Over the weekend I participated in the Katy Triathlon. This is a 500m lake swim, 14.8 mile bike and 3 mile run. It’s now held at the Firethorn master planned community in Katy Texas.
At check in they were very strict on checking the USAT cards. Good thing I keep mine on my car key. There were some upset people who didn’t read the check in rules.
There isn’t much swag for this race mostly because of its small size. Everyone gets a shirt, sun screen, a running water bottle and a few discount coupons in the race pack along with the timing chip and race numbers. This year they provided tri tats instead of being marked the morning of with a sharpie.
As usual I laid out all my gear and did a once over making sure I had everything for the race. Packed it all up so it’s easy to set up. I then cleaned and check my bike to make sure it was ready to go.
As usual I planned on being at the race site when transition opens. I do this because it allows me the time to set up and then walk the swim-in to bike-out and the bike-in to run-out. This way it’s fresh in my mind and I don’t confuse what row I’m in. For this race the only requirement for racking was that you were in the correct row and only 8 bikes per rack. That allowed me to pick a spot near the end of the row making it real easy to find my things during the race.
The swim for this race is 500M. The start is a countdown start with all the racers in the water. The start wave for me consisted of 3 age groups ranging from 25-39. I lined up in the front and to the right as far as possible up against the buoy. When the gun went off it was a mad dash for the lead. I was fighting with swimmers on both sides who really wanted to be in front of me. I wasn’t going to let them have it. At about 150M one of the guys just decided to make a hard left and swim right into the side of me as he cut across the course to the buoy line. This slowed me down a little as a swam over him. He wasn’t struggling so I wasn’t going to stop. I was under stroking the other swimmers meaning I was using less effort and should be able to maintain the pace longer.
We got to the first turn and the other guys dropped back and I had expended too much energy not being very efficient while we were hitting arms for 200+ meters. At this point I was reminding myself that I need to get back in control and lengthen my stroke back out and start alternating my breathing to get my speed back up. I recall passing at least 2 other swimmers from my wave and several from the wave that started ahead of us before exiting the water. I finished the swim 6th in the wave of 95 swimmers. 3rd for the 30-34 age group.
My T1 was uneventful as it should be. I put on my race belt with my number and spun it to my back. Sun Glasses and Helmet. My shoes were already on the pedals with rubber bands holding them in line so I can just step into them at the mount line.
For the bike leg my plan was go push as hard as I could and still leave just enough in the tank to run a half decent pace. This was a different bike course from the first year I participated in this race and they recently repaved a good part of the road or the new route was on new concrete.
In the first 3 miles I must have passed most the racers from the swim wave before me. This is because after that I only passed 4 more people in the bike course. During the race it felt like there was a head wind but that never changed no mater what direction I was going so it must have really been tired legs. A little over the halfway point there is a round a about and several racers including a team mate took a wrong turn at this point. I knew how the course was supposed to be laid out because I’m familiar with the area so I didn’t make the same mistake. The way the road block was setup for the race it was not very clear to the rider. This is because you climb a hill as part of the round about so you don’t see the other cones until you are at the street people were taking as the wrong turn. The local police were setup making it look like they were blocking the direction you needed to go.
For the bike leg I had removed everything extra off my bike except on spare tube and my 24 oz Profile Design aero bottle. I did this because I had already removed the extra bottle cages to outfit my wife’s bike for a race a few weeks ago and I wanted to clear up the rear bottle mount so it would sit on the transition rack. This is because every once in a while my seat is taller than the bar with my wheels on the ground and I get stuck trying to get it out of the rack without knocking over all the other bikes. I averaged 23.5 mph and was the 3rd fastest in my age group and 11th overall at the bike finish.
T2 was also low key. I left my bike shoes attached to the pedals and was the second bike back in my row. I heard someone call out that the guy I entered T2 with and I were fighting for 5th. I’m not sure how true it was but it was a good motivator. I was in and out in 47 seconds.
The run is usually where I struggle. My plan was to run a 7:30 /mile split from the start knowing that I would most likely get positive splits as I went. I started the run along the gravel pathway and checked my watch to see I was running well under a 7 min pace and worked on getting more control and keeping the pace around 7:15. I was feeling good and really wasn’t having much issue holding the pace. So, I changed the plan. I could also see one runner in front of me and I didn’t want to lose him because he was most likely in my age group. As I came around the first lake I saw my family and our neighbor. I gave the kids a quick high five and continued on with keeping my pace steady. Other than the guy in front of me there was no sign of anyone on my heals. I came up on the first water stop and grabbed a quick drink without slowing. They must have had half the Katy School district manning the aid station with cheering.
On the back stretch of the second lake I could hear the students manning the water stop cheering as the other runners came through. This let me know I had a good lead on them for the moment. This in my mind at the time was important knowing we all had the same start time so anyone near me was racing me for the finish. The guy in front of me was slowly pulling away so I kept pushing my pace and stopped looking at my watch using feel as the gauge. The temperature was still cool so I wasn’t over heating and felt good. I rounded the second water station where you make a turn and start heading back to the finish feeling strong. At this time I concentrated on keeping my stride length long trying to compensate for any exhaustion and keep my split steady. I was able to really pick up the pace on the last stretch of the race giving me a strong finish to be proud of. I even managed a high five to the little one just before the finish shoot.
I kept the same split for the first 2 miles with a 7:09 and the last mile I brought that down to a 6:54. This cave me a total average split of 7:04 which was way better than what I had planned.
I placed 2nd in the 30-34 age group and 9th overall. It was a fast hard race and I look forward to it next year when I’ll be in the 35-39 age group.