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The Austin Triathlon

September 8, 2009

You can’t learn if you don’t lose.

tri1In true tri-dork fashion, here is the race recap in stats:

  • In the water (which was listed as 1500 meters, but judging by my cartography skills and other seasoned racers’ account, it might have been closer to 1700m): 40:37
  • On the 40k bike:  1:05:39 (22.7 mph)
  • On the 10k run:  47:01 (a 7:35/mile pace)
  • 2:37:58 Finish time
  • 248 of 1051 overall
  • 24 of about 80 in the Men 25-29 age group
  • Number of hours spent training on time trial bike since the Couple’s Tri on July 12: about 1
  • Number of hours spent running since the Austin Xterra: also about 1, maybe 2
  • Number of hours spent swimming since the Austin Xterra: again, I think maybe 1

And now for a translation. I found out early last week that I was able to secure an entry to the race through a Sponsor (thanks Puresport!). It was not originally on my calendar, therefore I did not prepare for it in any way. Since I had never done an olympic road tri and wasn’t even planning on doing this race, I didn’t really have any goals for it, other than to “finish it as fast as possible”. This lackadaisical attitude was reflected in my lackluster result.

I would like to blame the poor result on the lack of preparation and not enough rest the week before and not having all that fancy bike equipment lots of folks were sporting, but truthfully, I just got it handed to me. Being in the water for so long robbed me of a lot of power on the bike, not to mention I’m just not very accustomed to the machine yet.  I didn’t settle into a good rhythm until maybe the last 10k of the ride. I wanted a top bike split bad, though, so I burnt a lot of matches trying to get it. ( I only ended up with the 101 ranked bike split) This set me up for a pretty painful 10k run, in the escalating late morning heat. I felt a stitch coming on in the right rib cage and tried to belly breath it out, but my diaphram and lungs would have none of it. It was that same asthmatic feeling I encountered at the Arkansas Xterra after exiting 89 degree bath water! Taking lots of little baby breaths was all I can manage, so I pretty much ran the whole 10k this way. I slowed to a walk at all of the water stations so I didn’t choke on the water from breathing so fast, but apparrently I was well hydrated because nature called after the second water stop. Luckily, there was a park restroom right there, so I made a much needed pit stop. This brought a little relief and the pace picked up until about a mile to go. I had hit the 2 1/2 hour mark in the race and this is historically the point at which my muscle energy stores deplete at this level of exercise without replenishment. Sure enough, I felt that emptiness start to settle in. Unlike days of old though, where I’d completely bonk and be forced into a walking pace in a situation like this, I just had to slow it down a little til the finish.

Athletes that I can handily beat at Xterras, XC, or even the local derby or crit races  showed me what this road triathlon thing is all about, handily defeating this first timer on their home turf.  I’m not gonna lie. It hurt, and it really wasn’t that much fun. Just look at the seriouness and determination in the faces of the top racers in the post race photos. You won’t see many smiles except at the finish line. That’s the only time the pain ends.

Despite the lack of fun, there is something about it that makes me want to come back for more. Sure, mankind’s competitive nature will always have him duking it out against his rivals, but unlike team sports or road/MTB racing, the beauty of this sport is that you don’t have to. Sometimes the enemy is yourself. There is this struggle for the next PR (Personal Record), this constant desire to improve your performance, your technique, your sportsmanship, and in the end your health. That’s what any sport should be about.

This effectively ends triathlon season, although I will be going to Comfort this weekend for an offroad Duathlon. Hopefully, the waterless off road terrain will play a bit more to my strengths! Thanks for reading.

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