - so I unclipped that and dumped both by the door to the pool. So yes the image you should visualize is me running from the bike to the pool throwing my gear off Wily-Nily in all directions!
This time I had made sure to understand the entrance, egress and course layout for the pool. Unlike Allen this was a beautiful 50 meter pool with lanes that must have been 18 feet wide. OK they were not 18 feet wide, but they were really, really wide. The swim was down and back one lane at a time which was great - everyone in the lane was going the same direction. On my second length I passed my first swimmer. Then I got another just as I was being passed. We were swimming three wide and there was tons of room. Amazing. Love it. I got to the end, quickly got out and sprinted to to mat. My swim time was 7:49 much better than the 8:29 at Allen.
As I was collecting the gear that I had thrown hither and yon, I noticed Mr. 47 crossing the mat! He must of been one of the guys that I had passed in the pool.
I ended up with 1:06:59 compared to a 1:21:59 in Allen. More importantly I moved up from 31st to 10th overall, from 11th master to 3rd master, and from second in my age group to first (Mr 47 got second place). This was my first age group win and my first top 10 finish recorded during my short Triathlon career. I think I am on the right track!
Update April 3: My run was 41 seconds faster than Allen not slower as I had originally written. Duh!
All views expressed in this post and on this blog are my own. None of my comments should be construed to represent the views of others including and not limited to: BMC Software Inc., Corel Corporation, Dun and Bradstreet and AC Nielsen. Copyright Chris Hughes 2004-2012