Southwest Texas State University (now known as TxSt)

I had a great race this past weekend.  The Texas State Sprint Tri, also known as the Aquarena Springs Triathlon is one of my favorites of the year.  It is a great feeling to be back on the campus I graduated from back in the day.  It is cool to run by trees that I helped plant back then and remember the times, oh so many times, I skipped class to lay by the river.  It is also humorous that back then I had no idea what triathlons really were nor did I realize that anyone around campus woke up on Sundays before 11am sans hangover.

I’ve happily done this tri every year since I’ve been a triathlete.  It was the second race I ever did and the first one on my beloved little road bike, LF.    Last year they changed the race date so that it would be the first on my calender.  An interesting surprise being that it was really, really cold last year and previous years it had been in the really, really hot days of July.

This go around was the 5th time I lined up by number and jumped in the pristine waters of Aquarena Springs (72-degrees year round) along with 299 other enthusiastic athletes.    My training schedule has consisted of very little running, caveman swim sprints, mountain biking for races, lifting hard, and hours of coaching so I haven’t been strict to a schedule but I’m game for any good race.

I had a good swim- a positive improvement over last year with some seriously tactical work on my part to snag a draft behind a woman for the last 200 meters.

I’m fast at transitions.  I don’t’ know why I am so fast but I dontthink about anything while I do them.  I just get out of the water, run as fast as I can, and end up on my bike seconds later.  It happens without thought.  I practiced it a whole lot my first year in triathlons and it is all just muscle memory for me.  Also, the fact that I’m running to get on my bike is really a big thing.  I think the kid in me takes over because I just want to be on two wheels and I don’t care that the asphalt is all rocky or hot.   I got top in my group for transition with 46.10 seconds which includes a ~100meter run from the swim area (havent looked at my overall T1 ranking but I bet it is pretty high up there).

I jumped on my bike, slipped my feet in to my trishoes, and put it in my big gear.  I know, I know- triathletes spend way too much time in their big gears but I love that feeling.  I love rockin’ my quads and hams so hard that they hurt at the same time I am trying to relax my upper body.  I love my bike and she loves to go fast so that’s what I did.

We’ve been preaching cadence these past weeks for coaching so I decided to practice what I preach and race by the computer- something I don’t normally do and I know Caveman would laugh at for being a salve to numbers- but since I’ve been telling my athletes to do it, I figured I’d work to stay at 90rpm.  I did a good job keeping the 90 rpm for the race, shifting up and down when needed.  The bike is a really fun course with a little bit of flats, some false flats, and some hills you didn’t realize you really went down until you come back and have to get in climbing mode.  I’ll be honest too, I did catch a nice draft for about 20 seconds off of a little blue car.

I was pretty positive as I ended the bike (had 4th fastest bike), though there were a few in my age group ahead of me that I should have caught.  I usually have to get a good gap on the swim and bike because I get passed on the run. I zoomed barefoot in to T2 (second fastest T2 for my age with 44.90second), racked my wheels, slipped on my Zoots on, grabed my race belt, cap, and my secret weapon for the run- my metronome.

I’ve been learning more and more about Pose running and it has really helped me a whole lot.  I set the ‘nome to 180 and clipped it on my shirt as I went ouf of transition and the beeping began. At the beginning of the the run, I started to think about my last brick workout….I had to think hard….oh yeah, it was back in October during my Half Ironman!  That scared me slightly but I figured I’d keep focused on my 180+ pace since the metronome’s beep leached in my ear and just think about my running technique.

A funny thing happened- ok, more than just one funny thing happened.

First, I didn’t have that dreaded brick feeling.  I came to learn later that this is because I went from a 90 rpm on the bike to the same cadence on the run.  It was really great!  No dead legs, no tingles, no “fat-ass” feeling!

The next unusual that happened is that I was passing people. That never happens to me in tris.  I don’t pass people who are in front of me from the bike and swim.

Finally, my watch kept lying to me.  I knew it was.  I knew my calculations were off when I thought that my first mile was done is about an 8:25 pace.  There’s no way I thought, I’m not that fast, especially in the first mile of my run.  Then it happened again, my watch made second mile time look like it was faster than the first.  How could this have happened?  I wasn’t falling over, I wasn’t even breathing that hard, and I wasn’t hating it.  I was just lifting my feet to the beat of the ‘nome.  I figured it was messed up but I went with it.  I ended up turning the metronome up to 183, then 184, then 184 to find a beat that my feet felt like they enjoyed.

My fastest mile time in a time test, when I was at peak with the Gazelles was 8:16 (first mile of a 2 mile run with a little downhill in it) but here at the tri, I was putting up a slightly faster pace in miles 2 and 3 AFTER a swim and a strong bike.  What the?….I ended up clocking my fastest 5K EVER with my pace being faster than my previous 1 mile PR.  Pretty freaking sweet.  I ended up running a pace of 8:14 and really, truly chalk it all up to Pose running technique and that little annoying beeping noise from the ‘nome.

The last funny but not so funny but kind of more a kick in the side is that with this being my 5th time to do the race, I wanted any place but 4th.  I know that sounds weird but I’ve had 4th place 3 of the 4 years I’ve done the race.

This year…..well, hell I’m consistent!  I cut 6 whole minutes off of my time on the same exact course and I kept my 4th place spot.  It is humorous and I’ll gladly take 4th.  I felt silly about complaining about 4th- I’m not, I totally am not, I just think it is humorous in the dogs with 3 legs kind of way (I mean yeah, he’s adorable and cute and wonderful and can get around but it still isn’t quite the same).  I feel like I need to keep it again for next year. Yeap, that’s right in 2010, I want 4th!  I’ll hit that podium at the springs one year, I know I will.  For now I’m going to make myself a 4th place trophy and put it up on my wall.