I thought I was done with racing after Honu until the Vineman 70.3, but somehow I got talked into two aquathons (swim/runs) within a week of one another.
First, my wingman Keith coaxed me into heading down to Morgan Hill last Sunday for the Splash and Dash, which offered a series of events: 1-mile swim, 2-mile swim, 1-mile swim / 3-mile run, 1-mile swim / 6-mile run, and a 2-mile swim / 6-mile run. I chose the 1/6 aquathon, figuring that any race where the swim takes longer than the run is, well, just wrong. 🙂
Went out hard in the swim and paid the price with a slowdown and some sighting errors – the water was also a little warm for a fullsuit (need to get a sleeveless for warmer swims). I hit the exit in 28 and change, which is a pretty crappy mile time for me. Charged up from the reservoir and changed quickly, then set off on the run. Cycling after swimming vs. running after swimming is completely different – you don’t really feel the effects of the swim when you get on your bike, but you sure do on the run. I was breathing hard immediately, but started reeling some people in. Some were only doing the 1/3, so only one out and back on the run; those of us running 6M had to go out-back-out-back.
Try as I might, the first mile was a struggle to run 6:40 pace, which normally wouldn’t be that challenging but definitely was redlining it after that swim. I just kept that effort level, and my splits started getting faster – down to 6:30 and a little faster. Coming to the end of the first loop, I could tell that there were only maybe one or two people in front of me in the 1/6, since anyone doing the longer run and ahead of me would have to be going out again when I was coming in. I passed the one guy in mile 4, and from that point on I was the hunted. I did get passed by the winner of the 2/6, my teammate Mike, who’s a very fast swimmer/runner (he’s pretty quick on the bike too). He had started 10 minutes in front of me but done a mile longer on the swim, and he caught up to me just after mile 4. I focused on keeping him in sight for the rest of the run, which I managed to do.
With all the people on the course from the various races, it became a little confusing as to where I was in my race, but when I crossed the finish line, my teammates told me they thought I had won it. My run split (the Garmin said the run was a full 10K) was 40:45, which I’m happy enough with, and my overall time was 1:10. It turns out I did win the overall; 2nd was about two minutes back of me.
Pretty cool! I have had a few overall wins in running races, but never one in a multisport event. Of course, it was a very small field, and all the big guns were in the 2/6, but a win is a win! The announcer was pretty funny at the awards ceremony – when he saw that I had won the overall, he said “all you young guys suck – you got beaten by an old man.”
Fast forward five days, and I found myself in Boulder, CO for a conference. I decided, as one does, that since I was in Boulder that I needed to make an ambassadorial trip to TrainingPeaks. I had alerted Dan McIntosh, but apparently I surprised the rest of the TP crew when I showed up around 5 p.m. on a Thursday. Next thing I know, I’m following Dan to Boulder Reservoir (or trying to – my gutless rental car had trouble keeping up with his Audi) for a Stroke and Stride. Again, various distance options were to be had: a 1500m swim / 5K run and a 750m swim / 5K run, and a 5K run only. Remembering my rule about not swimming longer than I run, I opted for the one with the shorter swim, which was alos useful since I hadn’t brought my wetsuit. Or my race belt, which meant I pinned my number to my tri top (as if I needed any more drag in the water :-)). The running shoes I had brought didn’t have quick laces, so I opted for my slip-on Nike Frees – not fast shoes, but fast to put on. Clearly, I hadn’t come to Boulder prepared to race.
Everything started ok, but then I rapidly became hypoxic in the water – almost a panic attack, but I guess it was just the altitude (something to think about for next year’s Ironman Lake Tahoe race, which I signed up for). I had to move to the side and spend a little time on my back to relax and get my breathing and heart rate under control. After that, things were fine, but my swim was slowwwwww. 16:50 for what looks on the Garmin like it was 800m, but that could just be my inability to swim straight.
I had an OK transition, and I was off and running. At first it took me a while to pass people – they were starting out hard – but then I started my usual move through the field. I felt the altitude for sure, but was able to keep a consistent 6:45 pace, which actually netted me the fastest run split in that particular race (I got outsplit by a few of the guys doing the 1500m version, including Cam Widoff, but as usual most of the big guns were in the longer race) and 9th overall. I won the M50 division, but only would have gotten 2nd in the F50 division. Talk about getting “chicked!” 🙂
Anyway, these short, intense races without the bike have been pretty fun. I think I’ll do a few more this summer.
Thanks to the great folks at TrainingPeaks for the hospitality today and especially to Dan for making me get my old butt out there to race.