Race Report: Crystal River Triathlon Series 3 (2015)

Once more we ventured into the Crystal River Race Series, the final race for 2015, with hopes high for an improvement and, most importantly, a good experience.

I was 1 for 2 in that department.

I always have a good time at Crystal River. Even with the quirks of the race it is still my favorite one of the race year. It has become my barometer of the season, and past seasons, using it to measure my improvement, or lack of, from one race to the next, from one year to the next.

The morning was beautiful. You can tell Fall is coming because there was a slight feel of it in the air (even in Florida) and the race didn’t feel as hot as it normally does, at least not until the run.

The water was flat as a pancake, but as is usual for Crystal River, there is always a surprise. This race’s surprise came during the warm up swim. I normally get in the water with about 30 minutes to go before the first wave and was swimming out about half way to the first turn buoy. I stopped and was treading water, looking to see where Jennifer was (she was still heading seaward) when I noticed a …bump in the water about 10 years from me. The water was so flat it was easy to spot, but with no current it caught my eye mostly because it was moving. I started side stroking, keeping my eye on it and realized that it was an alligator.

Well … there’s a first.

Jennifer was heading in at this point and going right at it but I could not get her attention. Luckily she swerved and gave it plenty of space, but the gator found a spot and just stayed in place. It looked to be small, about 3 foot maybe, and actually I thought maybe I was just imagining it until I got to the shore and more people had spotted it. One of the swimmers got within 3 feet of it and it moved off to the side, probably more scared of us than anything, so the race went off as planned.

I was pretty calm during the swim leg. I admittedly do not push that hard in the swim, especially if the water is too deep to stand, just because of my breathing issues I don’t want to push the heart rate too high. It has been frustrating this year I will admit though, because I have done this race in 10:00 before and my times this year have been in the 13 to 14 minute range. Granted, my Garmin clocked me at 551 yards vs. the planned 440 yards, and it did feel longer. When I looked at my pace I was actually faster than the last two races, so I take solace in that.

The bike went well. I felt strong the whole time. Jennifer caught me at mile 3.88 (which she announced to me loudly as she came along side me). I really felt like I was pushing as hard as I could on the bike this race, trying to “leave it all out there”, but still only managed 14.3 mph pace. This is my fault. As far as biking goes I have become a weekend warrior. I can blame the rain we have had this year with my inability to get any riding in after work, but the truth is that I could have put the bike on the trainer and I just didn’t, so my lack of progress, and actual regression, is my fault. As the saying goes, I cannot feel badly about my lack of progress if I did not prepare.

The run this year has been my … Achilles heel (cue drum roll). I have had a lot of issues this season with the run. Most of it is due to the weight gain I have been experiencing (which is still confusing me but we are working on it). I did feel better in this run, not dead legged, but still walked more than I ran. I followed my coach’s advise though and when walking tried to keep it in the 17:00 pace range and that seemed to work once I got going. After looking at my results this morning I realized I even had negative splits for the three miles (18:09, 17:47, 17:07, 16:45) so that is progress for me, as most of the year I got slower as the race went on.

Little victories …

So, we say goodbye to Crystal River for another season and look forward to 2016. My goal is to be MUCH better next season. It was great to be there for a new friend, Jackie McMahon, who did her first triathlon that day with us (no goggles, no clips, runs barefoot … beat my ass), and to see our friend Cody Angell of the St. Pete Running Company out there. I have been trying to get him to race this venue for a couple of years and my assessment of him was right on … he finished first in his group and third overall. I think he will be back.

One more triathlon left this year (unless we end up at the Endurance Festival in October).

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