Well, I am on the downside of my Triathlon season now and have now finished 6 of my 8 planned races for the year. The race on Saturday was to be a good indicator of my fitness level changes from last year to this year. I would have used the Black Butte Triathlon, but due to the conditions of the day on that race, it was not a good indicator.
I went to Tri-4-Fun on Saturday feeling just "OK". My legs still seemed a bit weak from Vineman 3 weeks ago, even though I didn't think that they should still be feeling the effects, but I hadn't ever gone that hard before so who knows. I got up very early that morning (4am) but I had all of my stuff ready to go and in place the night before so I really only took 20 minutes before I headed out to pick up Mitch to take him to the race as well. I got back to the house to pick up Josh and then we all headed out.
I had only had a granola bar that morning so on the way I stopped at fast food, which I normally hate, but out of necessity, it will work. I had a crossanwich and some hash browns which seemed to be fine. We got to Rancho Seco at about 6:50am, unloaded our gear, and headed to transition. It was a welcome sight to have a single transition area since my last 2 races had separated T1 and T2 locations. I dropped off my gear in about the same spot as last year, picked up my race packet and returned to set up my transitions. Transition setup went smoothly and I had all of my gear ready to go with about 20 minutes before the start. I grabbed my sleeveless wetsuit, pulled it on and headed towards the water with my ear plugs, goggles and cap in hand.
The start was a few minutes earlier than it was supposed to be but after the first wave went through, I headed out into the water. The water was rather refreshing and not cold by any means which bodes well for me. I positioned myself on the left hand side of the start with the buoys on the right. This usually helps me out since I am a bit slower and can keep from getting swam on top of. I felt pretty good in this swim. I don't know if it was that I was really trying to concentrate on my form or what, but it was going pretty smooth. I didn't go off course too bad at any point and ended up with a time right around 15 minutes.
T1 was pretty fast, I was able to get my wetsuit off fairly quickly, quickly swipe my feet and then head out on the bike. Since the size of the transition area and the run from the water is fairly long, I was pretty happy with my ~1:30 transition time. I feel I could be better with these if I were to have my shoes attached to my bike or maybe try some of the other tactics to make my transitions faster, but I think I may wait until next year for that.
Out on the bike is where I really started to feel my legs. This is where I don't think I was fully recovered. I was able to go fairly hard, but if I pushed it, my legs could really feel it, much more than they should have considering my pace and wattage output. My average output was only a few watts higher than Vineman, at about 267, while Vineman was 262. I felt for a 16 mile effort, I should have been around 300 or so, but my legs didn't have it but even then not a single person passed me. I still had a pretty good time of ~42:03 for the 16 miles, which was still better by about 8 minutes from last year.
T2 was slow for some reason. I just couldn't get my head together. I fumbled taking off my shoes, put stuff on while in transition that I would normally do while I was running, and took time to get water when they have it right at the run entrance. It should have been about 45 seconds, but it was closer to 1:30 again, and I was very disappointed with that.
The run was actually pretty smooth. I headed out pretty quick, just under a 7:00/mile pace and seemed like a pretty good pace to hold. I had to slow a bit on the hills but other than that I felt pretty good. I got passed by 2 people in the first 1.5 miles, but neither were in my age group so I didn't really care. Then at about mile 2, I got passed by a 38 year old and I tried to keep up with him. He was on about a 6:50 pace, so it hurt a bit, but then at about mile 2.5, we both came across another guy that was in our age group. The first guy was still in front of me so when the 2nd guy saw his age, he started to speed up as well. Great, now we have 3 guys all in the same age group, all headed to the finish with less than 1/2 mile to go. The lead guy started to take off at a faster pace, so I tried to keep up with him as well. In doing so I dropped the 3rd guy, but didn't have enough kick left to catch up to the guy that passed me. Ended up with about a 20:47 total time on the run.
Total official time was 1:20:17 which is right where I thought I should have been. Ended up 5th in my age group and 12th overall. Compared to last year for the same race, I was almost exactly 12 minutes faster. I think that if I had some fresher legs and a bit more speed on my transitions (even though they were better this year), I could have got at least 2-3 minutes better. I will be planning to do one of these next year in order to gauge my fitness again. Hopefully it won't be shortly after a 1/2 Ironman again. I think that I am heading in the right direction with my training. I still have 2 more left for the year, so I will still be training for the next few months until those are over. Still the biggest thing for me to work on will be my weight and body composition. I hope to get a handle on that over the winter and go from there.