91miles run and 7600 meters swam in races in 2018 races
Race: Pure Austin Splash and Dash Series
Place: Austin, TX
Miles from home: 13
Weather: 91 degrees; sunny; humid
After I did this race in August, one of a series of seven, I promptly began concentrating the best I could on running. With two marathons coming up in the next few weeks, swimming was something I didn't care much about. But the day before the race I decided I should at least get a few yards in so I hit the pool. It wasn't an inspiring swim but a treadmill run after told me I might have a decent race.
For the past ten days or so Austin has been getting a ton of rain. The temperature has been down after what was the third hottest summer in Austin history. But the rain cleared out and today was right back up there with a race time temp around 91 degrees. Luckily, as I dove into the water for a quick warm-up, I could tell the rain had cooled the quarry a bit.
The usual cast of characters was there but I couldn't see my age group nemesis, Chad. A perfectly affable chap he has beaten me in virtually every race this year as a Master's. Almost every one of those has come after I led him in the swim, if even a few seconds. Perhaps I could eke out a victory today with him not here.
As is the norm, the gun fires and a group of about five guys just explode out to the front. I then fall into my usual place amongst maybe three others who begin duking it out. Then I saw Chad's telltale legging trunks swim by me. This happens often in our swim battle and usually within half of the swim I have passed him. But for whatever reason today I simply couldn't do it. My swim was also a little erratic as I had trouble staying in a straight line. That isn't normally something I deal with but oh well.
By the time we were approaching the end of the swim, I had narrowed the gap to just a few seconds. We both rushed to our gear and I stumbled just a bit putting one of my shoes on. Funny how just the smallest thing can cost you three seconds.
Crossing the mat for the swim and transition, my time was 12:31. I laughed. For two years I have been doing this damnable race and one thing improves, another gets worse, the weather affects me worse when I am trained, the weather is great when I am untrained and time after time I post the same results. Just this year alone my times for the swim and transition have been 12:50, 12:30 12:20, 12:27 and 12:30.
This was the first time Chad had ever beaten me out of the water and I wondered if I might run a bit better being the chaser rather than the chased. However, as has been the norm, after an opening little surge on the small downhill side of this loop, I slowed on the upward swing on the back side. Every flippin' time this happens to me. Thrice a race. The question was how far back I fell. The twisty-turny nature of this course makes it hard to track down runners in front of you. When you begin the second loop and are joined by all the swimmers behind you, it is even more difficult. I lost track of Chad and assumed he was his normal distance between us on the run.
Normally my second loop just about undoes me. But the "slightly" cooler temps and whatever else was going on today made the second loop almost a mirror of the first (4:32 to 4:30). Furthermore, as we began the third loop Chad suddenly came back into view. Crap. He was just far enough away that it is going to take a herculean effort to snag him. First, I am not sure I have a herculean effort in me. Second, I have a marathon on Saturday and moving one spot up in this race means far less than not hurting myself before the 26.2 miler. So I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't catch him.
Then he slowed even more. Damn you, Chad, I muttered. You are going to make me work. And work I did, narrowing the gap even more, regardless of the hill that kills on the backside of the loop. I unfortunately ran out of real estate to close the gap fully in spite of seeing another of the many younger fish-like swimmers who are far less good at running appear in front of me as well. I finished n 25:59 which put me just nine seconds behind Chad and ten seconds behind the fish. This was my second fastest time of all these aquathlons over the past two years and only my second time under twenty-six minutes. My final lap of 4:24 was my fastest lap all year. I can tell you I was not expecting any of this going into the race. It says nothing about my preparation for the marathon this weekend but without a doubt having a good race is never bad for the mental health.
Time to head to Ely, MN and take on marathon #162!
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