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Mountain Man Triathlon (July 15, 2012)

July 15, 2012

I hadn’t been doing any special training for this midsummer triathlon, but it seemed like a nice course that I’ve never raced before, so I figured it was a good way to spend my Sunday morning.  And Flagstaff is always a great place to visit in the summer, since it’s 20 or 30 degrees cooler than Phoenix.  I originally thought the biggest challenge would be the altitude (7000 feet), but as the race got closer, the weather seemed like it was going to play a factor as well.  With a 40% chance of rain and 52 degrees predicted for the start of the race, I wasn’t quite sure if it sounded like fun anymore.  The night before the race didn’t make me optimistic, as heavy rain, thunder, and lightning was about all I saw.

I was happy to wake to silence, meaning no pounding rain outside.  It was still overcast, but I was excited about the break in the weather.  There was heavy fog over the lake, which made for a neat picture, and there were some signs of clearing.

By the time the race started, the weather was not a concern.  As the 338 triathletes lined up for the swim, I focused on my usual strategy … get ahead of the swim pack right away.  That strategy worked well for about a minute, but then my lungs reminded me that I was at 7000 feet and that I probably didn’t warm up well enough to deal with a quick start.  So, there I was, trying to catch my breath, watching the pack approach me and seeing my starting strategy evaporate.  I recovered and finally got into a nice swim rhythm, but lost a bit of time in the process.  I still managed to only let 17 people beat me in the swim, but considering it’s my best event, I would have liked a better start to the day.

But part of the reason I race is for the whole experience, and fortunately I had the pine tree-lined Lake Mary Road to enjoy on my bike.  Here’s my bike waiting for me in transition, ready to help make those pine trees go by as quickly as possible.

With my shoes already clipped into my pedals, I stepped in the left shoe, swung my right leg over the bike, and started rolling.  It was a successful bike mount thanks to some practice this week.  I tightened my shoes while rolling and tucked into my aero position.  My bike split was better than normal for a 20k, but altitude density and a perhaps slightly mismeasured course may have contributed to that.  Either way, it’s nothing to complain about.

The run was uneventful, as I managed just over a 7-minute pace, which I guess is fine given the altitude and my effort on the bike.  My final race time of 1:09:26 was good enough to get me 3rd out of 33 in my age group and 21st out of 338 overall.  Although I was disappointed with my swim result, a good swim would have only moved me up four places in the overall and had no effect on my age group placing, so I guess it didn’t really matter.

After the race, I headed into Flagstaff for a great breakfast at Macy’s Coffeehouse, probably my favorite breakfast place in Flagstaff.  After some breakfast and a fine organic latte, I headed to the car to start the drive home.  And just then, the sky opened up with a vicious downpour, accompanied by more thunder and lightning.  So, I guess as far as the weather was concerned, it was a perfectly timed race.

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3 Comments
  1. Good timing, and nice photos!

    • Oh, and how can you be comfortable with that beautiful bike jammed into a rack with all the others?

      • No need to worry about the bike — it’s protected with that helmet. I like how these triathletes think of every little detail.

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