First thing first - I made a significant change to my swim stroke quite literally the night before the race. I swam a bit Friday night, did some fast 25s, and decided to give it a shot at the race. Well two minutes into the swim my arms were exploding - the muscular stress of the stroke was totally different. So basically the swim felt like death. BUT, I swam 11 seconds faster than last year. My hope is that with some adaptation time (more than, you know, 20 minutes worth), I may stumble across some decent time gains in the water. Time will tell.
To get a sense of where my mind was on the bike, you need to understand what I expected from this race, which was basically that I might be looking at a solo time trial. I hadn't seen Bob Wolter on the start list (which I found strange - Chaska is his hometown race), so I was a bit surprised when I saw him in transition before the race. And then I completely freaked out when he came past me up a hill just 4 miles into the bike. A few choice words started screaming in my head (words like "Jeepers" and "Golly") and I had to dig HARD over the top of the hill to keep the gap close. But then a funny thing happened - I started going down the other side of the hill faster than Bob. Usually when I'm riding with someone, I always go uphill faster and downhill slower. But the exact opposite was happening with Bob. He took 45 seconds back in the first 3.5 miles, which are basically all uphill. Luckily, I was able to settle in after he caught me, and we must have traded the lead some 15 times over the last 12 miles of the ride. The only thing I was ever able to do with that lead was float lamely out in front until he went back around, but at least I wasn't getting dropped.
|My last mile coming down this thing was my fastest since high school.|
We hopped off the bike side-by-side and I had 4 or 5 seconds heading out of T2. Quick side note about Bob - he has been getting noticeably better for each of the last few years, and I had no idea what that would mean for his run. It had me worried though, especially because I wasn't sure how my legs would respond. I made the quick decision to take the run out slow so I'd be able to see how Bob would react. He caught me within a minute and simply planted himself behind me. I let the pace drag and he made no effort to go around, so I figured he wasn't going to be able to outrun me when I decided to go for it. We made it about ninety percent of the way up the massive hill that is the first mile of the run before I started accelerating a bit. I opened up a few strides advantage coming over the top and ended up going pretty close to full gas the rest of the way in. I ended up putting a minute into Bob and finishing in a course record 1:06:37.
A note on that time - last year my converted time (half mile shorter bike) was about forty seconds slower than my effort today. I also held back a little last year, honestly about forty seconds worth, because I was trying to conserve energy to race again the next day. Point is, this race would seem to indicate that I am in very much the same shape as I was last year at this time. That I've managed to do it on something like 1 swim, 0 bike, and maybe 4 run "workouts" this entire year leaves me cautiously optimistic that a lot of potential remains to be untapped over the next year and beyond.
Final thought from the race. After two weeks of badgering, my friend Olivia caved to peer pressure and registered for Chaska (her first tri) right before the deadline. Olivia comes from a swimming/track/cross country/nordic skiing/soccer star background. I told her she could win the thing, which she did, but even I was surprised by how fast she was. She killed it! Now the hope is that she's hooked and we can talk her into a few more of these things.
|It took one of these people over fifty attempts to win a tri.|
It took the other exactly one.
Chisago sprint next week. I managed to wait 46 weeks between races and now this next one looks like an eternity.....