This weekend I did Jack's Generic Triathlon in Austin, Tx. This is one of the best small venue races I can think of. Okay, so technically you will probably hear tell about the swim that takes place in a "pond" about the size of someone's backyard. But aside from that, personally I feel Jack's does all of the little things right. There are a gazillion volunteers who all know what's going on and are ready to help. The food and drink post race are abundant. The course is well marked and everything starts on time. I've done this race twice and it ranks up there as one of my all time favorites.
So about my race. Well, first off I feel much better writing this race report than the last one. But I suppose any race result would have been better than what happened my last time out. If you haven't read about it and want to see a post about my worst race experience ever, look here.
Ironically, I wasn't sure race morning I would participate. I had spent most of my time between the last race and this one trying to figure out what went wrong on my first outing. To be honest, I got a lot of theories about what could have happened but nothing concrete. So I was left with a huge sense of uncertainty about my training methods, my body, and at some points my decision to race again in the first place. Also leading up to this race I didn't feel I had put in adequate training between seeking an array of medical opinions, to just feeling off, and meeting work and social obligations. Add to this my fear of a repeat episode in the water where there would be nausea, dizziness, and sudden unexplained muscle fatigue, you can understand why I was not overly anxious to race.
In a way this was just like starting something for the first time again. I had to just put one foot in front of the other, get out of the house and see what happened. Because I didn't know what to expect in the water, I babied the swim, and sighted minimally, rounding the course by feel. About half way through, I knew I was okay and was able to relax. One positive sign was I was never concerned about where aid was in the water. As I said in the beginning, if there is a knock on this race, it has to be the "pond" it takes place in. Because the water area is so small and there are ski ramps in it that funnel swimmers together on the long straight sections, unless you are a very, very fast swimmer, you really never find clear water. Basically swimming in this pond feels like one big swimmer's mosh pit. Aside from that, though my swim was slow it went well and I was comfortable the entire time.
Once on the bike, I got up the first climb right out of transition and then settled in. This section of the bike is mostly flat or downhill and seemed wind aided. Again because my swim was not stellar, I had the enjoyable sensation of passing people the entire ride. My pace, I felt was good but not blistering and I could tell this was because I hadn't been riding as consistently since my last outing. Though overall I felt better on the bike than I had a few weeks earlier, I didn't have the leg turnover I like and I found myself easing up a bit on the climbs. I will note, after the first 1/4 of the course, the going got much more difficult. There are several good long gradual ascents and the wind was either a headwind or frontal crosswind the rest of the way. So not your standard "flatish" timetrial bike.
With about 2 miles to go, my bladder started to complain. Depending on how you look at signals like that you can either be happy you got the urge before the run, or you can wish you got the urge about half way through the run to help you push a little toward the finish. Unfortunately for me I got mine on the bike and it was a strong one. I don't like to run uncomfortably for long periods of time because it is distracting so, I transitioned and headed out onto the run course which fortunately passed right in front of the Porta Potties, I ducked in and took care of things and ducked out. So here's the thing. That quick stop, somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds by my estimate slowed my run time average by 10 to 15 seconds per mile. I'd never thought of it that way until I was calculating it out on the run in my head. But at least now I was comfortable. Surprisingly it felt really good on the run, I wasn't pushing things but I knew my pace was solid because it felt good and I caught and passed quite a few guys in my age group. The run course at Jack's Generic is a straight out and back affair. The going out being a bit tougher due to the gradual climb for a mile and a half. Coming back of course is a bit easier so my goal was to keep it steady going out and open my stride a bit coming back in. This seemed to work well and my legs didn't feel bad at all and my heart rate stayed low (relatively speaking) going out and coming back. I think the highest I saw it was 160, the average was 154. This was probably the best feedback I think I've gotten this year because that's the lowest heart rate I've ever had in any race. My pace, adjusted for the pit stop wound up being about a 7:30 mile. Last year on the same course I ran an 8:00 mile pace with an average HR of 172. So this was progress. I crossed the finish line feeling as though I put in a solid effort but like I could have kept going like that all day. I'm happy with that because the day is coming soon when I'll have to be able to keep that up all day.
I wound up finishing 9th in my AG which had almost 60 guys in it. This was an improvement from last year where I finished 13 in the AG out of about 35 guys. So I'll take that.