Dancing in the Dark: Natures Coast Twilight Triathlon

There’s always something “off” when competing in this race because of the time it is run. The race begins at 7:30 PM, so you have all day to think through the race, prepare for it, and … wait. Sometimes this is a good thing. Sometimes not. I am definitely not a morning person, but when it comes to racing I think I prefer getting up early and doing it, then having the rest of the day open. With this race you get up early anyway, because you are adapted to it, and then have to decide what to fill the day with in order to be ready for the race. It plays with your head, man!

 
I reviewed last years race while waiting and discovered that I had done pretty well last year. Because I compete with myself, this started me wondering if I could even beat this time. This swim was in the 10:00 range, so I was pretty sure I could match that, but the bike was hovering near 18mph. Not sure I could beat it, but I could match it I hoped. Then there’s the run … always a problem. I entered the race with the goal of at least matching the time.
 
The one thing I did not consider was the conditions. Each race, as most know, is different. You can have a perfect day on Friday and a miserable one on Saturday. This race was far from miserable,but it definitely was challenging, at least as far as Crystal River standards go.
 
The Swim

 

We got there very early because I am anal and I hate having to park a mile away. We we got a great parking spot and used the time to scope the conditions. The first we noticed was the swim (of course) was choppy. Crystal River is never “harsh” but it can be a struggle if the tide is coming in because the swim out heads right into the chop. This was the case today. The course was long (more than a few of us had it measured at .31 miles instead of the posted .25 miles) which added some time, but it also didn’t help that you got waves in your face for the out and over legs. The good thing? A year ago this would have induced major panic in me, but this year I put my head down as far as I could get it and plowed through, rolling almost to my back to breathe, which kept the water out of my face (for the most part … I did swallow some but not enough to bother me). Even a nice kick in the ribs didn’t get me off my game. I caught the wave before me and even a couple of the wave before that, so I was a little shocked to see my time of 11:23 (my normal time in this venue is between 8:30 and 9:00) so the current was a factor for sure, but a factor to everyone.
 
The Bike

 

I was FLYING on the outward leg. Since this is a night race the bike is reduced to 10 miles. I was in the 2:00 range in T1, much improved, and hit the bike hard from the start. When I looked down at my Garmin after clearing the transition area I was at 22 mph … much faster than my norm. My average just before turnaround was in the 20 mph range, and then it hit me that I might be getting some wind aid. Boy was I right. After the 5 mile turnaround the wind smacked me right in the face and my speed dropped to 14-15 mph. Killed my average and the legs started burning. KC would have been proud I think because I really hammered through this wind. Mostly because I know how my run sucks and needed to get as good of a time as I could. I did ok. I ended up in the 17 mph range when I entered T2 which is a bot better than last year. But now facing my Achilles Heel (no pun intended).
 
The Run

 

I got through T2 quickly again (the socks always slows me down. I need to figure this out.) and sprayed myself down with bug spray and hot the road. The first thing I noticed? I could run immediately. This … is a huge improvement. I still had my plan to do 1×1 splits because I still have the fear of injuring the foot, so I stuck to this throughout. My initial reaction? These Hoka OneOne shoes are fantastic. I have used them in two races so far and no foot pain at all. I am sold on these. Seriously guys … if you have the foot issues I have (i.e. feet feel like they are bruised after runs) you owe yourself to try these shoes out. They work!
 
Another thing I am discovering is that the first 1-1.5 miles off the bike for me are always slow, but after that I can run pretty well. When I hit the 1.5 mile turnaround my running splits were in the 10:00 range, which is VERY fast for me. This is not going to be an issue on the longer race coming up, but in shorter races like this I am just hitting my stride when the race is over. The plan going forward is to reduce the walking again to get to a full run. I still have two months until Augusta so as long as I am careful I think I will be OK. Three weeks ago I was wondering.
 
Final Thoughts

 

  • We all did pretty well. Jennifer placed 5th, Kate placed 4th, and I placed 6th (don’t get excited … there were only 6 Clydesdales). Speaking of Clydesdales, there needs to be some more consideration in these specialty group. This year they did raise the weight to 220 (although CR stays at 200) but there are still men racing in this division that really belong in the Age Groups. I never understand why they race in Clydesdale, other than they feel they can “place” easier if racing against us fat guys. I think that goes against the spirit of these divisions.
  • Kate was assessed a penalty during the run because she handed a can of bug spray to her husband. I understand the rule, but what I don’t get it how this affected her run in the positive enough that a 2:00 penalty was needed. If she had kept the can until the 1 mile aid station and then tossed it she would have been fine. Seems like a silly rule. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but there seems to be a “pick and choose” issue with enforcing these penalties. I see groups of riders constantly drafting yet I see no penalties being enforced. Both issues are against the rules, yet handing off a can of bug spray, which doesn’t affect your pace, is enforced and drafting, which does affect your pace, is allowed. I don’t get it USAT.
  • Fat Slow Triathlete was called out as a “team” being present. Not sure how they got the name, but it was kind of cool to hear it called out. Little things matter ya know. 🙂

So, only two more races left this season. Crystal River 3 in 33 days and then Augusta 70.3. I feel I am ready now, so barring injury I should be ready to go by September’s end.

 
Let’s do this!!

One thought on “Dancing in the Dark: Natures Coast Twilight Triathlon

  • July 30, 2013 at 2:55 pm
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    Great job to all three of you! That bug spray thing is pretty dumb. I see people drafting all the damn time too. Nice to see you are liking those shoes, that will help big time in your races. Congrats!

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