Last weekend was the Edinboro triathlon. It was my first ever crack at the olypmic distance and I was anxious to see how I did. The race wasn't a true olypmic as the distances were a little off (.75mile swim, 23.96 mile bike, 10k run).
In summary, I was able to turn a bad race into a good day of training. I had been on the tail end of a stomache virus all week so I hadn't been eating well and I was generally sore/run down from my IM training. So I went into this race without much expectations.
The swim started out awful. I seeded myself at the front of the first wave (39 and under athletes) and got penned in by 3-4 guys right off the bat. The guy in front of me was doing a breastroke kick every 10-15 seconds when he sighted, which jammed me up and got me stuck with the guy behind me. It was a good 200-300 yards before I could get around him and or out of the pack I was in. Saw that the lead pack was a good bit in front of me and me and one other guy set out on our own. The other guy was a slightly faster swimmer than me, but the dude could not hold a line to save his life. He'd be in front of me, with me drafting, then within a few seconds he'd be 10 feet to my left. I'd continue on straight then all of a sudden I'd get taken out by someone cutting across me from my left as this guy swereved to get back on course. Then he'd be off to my right and a few seconds later he'd come across again from that side. I wasn't quite quick enough to get by him so this was very frustrating! This continued for about the middle 3/4 of the race until he got way to my left and could finally see the beach and he made a straight line to the shore. Total swim time was 20:20, an awful 1:32/100 pace. Not at all good considering just last week I swam a 20:20 for 1,500 yards in the pool and my pace last fall for a HIM swim was 3 seconds per 100 faster.
Got out of the water and into T-1. Didn't have my Tri-shoes as I was having fit issues and was using my road shoes, so I didnt' leave them mounted to the pedals. This cost me as I had to put my shoes on then run with them on. Much slower than leaving them on the bike, IMO, but I didn't want to deal with trying to mess with putting my feet into my road shoes on the bike. 1:57 for T-1.
Once on the bike I decided to use the day as a HIM goal pace ride/run. My HR was high, it had been all week I think from not eating well/stomache issues, so I went by perceived exertion. I rode at a pace that I felt I could keep up for 56 miles. The course was slow at first as you went through some residential streets to the main road. Once on the main road it was a steady climb to the first turn, then long flat/downhill section and then returning with 5-6 of the last 8 miles all uphill. I passed several people on the first climb relatively easily, then proceeded on the flat section to cruise at a comfy pace more suited to a HIM ride than an olympic, again passing several people on the way. I passed one guy about 10 miles in that was working hard, a lot harder than me. As soon as I passed him he blew right back by me. The old roadie in me wanted to crush him but I thought, hey, this guy's red faced and probably in high zone 4 and he sounds like he's sucking air until there's no tomorrow and I'm out having an enjoyable ride. Lets see how long he stays in front of me. He only lasted about another minute before I blew back by him. I did get caught by one guy on the bike who got about 100 yards in front of me then just stayed there for the whole ride. In all it was a very comfortable pace for me and I felt like I could have held it all day. For nutrition I took one gel about halfway and one about 2 minutes or so before T-2. Total bike time was 1:02:30 for a 22.6 mph pace. All in all the bike course was not fast as the quickest time as a 59 something (from a guy that has a sub 9:30 Ironman)
T-2 was smooth and fast. Feet were out of the shoes after the last turn, rode the bike to the mat and hopped off for a 1:00 even T-2 (second fastest on the day).
The run. I have never been a runner and have never ran a stand alone 10k, so I had no idea what to expect. The run was an out and back on the same road as the bike. One steep hill coming out of the beach area, then steady uphill with some rollers then back down. Goal was to run at a HIM pace then, if I needed to in the last mile or so, hang on for position. First mile came at 7:30, right on cue. Same with miles 2 and 3. I didn't take any water at the first or second aid station and only a splash at the turn around. Got passed by two people, both working hard and running about 6:30 or faster paces. Neither were in age group and I was sticking to my goal of simlpy holding a HIM pace so I didn't try to stay with them. Crossed the line in 46:00 for a total time of about 2:12:32. Felt like a hard but comfortable run, and I was able to talk to people at the aid stations as I ran through, shout encouragement to my friends that were on their way out as I was on my way back on the run course and didn't feel too fatigued at all at the finish line. I think I could have held that same pace for another 6 -7 miles without too much trouble.
Ended the race with a smile on my face waving to the wife and kids as I crossed the line!
Ended up 16th out of 150 entrants, 5th in the 35-39age group (man this AG is tough!) All in all happy with the result considering I was doing a HIM pace with my effort and there were a lot of people working a lot harder than me out there, or at least from the looks on their faces as they finished looked like they were in a world of hurt!
So, while I had a goal time of 2:10 or below I was happy with my race. Considering the stomache issues, being sore/run down from training and an awful swim I feel I was still able to put a positive spin on the day and it gave me a great deal of confidence for the bike/run coming up at the Mountaineer Half in 3 weeks.
As for the olympic distance, it is a fun distance and I think it would be fun to race instead of the long steady IM pace.