2017 Groundforce IT Powersprint Triathlon
1/6 AG 9/175 Overall
May 21, 2017 – Its only been a week since the Kinetic Half-Iron triathlon at Lake Anna, and I’ve been fighting fatigue all week. My workouts had been rather light, but I felt like I was still in recovery mode. In addition, Jackson and I had camped out with his Cubscouts pack at The Diamond on Friday night, which pretty much led to no sleep. The lights weren’t turned off on the field until about midnight, and I’m way past the age where sleeping on the ground results in feeling rested in the morning. I had some easy workouts scheduled for Saturday after the kids’ soccer games, but scrapped those in exchange for a much-needed nap.
My first two triathlons of 2017 had been cool and wet, and the Powersprint pretty much continued that trend. Thankfully it wasn’t raining, but it was still pretty cool in the morning. So much so that as soon as I set up my transition spot, I headed inside to pre-swim and to try to stay warm. Unfortunately, we all had to head back outside for the announcements and the National Anthem, and by the time that I got back inside to line up for the start, I was pretty much frozen. Have I ever mentioned that I hate being cold?
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since I’d done a 70.3 the week before, and I knew that I wasn’t fully recovered. I still hoped to make the AG podium, but I certainly didn’t expect to match my bike and run speeds from the RTC Sprint back in April in light of my fatigue.
Due to my projected swim time, I was bib 28 of approximately 200. Thus, I didn’t have that many people ahead of me on the course. Pool swims can get a bit jumbled up, so I was hoping that everyone around me had seeded themselves properly. I noted that bib 26 was in my AG, so I made a mental note to do my best to pass him on the course.
Swim- 4:56 (1:39/100 m) (2/6 AG)
I seeded myself for 5 minutes, and but I hoped to complete the swim a bit faster than that. The timing mats are obviously outside the pool, and it takes about an extra ten seconds or so to climb out and then run into the next room across the timing mat when you’re done. There was a female athlete directly in front of me in the start line, and when she was about halfway down the pool, I got the signal to go. I jumped in, and immediately started swimming hard since there’s no time to waste in a 300 meter swim.
The first two laps were uneventful, but by the halfway point I had caught up to the girl ahead of me. I was hoping that she’d let me go by, but she ignored my tap on her ankle when I caught her and she just kept swimming. By the fourth lap she finally let me pass her, and I feel like I lost about 15 seconds or so in getting caught behind her, but the final two laps went by pretty quickly.
Upon finishing lap six, I hopped out of the pool and ran across the timing mat. My final time was 4:56, which was still four seconds ahead of my seeding, and 11 seconds faster than 2016. I made a mental note to seed myself faster in 2018.
T1: 1:37 (2/6 AG)
There’s a fairly long run out the back of the YMCA to the transition area, and I saw bib 26 getting on his bike as I got go my rack. Turns out that I’d gained 19 seconds on him on the swim, so I was really hoping to catch and pass him on the bike since he’d only started 30 seconds ahead of me. After putting on my bike shoes and helmet, I raced to the bike mounting line, and wondered what sort of legs I’d have after the prior week’s half-iron effort.
Bike- 32:25 (21.7 mph) (2/6 AG)
After getting on my bike getting up to speed, I noticed that bib 26 was already out of sight. Ok, he transitioned quickly, but hopefully I’d still overtake him on the bike course. The course was reversed from the year before, and after getting up to speed I noticed that my legs felt pretty good. Definitely not 100%, but I was able to put some pressure on the pedals.
It was only 57 degrees, so I was a bit chilly for the first few miles on the bike – the story of 2017 it seemed. I began to catch and pass a few riders, but there weren’t that many people on the course ahead of me due to my swim seeding (and thus, my bib number). I probably passed a few people in transition, and then a few more on the bike. Unfortunately, I never got around any other bikers that were riding about my speed, so there was no opportunity to do any legal drafting.
Since I was primarily riding on an island by myself, I don’t remember too many details about the bike, but I remember feeling good but not great for the majority of the ride. The wind wasn’t really an issue like it had been in 2016, but the cool temperature and dense air probably slowed me down a bit. Its hard to compare 2016 to 2017 since the course was reversed and slightly modified, but I finished the bike 1:27 faster than I had in 2016 – and on tired legs to boot. Now it was time to see if I had any legs left to run on.
T2: :46 (1/6 AG)
T2 was only 46 seconds, so I pretty much nailed it perfectly. I hit the ground running off of the bike, racked it and then swapped shoes. I grabbed my race belt and visor and put those on as I headed out of T2. The legs felt pretty good, so it was time to see what was left in them.
Run- 22:14 (7:09 min/mile) (1/6 AG)
Mile 1 (7:26)
I’d run a 7:25 min/mile pace off the bike at the Powersprint in 2016, but had held 7:15’s off the bike at the 2017 RTC Sprint a month before. I didn’t think I could hold 7:15’s on tired legs, and was really just hoping to beat my 2016 time of 23:01. After running out of transition and getting down the road a ways I looked at my GPS, and it was reading 8:30/mile. Uh oh, I could be in for a slow run today! I got the legs to turn over a little faster, and before too long, the pace started coming down.
The run course had turned into a two loop course for 2017, with the turnaround cone being about 8/10ths of a mile in. When I got to the cone, the volunteer monitoring the turnaround point told me that I was the 10th person there, which meant that I’d passed 18 people by that point. That served as a bit of motivation, and by the time I reached the first mile marker, only 7:26 had elapsed. Hmm, I was only one second slower than my 2016 pace and I was getting stronger. Maybe I could do something on the run after all.
Mile 2 (7:17)
I hit the turnaround cone for loop two around mile 1.5 and had seen bib 26 well ahead of me by that point. I’d never seen him on the bike, so I knew that he must be a strong biker. As it turned out, he’d turned in a 31:21, which was more than a minute faster than me. I didn’t know what sort of runner he was, but he seemed to be too far ahead of me to catch. Well, it looked like I had no shot to win my AG, but 2nd still seemed to be in play. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride! Ok, not even always the bridesmaid, sometimes just the guy parking cars at the wedding.
At the beginning of loop two I was still feeling surprisingly good, and my legs were turning over better than they had at the start of the run. My pace continued to creep down and I turned in a 7:17 for mile 2. Not quite my 7:15 pace from a month before, but certainly respectable given last week’s race.
Mile 3 (7:03)
Mile three arrived and the legs just kept a-churning and picking up speed. By that point, I was pretty well flabbergasted that I had anything left in the tank, and I guess that’s a testament to Karen’s run training. I’d kept waiting to bonk, but physically and mentally I was still going strong. Don’t get me wrong, it hurt, but it always hurt by that point in a sprint. Somehow, however, I still had juice in my legs and air in my lungs.
I picked up the pace as much as possible in the homestretch, and after stopping my GPS after crossing the final timing mat, my total time for the run was 22:14 – for an average pace of 7:09. That was 45 seconds faster than 2016, and 19 seconds faster than my run at the RTC Sprint the month before. What? Ultimately, my run was good enough for first in my AG, which is not how these races usually shape up for me.
Now all I had to do was sit back and wait most of the people on the course to finish so I could figure out my position in the overall and AG standings. Due to the pool swim, there was certainly a chance that someone who was still on the course could finish ahead of me, so it was pointless to check the standings until a little later on.
After getting some pizza and doing some stretching, approximately thirty minutes had passed since I finished. I figured that it was safe to go ahead and check the results, and saw that I was 1/6 in my AG. It turns out that bib 26 finished third overall, so that put him on the overall podium and took him out of my AG. Thus, I was currently in first in my AG. I’d made my AG podium in triathlons twice before, but both of those were second place spots. I waited another 10 minutes or so before I began to think about texting anyone, and before I hit “send,” I decided to check one more time just to be sure. It was extremely unlikely for someone so far back in the seeding to have beaten me, but I figured I’d check one last time.
When I did, I saw that I was now 2/7 in my AG. WTF? It turned out that someone at the tail end of the seeding had finished third overall and had knocked bib 26 into 4th overall, and thus, back into my AG. I immediately questioned how that might be possible since he had to have been stuck behind slower swimmers in the pool. After throwing a minor pity party for a few minutes I looked at the transgressor’s splits and saw that he was showing a 5k time of around 12 minutes.
Doubting that any of the athletes participating in the Powersprint had the ability to run a world record 5k, particularly after swimming and biking, I immediately wondered if he’d only run one loop of the two-loop run course. I certainly didn’t want to accuse anyone of cheating since there could have been a legitimate timing issue, but I wasn’t about to go down without a fight. I printed the other athlete’s timing data and took it over to an official, who quickly declared that they were “already on it.” By the time that I got back to the results screen, the transgressor had been removed from the standings, bib 26 was back to being 3rd overall and I was back to being 1/6 in my AG. Kudos to the race officials for squaring it away so quickly. Again, I’m not leveling cheating accusations, but that guy’s original run time of ~12 minutes was clearly incorrect.
Ok, so I know that winning my AG in a small local race is not quite akin to nabbing a Kona slot, but I’d never stood atop a podium after a triathlon. Or a running race. Or ever. Moreover, I’d managed to rally after a grueling 70.3 the weekend before and put together a solid race on legs that were still in recovery mode. In fact, I’d had my best ever 5k run off the bike in a sprint tri, which was some cause for celebration. I still have a long way to go with my running to be competitive in the larger races, but now I was consistently running about 25 seconds per mile faster off the bike than I had the year before. The arrow was still pointing up, even though I was rapidly aging out of the M35-39 age group.
Next up on the calendar was the Robious Landing triathlon in June, which has a deeper and more competitive field than the Powersprint. I’d gotten 4th in my AG in 2016 when it had been turned into a duathlon, and I’d never made the podium in that race. Thus, I was really hoping that I’d turned a corner and could compete for a podium spot there.