This morning I competed in my 4th Buster Britton Sprint, a great race that Team Magic puts on at Oak Mountain State Park. My times have improved every year and I have learned something every year.
I made a few mistakes, but nothing major that I can’t fix. I signed up for Buster Britton because I like the race, it’s two weeks until Barb’s Race and gave me a chance to check on a few things, and because Bike Link was the main sponsor. When I fell and hurt my knee I decided to switch to the Aquabike. I really wasn’t sure about running by today though I probably would have been ok. I was happy to be finished after the bike though!
I drove up last night and picked up my packet. Since the start time was 7 am this year, I decided staying in Pelham instead of getting up at 3:30 and driving there was a better option. One of my mistakes was last night though. I had not packed breakfast food so I had to go on a hunt for something to eat. I had planned on going to a grocery store that I knew was nearby but the traffic was awful so I just went to a couple of gas station stores until I found a banana and some cereal. That is not my ideal breakfast, especially not on race day. I discovered today that there is a WalMart and Publix if I had driven in the opposite direction. Next year I will know that.
As I mentioned after my Thursday run, I realized that I was a little dehydrated. I knew it would take a few days to get myself back to normal so I expected that I would not be 100% on Saturday. I did make sure I had my water bottles and Skratch Labs mixed on Friday night so I was ready for race day.
I also managed to put my race numbers on right and by myself. Do not assume this is easy. I have seen many race numbers on upside down or in some mangled form.
So, I was ready for race day. I slept well – very unusual, was up at 4:45, and at the race site by 5:30. I made sure my bike was ok and then went to set up my transition area. That is when I realized that hydration was still an issue. It was only a little after 5:30 am I was already sweating (no perspiring- pure sweating). I went back to the car for salt tabs because I knew that even though this was a short race, I would need them because it was already hot and humid.
I had plenty of time. I went into the water – hot – and swam a little. Then it was race time. The swim and run were changed this year but the bike was still the same.
I’ve moved up in numbers but I was really wondering what I had written down for my swim time with so many people behind me. I thought about moving back in line since Team Magic allows this but decided to stay right where I was. I have some experience starting from the swim spot because it was where John Hanna and I swam a few times when I was working with him. I knew that it drops off pretty fast at that spot so you are in deep water faster than you might expect. The swim course headed straight out across the lake, back toward shore and then another left to shore. I swam strong and steady the whole time. I did not touch a kayak once or even think about doing it (though I am always aware of where they are). I got out a little far from the buoys but that was ok because I wasn’t getting kicked and hit. The last turn was a bit of a problem for most of us because we were swimming right into the sun and you couldn’t see the big orange buoys that marked the finish. I was heading a little off course (and was not alone in doing so) but a kayaker yelled at me and guided me back to the right direction.
Final swim time 14:07 (1:12 faster than last year)
I have been practicing transitions and it is helping. T1 was 3:20, faster than last year but I can still improve.
It was hot on the bike and I realized that I was having some problems within the first couple of miles. This route is hilly enough to be a challenge but not impossible. I know the course because I have raced it and I have been riding it this spring. This was the hottest day I have ridden though. There were good moments and not so good moments during the ride. I passed Geoff Leonard around mile 2 while I was climbing a hill. I had three people in front of me and I was evaluating if I could get around them or not in the 15 seconds allowed. Geoff yelled some words of encouragement and I went and passed all three. I was having a bit of a hard time but I was making it. Around mile 4 I felt like I was really in trouble though and I stopped briefly just to get myself together. Someone yelled some more words of encouragement and that kept me going. I knew I could get to the turn around point. Once you turn around, you head right back up a long hill. I took it a little slower than I might have just to make sure I made it. On the next hill I did something dumb that I know not to do and dropped my chain. That caused me to stop and flip the chain back on, which I am now pretty good at doing. The rest of the ride wasn’t bad at all. When I looked at my splits, I had mostly very good speed and mile times. I just had two spots where I slowed down. My top speed was 34.4 mph.
Time 1:02 (1 minute faster than last year). And no crashes or concussions this year.
My overall time was 1:19. I had hoped for a bit better than that but given the heat, I am not unhappy. I finished the race when I felt like quitting at least once. I won the Aquabike (and I was the only one in the category so that isn’t impressive) and I improved my times on the swim and the bike.
Overall, a good day on the race course.