Tri the Lake Heber Springs 2011

Heber Springs 2011 Triathlon -- Swim ExitThe weather has been cooling, the leaves beginning to change, many people had completed their A priority race of the year and now, it was time for my last tri of the 2011 season — the Heber Springs Sprint Triathlon.  I completed in this tri last year (read about it here) for the first time and missed winning my age group by nearly three minutes.  So, I was out for blood…well, not really but I wanted to win my age group.

The night before Phil, Duncan and I drove up to Heber and stayed the night at his grandfather’s house.  It was nice to spend some time with them, but it was also really nice not to have to wake up at 4am to get to the triathlon.  Since the temperatures have been cooling off lately, the water temperatures have also been dropping which made the race wetsuit legal.  I did my normal pre-race activities, setting up my transition area, getting my body markings, picking up my timing chip, etc.  Then before the race as I was standing in the water with Susan, watching the first wave  take off, I realized, I don’t feel anxious, I don’t feel nervous, I don’t feel pumped…this could be a problem.

You see, leading up to the triathlon I had been a little sporadic with my training while also focusing a little more on training for Raid the Rock rather than this triathlon.  So, I guess my head just wasn’t in it, but it was too late to turn back now. The next thing you know, I’m swimming.

I felt like I got off to a good start, not too fast, but then just as I was reaching the first mark I felt out of breath.  Maybe I did start off too fast.  So I did something I haven’t done in quite a while at a triathlon…I swam the breaststroke.  After I regained my breath, I went back to freestyle, but a few hundred meters down the “road” I felt out of breath again.  What was going on?!?  Was all I could think, but looking back on it after the race, I realized it was the water.  It was cooler than I’ve gotten use to and it was a shock to my system.  Either way, I made it out alive in 9:35.

Going up the beach to transition, I removed my wetsuit and I had again decided to wear my Zoot tri shoes so I got to skip the socks.  In and out in 2:42.

On to the bike course.  This is probably one of my most dreaded bike courses of all the triathlons I’ve ever done because there is one monster hill.  I remember last year at this triathlon that there were quite a few people walking up this hill and there were again this year, but I don’t think there were as many.  But, my recent experience at the Big Dam Bridge 100 could be deluding me a bit.  I was also more prepared for the hill this year too because I knew where it was and I made sure to get into a low gear early.  Other than that hill, the bike was pretty uneventful other then my continued mental block.  I finished the bike in 51:28.

Transition 2 was also uneventful, besides the huge daddy long legs that was chillin’ on my wetsuit. In and out in 1:08.

As I was starting off on the run course, again I had that thought run through my head, I just don’t feel like doing this today, but it was too late, I had to keep going.  This run is a bit longer than most sprint triathlons at 3.4 miles, but I kept comparing it to the Thursday night run I do at Go! Running and I think that kept me motivated and relaxed.  Some how, even though I was struggling to motivate myself, I was able to motivate another competitor to get running again in the last mile of the course.  We ran pretty much the whole last mile together.  I finished the run in 32:15.

Altogether, I completed the tri in 1:37:09, 3:44 minutes slower than last years so I didn’t think there was much hope for me winning my age group again this year, but surprisingly, I did!  It was a bittersweet victory, because I had an off day.  I wasn’t feeling it and I don’t think I deserved to win.  All of my times were slower than last years, save for my T2 time (maybe it was that daddy long legs), and it was a half-hearted attempt.  But, I guess that’s just part of triathlon — it just depends on who shows up that day…but don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a win any day!

I want to give a big thanks to:

  • Phil’s grandfather and his wife for inviting us to spend the night at their house.
  • All the AIM members for their continued support, which definitely kept me motivated.
  • And, of course, Phil for being my coach and support crew.

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