Saturday was the 21st Annual St. John's Indoor Triathlon and it was my first one. This would be my only second triathlon ever attempted. I say attempted, because going in I was not for sure what to expect. My swimming was better, but not where I wanted it to be. I was really nervous about it and did not sleep well the night before. Come race day, I was pretty calm before the storm. The strangest thing about this was, everything is run in heats to get everybody through the pool, so my heat was not until 10:30 AM and I had time to sit and stew about the race. Normal procedure is to get up and make a mad scramble out the door and get it over with. Saturday was different.
I got to St. John's at about 9 :30 and was able to watch fellow Tulsa Running Club board member, Norm Gonzales, swim his heat. Norm was to start and 9:30 and they did not start until 9:45. My heat was also delayed and did not start until 10:50. During this time I watched some heats, encouraged Norm and Dr. Peace in their heats and got in the groove.
St. John's is a very nice health club and you have to get a key to get a locker. I am used to YMCA procedures to where you find any available locker. The locker rooms had very nice carpet and amenities and was a nice change from the YMCA. During this time I went the normal procedures of getting my race number marked on my arm and leg and changing into my gear. We were able to put some things under a chair in the bike room as sort of a transition area after the swim. Got that taken care of and was on my way to the pool. They really went out of their way to make participants feel special. They had microphoned announcers in the pool area. They announced who was in what lane, introduced your lap counter, and went through the instructions. Everything was chipped, so were to swim our heat and then we cross a chip mat on our way upstairs. Yes, that is right. We had to exit the pool the and then run upstairs to the bike room. This ought to be fun.
In my swim heat and in my lane was a gentleman that was 67 years old. That is incredible enough by itself, but this was his first race back after having lost one lung to cancer. That's right, he was competing with one lung. What a stud! Also, in my heat was fellow Tulsa Running Club board member, Wes Hollander. Wes is a really good runner and is branching out into Tri's. I was not for sure about his swim or bike capabilities, but I knew I could out run him.
At 9:50 on the dot, the announcer counted down and said, GO! and we were off. The lanes at St. John's are kind of narrow, so I got kicked a couple of times, but nothing major. I swam pretty good considering that I normally panic and run out of breath. I was pretty consistent and had a good swim. Out of seven swimmers, I was fifth and Wes was first out of the pool. My split was 10:31 for 500 yards and was two minutes behind Wes. I ran up to the bike room and the first transition. I tried to put my shoes on, but the right insole kept bunching up and I had to take it off a couple of times. I put my shirt on and got my arm stuck in the sleeve. Not a good transition time.
Next was the bike. I started out by cranking the tension all the way up to the maximum of 20, but I was not able to hold that for long. I backed it down to about 14.7, but was faltering at that. I dropped it one last time to 13 and felt like I could maintain that. From that point, I just put my head down and pedaled. I was kind of discouraged at this point as I felt like I should have had maintained more tension, but couldn't. The bike counters came over after a few minutes and told me that I was doing a great job. This was news to me. I looked over at the guy next to me and noticed that I was catching him. I was fifth on the bike and I felt like I was making up some ground. As time went on they kept coming back to me and telling that I was doing great. At this point they introduced my run lap counter to me. She was going to keep track of my running laps so I would not have to.
I kept my head down and kept pedaling and the bike counters were saying that it was going to be either me or Wes off the bike first. What? I had made up over 2 minutes on the bike. Wes got off the bike and took off on the run. He ended up getting a little over one lap head start on me. I finished my bike in 24:05, average of 24.9 mph. I headed out on the track.
I caught Wes within a couple of laps and pulled ahead of him. I was running pretty good, but was not pushing it to the extreme. I was pushing myself, but not as hard as I could. I was just unsure as to how fast to go after biking so hard. Don't get me wrong, I was moving good.
As the others started piling off the bikes, I was lapping them consistently. I knew I was doing good, but I was unsure how good. I never saw Wes again for a long time and thought maybe he had dropped out. As I was getting close to finishing, I saw Wes again. I overtook him with 3 laps to go. I had pulled into the lead for my heat. I started making some ground on him, but with only 3 laps to go, it was not a lot. As I turned into the last corner to the finish, I heard someone say, "You can catch him." I looked over my shoulder and Wes was coming. I sprinted towards the finish, but we had to make a sharp left hand turn off the track to cross the mats and I took it too sharp and almost fell over. I recovered and I crossed the line barely ahead of Wes.
My total time was 56:33 for an overall finish of 8th and second in my "strange" age group of 35-44. Not too bad for only my second triathlon and first indoor one. The overall non-elite winning time was 54:06. If I only knew how to swim, I could have won the event overall. My bike split was the second fastest of all competitors, including the elite. That's right, I beat everyone except the winner of the elite heats, Chuck Sloan, on the bike. My run was 20:32 for the third best run. I could have ran faster, but it still was not a bad run. If I would have had a watch, I may have tried to crank it up a notch. Still, it was a good day.
Some lessons learned:
Get some pull laces for my shoes.
Get a race belt.
Learn How to Swim!!
With some of these improvements, I think I can compete a lot better.
Tonight is my swim clinic with Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen from aquaticedge.org at St. John's. This should be good and I will write a report on how it goes. Sorry about the long report, but it was three sports in one, not just running.