South Beach Triathlon

Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Training

This past Sunday, I raced the Olympic distance Nautica South Beach Triathlon.  It was my 81st triathlon and you would think that after all this time and this much experience, I’d know by now that I should be focusing on all the good things that came out of this race.  But instead, I’m stuck with thinking about how bad I was at this or that.  What makes this experience particularly difficult to manage emotionally is that so many of my Terrier teammates had phenomenal performances.  I should be ecstatic for them and to a large extent, I am, but they also paint a certain color over my performance, one that I am having a hard time getting over.

I have been swimming so well this season, or so I have perceived.  My times have gotten faster, my endurance stronger, and my technique better.  Even on race day, as we all navigated the crystal clear and warm waters of the Altantic, just a couple of hundred yards off-shore, I felt strong and in control.  Technique felt good, energy was up there, weather conditions were superb, navigation spot-on, etc., but when I exited the water, the clock was angry with me and spit out a nasty 36 minute and change time.  What I did to anger Father Time is beyond me; I figured good karma was coming my way but all joking aside, I’m beside myself trying to figure out what went wrong.  I felt so good; how could this have happened?

Not to let it get to me, I ran hard to transition and exited in a mere one minute and sixteen seconds, enough to warrant one of the fastest T1 times.  I joke about it with many friends, but I do take pride in my ability to get in and out of transition quickly.  Once on the bike, I realized the conditions were right for putting the pedal down.  I had a few moments of respite where I ate an energy gel or adjusted my body, but for the most part, the data on my cyclometer said that I’d finish around one hour and seven minutes.  With about four miles to go, fatigue set in.  Many friends and teammates said that the heat was a major factor for them, but I didn’t really sense it.  Maybe it was a factor unbeknownst to me physically yet still there.  I managed to limp back to transition and finished with a one hour and ten minute bike time.  It’s good by my standards, but I expected a great day, not a mere good one.

I figured that I’d be hurting on the run since heat has always been my kryptonite, but I felt rather decent.  At the one mile marker, my watch said 7:07, but at the two mile marker, it said 8:23, thus making it obvious that the first mile marker had been misplaced.  Take the average and I was running at around a 7:30 pace.  That’s quite good and I felt that good through mile four.  At that point, I felt my pace decrease and the heat take a bigger effect.  I was passed by a teammate and decided that I should try to stay within a stone’s throw of her pace… and I did.  As we neared the six mile marker, we came across our Terrier coaches and supporters who eagerly shouted at us to put in a final push.  As I recall, they yelled at her to not let a man beat her (that man being me!), and that’s all that they needed to do to boost me into the red zone.  I managed to really run the last quarter mile hard and finished feeling totally zonked… and that’s the way you’re supposed to do it.

So, when looking back, the swim was horrible (time-wise), T1 was great, the bike was good, T2 was good, and the run was pretty good (averaged a 7:54 pace) considering the heat.  I should be happy, but my time was a pathetic 2:38:56.  So many of my teammates whom I had considered to be slower than me were just the opposite, so I suppose it’s the ego that is bruised the most.  In the end, I can’t really complain that much.  I am fortunate to even be able to do this sport, and even more fortunate that I can do so at a moderately competitive level.  It’s just that I really believe in myself that I can do so much better, that I can achieve so much more; failing to do so has such a material affect on me.  This psychosis of sorts has its merits though; I am more energized than ever to swim more, to swim better, and to improve by a huge amount in preparation for Ironman Germany.

I read a couple of post-race reports from a teammate who is an editor of a major magazine, and a Facebook friend who is a professional triathlete, and both wrote about how great the experience was despite what they described as basically lackluster performances.  I should have such an optimistic and healthy reaction too, and to a certain degree, I do.  I guess I just have to figure out how to get that to the forefront of my brain, but still maintain the tenacity and hunger to improve.  Geez, how do I do this?  Wish there was a handbook for this kind of thing.

2011 South Beach Triathlon

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