Lessons learned, lessons to relearn…
The Experience Triathlon club puts on a good event, and I enjoy racing at the Batavia Triathlon. So I signed up back in March, and set my alarm for 3:40am in order to drive the 45 minutes to Batavia for the 6:30am start on June 12, 2016.
After a very hot Saturday, Sunday race day was blessed with a nice and cool upper 60’s degree morning. Matter of fact, the water temperature of the quarry where the swim takes place was 74.5 degrees and warmer than the air temperature. During the period for swim warm-up, I went to the water and waded in up to my knees. Still felt cold for me, but as I stood there I could tell it wasn’t too bad. I was on the fence about swimming without my wetsuit, but I saw many others putting their’s on, so I somewhat reluctantly pulled mine out of the bag and tried to wrestle it on.
I got in line around the quarry to prepare for the staggered time trial start and realized that I needed to set my new triathlon watch to the multi-sport setting. Only I didn’t know how. I knew I had seen it before, and how could one of the most triathlon dominate sports watches not have that function. I must of pushed fifty different combination of buttons until I realized that I had to go Settings. No kidding. Unlearned Lesson #1: Make sure to have a good understanding of your new device before using it in a race.
I was also thinking how to approach the swim. Last time I did the race the swim did not go well. I figured since I was a newly minted Ironman, I would just go all out for the 400 yards or so, and rock it. I was hyperventilating by the first turn. This time I forced myself to not run into the water and to really hold back. It worked! I swam really efficiently and got through the two lap swim actually swimming. I say actually swimming because on the backside of the swim the water is very shallow and most will stand and walk that portion. That’s what I HAD to do last time. Not this time. Lesson learned.
After exiting the swim area, I found a grassy area where I decided that I would shed my tri suit. It came off very easily this time. I really didn’t lose much time wrangling with the dumb thing. Off to the bike and grab my bike gear. Pretty smooth through that too. When I got to the bike mount line is when the wheels came off – almost literally. When I was driving in I could see that it was pretty breezy out, so I decided to remove the full disc wheel that I had put on the night before and replace it with my FLO 60 aero wheel. Apparently I neglected to get the gears right and the bike was not liking me trying to peddle it that way. People were looking at me. It finally clicked into the correct gear and off I sped. Unlearned Lesson #2: Avoid a total newbie move and make sure that your bike is ready to ride right out of T1.
The wind was from the east and man did it make for a fast ride. I was hitting 25mph easily and passing tons of riders. I think I maxed out at one point at 32mph. About a half mile out of T1 I realized that I didn’t know if I needed to push the Lap button on my watch, so I pushed it. And then pushed it again. After reviewing my watch activity it appears most of my ride was considered a transition. Oops. It was also then that I glanced down at my bike computer and realized it wasn’t on. I got it on and it searched and found the satellites quickly, but I had forgotten to reset it from Saturday. So I was essentially starting out with 85 miles on the odometer. I reset it and reminded myself to get my head in the game. Unlearned Lesson #3: See Unlearned Lesson #2.
Here’s a link to my Garmin Connect race activity: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1209927507
Only one faster rider passed me on the ride, a tall strong looking guy. I was doing 25 or so and he was faster. I figured I would get him on the run. But that was it. Nobody else passed me on the ride. I had a GU early on the ride and another at the back end to help fuel the run. Heading back in was tough as it was a double whammy of some uphills and the wind in my face. But back into town provided some wind buffer and soon I was whipping around the turns and pulling into T2.
The bike to run transition was smooth as silk. I repeated to myself out loud that I needed my shoes, my visor, my bib belt and off I ran to Run Out. Just before getting there I forgot one thing – I had arm warmers on for the ride that I forgot to take off, so I decided at the last minute to toss them in transition just before the exit and figured I would pick them up after the race.
I forgot to hit the lap button again, and truthfully I was pushing it not knowing if I was supposed to, but I remembered about a tenth of a mile into the run. I really just wanted to know my pace, which at that time was a 6:33 mile. Now I didn’t want to know! Not sure how I planned to hold that pace, but I kept it up for about 3.5 miles of the run. The run was different this year as we went south on the trail instead of heading north. This made for some crazy crowded trail. Not only was there runners running in both directions, but there was some sort of bike event going on locally, so that added some crazy to the whole thing. But as I kept charging ahead I realized I was passing a ton of triathletes. I did not get passed by anyone during the run. I just kept picking off one runner and the next. I paid attention to the age group markings on the calves of the runners and found I was passing a lot of my age group peers, which made me feel great.
At the 3.5 mile mark there was some switchback type turns and a little hill and bridge that kind of took the wind out of me and slowed me down. But I knew that I basically had a half mile to go and the race was ahead of me and not behind me. I finished strong into the finishing chute for an unofficial watch time of 1:18:21. This is a 6 minute PR over my 2014 time! I was shocked. Learned Lesson #2: Know the course well and trusting your running ability. Always bet on the runner!
The hard part was post race, being slightly wet on a cool morning – I was uncomfortable. There was quite a wait for the final finishers to wrap up their races, so I ate some banana, pizza, a cookie and downed another water bottle. I approached the tent where the timing guys were hanging out and was told they would be posted soon. About an hour later (!), they posted them. I waited in line to get a look and found my name on the first page, and learned that I had finished 3rd in the M50-54 age group! This race was a USAT Nationals Age Group Qualifier, so by finishing 3rd I should be qualified! I may not be able to go to it, but it is always nice to know that I had qualified. Now I had to wait until the end to get my award.
I knew that transition was going to close at 11:30am, so I jogged the mile back to transition. All of my stuff was there thankfully, even though the place was mostly cleared out. I grabbed my bag and went into the lockers and took a shower because I was starting to get rank. I packed up my stuff and walked back to the car. I was 5 miles or so away when I realized that my favorite pair of arm warmers were still laying in transition by the Run Out. Unlearned Lesson #3: Don’t ever say to yourself that “I’ll remember” to go back and do something! Now I am out my favorite pair of arm warmers.
So, to sum up the race itself I would say that packet pick-up was a waste of an afternoon driving to Geneva on Friday to get a bib and two stickers, a shirt and a swim cap. Next time use the morning pick-up, I was there in plenty of time to get it. Also, the new run course finishing at the Batavia VFW was way too crowded and busy for the racers, and the finish was way too far from transition. Hopefully they will get some negative feedback on that and move it back to finishing downtown. And if I do finish and get an A/G award, head back to transition, take a shower, pack up all of your junk and then go back to the awards. There will be plenty of time.
Good race, nice day. I’ll be back. That’s a lesson that I have learned.