I did my first Aquabike on the 18th of June, and it was fun. I have to back up a little and tell the story from Saturday morning on the 17th. Our YMCA summer swim team had their first swim meet of the year. Being that I am the acting head coach, and the YMCA Aquatics Coordinator, I have the responsibility of setting up the meet, officiating, printing heat sheets, and coordinating the volunteers. It is not as hard as it sounds, I just had to stick around until it was over, instead of leaving as early as I would have liked. I got done at the meet at little after 12, and after lunch with the wife, I was off to the hotel.
I got to the hotel a little after 3:30pm. After checking into the hotel and unloading the car, I realized I had forgotten my backpack which had some stuff in it that I needed and, a few things that I didn’t. The biggest thing was my favorite goggles. I do keep a spare set in the car, but they don’t fit right and they hurt my nose. Obviously, I was not going to make a 5-hour round trip just for my favorite pair of goggles. I took a drive out to the race venue. I had never done this event before, so I wanted to figure out the lay of the land. The youth race was going on when I got there, so I had to park outside of the park and walk in. This was good because it gave me a chance to look around and get the feel for the park and the transition area. I walked down to the lake and it was crowded, so I decided not to get in the water. I noticed the nice hill that went from the beach to the transition area.
After a good night’s sleep, I got up at 4am. I get up at 4 am almost every day, so getting up on race day feels pretty routine. I got the car loaded and was ready to leave after a couple cups of coffee. I got on the road for the 25-minute drive at 4:30am. On the way over I had three bananas and a bottle of water. I got to the park a little before 5am, and I am pretty sure I was the first one there. I got to park 25 yards from the transition area. I walked around the transition area, and re walked the bike exit and entrance. I put stickers on the bike and racked it.
After the race briefing, I walked down to the beach to wait for the start, and to get a warmup swim in. I walked down to the beach and remembered that I was supposed to be looking for someone. I found Dennis standing on the beach. He is someone I had never met before, but my wife knows his family. We made quick friends, triathletes are funny like that. I got my warmup swim in and chatted with Dennis and his friends and family for a while. Our start would not be until 8am. HFP Racing always a mini, sprint and Olympic races at the same time. Doing this means Olympic distance goes last.
I took off with the other aquabike racers, HFP Racing has you go in three person waves. This is nice because less arms and feet hitting you while you are swimming. I had a good start, but I had a lot of traffic to get through, and my breathing was off. I stayed with the plan of doing my best and finishing positive. I knew I needed to stay within myself and not lose positive thoughts, because the bike was going to be hilly and windy. The swim was a little short, but good. The water was flat, and not as cold as I thought it would be. For the most part, the swim was uneventful, except the few swimmers swimming crazy crooked and back and forth. I got the swim completed in 24 minutes and 32 seconds at 1:46 per 100 yards. It wasn’t my fastest swim, it was about average for the start of the year.
When I got out of the water and on to the beach, I realized that even if I was not faster in the water, I was relaxed and felt like I was refreshed. All the laps in the pool paid off, not in speed, but in fitness. The run up to the transition was uphill, with a 50 feet elevation gain in .2 of mile. I made it up to the bike smoothly. I got changed and ready to go. Total time from out of the water to the bike mount line was 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
Once on the bike, which is my comfort zone, I took off a little slower than normal due to all the cones dividing the in and out traffic of runners and cyclist. I had driven the course the night before, and studied the course maps, so I knew the course and knew that most the climbs were in the first five miles. On the out and back part of the course, it was little rough as far as the pavement, not to the point that it was a bad course, I just have to watch. The HFP Racing crew did a really good job of spraying orange paint on the road where the pavement was rough or there were holes in the road. I put the hammer down a little on the flat sections between the climbs, and made a lot of ground up on most of the faster swimmers. When I made it back out to the loop, I knew there would be cross head wind for about 8 miles, and then I’d ride straight into the wind for 2 miles, and most of the rest would be a hard-cross tail wind, with last two miles having a tail wind. I could see riders in front of me, and was motivated to catch them. I focused on pushing and not losing focus on the goal. I finished the bike in 1 hour 7 minutes and 30 seconds an average of 21.7 mph. It’s not as fast as I wanted to ride it, but I was happy with the time, considering the hills and wind.