This was my first time at Eagle Creek. It's a popular three-race series every summer, and I found my first race there to be a good experience. The race was sold out, and as is the case with many sprint races, was filled with a broad spectrum of athletes. From serious triathletes with expensive gear and podium goals, to recreational athletes on mountain bikes, this race has something to offer for everyone.
I arrived at the park later than I had planned, but still had just over thirty minutes before the race was to begin. Once I had my stuff set up in transition, I took a look at the lake. The water was warm, and I kept hearing a nagging voice telling me to switch to the duathlon. Wait, the voice was Don Carr (the race director) reminding everyone of the black algae warning. We had to sign waivers due to the state telling people to stay out of the water due to black algae. Included with the waiver was a list of warnings and symptoms that can occur after exposure. Don also reminded everyone that they have this warning every year, and it has never been an issue… He also reminded people that for the folks who didn't want to swim, there would be a duathlon instead. I was there for the tri, so I chose the black algae.
The Swim 12:52.6
The start was in waves, and I was near the back. When it came time to start, I hit the water and tried to settle in for a steady swim. Since I am not a fast swimmer (most adolescents can beat me in speed, though I can go for a long time), I don't swim hard, because because if I do, I shave almost no time, but expend exponentially more energy. Someday I'll work on technique… During the first 100m, I was focusing not on the race, but on the black algae. I was getting more and more lake water in my mouth every stroke. What did the warning say? Do not drink…cramps…diarrhea… What the hell was I thinking? Crap! Get your head in this race! The people around me were slower than me (wow), and I kept running into people's feet. This was my first open water swim, which I had always heard was radically different than the pool. So, I expected radical difference. I had not considered what to expect. Or I did, but it was not realistic. What I discovered was I did not have a good sighting technique, though I do swim straight. I was struggling to get around/through people, and getting hit by people doing the backstroke as I passed them. I even had to stop once, so I could see a way to get through a large cluster of people that seem to be stopped. The swim was 500m, and it took me 12 minutes, during which I never got settled in; it felt like high effort the whole time. Had I been in a pool, at this effort, I would have finished in about 10 minutes. Okay, maybe a little longer, considering I had been swimming just once during the past month.
Exiting the water, I was glad to be finished. My bike was near the transition area exit, so I had to hustle. I didn't think I was going slow, but I had bits of gravel stuck to my feet and had to wipe them off. I got my helmet and shoes on, grabbed my bike a ran to the exit. I really have to practice transitions, because this was one of the slowest. Sheesh, I was already dressed and merely had to get a helmet, bike shoes, and bike (plus the time to run from the water and to the exit). But I was in the 20th percentile on transition speed. With practice, I should be able to cut a minute off of that.
The Bike 29:11.6
I hit the road with a simple plan: Go Fast. I'm not very fast, but for someone who doesn’t ride much, can do pretty well (I did recently average 22mph on a 20mi time trial). If I just put time into riding, I could be so much faster… Anyway, the first half mile was a bit clogged with people, making passing difficult. For most of the race, I was blowing by people (especially the mountain bikers). The ground was slick from rain, and though there were numerous warnings about a sharp turn at the bottom of a steep hill, there was a crash being attended to when I went through. I hit the turnaround and rode a steady but solid pace going back. As I approached the hill where I saw the crash, there was traffic control slowing people down to walking speed to make the turn. This was due in part to the meatwagon that was there just getting ready to take someone away, and probably to prevent another crash. As I rode the last half-mile, I had to slow down due to traffic, and a narrow chute to reach T2.
Entering T2, I had a longer way to go due to being positioned near the exit, and running in bike shoes is a bit awkward. Well, the folks parked up front had the same issue before their ride, so I guess it's a wash. This transition also took longer than it should, but still a bit better.
The Run 22:48.4
The run starts at the base of a hill, and is just a simple out and back course. I was passing people the whole time, and was not passed by anyone (same as the ride). I felt decent, but my head was not in the game. I found myself on numerous occasions going too slow. I wasn't paying attention, and would slow down. I'd look at my heart rate and find I was barely in zone 4, when I should have been pushing much harder. I'd speed up, my mind would wander, and I'd slow down again. This is where having fast people in front of you, or behind and pushing would help.
Had I done the duathlon, I would have won overall, as it was small, and the field not very deep. Still, I didn't do too bad.
9/19 Fishers Triathlon (sprint)
9/25 Cancer Free Lungs 5k
10/2 Powerman Muncie Duathlon 10k/60k/10k
10/16 Indianapolis Marathon and Mini (13.1mi)
11/6 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 26.2mi
AND, I have already signed up for the inaugural 2011 Carmel Marathon.