Auckland, New Zealand, October 22, 2012By Neil King
I have been thinking about your suggestion long enough now Christel and I think I am ready.
It had been a very wet and windy weekend. The Pros’ race the day before had been held in a downpour. With 30 mile per hour winds. Very nasty. Our race day was much better but it did rain that morning. I was in wave 38 out of 40, so my race didn’t start until 10:30 am. I felt good and very relaxed in the wait for the start. Being up on the pier we got to watch all the swim waves before us. We could see that out in the channel the current was running high against the swimmers making the forward progress difficult. The Start was an in-the-water start with our hands on the swim deck. The water was very cold about 56 degrees (we had swam in it two days before) The swim was uneventful and fairly easy, I couldn’t tell there was any current.
The exit from the swim was long, 3 to 4 minutes to the bike. The bike was hard from the start. Within the first 3 miles there was a 1 mile climb and another of 17%. For the first 1/2 of each of 2 laps we were riding on the opposite side of the road (from what we are used to) with opposite tri rules applying, for the other 1/2 of each lap we were supposed to be on our normal side of the road with opposite tri rules applying. It was so confusing and throw in 40 mph descents with 90 to 180 degree corners at the bottom of each it was downright dangerous. This was not a time trial course and would have been tough with road bikes. Around one of the first corners an Australian bounced off me on the inside of a corner. Luckily we didn’t go down.
Long transition again. The run was great. I was passing my age group people and feeling good. It felt hard and I felt I was doing what I needed to do. If the bike had only felt that way. The last mile was a dual between three of us in the 60-64 category. I beat one the other took me.
As most of you know I was hoping for a under 20th place finish in my age group, I came in 19th so I should be happy right? I was also hoping for around a 2:25:00 time, so 2:39 is not going to make me happy. Some of that time was made up in the transitions of 1/2 mile runs from the swim and Bike to the transition areas. I figure that maybe 6 to 7 minutes there. The swim had a bad current on the outer leg for about .25 mi, that took off about 1.5 to 2 minutes. The run was good and I did about what I had hoped to do. Just about the same time as I did at the stand alone 10k in Walker 5 weeks earlier. So what happened? The bike was awful. 19.1 mph. very hilly course with three climbs of up to 17% grade and a very windy way back to the transition. Even with all this the winner in my age group did a 2:18.
I think my problems started when I finished Lakes Country Triathlon. I had had a very successful season and had won every triathlon I entered. I think I wanted to be done. It was hard to go on training. I did feel the pressure was gone. I also have a general feeling that when I do a new triathlon I allow myself to experience it once before I have to do well at it. That took the pressure off also. Then, my ankle problem. After two weeks I had decided that the race was only to finish. I felt no pressure the week before the race and very little just before. My defeat was not on that day but happened weeks before.
The two takeaway lessons here are: (1) The pressure you feel before a race is a good thing. It lets you know you are ready to go. And (2) arrive early and ride the course often until you know it very well. run the run if possible. The better you know a course the better you will do. This should help my first time course syndrome.
No real excuses just things to remember. If I am going to do more international and national events I need to get over the first time course thing.