Before I break down the segments of the race I want to first say Thank You to all of you for your well wishes leading up to race day, then during race day and all the congratulations after the race. It means so much and truly helps to know that you are all there to support me.
My biggest thanks goes to my wife, Karen, for her never ending support and selflessness to allow me to lead this lifestyle that finds me awake at 3am and training and then away for a few days to race. She is always encouraging me and even suggests destinations for train-cations. Her support is incredible and I can only hope to give her back one half of what she gives me.
Thank you for reading my race report.
The CapTexTri took place on Memorial Day which was a Monday. This alone caused me to be anxious. I had a rest day on Saturday and I was so jealous of everybody on Twitter saying they were going to go out for a training ride/run or racing. I finally decided to take a nap to just try and kill the time of the day.
When Sunday rolled around I was out the door to do a 30 minute ride and a a 15 minute run to get the legs warmed up then it was in the car for 4 hours down to Austin.
I made great time down there and was at the Expo around 1pm. This expo was so much better than the expo at 70.3 Ironman California. There were local bicycle shops and the usual suspect as well. It was great and I was fortunate to run into Coach while there.
We started chatting about everything regarding the race. Temperatures of the water for the swim as well as the temperatures during the ride and run. We discussed not using the aero helmet because of the temps and that it would not help me much because it was a loop course. The temperatures were going to be in the mid-90s so we discussed salt tabs and electrolytes and how to get them in me. The last thing we talked about were the scabs that I had on my shoulders from the new tri-suit. Solution was Tri-Slide.
As I walked around the Expo I found some salt capsules as well as Tri-Slide and so there was no need to go to the local bike shop for these items. Before I left the expo I met with Tri-Clips. Neil and Amanda are amazing people who just raced IMTX and did great. I said goodbye and went to Hooters. Yes, I did and I had more water than the waitress wanted to pour. I also ordered fried pickles figuring the pickles would have enough sodium to help me retain the water I was consuming.
I drove to my friend Robert’s place which is about 15 minutes away. I met up with his girlfriend and chatted for a bit then she and her mother were off. I sat on the couch for almost two hours before realizing I needed to eat. I also needed to find some coffee. Robert’s girlfriend had told me about Target around the corner and so I decided a nut butter and jelly sandwich would do while I would also get coffee, snack bags (more on this later), and bottled water.
As I turned into the parking lot I saw Freebirds. Freebirds is similar to Chipotle in that you go down the line and order your fillings for the burrito. I ordered a veggie burrito that wound up being HUGE. Took my belongings and headed back to the apartment. I ate my burrito, took two salt capsules and drank what amounted to almost 2 liters of water.
Up at 3:30am and ready to rock and roll. I ate a bowl of granola with a banana and peanut M&Ms in it. Had a cup of Via coffee and 320z of water. I packed two slices of bread and an extra GU to put into water before the race.
On the way to the transition area all of downtown Austin seemed closed and I had no clue how to get to the bike area. I was freaking out and going around in circles when I finally stopped by the workers who were putting up the cones. They gave me some directions and off I was. I got to transition just as it opened and got myself body marked and then took my bike to be looked at. The right brake needed some tightening and then it was time to set up the transition area.
Bike was still there and that made me happy. Loaded up speedfil and routed my tube. Cycling shoes out. Running shoes out. Visor, sunglasses, helmet, wetsuit all out. Started the SpeedFil sucking and it took forever to get the liquid into the tube but it finally got there. Now what do I do for the next 1.5 hours. Time to start freaking out about this. Two trips to the bathroom, eat the bread, drink the liquified GU.
I met with my buddy Eric on the dock and watched all the swimmer get going. We were in two of the last groups. Finally I put my wetsuit on and jumped in the water. I had to go to the bathroom otherwise I would have kept the wetsuit off until just the moment we were being corralled.
Finally our wave was called and it was showtime.
After watching wave after wave after wave I decided my plan would be to start on the left and slowly make my way to the right. This swim course was clockwise and so all the turns were to the right. This is not good for me as I breathe to my left and thus need to be pinpoint accurate with my sighting. While treading water I noticed the satellite blinking and this got me worried and I hit the start button about 30 seconds too soon. This freaked me out and I can’t figure out why. The gun went off and so did I.
My plan worked out very well as there was nobody near me but I could feel my heart rate accelerate right away. It was a result of the start more than my nerves. I started swimming and holding a strong line. I did not get swam over but had no clue if I was passing anybody either since they were all to my right and I look left. After about 100-150 meters I looked up and caught sight of the first buoy. Perfect sighting. I then just tucked my chin and about every 10 strokes looked up and my line was perfect.
Make the right turn at that buoy and the heart rate had finally settled down and I could feel myself get into a rhythm. At this point I started thinking about writing this race report. Now the second right turn and you are headed down the longest straight swim I think I have ever been involved in. I used the building along the shore as my sight lines since there were not intermediate buoys big enough to find. All the sudden I was passing pink caps, blue caps and a white cap as well. I was feeling strong and holding a strong line and pace.
Right about the time I spotted the 3rd yellow buoy the green caps from the wave behind me caught me. I would normally have been upset but I thought to myself that these guys were going to swim 26-27 minutes and if I held with them I would finish in 30-31 minutes since they started 4 minutes behind me. We made the 3rd right turn and the 4th buoy comes up quick. Made that turn and it was the home stretch.
I miscalculated the distance for the finish and started my final kick a little too soon. I revved it up and felt like I was gliding in the water. Chin tucked in close to my chest and had my body as if I were swimming over a barrel. I felt like my form was perfect and my line was great. At this point I am catching a lot of previous waves and make the only left turn on the course. The swim finish is right there and there are volunteers pulling you out of the water. Love those volunteers.
- Goal Time: 30 minutes
- Actual Time: 31 minutes 40 seconds
- Previous Olympic Best: 37 minutes 33 seconds
I give myself an A on the swim, especially with the 6 minute improvement from October. I do think I could have gone harder down the current but held back a tad so that I would have something for the bike and the run.
I stumbled coming out of the water even with the aid of a volunteer as the ramp was slippery. Once on dry land you run through grass and what is now ‘mud’ due to the fact that we were one of the last waves. Out of the blue there is a wall of volunteers yelling ‘wetsuit stripping’ and I had no clue what to do as I never had a wetsuit stripper. I saw the girl throw herself on the floor and lift her legs like giving birth and I followed. My wetsuit stripper was awesome as with one tug it was not only off me but not folded at all. I started running and he threw it to me. I caught it like a wide receiver and turned to go up a step to climb a wall and into transition. Found my bike, got my gear on including my shoes.
The night before I had a Twitter conversation with @LCCotter about barefoot or not. The issues is that the transition was a sandy area with rocks and I was concerned about stepping on a rock. I tossed my cycling shoes on and ran with my bike through this sand and mud. As I got toward the end I thought the mount line would be there and I was gearing to ride. The mount line was not there and you had to make a right turn and run up a hill before you got anywhere near the mount line. I would say in all my run from bike rack to mount line was about 0.25 miles through sand and up a hill.
This lead to a much longer transition time than I thought I would have. I would say that my transition time was average based on the Top 50 finishers in the M25-39 age group. Some went as low as 2:30 but some as high as 5:00. I was out of T1 in 3:12.
The bike is a CRIT or criterium and is a bike race held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city center streets. The bike to my knowledge was 3 laps but then coach mentioned it was 4. I blame myself for not knowing this because I chose to not read the athletes guide carefully. I was lucky enough that after lap 1 a young lady answered my question of how many laps we were doing.
This course is 6 turns and 3 hairpins. So in total you are doing 24 turns and 12 hairpins. Here is a description of the course. Long gradual uphill then turn right to a steeper climb, but much shorter. This leads to a left turn and a downhill that finishes with a hairpin. After the hairpin you climb back up that hill to then turn right. You get a quick downhill that leads to a left turn. You get the opportunity to go downhill but with the winds howling between the buildings it was hard to hold a line and took a lot of strength to stay upright with the gusts. This leads to a quick right hand turn and a longer straightaway that ends with an uphill climb and a hairpin over a wooden ramp covered with a mat (real safe!) You go back down hill then turn right and get a little break before doing a hairpin and starting all over again another 3 times.
I felt strong on the bike the entire ride with my legs not getting fatigued, not even on the short climbs. I didn’t push incredibly hard because I wanted to save my legs for the run where I wanted to drop sub-8s. The key to this ride was going to be getting electrolytes and staying hydrated. During the first lap I spent the entire time with my mouth on the tube of my SpeedFil trying to get liquid to no avail. I started panicking about getting hydration in. I was not concerned with nutrition as I could chew the fig bar and the PowerBar I had in my bento box. The issue was getting those salt capsules down. After almost 20 minutes the first bit of liquid came through and I thought I was going to be find as once it is in the tube it stays.
Getting through the second lap and time to drink and no liquid. I messed with it for a bit but finally gave up. I fortunately had a water bottle in my seat cage and drank from that as well as squirted water on my head to try and stay cool. Throughout the ride I was passed as often as I passed but again I felt strong in my legs and not overly fatigued.
On one section of the third lap as I was passing a young lady the wind gust came and blew both of us to the right a good 3 feet. As if we were in a synchronized acting show we both yelled ‘oh sh*t’ but quickly recovered to stay upright. Well this wind literally scared the piss out of me. It was no more than 3 minutes later that the Golden Warrior showed up. I looked behind me left and right and nobody was there so I let the stream go and it felt great. My stomach was so bloated from trying to get liquids in me the night before, before the start and during the ride that I probably lost 10 lbs from this pee on the bike.
During the last long stretch on loop 4 I started going a little harder as I was tired of going in circles and was passing people left and right when this streak blew past me. Talk about a large helping of humble pie as I was starting to feel great. I look up and it is no other than Coach zooming past me. For a fleeting moment I thought to myself to try and keep up with her but then thought better of it. She is not only an Ironman and Kona qualifier but her legs were fresh as she was the bike leg of a relay team and I wanted to kill the run.
After getting toward the dismount line I unstrapped my shoes and got my feet out ready for a good dismount and strong run through the sand in T2.
- Goal Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Actual Time: 1 hour 19 minutes 58 seconds
- Previous Olympic Best: 1 hour 18 minutes 16 seconds
I give myself a B on the bike because while held to my game plan and hit my goal I think I could have gone harder and saved some time especially after seeing my run time.
After dismounting I started running toward what seemed like the Olympic distance transition area when the volunteers were not so clear. It was like they were whispering secrets in class and I could not tell so I had to come to a complete stop to ask. They said which way to go and off I was to run toward my rack.
Flustered by the entrance to the transition area I lost count of the bike racks and went past mine by one and then felt lost when it wasn’t there. I have a bright yellow mat and it took me about 20 seconds to find my bearings and where I was. Spotted my mat and had to run around the rack to mount the bike. Running shoes and visor on. Flask with two GUs out of the cooler and onto the run. It was at this point that I saw Coach and she just yelled for me to GO GO GO and high fived me.
This transition was faster than T1 since my rack was out by the run out and saved me some time in that there was no running to a mount line to worry about.
The first 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile was used to get my feet under me and to figure out if my plan to not hammer the bike would work. The run is a two loop course so I also wanted to get to know my bearings and where the hills would be, where I could push, where I had to conserve and where the water aid stations were. I had no plans to grab water to drink but needed it to pour over my head.
The first mile has a hairpin turn with not a lot of room so you had to be careful and not trip over the cone or other racers. Once I passed that cone I started to feel my legs and start running. You get to a point where you climb up a bridge and I thought to myself ‘they said this was a totally flat run.’ I will say the climb up the bridge was not a big deal but you need to pump your arms to not lose your pace.
Once over the bridge the spectators pick up and are yelling and screaming and it truly helps. It was at this point that I knew I could negative split the run as my legs were feeling great and I was taking one to two cups of water at every other aid station and pouring it over my head. I also planned on taking in my liquified GU every 1.5 miles.
Coming down the stretch of the first loop I heard my friends cheering for me and it was a huge boost and it was time to drop the hammer and go hard. I knew I only had three miles to run and knew that I could run a 24 minute 5k at this point to put me in position to hit my goal time. I started picking off 35-39 year old racers, whether they were doing the Olympic, Sprint or Relay. I did not care as I use the age as bait for me to catch. I become like a bull seeing red when I see those ages in my group.
At one point there was a woman walking and as I neared her she started running. I told her way to go 1307 keep it up only two loops to go. She yelled back if I was running like you it would not be a problem. This is where you do the hairpin turn on the run and I saw her again. I again encouraged her and said ‘Hey 1307….you are closer to the finish than you were 3 minutes ago.’ I heard her laugh and I knew she was smiling.
I began to run even harder and told myself to not look at my watch as I didn’t want to know pace. Had I known pace I would either have been disappointed that I wasn’t running faster than I thought I was or would have let up because I was going faster than I wanted. I chose to ignore my watch and then focus on my bladder which was asking to be relieved again. As I started the climb over the bridge I began to do multiplication tables in my head and the flow just opened up and again I felt such relief and what seemed like weight loss that my pace picked up again.
Coming down the home stretch I heard Robert yelling and telling me to keep pushing that I was right on goal time. I had no let up and when I crossed the finish line I just about collapsed and the only thing keeping me from falling down were my hands on my knees. I was panting and breathing heavy.
- Goal Time: 50 minutes
- Actual Time: 48 minutes 26 seconds
- Previous Olympic Best: 53 minutes 23 seconds
I give myself an A on the run. I really stuck to my plan of negative splitting and while I pushed at the end I do think that there are faster times ahead of me in the Olympic Distance 10k run. I will not rule out a 45 minute 10K at the end of an Olympic Distance Triathlon.
I had the tale of two feelings on this race. I hit a 2:45:25 time which is an 8 minute PR compared to October, but the number that hit me the hardest at the time was 38th out of 45. How in the world could I work so hard and yet finish 38th in my age group. I can say I was very close to tears about this. I held back until I saw my coach and told her that while the 2:45 was great the fact that all that hard worked paid off in being very close to last place in my age group was greatly disappointing.
She looked me dead in the eye and told me to not worry about other racers. I had an 8 minute PR and that I had a tremendous improvement in the water which was how I became to know her as Coach since that was my worst discipline and one I have really worked hard at. She also told me that if I held my time from October in Rockwall that my bike fitness was surely improved because this was a harder course with a ton of turns in comparison. She made me feel great and solidified my reason for having her as my coach.
I called Karen and she too talked me off the ledge as I was so disappointed in my age group result. I went through a tough drive home as it was so touchy in terms of traffic that I had hours and hours to dissect my race and figure out where to improve. It was during this time that I got to speak with my buddy Juan and he told me that my finish was 48th out of was seems to be 193 racers who started the race. This would put me directly in the Top 25% of my age group. I felt so much better after that and can now focus on my lessons learned, which will be a post for Friday as I have all week to digest this race and figure out where I believe I can improve.
- Goal Time: 2 hours 43 minutes
- Actual Time: 2 hours 45 minutes 25 seconds
- Previous Olympic Best: 2 hours 53 minutes 10 second
|Swim (1500 Meters):||0:30:00||2:00/100 meters||0:31:40||2:06/100meters||0:37:33||2:30/100meters|
|Bike (40K):||1:20:00||18.6 mph||1:19:58||18.6 mph||1:18:16||19.0 mph|
I give myself an A- overall. Swim and Run were great, but the bike can improve as can my knowledge of the hydration necessary for racing in a CRIT. Also learning to race in 95* temperatures will help.
Thank you for taking the time to read my race report. It is truly appreciated and all your well wishes were happily received.