A Tale of Two Aquathons

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.

One Comment

  1. Re: 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.”

    That would be what I’m hoping for playing the consumer web startup game right now 😉


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