Running is the discipline in which I have the most background and experience, and the one about which I had the least concern in the triathlon. The run leg of a triathlon differs from a normal daily run, though. Your muscles are already tired, your body has been through a fair amount of stress and abuse, and you are probably mentally tired as well. If you haven’t executed a decent race strategy up to that point, there’s a good possibility that you may be walking a good part of the last leg. Or, worse yet, you may bonk completely before the finish line.
I felt like I came off the bike in pretty good shape. T2 (the transition between the bike and the run) was complicated a little by another racer having racked their bike in my space (I assume by accident). Fortunately, there was another open space just a few feet away, but it was clunky at best to have the gear and the bike split up. And yet, somehow I survived.
Having lost my extra water bottle early in the bike leg, I was pretty dry by the time I started on the run course. Fortunately, there was a water station immediately after transition. I grabbed two cups of water at each station on the course… one to drink and the other to pour on my head. I don’t know if it really brings the core body temp down, but man it felt good.
The course consisted of two loops through Moss Park. Even though the route was mostly shaded, and there was a high cloud cover, it was really starting to warm up. I intentionally kept the pace pretty moderate, as I was already seeing other racers ahead of me walking. My goal was to finish, so I wasn’t necessarily concerned about “not leaving anything on the road.” I figured if I still felt good enough in the final miles I could pour on the steam and give a good hero shot as I crossed the finish line.
My average pace did drop off a bit around mile 3-4, as I discovered analyzing the data from the Nike + after the race. In the heat of battle, though, I felt like I stayed pretty consistent. I always wish I could have run the last leg a little faster, I was happy with about a 9:45 pace per mile for the 10K.
One of the highlights of the race was in the last half mile. I knew I was near the end, because I’d passed the last water station. A few minutes later I saw another racer walking toward me. I figured he had already finished, and was walking around to cool down. I was half right; he’d finished the race. But he was walking the course backwards to cheer on the people finishing the run leg. That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed about triathlon since I first waded into this pond… the incredible mix of competitive spirit and camaraderie. I saw it in the Kona Championships last year when one of the female competitors who’d been leading the marathon for miles actually gave Chrissie Wellington a pat on the back as Chrissie passed her shortly before the finish. True sportsmanship.
So, it’s done. The Chasing Fifty Challenge is over, with three weeks to spare. It has been a blast, switching from training for a Century ride to a half marathon, then a marathon, a duathlon, and finishing off with the triathlon. I can honestly say that the mix of swimming, cycling, and running makes training fun. Even if I never ran another tri (and I’m pretty certain I will do more), I will continue to train this way. The mix is a lot more enjoyable, I feel less injury prone than during intense single sport training, and there’s always a new challenge. Can I run faster? Can I bike farther? Can I swim without looking like an injured animal? Sure. Just watch.
By the way, I’ve never explained the alligator angle I mentioned in a previous post. When my mother found out that the triathlon swim was in open water in Florida, she was immediately concerned about alligators. Having never lived in Florida, I discounted the likelihood. It was a swimming lake, for heaven’s sake. This isn’t the Everglades. Then, two days before the race, I was Googling the lake to see if I could find anything about swim conditions there. What was the first article that popped up? “Man Attacked by 10 foot Alligator While Training For Triathlon in Lake Mary Jane.” As usual, Mom is always right.