On Sunday, July 17, I competed in the first of two tune-up races as I head to USAT Age Group Nationals. My goal with this race was to go out as fast as possible and see where I would blow up.
First of all, let me say that the Fairlee Tri is a great race. The course is about as good as they get: the swim is in a clear, cool, and calm lake; the bike on a fairly quiet out-and-back course, with two good hills in both directions; and the run is a challenging and mostly shaded loop around the lake.
I got to the resort a bit early so I decided to drive the run course. I knew there was a hill early on and I wanted to see what it looked like. The run course also has a little out-and-back, which I didn’t drive. That was a mistake, because it includes a good north bound hill that is fully exposed to the sun. Other than that, I found the course to be rolling, with a good, steep hill in the first mile, that big one on the out-and-back, and plenty of little rollers.
Parking is a bit of pain, being about a mile from the start. Being by myself, it meant I had to carry all I needed to transition. Fortunately, I could stuff everything I needed in my backpack so I did that and rode to transition.
Transition was well organized, with assigned places. That’s nice I guess, but my assigned space was well to the end of a row, so not optimal.
After getting all set up, I went for a 2+ mile warm up run. I first jogged along the shore looking for where the swim in and out would be. I didn’t find it, because the start is about a quarter mile west of the transition (at the town beach) and the swim exit is about 0.15 of a mile from transition.
I then ran along the run course, to try my legs on that first hill, and then back to transition to change into my wetsuit. After asking an official where the swim start was I went in to warm up. I can’t imagine not warming up for a triathlon of any distance short of an IM.
After warming up, we all marched down to the swim start. The swim looked long to me and we all noticed one of the buoys shifting west while we waited for our wave to start, making the course even longer. My goal was to try to keep up with the first group of swimmers, even though I’ve only been swimming a few weeks this year.
I did my best, but instead of simply trying stick with the lead pack I tried to fit in behind the lead swimmer. Unfortunately, the only way to get there was to swim along the side of the pack (with no feet to follow) and try to work my way into the middle of the pack. That didn’t last long and I soon found myself unable to follow any feet. With the lead pack gone, I was now at the front of my own pack: I could feel at least one person on my feet. From then on I pushed it, but didn’t go crazy.
After wrapping up the swim, I ran the 0.15 miles to transition, made a quick transition, and headed out on the bike. I pushed the bike, although not to the point where I would blow up, so in that respect I didn’t adhere to my plan. I passed numerous people and was only passed by one person at about half the way back from the turn-around.
Since it was hot I planned on carrying two bottles: one with just electrolytes, and one with a combination of Perpeteum and Heed. Unfortunately, I forgot to add water to the Perp/Heed bottle, so when I first reached for it I had nothing but powder. It probably cost me a few seconds, but I managed to unscrew the cap of my fuel bottle and pour the contents of my electrolyte bottle into it. I then exchanged my empty electrolyte bottle with water at the turn-around. Not ideal, but it worked and probably only cost me about 5 – 10 seconds.
Transition went smoothly, except I think I have my elastic laces too tight and I had trouble getting my feet into my shoes. Once I started the 10k, I just could not get my feet moving, try as I might. There was one guy 100 feet in front of me and another shadowing me at the same distance, but I couldn’t make any progress on either of them. For the first two miles my legs had that dead feeling they usually have only for a 100 yards or so. Probably this was a result of me pushing it hard on the bike. I didn’t blow up, but I was feeling the effect.
Finally, after about two miles I seemed able to get some power behind my strides and I crawled closer to the guy in front of me. When we hit the out-and-back and its hill, I actually started to feel good and made my first pass on the hill and put some distance between me and my shadow. When coming back down, I started to feel even better and ran fairly well through the rollers to the finish. I had enough left to push the last mile into the finish.
My time wasn’t great: 2:23:36 the following splits
Place - 19
Final - 2:23:36
Div/Tot - 2/13
Div - M5054
Swim Rank - 33
Swim - 27:24
Tran1 - 3:08
Bike Rank - 17
Bike - 1:07:24
Tran2 - 0:57
Run Rank - 22
Run - 44:44