Archive for May 1, 2012

It’s a funny thing  this journey to Ironman 70.3 in October.  Just 15 days ago I stood on Main Street in Hopkinton, MA as the 5,280th fastest qualifier in the Boston Marathon.

Sunday I will wade into the water at Decker Lake with 50 or 60 other men, age 40 and above as “Rookie” Triathletes here in Austin Texas.

The true irony is that I will be far more nervous on Sunday before the horn sounds than I was standing among more than 20,000 athletes at the start of one of the most famous road races in the world.

That’s what an open water swim will do to you – no matter how short.

“The Rookie” is a great event here in Austin.  A super-sprint triathlon featuring a 300 Meter Swim, 11 Mile hilly bike leg and a 2 mile run.

The event which is geared to the first-time triathlete also has an open division for experienced, top performers as well as a traditional age group division for those triathletes who have completed more than two previous events.

To qualify as a “Rookie” this must be your first or second triathlon.

I thought about racing as an age-grouper this Sunday, but decided that the rules are the rules.  My only previous triathlon on July 31 last Summer is now 9 months in my rear view mirror.  The vast majority of my training since then has been with an eye toward the New York City and Boston Marathons.

My run is strong right now, of that there is no doubt.

My bike is solid, but still not where it will be at the end of this summer as cycling mileage climbs to 100-125 miles per week.

My swim is improved from last year – but that is in the pool.  Just Monday afternoon we were able to hit the Quarry lake for our first open water swim of the year.  1,500 meters, smooth as silk.  Not overly fast, but it was nice to get back out there and get the feel of swimming in the lake without the benefit of a black stripe on the bottom of the pool to sight or a wall to push-off of to grab a breath.

Quarry Lake - Open Water Swim Monday

Open water in a crowd with elbows flying is a completely different animal.  We will see just where our swim is at 8:24 a.m. on Sunday.

So this week we will line up with the rest of the 40+ year olds who are new to the sport of triathlon.  After Sunday I will no longer be such a neophyte.  It will be time to start going toe to toe with the age-groupers who have years of experience on me as I learn more and more about racing in the swim and the bike.

The good news is that very few will have “raced” more on foot than I have.  When we rack our bikes, slip on our race flats, throw on our number belt and visor we become the hunter.  It is an enviable position to be in knowing that the final leg of the event is by far your strongest.

Last year at Jack’s in New Braunfels I left the water with the 376th fastest swim time.  I came off the bike with the 36th fastest leg.  I then posted the 6th fastest run time of any athlete.  Fastest in my age group/division by more than :45 seconds.

If someone is going to keep us off of the podium on Sunday, they are going to have to work hard on that swim and bike to build enough of a cushion to keep us off of their back over those closing 2 miles on the run.

That is not a lot of distance for us to cover to make up ground – but one thing is for certain, we are going to be letting it all hang out over that final mile.  I plan on running that last mile as close to my 5K pace as possible.  Strap yourself in people.

Time to do a little racin’.