Austin 70.3 was my first half-ironman. It was my 5th and final race of the season - so for many reasons, this race was a big deal for me. Prior to Austin, I'd raced 4 triathlons but the focus had always been on nailing my first 70.3. I wasn't sure what type of goals I should set, as this was my first half-ironman. However, being as goal oriented and competitive as I am, it was impossible not to have a few. One of my biggest goals was to come off the bike ready to RACE the half marathon, in order to accomplish that I knew I was going to have to monitor my effort (HR) and really nail my nutrition plan. Working with my coach, we thought that I would be able to finish around 4:45, so that was ultimately the time that I was shooting for. The 1.2 Mile Swim: 34:20
The Male 25-29 age group (M25-29 AG) was separated into two different waves due to there being almost 250 of us. I believe my wave was the 9th or 10th to go off for the swim start, which meant I was starting behind over 1,000 other racers. I had no idea what to expect with this big of a swim, as I caught the age group that had started in front of us within 200 meters. I made the decision to swim on the outside by about 50 feet, and ended up swimming an extra .2 miles according to my Garmin 910. Looking back, I should have swam closer to the buoy's and just been aggressive as I think I lost 3 minutes or so on the swim. Lesson learned, but I felt good with my time. Goal for next season is to be sub 30 for my 70.3 swims.
The 56 Mile Bike: 2:38:14
T1 was muddy, so I took my time getting through transition. I had heard horror stories of flat tires in T1 due to thorny nettles in T1, so I carried my bike through transition to be safe. After a quick pit-stop less than 1 minute into the bike to get the mud out of my cleats, it was time to ride. My goal was to really monitor my effort on the bike, because I knew I wanted to have a strong and fast 13.1 mile run. Once my heart rate finally settle down, I stayed between 148-152 BPM for the entire bike. With an average speed of 21.23 MPH, I was very pleased with my bike. I rented Zipp 808 carbon clincher race wheels from Athletes Lounge, and wow! Already looking forward to buying a pair of my own for next season. I took my nutrition on 20 minute intervals and didn't miss a bottle, came into T2 feeling good and ready to race the half-marathon.
The 13.1 Mile Run: 1:27:08
After a smooth transition, I was off. Right away I told myself to slow down because I was feeling very strong coming off the 56 mile bike. The run course was 3 loops, and my goal was to negative split the run. After completing my first loop at 6:38 pace, I realized that it was going to be a busy 13.1 miles. Each loop, more and more people were entering out of T2 which meant that each loop was more crowded than the last. I know I would have been able to run faster if I hadn't had to deal with the traffic, but at least everyone else was impacted by it as well. The nice thing about the 3 loop run course was that I was able to see my awesome girlfriend twice per loop - so fun! Coming into the third loop I tried to put the hammer down, but I wasn't able to run any faster so my run ended up being a pretty steady state race. I finished the half-marathon in 1:27:08 which is only 4 minutes off my open PR, and was able to run myself into 15th place in my very competitive age group of almost 250 people. What an amazing day.
My swim is the weakest of the three disciplines, and my run is by far the most competitive. It's great for me to know that I'm able to finish so strong, considering how much work I have to do on my swim and bike - leaving me very motivated going into this 'off-season.' With that said, my short history of running for 2 years prior to starting triathlon certainly shows with the times I have been able to run in the 10k and half over the summer. If I want to be truly competitive, I am going to have to focus on my swim this winter. I do want to be competitive so I'm going to make that my focus. What an amazing end to my first season as a triathlete. Can't wait to see what I can do in 2014!