Houston Triathlon 2011 And Getting My Ass Kicked
A couple of weeks ago I participated in the Houston Triathlon produced by onyourmark productions. I signed up for this event due to my friend Kevin signing up and giving it rave reviews when he raced it last year. The race had sprint and olympic distances. I was in for the olympic distance (1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run). I almost dropped out of the event when I learned Kevin wasn’t racing but since I had already paid the entry fee I decided to give it a shot. I was on the fence about dropping down to the sprint distance earlier in the week, when I received an email that swapping was no longer an option.
I knew I wasn’t in tip-top shape for this event. Besides having pulled my back a few days before the race, I had been working out at the gym, but I hadn’t been doing any triathlon specific training. I had zero expectations for my performance and was looking at it as a great workout day. 1500 people had signed up for the two races and the race was sold out.
Right off the bat I noticed some changes from what took place last year. While the bike racks were labeled based on wave start, they didn’t have assigned numbers on the racks. Last year they did. This is of note because a couple of people showed up late to the bike rack I was on, and started cramming their bike regardless if they had a spot or not.
The second item I noticed from last year was the path that lead from the swim exit to the transition area was a fraction of the width last year. Last year the path could hold several people side by side, this year could hold about one. I don’t run on concrete so as I walked on the red path, I heard several grumbles about having to go around me. Oh well.
The swim was a two loop course and it was pretty windy. The water was very clean for Houston and the course was well marked. I got banged up a bit since I’m a slow swimmer and had several waves starting behind me. I exited the swim with my head down and feeling pretty tired. I was happy the swim was over but I knew for certain at that point that it was going to be a long day.
Onto the two loop bike course and it was WINDY. The bike route is pretty much a square but you really only felt a tailwind on a small part of the course. I don’t mind looped bike courses but this one had a S loop near the end of the route that I wasn’t a fan of. Basically they had a street blocked off and took you down one side of it that was split in two, then back the way you came, then out the other side of the street to the end of the first loop. This enabled more wind in your face and the worst part was it had a lot of dust blowing up due to the wind. Two thumbs down for having an S track in a looped course. The course had at least one lane blocked the entire time which was very good. Very safe.
The run for this event is somewhat famous for taking you into a stadium via the ramps at each side of the stadium.
This gives you some incline (a hill for Houston) and was the ONLY part of the run that had any shade. The fact that this part of the run was at the end of the course made for a hot day. One of the first drink stations was out of Gatorade and the drink wasn’t Gatorade but some other brand which I wasn’t a fan of. Nice energy from the volunteers at the aid stations but not a lot of people cheering on the course. Of course I was at the back of the pack so I didn’t expect a lot of people.
About halfway through the course the Houston Racing (HRTC) folks had a improv aid station that was a life saver. They had tons of ice and asked if you wanted cold water squirted on you from a watergun. Very cool. I was so over heated I didn’t mind grabbing handfuls of ice from a source that I’m sure had a lot of other hands in it. I needed some ice BAD. When I heard it was a HRTC station I was proud to be a member.
After about 3 miles of the 6.2 mile run course I turned it into a walk course. I was beat and couldn’t muster a run. I was exhausted and was getting some major sun burn. I was hanging on by a thread. Alone and walking is a tough place to be during a “race”. I saw several medics on the course and each time faked a big happy smile and tried to look normal. It worked as I never got stopped. The path through the stadium was pretty cool and broke up the course which was nice.
I finished in 4 hours and 30 minutes which is pretty dreadful. I was happy I could hand in there but it was a wake-up call. This was my first Olympic distance event and the mindset of it being a longer sprint was a bad one. Later I realized that I never though of it being longer than a half marathon, and I know I’m not in half marathon endurance shape yet. I finished without any injuries save for some ant bites which all things considered is a good thing.