Finally, some good results!
This is a race I did 2 years ago as my second ever race and I remembered it as a small, short fun event so I signed up for it again this year in hopes of a high finish and or placing in my age group, the ever competitive male 35-39.
The race is billed as a 1/4 mile swim, 7 mile bike and 5k run, but we later found out the run was changed to a 3k instead of 3.1 miles! I was also surprised that there were a lot of people here. Quite a few were not serious racers or on mountainbikes but there were still well over 250 starters, which is bigger than I'd remembered.
I was in the second wave as all males up to 35 years were off 5 minutes ahead of us. This kind of made me mad as it was going to be hard to see where I was in my ag/heat once we started catching the racers in the first wave. They did not mark ages on calves so I figured I'd just go as fast as I can and hope for the best once I lost track of who was in what heat.
Swim 4:52. I had the 4th fastest swim overall I think. It was 100 yards or so out to the first buoy, turn left go 200 or so yards then turn left at the last buoy and come the 100 yards or so back into shore. I went fast to the first buoy and got there first in my wave, made the turn with one guy wide to my right and 3-4 on my feet. The last few races I've done have all been longer races so I was used to going hard to the first marker then settling in. I did this and a couple of people got along side me then I realized this was a SHORT race and no time to settle in so I picked it up and came into T-1 with 2 other guys right beside me.
Bike 21:09. I had the 3rd fastest bike overall, the fastest only 39 seconds faster than me. I remembered from 2 years ago this was a rolling course. What I didn't remember was just how rolling and or twisty it was. There was literally only 2 stretches of road where you could be on your aero bars. With all the short steep climbs, fast descents and sharp turns a road bike would have been the way to go and the top finishers all were on road bikes. I definitely made a mistake with the tri bike and with a disc. I only got passed by one guy, the eventual winner, at about mile 3 just before the turn around. He had started next to me in the swim but was older than me so not in my age group. I had passed 10-15 people from the first heat and when I saw the leaders of the first heat coming back I noted where they were and my time. I knew I was at the time in second in my heat and wanted to know if I was gaining or losing on the people that started 5 minutes ahead of us. I was glad to see that when I got to that same point the split was about 4 minutes, so I knew at that time I had gained on all the people in the previous heat and as best I could tell I was in second place overall! I finished the ride, came into T-2 on the pedals, rode the bike right to the mat and had a good dismount.
Unfortunately, my string of bad luck this year would continue as running to my rack in bare feet I stepped hard on a piece of gravel in the parking lot that was being used as transition. I landed square on my heel on this small rock and it hurt bad.
Got through t-2 quickly, and headed out on the run prepared for a 5k.
Run time 9:30, about 10th best run. So the run was somewhere between 1.6 and 1.8 miles, as best anyone can tell! I started with a guy right beside me but he was someone I'd caught from the previous wave. The run is an out and back on a rolling paved bike path. Up the little hill out of transition I was easily able to drop the guy beside me and set my sights on the 2 runners about 50-100 yards in front of me. At this point I was pretty sure I was still 2nd or 3rd at worst overall. My heel was really pounding from the rock I landed on and I know it held me back a little but I just kept trying to keep gaining on the guys down the path. I hit the first 'mile marker' at about 3 minutes flat, so I knew something was wrong and maybe thought it was supposed to be the 1/2 mile marker. About a minute later I saw 2 younger guys from the first wave coming back already and thought, damn, if this is a full 5 k they are way ahead of me but I noted where they were and the time on my watch. About this time a tall, lanky guy from my heat was gaining on and caught me. Next thing I know about 5 minutes in we hit the run turn around! By now the guy that passed me is about 20-30 yards in front of me as I later found out he hit the turn around and gave it hell. At that point I did the same and went as hard as I could back trying to gain some distance back on him. I couldn't gain much on him, but he wasn't pulling away. I did however catch 2 more guys from the first heat and when I got to the point where I had marked the leaders of that heat only about 3 minutes had passed so I was pretty sure I was ahead of everyone in heat 1 and was pretty sure that put me in 3rd overall. I still am not sure how long the run was but I know we were going at a decent pace. My goal was a sub 20 minute 5k and I think I would have been easily on pace for that. One thing I thought kind of odd was that the guy that passed me for 2nd on the way back the run course was shouting to people that it was a really short run to pick it up! I thought 'hey, we didn't have that luxury, why are you telling people that now!" because I know had I known how short the run was I'd have gone out even harder to the turn around.
Finished the race with a good sprint with one guy from the first heat and we finished neck and neck, although it was nice knowing I was really 5 minutes ahead of him!
I was right ended up 3rd overall out of 233 finishers. I was just hoping for an ag placing and ended up with an overall podium spot, so I was really happy with that. Including me, like 5 of the top 10 finishers overall were in my 35-39 ag.
After talking to the guys that finished 1st and 2nd overall I was glad to hear that they do short olympic and sprint races mostly. The second place guy said he had really been training for short fast stuff. Given I'm still training for IM Wisconsin and haven't done a lot, if any, of short speed work I was really glad with my finish. Got a nice little trophy too! My heel is still sore and I have a nice black and blue spot where I landed, but otherwise 15 minutes after the race I barely felt like I'd done anything.
In retrospect I definitely could have rode a lot better on a road bike. It would have been easier on the short steep climbs, fast descents and maneuvering through the turns. For the run, obviously it was so short I should have gone harder and also not landed on that damn stone.