I was motivated to do well in this race because my cousin Greg, who got me into triathlon way back when was going to be racing with me.
Like I'd posted on my last blog entry, I wasn't expecting much from myself in this race. I'd over trained leading up to my A race 3 weeks prior to the Dog House triathlon & had been struggling to get through any workouts, much less been able to finish any races with any serious speed.
Because of my poor performance the last month I took some time before the race to pray. I asked for a strong race if it was Gods will, or to give me the strength to accept a bad performance if it was what He wanted for me that day. This particular prayer is one I pray frequently: to have the strength to accept His will when his desires conflict with what I want. I have made great progress with accepting His will over mine, which isn't an easy thing for me to do. I'm a man of sinful nature & all to often I see myself acting just like a stubborn & strong willed child would, resenting when things don't go my way, pouting, & feeling sorry for myself-case in point look at my last blog post, jeez, that was ridiculous! I try & remember God is ALWAYS right in everything He does, even when- no especially when it goes against what I want.
The race started with a 500 meter open water swim. It was a mass start in water just a bit over a 60 degree temperature. The last time I raced in Lubbock (2008) I waited in the back of the pack to allow the majority of the athletes to get out onto the swim course before I started swimming. Not this time! I've improved my swimming speed & skills & was confident I could swim in the middle of the the pack where all the pushing & thrashing is. As soon as the gun went off I took off running into water. As the water became deep enough that running became too slow & cumbersome, but it wasn't yet deep enough to start swimming yet I started to dolphin. I was surprised to see I was the only athlete doing that.
I really needed a great swim because I knew the swim was where I had the biggest advantage on my cousin, who struggles in the water. He is an AMAZING cyclist, & knew I had to put a lot of distance on him in the water or he was sure to pass me early enough in the bike that I'd never be able to catch him on the run. I ended up with one of the 2 best swims of my life, getting out of the 500 meter swim in under 8 minutes!
I made a rookie mistake & couldn't find my bike in T-1 losing a good 20 seconds.
The bike course is very hilly & challenging! There are a 3 or 4 BIG hills each way on the out & back course, the 1st of which is the largest & longest and starts 100 feet from the bike start.
I had a strong bike performance finishing the 17.5 mile bike averaging approximately 22 mph. Amazingly enough I had finished the swim in a good enough time that my cousin wasn't able to pass me on the bike.
I started the run with my stop watch telling me I was just under the 1 hour mark total. I knew I was having a great race, pulling off some wonderful splits, but the run had been where I was struggling most recently. I had no idea what to expect, but I was motivated because I kept imagining my cousin was about to pass me by any minute, & I didn't want to get into a situation where he & I were running the entire course stride for stride, pushing each other to the breaking point, because I know how much heart that man has, & he'd end up testing my limits beyond what would be fun for me, squeezing every last bit of energy I had out of me, until I had nothing left & he'd end up dropping me, leaving me to struggle on the rest of the run on wobbly legs, exhausted, barely able to hold myself in an upright position, much less run with any authority.
Since it was an out and back run I was able to count athletes coming by from the turn around point. By my count I was in 5th place overall. I was able to hold onto the 5th place overall until there was 1 mile left on the run. At that point a lady by the name of Gretchen passed me. She was running very well, with perfect form, up on her toes, her steps were light, fast, & rhythmic, I could barely hear them at all. As she passed me her steps sounded like small patters of rain & I never once heard her breath heavily, which was completely the opposite of me, which I imagine sounded to her like she was getting chased by an asthmatic elephant.
I hung with her a well as I could, but this lady was strong! She ended up finishing 15 seconds ahead of me- remember me being unable to find my bike in T-1? That 20 second mistake cost me a top 5 finish. That just shows a person never stops learning, or in my case, never stops having to relearn:)
I finished the 5K run in approximately 23 minutes.
After I finished I went back out onto the course & paced my cousin the remainder of his run. We really kicked up the speed the last half mile! Being able to finish the remainder of his run with him was a great moment, I'll remember that fondly the rest of my life!
I finished the race in a total of 1 hour 22 minutes. Finishing in 6th place overall & 1st place AG 35-39. I now am in 1st place in the South West Challenge Series 35-39 AG with a total of 71.25 points.