I'm not sure I like waking up at 3:35 am. However, there are worse reasons to wake up that early than getting to a race. This was my 8th triathlon but first Quad Cities Triathlon. We got there at 4:50 and were in a line of cars waiting to get into West Lake Park for the race. I am glad we got there as early as we did. Any later and we would have had to park nearly a mile away.
Setting up in transition is always a mixture of nervous energy and excitement. Once I got everything set up, I ran over the race in my head to make sure I had everything and that it was set out how I wanted it for easy transitions. After getting my timing chip strapped to my ankle, I got my wetsuit on and headed down to the beach. Once the lifeguard got there (10 minutes late), I got in the water, said hi to a few friends and warmed up for about 10 minutes until the pre-race meeting.
Normally swim starts are a mass start but this one was a time trial start. Everyone had to choose their approximate swim time and line up accordingly. I was conservative and lined up with the 11-12 minute finishers (it was a 600 yard swim). The gun went off at 7:00 am and the Elites (all two of them) took off. Two minutes later, they started releasing everyone else at three second intervals. As I was nearing the start, the first of the Elites came in (his time was just under 7 min.). Finally, my turn came. The starter said go and me and my partner (we were released in pairs) took off. I felt amazingly good. My stroke was strong and I found myself over taking a couple of the swimmers in front of me. I am usually an okay swimmer but I have difficulties sighting sometimes. I didn't have a problem sighting at all. Practice really pays off. I was completely oblivious as to how long it was taking me but again, I felt strong. As I got near the end, I continued swimming until the water was about knee deep. At that point, I popped up and began running in as I took off my swim cap and goggles. I unzipped my wet suit and stripped it down to my waist as I continued running into transition. Transition seemed to go well but I was actually slower than normal (and slower than Michelle). The bike exit was at the bottom of a short hill so I ran my bike to the top of the hill. The bike portion is usually my best so I was excited to get going. It had rained before the race so the roads were wet. Having been in a rather painful bike wreck during the Lake Geode Challenge last year, I was feeling a little hesitant about the conditions but decided to just go for it. Once we got out of the park, I could pour the speed on. On the way out, I was again feeling pretty good. I glanced down at my bike computer and was maintaining my speed between 21-23 mph. My goal was to average 21.5 mph. About 10 minutes into the ride, it started raining. I was soaked very quickly. I hate having wet feet but my quads were burning enough to take my mind off my wet feet. There were a couple of hills on the way out that I was able to cruise down at 35 mph. Once we hit the turn around, I realized that I had had a bit of a tailwind. My speed dropped to 19 mph and it was a struggle to get it up to 21 mph. At about mile 8, I began playing tag with another racer. He would pass me on the flats but I would catch him on the hills. By mile 12, I was really hurting and getting muddier with every bike I came up behind (or that passed me). Once I re-entered the park, I had lost touch with the guy I was playing tag with. About a 1/4 of a mile before the bike finish, I passed the first three athletes running into the finish. Jerks. How is it humanly possible to be that fast?
Two events down, one to go. Running is my enemy - especially after biking. I spent 1 minute 23 seconds in transition (which is a PR in T2 for me) and then stumbled out to the run. The first part of the run was a trail run with a few hills that my legs did not like. I couldn't get myself going and kept getting passed. A mile into the run, I got passed by a woman that I thought there was no way should have passed me. I managed to keep her in view and then by the time I hit mile 2, I started feeling better. I could feel my pace increase and within another 1/2 mile I passed the woman who had passed me. Although I didn't have my Garmin on, I have run enough to know that I was running about an 8 minute mile at this point. At this point in the race, there began to be a lot of spectators. Cheering crowds make you run faster. And I picked up my pace even more. The finish was on a bit of an incline but I didn't even notice it. I always love crossing the finish line. It is the reason I race. By the way, the woman I passed? She sprinted past me at the end.
I was pleased with my swim time (10:29) but both my bike time (44 minutes, 20.5 mph average) and my run time (28 minutes) were slower than I wanted. Oh well. I have something to shoot for.