Race Report – Pure Austin Splash & Dash

Posted: July 20, 2011 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , , ,

Tuesday night was a pretty big step forward in our transition from marathoner to triathlete.

The event wasn’t such a big deal to many in attendance.  Just a 750 Meter swim followed by a 3 Kilometer run as part of the Pure Austin Fitness Splash and Dash Series.

But it was the first time that I would ever be swimming with other athletes in the water, all of us trying to navigate the buoys around the course, exit the water, transition into my run shoes and head off into another discipline.  An all-out 3 Kilometer (1.9 mile~) run.

To add a couple more things to be worried about, I had come down with a little virus overnight on Sunday.  Something that had been passed around at Landry’s Day Care last week, where all of the little infants were having some tummy issues.  I spent most of Monday feeling ill, Monday evening I was only able to have a bowl of soup at dinner – the thought of food was very unappealing.

Knowing that the Marathon makes allowances for nobody.  I still needed to log my 8 run miles on Tuesday, so I hopped out of bed at 5:15 a.m. and ran a steady, easy-paced 6.25 miles.  I didn’t want to tax my race legs too badly, knowing I had the Splash and Dash event later in the evening – but it was good to get out there and get the legs moving after Sunday’s 17 miler.

Still without much of an appetite on Tuesday, I ate my usual breakfast and lunch while making sure I hydrated throughout the day.  The temperature at the start of the race (6:00 p.m.) would be right at 98 degrees, the lake temperature a cool 86.  Even though the race was a short one, I would still be pushing pretty hard for about 28 or 29 minutes I was guessing.  If my swim went well that is.

I needed to make sure I wasn’t so tapped out and dehydrated that the final mile of the run felt like the final 10K of the marathon.

Pre Race:  I made my way over to Pure Austin about an hour before the race start.  I wanted to make sure I could get parked, check-in and find a good place to lay out my transition area exiting the lake.  Quarry Lake off of Stone Lake Boulevard as you might guess is an old stone quarry that has been flooded to form the lake.

It makes for beautiful clear water, but as you might imagine a very rocky exit out of the water and up to the trail that surrounds the lake.  I wanted to be sure to find a good place for my towell and shoes so I would not have to cover too much rocky terrain in my bare feet.  I checked in, strapped on my ankle timing chip and made my way down to the lake to lay out my towel, socks and shoes to transition.

I bumped into my coach before getting into the water and as the pre-race announcements were being made, I slid to the back of the pack for the Men’s group start.

There were 101 Men in the water all jostling for position.  About two times the size of what my Age Group Start will be like at Jack’s Triathlon.  They instructed the strongest swimmers to the front, the slower swimmers to the back.  I started to tread water about 8/10 of the way from the rear of the pack.

The Swim:  At the sound of the horn there were arms and legs everywhere.  One of the disadvantages of starting in the rear was I would have to swim a bit further than the rest of the men.  Everyone’s time started at the horn, not when you crossed the starting line.  I thought it was wise to avoid some of the major pushing and shoving in the water and sacrifice some time.

Even still over the course of the first 100 Meters or so there was a lot of kicking and shoving going on.  I couldn’t find smooth water and I knew that I needed to stay calm and relax.  I slowed down my stroke and just focused on breathing easily.  I made the turn at the first buoy and started to sight up ahead to the second one.

I had found some smooth water, which meant I was very far behind the leading men, but I was able to get into a rhythm and go.

My sighting was pretty solid, there was only one point around 500 Meters into the swim that when I came up to look for the buoy, all I saw were swim caps.  I had to sight two more times to pick out the buoy and adjust my course just a bit.

Somewhere along the way I had lost count of the buoys, my plan was to start pulling hard with about 300 Meters to go, once I passed the second to last platform.  When I reached what I thought was the second to last platform, it was actually the last platform.

Doh.

So as I started to increase my pace I knew that I had left even more time out there in the water, only swimming “hard” for the last 150 Meters or so, just crusing for the first 600.  Not good enough.

Transition:  I have to admit it was a pretty good feeling to swim up onto the shore and get out of the water.  I glanced down at my watch and saw a somewhat disapointing time of 16:34.  I had swam the course in 15:45 previously during a workout.  I was hoping for something under 16:00 minutes even with the rear of the line start and all the turmoil of swimming in a crowd.

I got horizontal, found my transition mat and quickly got the sand off of my feet.

I pulled on my race socks, slid into my running shoes, hiked up my Yanxz speed laces and made my way up the hill to the running trail

The Run:  When I hit the timing mat the clock said 17:34, meaning my transition was about :50 seconds.  That wasn’t too bad, but I had a ton of time to make up.  The fastest man out of the water Jamie Cleveland had posted a 10:14 swim.  He was running his final loop around the trail while I was only starting my first.

The trail was very crowded due to the fact that I was the 115th athlete out of the water, I was going to have to pass a lot of athletes.

I tried to lock in to a slightly uncomfortable pace – not sure really how fast I was going as I did not have my GPS watch on my wrist as it is not waterproof, only water resistant.

With the soft granite trail pulling at my strides and the constant zig zagging around the runners up ahead, it was pretty challenging to really put the hammer down on the run the way I would in a 5K on a road course.  I thought that the Lake would provide a nice cooling effect prior to the run, but I was already drenched in sweat less than 1 time around the course.

My 1 Kilometer splits were:

Loop 1:  4:14 – 8th fastest

Loop 2:  4:19 – 9th fastest

Loop 3:  4:07 – 8th fastest

The Finish:  My total time was 30:05.  I left the water in 115th place and finished 42nd overall.  Among the men, I would catch up to and pass all but 29 competitors, finishing 30th overall, 8th place in my age group of 40-44.

Post Race:  So, with just over a week and a half to go before Jack’s Generic Tri I learned that I still have a long way to go if I am going to succesfully transition from marathoner to triathlete.  On my 8.3 mile run this morning, just 11 hours or so after last night’s race, I carried the disappointment of my swim and to some degree even my run with me for 1 hour, three minutes and 30 seconds.

In the shower after my run I decided that I would do what I do with every workout that wasn’t exactly what I would hope it to be.

Flush it.

It’s over now.  Yes I could have swam harder, longer and not been so timid in the water.  There is a balance I am going to have to find at Jack’s between not being afraid to fail and blowing up in the water.  I have that in my road races and can adjust my pace accordingly.  I need to find that in the water.

I also learned that even if my swim is not so great, I need to forget about it and focus on the next event.  I know that not having a great swim effected my run.  I should have and most certainly could have run faster last night.  My heart just really wasn’t in it.

Lastly, nutrition.  Being under the weather for a couple of days definitely effected me.  I’m down in my weight this morning about 3 1/2 lbs.  That is strength that I need to lean on when I am fatigued that I simply do not have right now.  I need to get back on my diet, eat even if I’m not feeling hungry and make sure I get my calories back to where they need to be by the weekend.

Then take it easy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during my workouts.

Taper on Thursday, Friday with a little shake-out run on Saturday and then Rock the TRI on Sunday.

I’ve been here before.  Doubting myself before a race.  Am I fast enough?  Strong enough?  Have I trained enough?  When things get difficult, will I have what it takes to dig deep and push even harder?

We’ll find out on July 31st. 

If history is any indication, don’t bet against me.

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Comments
  1. Shaik says:

    750 meters is a an strange distance to swim. Just long enough that you don’t want to sprint it out and short enough that it is hard to make up time. The good thing about your tri is that your are going to hit the water and swim hard until your eyes cross.

    In my Sprint Tri this past Sunday, I got kicked in the head about 50 meters in and did the rest of the race without goggles. If I had held back a little I may been able to keep the goggles on… but i would have been slower out of the water. It was a little harder to sight, but not that much harder.

    I bet your Tri swim will be even a little more chaotic than this one due to the distance… Even with fewer people. I bet you nail this one. I don’t see back to back timid swims from you.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Sean for the visit and the message! I learned a ton last night, I’m going to enter the water with an entirely different attitude on the 31st, and like most things in life and race day, confidence and attitude rule the day. I have that swim in me, just have to tap into it and go for it.

  2. Wendy says:

    You are going to do fine! You have to remember that most triathletes are swimmers and bikers. Most of them are not runners. In fact, many of them dread the run. Let them beat you on the swim, you will come around and beat them on the run, where they are struggling. You are a strong runner, use it to your advantage! Good luck on your race!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Wendy – thanks for the encouragement! I think the longer the run course, the better off I will be for sure. I’m not resigning myself to the fact that I can’t become a top 50% swimmer just yet – I’ve been at it for only about 15 weeks, I still have some speed to acquire I hope! Take good care, J

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