Race Report: HITS Ocala Sprint Triathlon

It took awhile longer than expected, but the 2014 triathlon racing season has finally started for the Fat Slow Triathlete. A season that should have started two weeks ago finally got off to a lesser degree, though a needed lesser degree, in Ocala, Florida at the HITS Triathlon Series Race Weekend. Those of you that have been following me for awhile know that I ran this race last year, but as a 70.3. I decided to err on the side of caution this year with my medical issues and use the sprint as a “get your feet wet” type of event. I am glad that I did.

I headed up Saturday and ran smack dab into a rainstorm of biblical proportions. Heavy rain, wind, lightning, and tornado warnings on the whole drive up. I was shocked to see that the full and half distances, scheduled for that day, were allowed to go on as planned, so with all of my worries I am glad I did not have to race that day (though two locals who did, Beth Shaw and Sherrie Mauzy, both competed and did very well. Beth even got third place in her age group!).

Once I got up there (4 hour drive for a normal 90 minute drive) it was pretty relaxing. I met up with Jennifer and we headed over to packet pickup and then to the bike store for last minute supplies. We also were able to throw on the wetsuits later that night and get in her freezing pool to acclimate a bit. What we saw the next morning made me glad we did this.

3:30 AM wake up call, a quick dress and grab of the gear and we were off to the race site. We wanted to get there early so that we could relax and get things done then go get in the water early to test it out. As we got our bikes off the car I noticed my front tire was soft, but seemed to be ok once I pumped it up, so let it go. Once I got to my spot, however, it was soft again so I wheeled it over to the Santo’s Bike Shop center and had them check it. A broken stem. They switched out my tube for me and I was back in the game within minutes.  

We set up fast, got our wetsuits on and headed to the water.

Oh. My. God.

Luckily the air temp was 57 so the 65 degree water felt warmer, but once you got your whole body in the cold seeps in. I acclimated quickly I thought so was ok once the race started.

The Swim (22:38)
I got fatigued quickly and realized it was due to no time in the wetsuit since last September. I forgot how much of a difference that makes, and I am too much of a wimp when it comes to cold water to go without a suit or a sleeveless suit. I was surprised how fast I did get tired, having to stop a few times to get my breath. At the second turn, heading back to the beach, the current kept trying to push you right, so it took some work to keep true. All in all I was happy with the swim, though I was hoping for a sub-20:00 stage. The mile average was in the 36:00 range, which is a bit slower than my pool swims, but still respectable.

T1 (6:34!!!!)
I have no excuse. All I can think of was that my fingers wouldn’t work from the cold. I had no idea I was that slow. That can’t happen again, especially in a Sprint.

The Bike (54:13)
I’ll be honest … I thought I’d be better than this in the bike. There was a head wind for sure, but this is way too slow (in the 14-15 range). I was cold, and my heart rate would not come done until mile 5 or so, so that might be part of the issue here, but I am disappointed in this result. Barely any hills with a couple of exceptions. I did manage to join in with another rider for the last three miles which helped a great deal, so I think it is the same old story. Riding by myself I have a hard time gauging effort, but with another ride to help pace me I have no troubles. I was over 20mph those last three miles, so it shows I can do that level. I just need to learn to do it on my own.

T2 (3:09)
Much better in this transition. This is where I should be, and expect to be.

The Run (48:11)
Oh the run. I had no idea what to expect. I have not run since January, and was hurting even then, so this was going to be an adventure. Add to that the fact that HITS is basically a trail run, and a trail run the day after a deluge, and my expectations were not very high for this. The one thing I did notice immediately was that I could run out of T2. I had my watch set for a 30s/45s run-walk split to be safe, but my legs felt ok running. Just to be safe I made myself stick with the plan, and my HR stayed smack in the middle of Z2, so I was just taking what it gave me.

The trail wasn’t as bad as I expected, and at the 1 mile mark (15:11) I was feeling pretty good. When I reach the turnaround I told myself to give it until mile 2 and if it still felt ok to open it up a bit and see what happened. I changed to a 1:30/45 split which resulted in a 14:21 3rd mile. I’ll take that right now.

My final time was a bit over 2:14:00 and all I can say is I was not last. For a first race it was not as good as I wanted but was better than expected. Jennifer for her effort got 2nd place in her class, which is outstanding and I am very proud of her. This was actually the first time I beat her in a triathlon.

I think it’ll be the last too. 🙂

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