Early in the season I found the New Town Triathlon outside of St. Charles and thought it would be a good race to try. Then I took a break from racing and completely forgot about it. A friend at the weekly Wednesday night TT reminded me of it a few days beforehand, and I thought, what the heck… I'll do it.
Last Sunday morning I arrived with plenty of time to setup my stuff. I did a very brief warmup on the bike, running, then swimming before they cleared the water to start the race. The (longish) 1000m swim had a staggered start, with competitors beginning the race every 3 seconds. Unfortunately, since I was one of the last people to register for the race, I started near the very end and I had a long time to wait for the 600 people in front of me.
When it was time the line moved very fast and I was in the water before I knew it. A few minutes in I realized that with all the commotion I forgot to start my watch, so I hit the button and kept going. I was very concerned that the swim would be a complete clustercuss, but it was actually the most pleasant open water swim I've ever done. Sure I was passing a lot of slower people (and a handful passed me as well), but we weren't running into each other at all. There was plenty of room for everyone to get by. 17-18 minutes later I exited the water. It was a good hard effort, but I didn't kill myself.
I had an awful first transition. Something went wrong with my bike helmet straps and I couldn't get the dang thing on my head. I must have wasted 30 seconds fumbling with it. Then I left the transition with my bike only to get caught in a traffic jam at the bike mount line. I couldn't get around the slower people so I just had to stop and wait before I could get on my bike. Once mounted, I ripped the hell out of there, a bit pissed off. I started too fast, but things settled down quickly enough. About halfway through the 20 mile effort I started experiencing severe, um, discomfort in my saddle area. Something wasn't right and I was in quite a bit of pain for the last 10 miles. It slowed me down, as I had to frequently stop pedaling when my legs felt fine just to readjust things in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. I was disappointed my bike wasn't as fast as I wanted, but I was incredibly relieved to get off the bike.
My second transition was better and I was out on the run quickly. This is usually where I excel, and this would be no different. Having started at the back, I had been passing people the whole race, but now it was a steady stream. Speaking of streams, several residents along the course pointed their sprinklers and garden hoses out into the course so competitors could cool down. It was well into the 90's at this point and most of the people seemed to enjoy it. Not me. I tried to avoid it like the plague, but the sprinklers covered the entire course in many places and some people actually sprayed me with their hoses after I did my best to ask them not to. The result of this is that my shoes were soaking wet for about 3 of the 4 miles during the run and I developed horrible blisters that made running very painful. My legs felt fine and I wasn't having trouble breathing, but with the intense effort the heat was starting to get to me and my stomach was feeling a bit queasy, so I couldn't really go any faster.
After the finish I gulped as much water as I could. It was brutally hot. I hobbled around for a while trying to find some shade. Once the race started to thin out a bit I was able to get back into the transition area and pack up my stuff and take it back to my car. It didn't take long to get results (since I started near the end) and I was quite surprised that, despite feeling like crap for much of the race, I actually had a pretty decent result. I finished 30th overall (including the elites, 14th not including them) out of over 600 participants, 3rd in my age group. I averaged 1:35/100 in the swim (about what I expected), 22.9 mph on the bike (a tad bit slower than I hoped), and
6:04/mile (the course was short, my actual pace was closer to 6:28/mile) on the run.
So it turned out to be a good race.