I had been looking forward to this race for a year now. In 2014 it was my first triathlon ever, and being as green as I was, I accidentally registered for the aquabike. How was I supposed to know there were seven different events you could sign up for? I picked "individual olympic" and thought I was set. When they handed out the awards I was completely butthurt as they gave the "winner" a brand new wetsuit. lesson learned.
This year I put in significant training on my swim, spending two to three days a week in the water this summer plus a handful of masters swim classes all the way in Laconia. I also had more experience on the bike and had clip on aero bars but not enough time in the saddle to tap into my full potential. Still learning to love the bike and I'm guessing that only comes with time. My running has also been strong but I've focused on distance which has prevented me from significantly improving my speed. That said, I was looking to improve on all my splits over last year.
One of the problems with this event is that it happens during the changing seasons - warm water + fall morning air = thick fog. Today, although a week earlier than last year, was no different. We arrived to this:
After a 50 minute delay, the buoys reappeared and we took to the water. I was by myself for the entirety of the swim. Jonathan Eck and Philippe Tremblay took off instantly and there wasn't a chance to even catch a little draft off them. I never looked behind me but probably put a 15s gap on the rest of the pack behind me over the course of the first quarter mile. One of the problems with this course is that the shore buoys on the return are hard to sight. I made the mistake last year of trying to go straight in after passing the second return buoy only to have a kayaker send me wide right to get the last buoy. This year i sighted the middle return buoy but that put me too far to the left and had to alter my course similarly to last year. Maybe next year I'll remember how to swim this course!
I exited the water in 3rd in 22:22, I great improvement over last year. Philippe was out in 17:39! That is a remarkable swim time considering Jonathan Eck swam in college and was 2nd out of the water in 20:21. Apparently there is room for improvement for my swim...
The bike course consists of two laps around Tamworth via Rt 16 / Rt 25 & Whitier Rd / Rt 113. Unfortunately during this year's summer paving extravaganza they completely missed Rt 113 in Tamworth which is long overdue for a pave job. My bike strategy was simple - average 23mph, 1mph faster than last year. My laps were consistent - 15s faster and 4 more watts on the second lap. I passed Jonathan seven miles into the ride but was passed by Nate Thomas at mile 16 who was absolutely flying (he laid down a 1:02:29 bike split which is incredible). I tried to use his passing me as motivation but he put 20s on me in the span of a mile. I kept racing my race, attacked the 1.5 mile hill and focused on hitting my mph. Very happy to come through at 1:08:44.
I quickly transitioned into the run, carrying a coupe gels and a small bottle with some apple cider vinegar & salt. This was an experiment to see if it would help fend of cramps that I'm usually plagued with in the run. I took a nip and threw it in the woods to pick up after the race. My legs were tired but not cramping up like last year which I attribute to better fitness, not some homemade pickle juice. My first mile ticked off at 6:44, 15s faster than last year and set me up for a respectable run. Nate had about 1:30 on me at the first turn around. By the second turn around (mile 3.7) I had cut that lead down to a minute but he would hold that gap for the rest of the race. I came through the run 2:30 faster than last year and my overall time was nearly 10 minutes faster.
I downed several powerades and took to the water before changing into some dry clothes. The lake had transformed back to its faux-tropical vibe:
We ate nice BBQ meal thanks to the Yankee Smokehouse that was quickly followed by the awards. Always nice to take home some hardware. This is a race that I have a feeling I'll be coming back to year after year.