Today was my 4th time out at the Montauk Sprint Triathlon. It's a super race, very well run, great volunteers and an awesome course. This was going to be a challenge because I had to serve as my own sherpa for the race. Wingman was working and unable to make it.
I was fortunate enough to cut the commute to Montauk dramatically by staying with my friend Sinead, about 30 minutes from the race start. It gains me about an extra hour of sleep in the morning so I jumped at the invite she offered. After catching up a little last night, I wound up going to sleep relatively quickly. Usually I sleep poorly on race nights, but I didn't sleep too badly last night.
When the alarm went off at 4:45am this morning, I didn't bother to hit snooze. I got up as quietly as I could so I would not disturb anyone sleeping. Got dressed, ate my breakfast (OK Jen, no need to scold me this time around) grabbed my gear and headed out. Put on my iPod in the car and a great song came on. Perfect song for the weather of the day:
(Jeff Lyne is sporting quite the 'fro if you ask me, and what's with the guy jamming on the cello?)
The interesting thing about this race is there are two transition areas. So I drove to the swim start transition, dropped my swim and bike gear off, then drove up to the lighthouse parking lot to drop off the car and my run gear. Rode the bus back down to the swim start and put on the wetsuit. I recently purchased a new wetsuit, the DeSoto Black Pearl two piece suit. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love this new wetsuit. The fit is great. Since it's two pieces you can purchase two different sizes (which I did) and it does make a difference. Plus the customer service of this company is outstanding. They stand behind their products and will almost bend over backwards to keep the customer happy.
Once I easily put on my wetsuit, I walked to 1/2 mile to the swim start. Man, it was getting warm in that suit as I walked down the beach. In hindsight I should have waited to put the top on until I got to the actual start, but that would require some thinking on my part and on race days, thinking goes out the window. My wave was going off at 7:12am so I had a little time to kill. It was a water start and the water on the cool side. I made my way out to the start buoy. When the horn sounded, I started swimming. My hands were freezing in the water. Took a while to warm them up. I would say about halfway in they finally were comfortable. I don't know what was going on in the swim, but it seemed long to me, or maybe there was a current against us, or I just suck at swimming. Who knows. All I know is that I felt really comfortable on the swim and I had a crappy swim time to show for it.
I finally made it to the last buoy and turn in to the shoreline. I finally make it out of the water. I didn't wear a watch so I had no idea what my time was. Honestly, I wasn't worried about it. I just wanted to find a nice rhythm in all three parts and nail my nutrition. In T1, the wetsuit peeled off nice and easy. Cleaned off my feet as best as I could, put on my cycling shoes, helmet and sunglasses and grabbed the bike to head out for the ride. The wind was favorable today. Wasn't much of a factor for the race.
The bike course is nice. The first ~10 miles are flat as a pancake, but the last 4 is uphill. I did remember to set my timer on the bike to go off every 15 minutes to remind me to drink. I did this for my Ironman back in 2006 and after my race nutrition discussion with Jen from my last race/fiasco, I decided it was time to go back to what works. And what do you know, it worked again! I never felt flat on the bike. I passed people and was riding at a nice pace, until the uphill section came along. I did lose a little time, but overall, I was ~2 minutes faster on the bike this year over last year. I made my way to the dismount and safely got off and racked the bike. Now was the challenge.
Last month this is where I fell apart. For the life of me, I could not run. I had lead legs and a heart rate that was sky high. This time around I took it out easy on the run and actually felt good early on. I plodded slowly along until I felt like I had my running legs under me. The run course is really nice. It winds through Camp Hero near the lighthouse. It's a relatively flat course and shaded in most parts. By mile 1 I was feeling good. I felt my tempo pick up a bit and my stride widen. Next thing I knew I saw the 2.5 mile sign. Only 1/2 mile to go! I was cruising along now, but once I hit the main road again, I realized that I had the uphill climb to the lighthouse for the race finish. When I approached the bottom of the hill, I just kept my head down and kept the feet moving. There was no way I could sprint up this hill today (you can see the hill in the photo above). I took 4 minutes off of last years pathetic excuse for a run. The other nice thing about this race is they have a super energetic race announcer. This guy, Terry, calls out each person's name and is really enthusiastic about it. He has some stats about some of the athletes and will add that info to his announcing to the crowd.
Overall, I was disappointed with my time, but then again it feels like everything is coming together and I am finding a rhythm in my racing, something that has been absent for the last two season. Plus, this was not an "A" race for me so I am not too worried about times right now. I am just trying out things to be sure they work well for me.
I'm looking forward to next weekend's race - the NYC Triathlon. I am doing it as a relay. i will swim, Wingman will ride, and my cousin Len will run. Our team name is "BAMF" which stands for Bad Ass Mother F*#kers, which we are a far cry from being. But it's all in fun.