Happy Anniversary, Triathlon!
It’s been such a great year, even though you tried to kill me once and on a few occasions made me doubt my abilities. I haven’t always been good to you either. I have skipped you at times. I have mistreated you. I have over trained and under trained for you. I promise that this year I will do better, but I won’t always be perfect. Just remember that I am trying very hard and I expect you to do the same. No more, “I’m going to change the course”. No more, “waves are fun”. And for the sake of the relationship, no more DNFs, those make me feel really bad.
Seriously though, this last weekend marked my first full year in Triathlon, and we celebrated by returning to the race where it all began, Elkhart Lake.
Elkhart Lake Sprint 2016 Race Report
My goals this year were to improve in every discipline, but more than anything, I needed a PR on this race. Coming away from a great race in Galveston just a few short months ago, I had everything going my way. Then I got sick to the point where I had a hard time breathing. I was measuring the miles by how much snot I had collected on my shirt. And generally, I haven’t felt well. Even still, I am battling some serious muscle pain (fatigue and stress related).
For some reason I got really nervous about the race, something felt off about racing and not traveling (because I didn’t have to prep a week ahead of time) and not staying in a hotel (having to re-prep once I check in) and not having to rack my bike the night before (one less thing to think about race morning). All of those things seem to make everything a lot easier for me (counterintuitive, I know). The morning of the race wasn’t great either, but I made it through with only one port-a-potty stop before the race started.
My swim wasn’t great. I was breathing every other stroke (always on the left). I think this was the water temp taking my breath faster than normal, but who really knows. It could have been anxiety also. Really it was a great swim and I took 52 seconds off my time from last year. Not bad for a 400 meter course. Having completed several 1.2 mile swims, I was sort of surprised at how stressful this 400 meter swim was.
T1 sucked. Because of where transition was this year, Sprint racers had to run about a 1/4 mile to their bikes. Still, I took 1m20s off my time. I think the reduction has something to do with having gone through transition many times now and know what to do and what not to do (and honestly not worrying about anything since the bike is so short).
My bike effort was awesome this year. Some of the hills beat me up a little, but there was something different this year (I’ll explain in the run section). Rules weren’t followed well on the course, so I was passing people on the right and was getting stuck behind groups of riders. The night before the race, the course changed, but it wasn’t very significant, just a u-turn vs. a turn around on the roads. Overall, I was 4 minutes faster on the course.
T2 sucked. Again, an extra 1/4 mile to get to the run start from my bike . . . BOOOOOOO. Still, I made up 40 seconds in T2.
Finally, the run. Last year Elkhart’s hill of honesty killed me. The hill lasts for over a half mile and it sucks. More than that, the whole course killed me last year. I walked more than ran. This year, that wasn’t the case. I had a few drop outs to drink water and eat a gel, but ran the majority. The hill didn’t even kill me. I credit this to all the work I have done on the bike in the last 365 days. I was able to hold a high power number and still run a 5K at the end of it all. Overall, time savings on the run was 1m30s from 2015.
All said and done, my first year in the sport has been awesome, with incredible improvements in every discipline (I’m looking at you swimming, seriously you aren’t my best, but I have made you work). Nailing a workout makes the rest of my week seem great. Finishing my first 70.3 on a tough course validated my decision to change from running to triathlon. My PR at Galveston and at Elkhart in 2016 have really shown the progress I have made (thanks to the coach’s insistence that I make progress and not just be happy with my current paces).
It’s been a good year, triathlon, let’s see if we can have another good one. Chattanooga is less than 100 days away and I plan on knowing that I can complete that distance.