I had my alarm set for 3AM. The coffee maker started at 2:45AM. I woke up without difficulty. The truck was already loaded up. I prepared a bowl of oatmeal and had a cup of coffee. I made my way to Lance’s just a couple of miles away.
We were all loaded up and ready to go by 4AM. The drive was uneventful. We had one pit stop about half way to the race site. Robin and I talked about not blowing up on the bike. This was more for Lance then Robin or I.
The Sunfish was my first triathlon ever, back in 2007. I completed it on my birthday. I did not know anyone at the race. Wow, how have times changed.
We arrived at the race site at 5:45AM. The transition was still pretty empty. I got checked in and selected a good transition spot near the bike in and out. The run exit had changed this year. The run exited near the swim exit. My transition was in a good spot.
I jumped in the lake and swam about half way to the first turn. The swim resembled a trapezoid – ( /_\ - turn that upside down). The water was warm like a bath but not near as hot as the heat wave last month. There would not be any problems.
This is a time trial start with each athlete jumping in every 5 seconds. I was number 228. Robin, my nemesis was 233. I would start at 19 minutes after the start and Robin would start 25 seconds back. Robin has run me down in almost every triathlon that we have competed in. I needed a bit of a buffer.
In years past Robin would beat me soundly in the swim and the run. I could put some time into him on the bike and in the transitions. Robin has improved his bike substantially in the past couple of years. His transitions are still lacking.
I started the swim easily and started passing people immediately. My swim has improved much in the past couple of years. I have no fear of struggling in the swim. I’m still not at the pointing end of the pack but I am at least in the pack. I kept to the left of the line of athletes and swam my own race. I did get passed in the swim by Sam and Judy (Sam’s wife). They are fish. Robin later told me that I was just ahead of him at the swim exit.
In transition I ran to my bike and mounted up. As I jumped on my bike I saw Sam just ahead of me starting up the small hill just out of transition. I got in the aero bars immediately and passed several people on the levy. As soon as you exit the park you turn left into a major hill. This is a tough hill and doubly tough for Mississippi. I powered up the hill past a dozen people. There were a few people weaving back and forth and one or two people walking their bikes. This is just the first of many hills in this 16ish mile course. I kept my intensity up the entire ride. I was spinning out on the down hills – this is such a rarity for me. Spinning out of my gears means 40+ MPH. I was attaching each hill. My legs were burning. My heart rate was out of bounds. At about the half-way point I came upon Shawn. I raced with Shawn at the DragonFly last month. It took a little while to overtake him. He was racing on Chris B’s race wheels. These are the race wheels that have plagued him with flats. When I passed Shawn I let out a loud pssss! To get his attention. We would trade places a couple of times. I could get Shawn on the up hills and he could get me on the decline. Eventually I was able to make the pass stick. Once back into the park I moved to the left and few past several athletes. There was still a ways to go before transition.
As I charged up the last small hill to the levy I had to slow way down to avoid congestion. On the levy I kept in a fast gear and pushed the pace until the finish of the bike. I ran into transition and grabbed my gear. I first ran towards the old run exit but quickly got back on course and ran to the back on the transition to start the run. No time was lost.
As I round the transition to start the run I saw Robin dismounting on the bike. This would be a tough run. I charged up the small hill just out of transition and ran across the levy. I was hot. The cold water bottle was not helping much. I kept the intensity high. I was running in the low 7’s. I would have to pick up the pace. My effort was high but my speed did not reflect this. There is a little bit of shade during the first and last miles of the race. It is just a 5k and it is flat but there is no shade for the middle of the run. I was melting. This has been a tough summer for me on the run. I wish I could say that I was simply cooking the bike but my times do not reflect this either. I passed the John P “The Legend” at the 2 mile marker. John ended up getting first in his age group (by 6 minutes)! I grabbed a cold cup of water. I walked a few feet to take the drink. Close by, just behind me, I could hear Robin yelling at me not to walk. I threw the cup down and starting running again. Within a few seconds Robin was around me. I tried to match his pass but it was not happening. I did, however, not walk an additional step. I chugged out the miles as best as I could. I really wanted to run a sub-6 for this race. This is the best opportunity for me to get a win against Robin. All of the other races have a run that is too long. When someone is putting a minute per mile into you on the run, you need a short run.
I charged across the levy and down into the home stretch. I finished strong. I was hot. I ran immediately to the kiddie pool that was full of ice. I placed my fore arms into the freezing cold ice water. I let them linger there for a couple of minutes. I then filled my unitard up with several handfuls of ice. It took about 5 minutes before I had cooled down from my boil.
I had a good race with a poor run. Robin started after me and passed me once again on the run. The results from the past few years are below –
2008 SWIM 10:52 T1 1:17 BIKE 47:41 T2 1:02 RUN 22:26 - 1:23:18
2009 SWIM 08:40 T1 0:57 BIKE 45:20 T2 1:03 RUN 21:15 - 1:17:13
2010 SWIM 10:39 T1 2:00 BIKE 46:32 T2 0:56 RUN 21:38 - 1:20:42
2011 SWIM 09:06 T1 0:53 BIKE 46:28 T2 0:49 RUN 22:43 - 1:19:57
For 2011, I finished 5 in age group and Robin once again finished 3rd. We had a good showing for Hattiesburg.
Sam finished 2nd overall (by 3 seconds). Ginger finished 5th female overall. Robin 3rd in his age group. Shawn and Lance finished 1st and 2nd Clydesdale. Jodie R. 2nd in her age group. Deanne 3rd in her age group. John P. 1st in his age group. Todd B. 3rd in his age group.
This is how Robin and I have stacked up the past couple of years.
2009 (– 51 seconds) – I placed S/B/R – 7/4/7 – TOTAL = 18
5 Robin 3 8:14 1:11 9 46:51 21.5 1:23 2 18:45 6:13 1:16:22
6 James 7 8:40 0:57 4 45:20 22.2 1:03 7 21:15 7:03 1:17:13
2010 (– 147 seconds) – I placed S/B/R – 6/6/5 – TOTAL = 17
3 Robin 3 09:46 1:13 7 46:41 21.6 1:00 1 19:38 6:30 1:18:15
6 James 6 10:39 0:59 6 46:32 21.7 0:56 5 21:38 7:10 1:20:42
2011 (– 86 seconds) – I placed S/B/R – 7/4/5 – TOTAL = 16
3 Robin 6 9:01 1:20 6 47:26 21.3 1:11 1 19:38 6:31 1:18:34
5 James 7 9:06 0:53 4 46:28 21.7 0:49 5 22:43 7:32 1:19:57
I will do my lessons learned a little later in the week.