First race of the season is in the books. 2015 Life Time Tri Marquee in Tempe, Az. on Apr.12 was my first olympic distance race in over 15 years. Leading into the race I have been dealing with a knee issue. My running has been cut from my usual 40+ miles per week to a painful 8-10. Run fitness was pretty much non existent. That said the plan going in was to have a solid swim, ride hard and hobble home.
Race morning alarm went off at 3:00. After a quick breakfast I met up with my coach, Brian Stover of Accelerate3. Brian was my ride for the day to Tempe. We had made arrangements with the race director to pick up our race packets on race morning. We arrived at Tempe Town Lake at 5:30, giving us 15 minutes to get our packets. After getting our packets I found my assigned rack spot and went about setting up my gear. For some reason the guy racked next to me decided to set up his gear on the back side of his bike…not leaving me much room. I kindly suggested that there would be more room for everyone if he would set up on the proper side. The suggestion fell on deaf ears. So I set up in what space I had. With about 25 minutes until the first wave started, I made my way down near the lake and put my new BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit on. They then lined up the waves. I was in the 5th wave, mens 50+. There was 4 minutes between waves so my wave was set to go off at 6:50. After the singing of the National Anthem by friend and fellow 50-54 agegroup athlete Dan Cadriel, The pro athletes were off. 3 more waves and then it was our turn. As soon as the 4th wave was off we were allowed to jump into the water. I was among the first in and swam to the start line. The buoy line curved slightly to the right so I lined up in the front row on the far right side. The plan was to swim a straight line to the turn buoy. The horn sounded and off I went. From the start I had clear water. Most everyone else was hugging the buoy line. My plan worked well. My sighting was on and I felt good. The 69 degree water temps were perfect and the new wetsuit was working great. About 300 meters into the swim I started catching some of the green caps that started in the wave before me. As I got to the turn buoy I caught a large group of green caps but was able to navigate my way through them fairly smoothly with minimal contact. On the back stretch of the swim i swam the buoy line. I passed numerous other competitors from the earlier waves. I made the final turn and headed in to the exit stairs. The volunteers assisted me to my feet and the strippers did their job efficiently, quickly removing my wetsuit.
1500 meter swim time…25:43 (5th in my agegroup/78th overall), right about what I figured it would be.
I made the run to the far end of transition and quickly found my bike spot (thank you person that marked the rack with a fluorescent green cloth strips). Dropped off my goggle, cap and wetsuit, put on mt helmet, grabbed my bike and ran for the mount line. T1 time…1:20 (5th in agegroup/75th overall)
Once on the bike I quickly got up to speed and got my feet into my shoes. The course is a 2 loop flat, fast course with wide fast turns and a few 180 degree turn arounds each loop. Throughout the bike my legs felt good. the first loop went smooth. By the second loop the the sprint and slower competitors had made their way onto the course. I had to keep my head up looking out for traffic throughout the loop. Riders were all over the road, riding on the right, not holding lines through the turns and making conditions dangerous. On several occasions I had to slow my pace so that I could safely pass. But I made my way safely. As I made my way towards T2, I slipped my feet out of my shoes. I made the last turn and stepped off my bike at the dismount line running.
40k Bike time…1:03:48 (4th in agegroup/35th overall).
Racked my bike, removed my helmet, put on my run shoes, and then as I ran out of T2 I put on my hat and glasses and sucked down a gel.
T2 time…1:17 (5th in agegroup/90th overall)
As expected, right from the start my knee began to hurt. The concrete run course was no help. However, once I got warmed up my knee bothered me less. The course was 2 loops around the lake. The sun was getting warmer and I made sure to hydrate well at every aid station. The first loop I was able to maintain around 7:30 pace. I was passing some of the slower people, but as expected the fast runners began to go by me. By mile 4 my knee began to hurt more and my lack of run fitness began to catch up with me as my pace slowed. With about half a mile to go my knee got very painful and I limped my way to the finish line.
10k Run time…51:49 (18th in agegroup/174th overall). I was hoping to go :50 or under…but I found out the course was a little long so I was right at my goal.
I crossed the line in 2:23:55, only about a minute off my best time 15+ years ago as a much younger person. I was 7th in the 50-54 agegroup and 71st overall (out of 550).
After the race my knee was quite sore. Ibuprofen and ice helped alleviate the pain.
Next up is TriZona Sahuarita, Tempe International and Deuces Wild all in May. That will be followed by no running to allow the knee to properly heal. Then hopefully I will be able to squeeze in a few late season races.