If you want to race well a Sprint race, you either have to be fast or you have to be able to endure a lot of pain (and sometimes both). I’m not fast so unfortunately that leaves only the option 2 for me on Sprints. And this year, the Triangle Triathlon this year was really painful for me. I had race Ironman Coeur D’Alene three weeks prior and I still didn’t feel recovered. My older friends have warned me that as I get older recovery will take longer. Plus, I was also out of town on business all week until Friday night so Saturday I didn’t feel exactly rested and ready to race.
The swim started fast and as the swimmers from the field took off in a furious sprint to the turn around buoy. The water was hot and I struggle to keep up so I just tried to relax and to swim my own pace. I came out of the water in just under 12 minutes, which seemed pretty slow. Hopefully the swim was a little on the long side.
My transition was good and I got on the bike quick and started hammering right of the bat. I passed a few people that had gotten out of the water in a little pack in front during the first couple flat miles and kept on chasing others as I turned right into the Weston Parkway hills. In the hills I pushed hard and I started to get into oxygen debt. I knew that as much as I was hurting, others were hurting just the same. Plus, it’s only in the hills that I can make up significant amounts of time on this course.
By the first turn around, I was probably in around 9th place. I saw the leader, Mario de Elias, Stacey’s Argentinean friend, a good two minutes up the road. He looked solid and there were a couple of other riders fairly close to him, but the others were not too far from me. By the time I turned into Evans, I had ridden up a small group of riders. I went by Marty and Duncanand Chris Tommedahl, who was ridding really strong and mixing it up with the guys. Right before the second turn around, I passed a couple more guys and sped downhill, before turning right again into Weston and the next section of uphills.
As hard as this course is, I still think you don’t try to pace and save energy for later. You basically have to redline the entire way, pushing hard on all the uphills (and maybe recovering slightly on the downhills, before doing it again and again). I also don’t worry about saving for the run. It’s hard to make up time on the relatively flat and shaded course.