When I started this journey I had initially planned on trying to go on my own. When I discovered this group in my quest for training it changed my mind. Today was an example of return on investment. Had I gone on it alone I would not have achieved anywhere near the result I had today. For my first ever race training for only four months, losing nearly 35 lbs. to place, to finish third in my age group, and 25th overall exceeded all my expectations in my first race.
Jennifer Borovica gave us a good plan going into the week, this was our "B" race as part of the newbie group. I had did a race the week prior just to go though the transitions and get some experience going into this. Unfortunately last weeks race the swim was canceled due to rough waters in lake Erie and it was switched to a duathlon. This was my first time ever swimming in a race situation.
When the horn went off after the first fifty meters I wasn't feeling it. Despite all my efforts to get ready for this day I felt flat and off. Being in the 35 - 44 wave I watched as about 10-15 people flew by me as if they were propelled by torpedoes. My first thought was, I'm not nearly as good of a swimmer as I thought I might be in the open water and I have no business being out here. Then Jennifer popped in my head from a recent clinic “remember, don't panic, you know how to swim". Barb Thomas who is also in the Baucco group and is a swim coach who I took some lessons from popped in my head. Her working with my swim stroke using my long arms “pull all the way though” just started to kick in. I had found a rhythm after 100 meters. It was working, I may not have been the fastest but I figured at some point the speed demons in front of me were going to pay the piper and they did. Jennifer popped back in my head. You want to get faster as you move though the course. Boom, that worked and before I knew it I was out of the water having some of the folks who passed me earlier. I had exerted a lot of energy though and was questioning if I’d have anything left. Seeing my dad who surprised me as a fan giving me a fist bump as I headed for T1 got me all fired up as I headed toward my favorite sport. The bike.
I am most at home on the bike. If I were to do any damage here it was going to be on the bike. Like my duathlon race last week, no one passed me. I ate up the field including my 24 year old cousin who started 10 minutes ahead of me in another wave. Confidence was building and as Jen had coached I made sure I was get progressively faster on the course. She had shared that AJ recommended a cadence of 80-85 rpm to save your legs for the run so I found a gear that kept the speed at 22 -26 mph on the straight portions of the course, stayed arrow, and made sure I was going 80-85 rpm. That worked and proved to be my saving grace as I was able to create some separation with some of my fellow age group counterparts.
The run, the dreaded run (at least for me). This is an area of opportunity for me much like the swim. It's taken some time I had to get lighter body weight wise to get faster as carrying the extra weight has been challenging. I did better than I had hoped running the first two miles in negative splits. The third mile is where I had a learning lesson. I wasn't sure of the course and how much was left distance wise, if there was a hill at the end, etc. So rather than put the burner on the last 1 mile to 3/4 mile I conserved too much energy worried there was a hill etc. I didn't take the gamble. The learning lesson with today's technology. Study the course, use Google street views, etc and go though it so you know what to expect.
Overall this race exceeded my expectations. I was shocked when I crossed the line and entered my bib number to see a 25th overall and a 3rd AG finish with a time of 1:18.35 My stretch goal was to break 1:20.00 and any place I achieved would have been icing on the cake. This was a welcome surprise for only training the last four months.
Thankful for this group and those in the Cleveland Triathlon Club who have really been instrumental in my journey. With out the support of my wife, kids, coach, and all of you this wouldn't have happened.
Inspired for the road ahead with still much to learn and a training foundation that's still being developed.