130.6miles run; 1500m swam in 2017 races
Race: Pure Austin Splash and Dash Series
Place: Austin, TX
Miles from home: 13
Weather: 80s; overcast; humid
I was barely home from my half-marathon in Winnipeg 48 hours previously when I found myself driving to the Pure Austin Aquathlon near my home. (Read about my first foray into this event last month here.) After I had finished that first aquathlon, I had decided I needed to hit the pool and getting into swimming shape. So, in between two trips to Utah and Minnesota/Canada, I got in 6 swim workouts. Hardly enough to prepare me for the Tokyo Olympics but better than "having not swum in 7 months" like the last race. However, as I had my number written on my arm and prepared to get ready for this quick burst of energy, I knew that the travel, a 50km race and a half-marathon all in the past 16 days, were definitely not going to make this effort easy.
|Not the race but the exact outfit.
Last month there were only 34 male finishers in this race. This time there were 56. Definitely a more crowded field. I cut it a little close this time with traffic but was still in the water ready to go with time to spare The weather was cloudy with a serious wind creating a little bit of a chop on the quarry's surface. There was actually a little bit of a chill in the air. I felt surprisingly good.
I positioned myself in a spot I felt would be more advantageous to avoiding other swimmers but still swim as straight of a line as possible. Unlike last time in the middle of a washing machine, I was almost immediately out of the thick of things and swimming on my own. While I could tell I wasn't exactly cutting through the water like a hot knife through butter, I still felt like I was going fast and more importantly, felt quite relaxed. In fact, at no time during the whole swim did I feel all that tired. That tells me I definitely should have tried to swim faster. Alas.
For what seemed like at least the last half of the swim I was right next to two other guys. We were swimming in unison in a bit of a goose V-formation. I couldn't quite pass the guys and they couldn't pull away so I just sat in their pocket. As we neared the shore I wondered if they were good runners and not just good swimmers. I had half of a mind to try and pull ahead to at least beat them out of the water but decided to save my effort for the run.
While I don't know my exact swim time last month the combination of my swim and transition was 12:52. This time it was 12:27. An improvement for sure but I know a great deal of that came in the transition. It was a very smooth and quick one and I think I have that portion down about the best that I can. I now know my spot and what to do and will repeat it for the next race. The time on my watch for this race had me at 11:46 for the swim. From the water to shoes to up the rocky hill to starting the first loop was just a mere 39 seconds. It can be better but that was pleasing.
A gentleman I spoke to earlier in the race who had beaten my by 1:10 last month was right in front of me. Oddly enough, while I never saw him in the last race he had been exactly 7 seconds faster than me on the 1st and 3rd of the three loops of that run while we ran identical times on the second loop. I didn't know this at the time but when he didn't immediately pull away from me in the run, I thought perhaps I might be able to reel him in.
We made our first loop on a relatively empty first half. As we trudged up the back side of the loop, over the loose gravel and up the twisty turn hill portion, he began to pull away. However, I hung onto him long enough to pass a rather large muscular fella who must have been an amazing swimmer but was not so hot on the run. Unfortunately, I had no idea if I was running fast or slow. I just knew I didn't seem to have much zip. But right before I hit the end of the first loop a fella passed me by. Well, damn. I wasn't expecting that. I ran the first loop in 4:28 (compared to 4:25 last month) and was pleasantly surprised. It felt much slower.
Right before I started my second loop I saw one of the many female wunderkinds in this race start her own first loop. The women in this race started a few minutes behind us which is a blessing as this path is narrow enough as it is. When I do the aquathlon championship race here in October, where it goes run, swim, run, this is going to be a ridiculously crowded course. I am already not looking forward to that, especially with the twists, roots, gravel and uphill on each lap. But I digress. I had only beaten this tiny little girl by 38 seconds last month so I was determined to make sure I did it by more now. On the back half of the loop I passed her, meaning that, given I was running a ~4:30 loop, and we had a 3:00 head start, at least I would beat her by a whopping 90 seconds this time if I kept up the pace. I hit the second loop in 4:25 just two seconds slower than last month's 4:23. Not too shabby.
As we began the final loop it was now fully crowded with men I was lapping and women just starting out. I had not much left in my legs but felt like I was pushing. I didn't have the zip to verbally give my usual "attaboy"s to anyone I passed. I was just was looking forward to being done and not getting passed by anyone else. (I learned afterward the the fastest runner fo the day was breathing down my neck. Thanks goodness his swim was worse.) Around the loop I went one final time and headed home. I was passing guys in groups of three or four now and unfortunately had to adjust my stride accordingly. With one final push, I hit the last straightaway, pushed past a few runners, and ended this lap in 4:28 (compared to 4:20 last month.) My time last month overall was 26:02. I hit my watch at 25:49. I finished 7th overall in the men as compared to 9th overall last time.
Honestly, in spite of the chop on the water, the races run and the miles traveled, I was still disappointed. I felt I had been much faster in the swim and that was where I could make up the most time. 13:21 for the two miles of running (the course says it is 3k or 1.8 but it is wrong) is hardly bad but another thing I need to work on. I should be a minute faster than that.
As I write this my total place is a bit unknown for men and women. There was some snafu with the women's time that had a batch of them ahead of men they didn't beat and I think one man wasn't listed. More than handful of the same guys ran this race and I was one of only three who improved their time. So while I feel I have much to work on, especially in the swim, this is not a bad barometer. I only have one race (a half marathon near my home town) scheduled between now and the next aquathlon and that is ten days prior. There should be no reason why I am not at least two minutes faster next time.Well, except I am old, fat, and out of shape.
But I won't let that stop me from pretending otherwise.