Last weekend while the GeekGrl was racing the Jay Benson Triathlon I was serving as a referee. A couple weeks before that while the GeekGrl was racing the Atomic Man Duathlon I was serving as the referee. I have not done a single multisport event all year and the last time I got to line up as a competitor was at the Old Pueblo 50-mile Endurance run way back on March 6th and that was only my second race of the year.
Well, last weekend was the last straw. I was tooling around on the back of a motorcycle looking for penalties and thinking “this sucks.” To make matters worse after the race we had our annual Outlaws cookout and everyone has cool stories about their exploits to date, including Ironman St. George that the GeekGrl and I had to bag at the last minute and I wasn't able to really join in so as soon as we got home I jumped online to see what the next race on the schedule would be. It just happened to be the Dog House Sprint in Lubbock, TX run by some of my favorite race directors, Mike and Marty Greer of the Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3.
It has been almost two years since I've been to Texas to race. Last year was pretty much a total loss with the new house and me in the acting chief of psychology position and this year hasn't been a lot better so I was very eager to get out to Lubbock and race. The feature race of the day is an Olympic distance race called the Buffman & Squeaky after Mike and Marty's dogs but the GeekGrl and I opted for the sprint. I reasoned that I couldn't afford to 1)run hard for 6.2 miles if my knee did protest, 2) expend that much energy the weekend before what is supposed to be an exceptionally hard 50K or 3) risk a recovery period that would cost me yet more time away from my Leadville training plan.
So, I think the last time I set up a transition area and pulled on a wetsuit was October 2009. I started off by tearing the leg of my wetsuit about three inches above the bottom with my heal. I was still in good spirits because it didn't ruin the suit and I was getting ready to race...finally. We went down to the waters edge and the water was a little cold but bearable. I lined up front and center and just planned to go all out. I really didn't know what to expect because I haven't really been swimming at all this year. I think I have about 4500 meters total. When the gun went off I just charged in as hard as I could and then swam like crazy. I swam about 95 meters thinking “this is awesome, I am flying!” and then by 100 meters I was more like “Oh crap, I'm going to blow up in about two more strokes.” I evened out my pace a bit and finished the swim in about 7:51, which is actually a swim PR for me by about 10 seconds per 100 meters. I got through transition pretty slowly and onto my bike.
The bike at the Buffalo Springs Lake venue is renowned for the monster climb right out of transition. It isn't particularly long, maybe a couple hundred meters, but it is quite steep. This is followed by a big downhill and another, longer but slightly less steep climb before heading out onto long stretches of flat ground. Same as with my swimming for the year I have very little biking and certainly nothing even approaching a sprint intensity. As with my swim I just went at the bike as hard as I could. The bike course for this race isn't the usual 20K but is 17.6 miles. I passed a few people but I was also passed by maybe four, which at least used to be unusual for me but I did come out of the water pretty fast and none of them looked like they might be people I would be directly competing with. I worked the bike hard and as I approached the end of the course I was pretty nervous that I would have little left for the run. I got off the bike in about 51 minutes and made another slow trip through transition.
For the run I decided to go with my brand new pair of Mizuno Wave Universe 3 racing flats. These little guys weigh a meager 4 ounces per shoe. I think I have socks that are heavier. I wanted to start wearing racing flats for short races because I have grown accustomed to my Vibram Five Fingers and so felt I could tolerate the minimalist attire.
Like the swim and the bike I just hit the run as hard as I could. I left transition with three guys in sight probably 5 to 20 yards ahead of me. The nearest guy was a very fit 29 year old and I just did my best to focus on his back and try and hang on. My whole world was his blue tri suit, my labored breathing and the tsch tsch tsch tsch of my Mizunos on the road. Me and the blue tri guy caught the other two runners within about a quarter mile and put them behind us pretty quickly. After that it was just me and blue for a while. No matter how hard I pressed I couldn't close the gap on him but soon other runners began to come into sight. By about mile 1.25 the blue tri guy started to put a gap on me but there were now a couple other potential targets so I just tried to keep pushing. I ended up passing three more guys before crossing the finish line.
There has never once been a race of any distance where at least one person didn't pass me on the run but this time I did all the passing and finished up the run in about 23:35, a 7:37 pace. It has been a long while since I have actually tried to run fast so I'm glad to have pulled that off at the end of a sprint triathlon. My total time ended up being 1:25:35, which was good enough for first place masters Clydesdale. Actually it was good enough for overall fastest Clydesdale by about 14 minutes and it set a new Clydesdale course record, also by 14 minutes, I was 11th overall and not a single peep from my knee.
Back in 2006 this same course under a different make was my very first open water swim and I was very new to triathlon. My time then was 1:42:59, just a shade faster than the GeekGrl ran it this year so clearly we have both made some serious improvements.
It was an awesome day!
Update with official race results
500 meter swim: 7:30 (as much as I hate to think this I believe the course was a little short)
T-1: 1:27 (not as bad as I thought)
17.6 mile bike: 52:32 (still on par with my best times on this course)
T-2: 1:04 (faster than I thought)
5K run: 23:00 (a 7:22 pace, also faster than I thought)