Capitol of Texas Triathlon - one of the biggest Olympic distance events in Texas (according to the propaganda) was held in Austin on May 25, 2008. It was my first Olympic. We arrived in Austin yesterday about 1pm or so and spent about an hour in line to pick up my packet. We then attended the rules seminar and the race course seminar, checked in the bike, cruised the Expo and then decided it was time for dinner.
The alarm went off at 4:15 this morning. Ouch. We were staying about 20 minutes from the course and with 2500 participants, 1500 in the Olympic, 700 in the sprint and 300 in the First Tri, I wanted to get a good parking place so I wouldn't have to hike miles after the race. Yeah, yeah, I know...I am an athlete - walk....but I will have just covered about 30 miles under my own power and to save a few more footsteps would be nice. So we got over to the site and scored a very close spot to leave the vehicle. Got transition set up and then wetsuited up for the swim.
When I walked out on the launch dock yesterday, it seemed they had put the turning buoys way to far down the lake....you could barely see them. Well, not to worry, they will move them into position by morning. Not really, see, this morning they were still two bridges away. Yes, two bridges -- note to self, watch the pilings when you go under the bridge. The pros went off pretty close to 7 and I was in the third wave (this ultimately turned out very good as it just kept getting hotter). So it was national anthem, pros in the water and before you know it I was bobbing in Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) getting ready to swim about a mile. It would be my longest open water swim yet. The gun goes off and me and about 150 of my closest friends get after it...bumping, smacking, pushing, grabbing, none of it intentional, just part of the process. I think it is really pretty cool. Soon you are out of the washing machine and just stroking your way up the lake. I am fortunate to swim pretty straight so I don't have to sight all that much and before I knew it, I was looking at the turn buoy - make a right here and another right about 100 yards further up and head back toward the starting area, make the right at that turn buoy and then arms are grabbing you to help you stand up and get out of the water. One interesting tidbit, on the return trip my left hand contacted something really hard about 18-24 inches underwater. Looking down, I was pulling myself over a block of concrete, looked like some kind of footing or piling for an old bridge or dock or something. Let me tell you, it was startling.
I had made the decision to walk the transitions ahead of time. As I moved into transition, they had us racked as far as physically possible from the bike out. No biggie, just more walking in my cycle shoes. I sat down to put on my cycle shoes and immediately got a cramp in my left hammy and calf. So I took some time and walked it out a little and massaged it some to try to make it feel better. Surprisingly, I never felt it again but it did slow down my transition.
The bike was a 4 lap ride. Yeah, 1500 Oly athletes on a 4 loop course....there WILL be drafting - no option. Someone said they had calculated that there was not arithmetic way that all those bikes could be in proper position on the course at one time. Needless to say, my third and fourth laps were really crowded. Less than 5 minutes into the ride, my Aero Bottle's velcro strap that holds it in the bracket came loose and out of the bracket. I almost lost the bottle and held it in with my left hand for a couple of minutes and then realized I was going to have to stop and fix it. Bummer, it cost me some time but I could not have held it the entire ride. That would have been miserable. The ride was really fast for me, over 19 miles per hour average. I also lost my little yellow bottle stopper thingy and also my electrolyte replacement pills so that really sucked as much fluid as I lost today. I paid for the lost of the electrolytes later and learned to have some spares in transition but they were gone today. All in all, even with the stop, this was a great ride for me.
About 2/3 of the way into the ride, I knew I would have to make a pit stop in T2. So I racked the bike, grabbed the hat and race belt, changed shoes, made a pit stop and started on the 10k run in blistering sun.
At that time, I was at about 2 hours racing and I entertained some thought of a 3 hour Oly debut. Then my body reminded me it was about 1000 degrees with 250% humidity...it would be a slow run. It was a 2 lap run course with several aid stations. They added one or two yesterday due to the weather to the ones already planned. At one aid station, at Jack and Adam's Bike Shop, they were not only serving water and ice, they had the garden hose out and would hose you down as you ran by...that was great. Part of the run course also got you into downtown so you had a little shade from the buildings. The run was pretty grueling but all in all was uneventful, just hot and long.
So the final times were:
My take: I was slow in the transitions but with the cramp and the pit stop I guess I was okay. The run was painfully slow - I have always been slow but I think even with the conditions I could or should have gone faster. On the flip side, I was very pleased with my swim and bike.
I ended up toward the bottom of my age group which is fine, there are some very fast people in Austin and I was glad to be there and to play. I was ranked 833 overall out of approximately 1500 and I am cool with that too. I had originally said anything between 3:30 and 3:45 would have been okay with me. After the bike, I dreamed of 3:00 for about 8 seconds and then came back to reality. Looking at 3:15 seemed a little more reasonable so that became my target. All in all, I was really pleased with my time. There are always going to be those who are faster than me but I can honestly say I don't think there is anyone who enjoys the experience more. It hurts, sure, but I try to take in every moment and I encourage you to do the same. We really are lucky to be able to do this.
This is a very well run, large triathlon. It was a blast and I will definitely do it again. My compliments to the race director and all of his volunteers. After a rain out last year, they rallied beautifully to run an exceptional race today in spite of the conditions. It would have been nice to have a more spread out bike course, it got really crowded, but the urban nature of this event is really cool.