I surprised myself. I almost called this race off because of the stress fracture in my foot, but I had a prudent plan for dealing with it. My only goal was to complete the olympic distance triathlon without having to resort to walking on my hands to finish the 10k :) Not only did I complete the triathlon but I bettered my time by 7 minutes! One of my four fitness goals for 2011 was to better my time by 5 minutes so I was giddy with excitement when I saw the time at the finish line because I didnt even dare to believe it was possible with my foot injury. This year I was ranked in the top third of my age group (50-54), last year I was only at the 50th percentile. As proud as I was of my performance, its always humbling when a 70 year old blows by you during the run. Every time that happened, I told myself – thats gonna be ME in 2o years :)
The swim was a mess. Since I’m a slow swimmer, I was nice and started at the back of the pack – big mistake. Wasted the first 10 min getting my face kicked in and breathing water. After that, got to smooth open water and found my slow but steady groove. It felt great to be swimming in the clear cool early morning water. I didnt dare run out of the water to the bikes because of my foot injury, I was afraid that running barefoot on cement would destroy any chance I had of running so I decided to take the time penalty and just walk to my bike so I lost 30-45s there, not that it matters, my transition times are pathetic anyway :)
Once I got on my bike I was in my element, I did much better. Not a single person passed me while I was cycling – an ego boost I needed after getting kicked, splashed and pummeled on the swim. It always feels good to blow by $8000 bike after $8000 bike while I’m on my trusty 15 year old road bike :)
The run went surprisingly well. I normally land on the balls of my feet but with the stress fracture i didnt dare do that so I was doing heel-first landings. I was concentrating very, very hard though on my floating head running technique
to minimize the knee stress. I didnt want to save my foot and destroy my knee in the process. Turns out, all my running training over the last year paid off because even with my unconventional running stride, I bettered my 10k time by 3 minutes. Not only that, when the race was over, I felt great – no knee pain, no foot pain.
Overall, I was very, very pleased. In fact I think one of my goals for 2012 will be to do the half-ironman (aka long course). 5 minutes after the race was over, I found myself thinking – “Ya, I could have gone a lot further.” I know I could swim and bike twice as far, not an issue. My swim times could be improved significantly if I could get my butt to masters swimming on a regular basis :) Its the run that will be my challenge in completing the long course, I’ve never done a half-marathon. The furthest I have ever run is 15km so I will continue to need to focus hard on my running as I have in the previous year.
Anyway, it was a fantastic event with thousands of very friendly, supportive, fitness buffs. In very few sports are athletes as genuinely supportive of their fellow athletes as in triathlons. When I was driving away from the event, I felt an almost zen-like tranquility about the great race weekend I had experienced, the great people I had met, and opportunity to be around so many incredible athletes. I also found myself already looking forward to the next years event. If you are looking for a new sport, give triathlons a try!
Note to self: Next year remember to bring sleeping bag and pillow so I dont have to spend a sleepless night in a freezing car.