5am came pretty early but I was up and ready to go. Most of my gear was prepped already from the night before so I didn't have much to do. I got up and made my final preparations and went down to the gym for a 20 minute warm up on the spinner bike to get the blood flowing. It was really nice to be the only one down there, but I guess not too many people are up working out at 5 in the morning. I like to listen to some Mute Math, Moby, or Blue Man Group when I'm working out because the faster tempos keep my cadence high. Finishing up, I came home and got my bottles together with my Hammer Nutrition Heed and Recoverite. These will definitely come in handy today. My nephew Shea spent the night with us so he could go to the race with us. While Holly was getting ready and Shea was watching cartoons, I was anxiously going through the race in my head. All my doubts started to creep in my head. Am I ready for this? No time to answer because it's time to go.
The drive out to Texas Motor Speedway was long. I sat in silence for most of it, though occasionally shouting out expletives because I forgot something at the apartment. As the sun began to creep over the horizon in my rear view mirror, I turned on my iPod and enjoyed my favorite band, the Polyphonic Spree. They always keep my spirits up. Before I knew it, we were rolling up to TMS. It was quite an experience driving through the tunnels and into the infield. There were already a lot of people here. Some already out warming up on the bike or checking out the run course. II parked and geared up. It was strange knowing that just 7 days ago there were hundreds of thousands of fans cheering as cars were speeding at 200mph. Today, there will just be friends and family of the 200 participants. It was pretty chilly so I put on my arm and leg warmers and headed for the transition zone.
Since this was my first race, I had no idea of what to expect when I was racking my bike but I managed to get everything together and went to pick up my timing chip. I met up with Blake Britton and talked about the course. The run course is really flat and on the infield track of the speedway. The bike course consists of 3 laps around the road that surrounds the speedway. About two-thirds of the course is a "false flat" and then the finishing third is slightly downhill, so it's pretty fast too. The race director came on and began going over the rules for the race. Then at 8:30 the 40+ group took off. We would follow in just 3 short minutes, but it was the longest 3 minutes I've ever experienced. I made my way to the front of the group with Blake for the start and waited. One minute to go. There was a guy from a team called "Tri4Him" that was a few runners to my left. He took 2-3 steps forward, dropped to his knee and prayed. After seeing him, I silently said my own prayers for a safe race. 30 seconds left. 10 seconds.
We took off at the gun in a dead sprint. I immediately knew that i could not keep the same pace as the other runners at the front, but I wanted to give it my best shot to hang with their pace. After a few minutes, my pace had slowed to a more comfortable speed but I was still clicking along pretty good. Blake had kept the same pace as when we started and was already a good way in front of me. A guy came up beside me and said, "I like this pace," and he settled in next to me matching my stride. We struck up a brief conversation. His name was Tim and this was his first race too. We kept pace with each other for almost the full 2 miles and I couldn't believe how quickly they went. But now comes something that I hadn't really been able to train for, Transition.
I ran into transition and searched for my rack. After a few seconds I was able to find my bike, I looked down, and...my cycling shoes were not there! When I racked my bike I had left them right by my front wheel! Immediately I began to think, "Did someone take my shoes? Why would someone take my shoes? What am I going to do now?" After what felt like an eternity of looking and thinking, I glanced over at an open bag at the next bike and someone had stuck my shoes in their bag! I quickly threw them on, grabbed my bike, and raced out of T1.
I've got more experience cycling than running so I expect the bike leg will be fairly easy. Leaving Transition, we raced through the infield tunnel and out onto Victory Circle where we would race 3 laps around the speedway, roughly 16 miles. The first two-thirds of the lap go slightly uphill. I hammered in my biggest gear and started passing a few racers before settling into a nice even cadence. I kept battling back and forth with this one guy. I was just keeping a steady pace and he would come speeding past me and after he would get a few bike lengths in front of me he would drop back and I would pass him up. This went on for about 2-3 miles and then he never passed me again. First lap in the books. Second lap was super smooth too. Going into the final turn on the second lap I heard some noise coming from behind me and then, almost in a blur, 3 guys came flying past me on their $5000 tri bikes with carbon disc wheels. They were the leaders of the race. I was hoping not to get lapped but... what can you do? I continued to weave my way through the slower competitors keeping those final 2 miles in the back of my mind.
The second transition went much smoother once I found where to rack my bike. Before I knew it I had my NB 100 on and was running out to the infield track for the final 2 miles. My legs were feeling like they weighed 100 pounds each. My pace was considerably slower now that I was nearing the end of the event. I fought through and as I was coming to the end of the first lap I heard Holly yelling for me. That gave me the burst of energy I needed to get through the final mile. I rounded the final turn and saw the timing clock clicking the seconds away. 1:23:26. I started running as fast as I could for those final 150m. I wanted to finish before the clock hit 30 seconds. I sprinted the last 50m and crossed the line right at 1:23:30.
What a race!
My goal was:
Run 1 - 9:00 min/mi - 18:00
Transition 1 - 2:00
Bike - 20 mph avg. - 48:00
Transition 2 - 2:00
Run 2 - 9:00 min/mi - 18:00
Race Total - 1:28:00
Run 1 - 7:43 min/mi - 15:23
Transition 1 - 1:26
Bike - 20.2 mph avg. - 47:30
Transition 2 - 0:56
Run 2 - 9:07 min/mi - 18:14
Race Total - 1:23:30
Can't wait to do it again in February!