Square Lake Triathlon… I competed in it a few years ago and was a little nervous to be coming back, mostly because of the swim I guess. My swim training wasn’t consistent nor very intense and I hadn’t swam the distance yet. I also didn’t do a lot of open water swimming and on top of all that, the swim was a self-seeded time trial start. I know how to self-seed in a age group mass start (the back) but in a time trial start with a new swimmer entering the water every 3-5 seconds this seemed a little harder to figure out.
Race morning was cool with a chance of rain that actually held off until most athletes finished. Had it rained during the race, it would have precipitated during every one of my races this year! Because of the weather I gave the family a pass on spectating and drove over early on Sunday morning arriving in the dusky morning light, checking in and getting set up in transition. I was surprised at how many people were showing up relatively close to the actual start time. Getting there when transition opened might have been a little overkill, but I got what I thought was a good spot in the transition area. And that helped with the nerves, but then I stood around for about an hour, going to the bathroom and doing some stretching before the pre-race meeting and lining up. About 200 people participated in the event. I self-seeded into the front half-ish of the mid-pack. That felt like a good place to be and I probably could have gone out earlier.
The swim was two left turns for 1/2 mile in the water. My watch showed 1,300 yards so hopefully I didn’t swim an extra 500 trying to swim in straight lines! There were 3 buoys per side, but the middle one kept moving around and we were told not to sight off it. Kind of a waste. With the self-seeding I was passing people the whole time and getting passed by people too, so really no idea where I was at in relation to anyone in my age group. I didn’t have any trouble with the swim, I just stuck to one sided breathing and kept in the rhythm as much as possible. I almost missed the last buoy and corrected myself, though I think some people missed it and didn’t care. I finished the swim in 19:12 for 49th place.
T1 was 2:32. I wore my wetsuit which is a full body one. The water temp wasn’t bad, but the air temp was in the lower 50′. I packed a vest and arm sleeves to wear as I wasn’t sure how it would feel. If it was 52 and rain the vest would have been important. I opted for just the arm sleeves and they took a little bit to get onto my wet arms! Though they would be valuable for the bike!
Leaving transition on the bike (and run) you go up a steep hill and a little hill while leaving the parking lot. I should have spent some more time looking at the map, the course was different than last time I rode and the pavement markings were for the old course. They didn’t put any mile markers down as it had rained over night. My bike computer still isn’t working and I only felt my watch buzz at the 5 mile mark. The course was about 18 miles with a fair amount of hills. My watch said 18.5 miles with 250 feet of elevation change. The steep hill at the start and one other short steep one in the middle section of the course were the only steep ones of not, but both were quick. Otherwise it was a rolling course. For the first 5 miles it was a fair amount of getting passed and passing others. After that there wasn’t much traffic, but one guy and I went back and forth a few times before I finally dropped him. Of course many of the people passing me were riding aerobikes. Most of the course had wide shoulders with wind coming from every direction! I felt good on the bike and was pushing pretty hard on the hills. I took a gel around mile 10 on the bike and overall was feeling good. I got passed by some older people in the last 5 miles on their aerobikes (I got some of them back in the run!). The course is a lollipop. I finished the bike in 1:04:24 for 70th place. The steep downhill on wet pavement into transition wasn’t ideal, but it was fine.
T2 was 1:30 and this included a quick potty break. My bladder was super full and it was important to get it out.
The run went up the same steep hill and turned left out of the parking lot (the bike had turned right). I was feeling my harder bike pace, ok and lack of brick workouts as we did some rolling hills. My first mile was 8:41 which was slower than I would have liked, but I was running a steady pace and passing other runners. I’d say overall in the run only 3-4 people passed me. We turned around at the 1.5 mile mark/aid station. I grabbed a quick drink of water and emptied the cup on the back of my head. I should have taken the arm warmers off as I was a little warm and slipped them half way down my arms. Mid-50’s for a run is ideal temps! Mile 2 was 8:11. Glad to see the pace dropping! I ended up taking my arm sleeves off and running with them in my hands. I kept moving and trying to speed up as I went. The nice thing about an out and back is that you know what to expect! Push this uphill… I kept trying to pick up the pace and did mile 3 in 7:33. Yea, maybe I left a little in the tank! I finished in 24:49 officially which was 51st place.
I’m surprised that I placed higher in the swimming than the running! That’s crazy to me. It is hard to compare to my last race at Square Lake because so much was different. Overall, I felt happy with my day!
My total time was 1:52:56 which was good enough for 49th place! And 6th out of 16 in my age group. I will take it!