First up, it's the second race in the Texas Tri series, and probably the last one I'll do. Since I'm the lead organizer of the Jack and Adams Sunday shop rides, which have grown incredibly popular and for which we have some fantastic news soon... My normal Sunday duties lie with the rides. Although we've got a great crew of ride escorts including Zac, Hugo, Cody, Tammy and the Tempo Multisport crew including from time to time Kim, Laura and Shane, who I hope will have a speedy recovery and be able to join us again this year; and Christian, Shellie from Velossimo as well as numerous others, Lisa, Jane etc.. Which is mostly why its become such a success. So, mostly, I have two other triathlons scheduled for this year, Waco tri on July 25th, and the Toyota Open in Dallas on October 10th.
Next, for Couples, I decided to go back to the future. I did triathlon for 5-years on a road bike, mostly three different bikes, none of which were sized for me, they were "off the shelf bikes" I'd made fit. I've never raced the Decker Lake bike course on BR2, but had raced it on Big Red with the Zipp wheels, last time I did Couples, in 2008. So I decided after all the fun of the 2010 Sierra to the Sea bike tour, I'd transfer the rear group from Little Red to my Zipp 808 rear wheel and use Little Red with the full Zipp race wheels. This I thought would be a good choice for the Decker course which is reasonably technical and to a point, hilly. So, here is Little Red in its race monster get-up.
My partner for Couples this year was Shellie Orishiba Thompson. I asked Shellie to partner with me because she's fast and strong, and I'd assumed we'd be racing in age based categories, we'd have a good chance. Turns out there were no age categories this year, nor were there last year! We raced Mixed Friends, which was hotly contested!
We both arrived early, so much so that we were parked just four cars apart, unknown to me since there was a huge truck next to me and I sent Shellie a txt msg describing where I was, got my bike assembled and ready and then set off for an early morning warm-up. Half way along the road at the end of the course my phone rang it was Shellie in transition, I flew back, collected my run shoes, number belt and hat and met he in transition. My increasingly minimalist approach to transition has now reached its peak. I literally only took what I'd be wearing or consuming, no towel, no bag, nothing extra. Watching people arrive with massive bags before and leaving with them afterwards just makes me think WTF?
We met up with Lisa and the three of us then walked out of transition with bikes and went and did an easy ride of the last 1/3 of the bike course, yes the hilly part! We dropped the bikes back on our racks in transition and then went to warm up for the run, Shellie even went to swim.
The Mixed Friends wave went off 3rd, all together, that is men and women. Previously, when I'd done Couples we'd gone off in M/F based age groups. Not sure how the women like this, but I can say the swim was rougher than my Ironman Arizona swim. On reflection this may have been because I lined up too near the front. Err, strike that. As this picture by Brian Slaughter shows, Shellie and I lined up in the front row. I'm in the J&A kit far left and Shellie was next to me on my right.
It's hard to imagine from the picture but there were 140 in our wave, so the people were stacked up behind us with the very narrow entry. The swim to the first bouy seemed long, but once I was around it, the field seemed to spread out. This is pretty much in line with my experience at the Splash and Dash races, where I fall off the back of the pack of fast swimmers and end up leading the second pack. Only at Couples we rapidly caught the back of the two biggest race waves, the Friends Females, and the Friends Males.
I came out of the swim in what I felt was a slow time, for 800M and a fairly bumpy swim, given my recent times up at the Quarry, actually a reasonable 20:13. It's a fairly long run up a grassy slope to T1. Lots of people shouting my name and encouragement, which always helps. As I got to where I thought was my rack I heard Brian shout next rack over, looked up to see Shellie just about to leave. On with my helmet and I was off, I chased Shellie out to the mount point, ran straight through and on about 10yds before doing a running mount. I was about 25yds behind Shellie until I'd finished getting my 2nd foot in my shoe, and watched over the next 2-miles as she disappeared away from me. ROCKSTAR!
As I made my way along Decker Lane, I was feeling good about my choice of bike, I was settling in nicely and maintaining a good 22MPH, I got passed by David Garzza just before the turn to go around the back of the lake and a woman, both on tri bikes. By the time we got out to the frontage road by the Toll road, I'd been passed by maybe only 4-people, and had passed more than 30 or so. Heading up the hill, Adam Readon passed me and try as I might, compact cranks and all, I couldn't keep anywhere near him.
Dismount went perfectly and I flew through T2 and out on the run. The run course is 85% off road and includes a long downhill and a longer, but more gradual uphill. This really means I'm disadvantaged on the course. I have to take it really carefully on the downhill to make sure I don't twist my ankle by turning it running on the 2-inch built up right shoe, it also makes it pretty hard going uphill. This years added disadvantage for everyone was that the course was wet in a number of places. I did ok until the downhill, I slipped on a rut just after the water station, no harm done though, and going back up the hill, blew and walked for at least 50yds. With the finish line in sight I pushed on with a reasonable finish.
STATS FOR THE RACE
Team MASH finished 16th out 71 Mixed Friends teams.
Combined time 2:40:10 - Winners time was 2:13:04
In our defense, I was effectively older than the combined age of BOTH team members from the first four teams! The only person over 40 in the top-15 teams was Pierre Filardi, age 52, who did a staggering 1:11:54 - The men in the teams immediately in front us were Tom Bressie(15th), Tom Lang(14th, Age 24), Phil Davis(13th), Billy Harlee(12th), John Chung(11th), David Garzza(10th) with the exception of Tom Lang, I know well and all great athletes. So, all in all a staggering performance from our team, even if I was the weakest link ;-)
Shellies time: 1:15:33
My time: 1:24:36
My 800m swim: 20:13,
11.2-mile bike: 34:12, 19.6MPH(Slower than I expected)
5k Run: 29:30
8th out of 22 Men 50-54 that raced that day
146th out of 446 Men Overall
232nd Overall out of 881 finishers.
Overall I was well pleased with the race, great fun but hard. I had a great time with numerous friends after the race.
Next up: Run Far TT on Tuesday 13th, will race with Little Red in Monster race configuration before putting things back to normal.
Wednesday 14th is the next race in the Summer Sunstroke Stampede series down at Town Lake
Tuesday 20th is the July Splash and Dash
Wednesday 21st is another Summer Sunstroke Stampede 5k at Brushy Creek
Sunday 25th is Waco Triathlon(Olympic distance)
Photos by Brian Slaughter, who along with Dr Z at Advanced Rehab rescued my ankle 3-years ago that allowed me to keep racing!