Setting a Personal Record at the Naperville Triathlon
Race day has become routine for me, having done races at all levels from sprint to the Ironman. The HRMS Naperville sprint is a favorite of mine because of the proximity, the flat course and the usually good weather. This race day began as usual: I had my equipment packed, I had fueled and was out the door early to try and get a little warm-up in before the race.
I expected great things, having been coached by Joe LoPresto for the past 6 weeks. We worked on my swim and he quickly corrected my “Whack a mole” sighting technique, body position, as well as a few tweaks to my catch and recovery through drills. We also had a decent review of run techniques and the workout sessions had been spot on to correct my deficiencies and increase my fitness. The computrainer drills were tough but producing great results in terms of increasing power. The only glitch had been a slip on wet grass on the track at Rotolo that had resulted in a minor groin pull but race morning everything was feeling fine.
The weather was colder than I had expected so I decided against a warm-up swim. I’ve done this in the past only to shiver uncontrollably between the warm-up and the 20 minutes it takes after the course is closed to warm-up to start the race. Instead, I jogged in place and stretched, raring to get going.
I took off with the 5-7 minute crowd, having measured my 400 meter time in just over 7 minutes at my local pool. Running into the pool I realized that it was going to be hot. The temperature of the water was over 80F–hot bath water. This is the one thing I can’t seem to get accustomed to in practice or while racing. I overheat quickly in the water. I concentrated on stroking and breathing, barely lifting my head to view my position, tri-sighting like a pro. I felt as though I was swimming 4 minute 100’s but just kept telling myself it would be done with quickly. Out of the water in 9:52, a full minute slower than 3 years ago, but surprisingly enough, not fatigued, I ran for my bike.
Transition went slowly as someone had illegally placed their mountain bike and equipment on a kickstand between two rows of bikes, limiting my access. I quickly put on the shoes, helmet and grabbed my bike, careful not to ruin the athlete’s day by disturbing their set-up.
The bike segment flew by but by the second loop a strong headwind had developed out of the north. No matter, I was flying past other racers, dodging other athletes and in general having a great time. I flew into T2, (slow time, someday I’ll figure this out) changed and ran out to see Coach Joe. Having worked on transition runs for the past month, I was excited to show him what I could do. Thus far, no one in my age group had passed me! At mile one, I began to get a few racers coming by me at a much faster clip including one my age. I tried to stay with him but he was clearly a better runner going at about a 7 minute pace and I was unable to hang on.
I pushed hard but was starting to slow thinking I had gone out too hard. As I started to let up, I heard Coach Suzy command me to finish strong. Yes, ma’am!!! I went as hard as I could to the line. Overall, 1:18 and change, a 2 minute PR and 4th out of 34 in my age group. Not bad for 6 weeks of coaching. Give me a year–I’ll be the king of the Geezers!
Congrats, Rafael, on your PR and a great day at Naperville!
Enjoy all the photos from our fun day at the HRMS Naperville Triathlon on the ET Photo Gallery.