March 20, 2016
– Jeff Allen
The morning of March 20th was exciting – the annual Mean Green Tri. Breakfast was great and the nerves were well under control. It was fast and I finished my race. Hit the podium in third place My virgin triathlon experience was complete and I was ready for the next. So, there’s the story – the beginning, the middle and the end.
The reason of why, for me, is the important part of this experience.
I observed my first triathlon over a year earlier in August of 2014. I didn’t run that triathlon, but ran the 5k option as a weekend training run. The opportunity to train for triathlon began slowly enough in 2015 with a few 5ks, a 100-mile bike race, and ended with the Dallas ½ Marathon in December 2015. The desire to run a triathlon was strong in Fall 2015, but I didn’t simply want to do it to say that I just did a triathlon – I wanted to be prepared to compete. I had a great mentor in Max Atkinson during 2015 and knew what was ahead of me.
Joining a club team was step #1 in my preparation for Mean Green. I researched and found THE team that would fit. After talking with Coach Ben, I sat in training for a few weeks to make sure that there was a match. KMF’s “do work” attitude was perfect for my style of training and the welcome to the team was simple: don’t waste our time, do work, find your place – perfect. I found everything that I needed in a competitive family of racers.
Do the work in winter training. I showed up in the midst of winter training and dove right into training – What was the training the second night: Sufferlandria Nine Hammers. Holly SH*$! YES! This was the day that I realized that the team was serious about training and knew that I had a home. My problem – I’m old, fat and slow. I worked during winter training to physically keep up and attended the training sessions (including every Tuesday Night Track session).
Winter training, for this newcomer to the sport, also meant: reading; watching countless training videos; asking questions; trying equipment; improving my race legs, improving my lungs; attending Tri Shop training sessions; finding extra workouts (swim); and developing a beginner’s training plan. The big winter questions: How do I optimize best training load to recover? What’s the balance needed for achieving my goals? Recovery takes more time with age…
The starting of the season was March13th were I watched the team dominate at the St. Patrick’s Sprint. Yes, I snuck into the transition and took endless picture of setups and took a lot of “remember this” notes. This generated an intense week of completing quick laps at the stadium to work the transition and testing my setup.
The day of the race actually was COLD. 34 degree, 10mph wind out of the Northwest. This sound like a great start doing a singlet for the first time. My nerves were GREAT. My heart rate was under control and no butterflies. This surprised me – but, I’ve competed against other boxers for the last six years. This time, I was competing against me. What was my goal? Hit a PR in all stages.
Swim: 2:00/100yd pace PR/baseline
Transition 1: 1:15.0 PR/baseline
Bike 19.3 mph pace PR/baseline
Transition 2: 52.7 PR/baseline
Run: 10.08 mph pace PR/baseline
Total: 1:20:10.7 PR/baseline
The serpentine swim was nuts. My lungs and legs were well prepared, but I stumbled over weaker swimmers in front of me – got caught behind a crowed pack. I slowed down to my average pace (1:55) and relegated myself to a slightly slower pace. I certainly could have pushed harder, but didn’t know where the edge was at this first race. I cracked the top of my right foot on the pool edge coming out of the pool though it didn’t impact my race. The time was expected. I was TIRED coming out of the short 400 yard swim – the nerves caught up with me.
I made a very clean transition in the pen and seemed to try my best to wreck by multitasking in my bike mount. Lesson learned. The bike leg was good, not great. I have do say that I was amazed and to be on the course with a number of my teammates that were much stronger than me. I never expected to see them. This gave energy and pushed my bike pace. I pushed hard on the bike to make up for my next leg. The time was expected.
I came into transition fast and ran through the transition in a perfect effort for me. Now my nemesis – the run. I’ve trained and worked on changing my running style during winter practice. Tuesday nights are priceless. My pace during the race was steady but I found myself settling into “relegated” pace rather than pushing. My third mile was better. Bullet Bob was behind me and the only thing that I would do was TRY to hold him off. Not really, hold him off, he is a much better athlete – but it gave me a running goal. I survived the run – my time was slightly better than I expected (thanks Bob).
After the race I felt relieved and accomplished – even for a sprint that was another training day for most. I have now competed in one race. I’m a superman – a PR in every category. My race PRs could also be called baselines. My goal of the race was to set baselines and rise to my training.
Goals? Of Course! Olympic in September, Dallas Full Marathon in December, ½ Iron in Spring 2017 and 2017 IMAZ. Why? I can stand on the shoulder of giants in our club that have an amazing base of knowledge. These goals are set without full confidence in their ability and my work ethic. Can it truly be done? I don’t know yet. I’m simply a new triathlete with an amazing team.