Sunday, August 17, 2008

UNC Wellness Sprint Triathlon

I guess I should have checked the weather report but it probably wouldn't have made any difference. I was going to show up anyway but perhaps I could have prepared a little better. Like maybe put windshield wipers on my glasses for the bike ride.

My treatment for the running injuries continues to improve slowly and steadily but with my commitment to doing an Ironman Tri next year I need to spend more time in triathlon training and what better way than to have some fun and do another race. I was really looking forward to this one since several of my most special friends would also be participating. Jenn would be making her Triathlon debut today. She bought a bike a couple of years ago but had hardly ridden it although she does do spinning classes in the gym. The swim was another area she hasn't worked on too much but with just a 250yd pool swim she felt this would be a good one in which to get her feet wet so to speak. She was a bit nervous about it so a week before we met for a 15 mile bike ride and then a session in the pool so I could give her a few tips and answer all her questions and hopefully boost her confidence a bit. What a great way to spend a day for me!

Margherita was competing too despite having done a 100 mile bike ride the day before as she continues to train for her Ironman distance tri in Wilminton on Nov 1st. She had our friend Maureen along for support. Frank and Karla were there too and Teri Saylor from the NCRC had ridden along with Jenn.

Since it was a pool swim we were seeded by our predicted lap times so I was the first of our group to begin at 7:44. It was a cloudy morning but I didn't even think about rain until about 15 minutes before my time to start when I thought I heard thunder rumbling off in the distance. I headed into the building to line up for my swim and a short time later we saw that it had begun to rain fairly hard outside. Well, I guess that meant all my dry stuff was now all my wet stuff.

I was able to do my swim and felt very good and I nailed my predicted time to within a couple of seconds. I could see Karla and Jenn standing outside the window as I came out of the pool so I gave them a big grin and ran out into the rain to transition. I was in and out quickly and soon out on the bike course. After a flat start for a couple of hundred yards , the course had a couple of fairly steep hills. I was having to be careful going around the turns on the slick roads losing a little time but I noticed right away on the first hill that I was feeling stronger than I have felt so far since returning to cycling.

I had only gone a couple of miles when the bottom fell out of the sky with a deluge along with lightning and thunder. I thought about my friends that had yet to enter the pool and knew that the race for them would have to be delayed. I was just hoping that it wasn't canceled. By now the course had leveled out a lot and just had easy climbs so I was making good time despite hardly being able to see where I was going in the heavy rain. Margo had started in the pool just a few minutes behind me so I thought she was probably out on the bike course too but if she had passed me I don't think I could have seen her. Only two people passed me on the bike and I passed a lot but mainly I was very happy after the 15K ride to have felt good and my average speed was the best for me so far since my comeback in the sport. The rain was finally stopping as I came back into town the last mile.

As I ran out of transition I heard several friends cheer for me so I thought I had been right about the race being delayed. The course began with a hill so I was taking it easy to let my legs come to me and settle my heart rate. By the time I made it up and started down the hill I could tell my legs were feeling better than the two weeks ago in Burlington and I thought I was running a decent pace. There is a short section where the runners share the road with the bikes and I saw none so I now knew they had stopped or delayed the race. It began to rain again but not as hard now and it actually felt good while running. I hit the first mile in 8:40 and was very happy with that. I expected it to be closer to 9. The middle portion of the course was pretty flat so I was pushing right along and feeling good and having fun. I made the turn at the half and just as I approached the 2 mile mark, I saw Margo coming towards me. She was running strong but I could tell from the fact that she was a mile behind me that she had lost time to me on the bike. I also knew that the only reason that was possible was her 100 miler the day before. Otherwise she would have probably caught me.

I ended the run strong in 26:55 and was very happy with my race. The swim had been delayed for 30 minutes and so I walked over to talk to Jenn's parents who had come to watch her race. Jenn was in line with about two minutes before her start when lightning flashed again and once again they made them leave the pool area for another delay. I 'm sure it had to be nerve wracking to have to keep getting delayed before the start of her 1st Tri. I quickly ran back over to the finish to wait with Maureen for Margo to finish the run. She came in very strong but I wasn't surprised. She is an amazing athlete ands very competitive so I knew she would give it all she had even with the tough workout the day before.

Soon it was time to try once again to get the rest of the competitors in the race so I made my way over to watch the swim. Jenn did well , a little faster than she expected. Karla was in the pool just a couple of minutes later so I was watching and timing them both and then cheering them on into transition. It would still be awhile before Frank's swim so I went to change into some dry clothes. Then I grabbed the camera and headed over to the transition to watch them all come in on the bike. Jenn came in looking strong and running quickly into transition followed a few minutes later by Karla. I think the long rides at RAGBRAI had her in great cycling shape. I was watching the time and about to head over to the finish line to make sure I didn't miss Jenn when finally Frank came riding in.

I only had a couple of minutes to wait until Jenn came flying downhill to the finish in a great time of 25:05. Like the ultra's, I think the lady is a natural triathlete. Karla had a good run and then we waited for Frank, who would be the only award winner of our group taking 3rd in his age-group. We could have done without the delay and the heavy rain but it was still a great time and I think overall everyone was happy with their day.

You can see the photos I took here

The Race Website is here If you scroll down to the bottom of the event page you can find the results links.

They made a mistake in restarting the time after the delay so everyone that started the swim after the storm is shown with a swim time about 1:30 faster than there actual time. Otherwise the splits all seem to be correct.

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