My last event for the year – the 16th Annual Anthem Holiday Classic Sprint Triathlon. The race consisted of a 400m heated pool swim, a fast 20km bike course and a 5km run. I did the event last year and had a great time. It was particularly rewarding to place first in my age group (60-64)! I decided to do it again this year even though I hadn’t trained as well and was dealing some chronic pain in my back, hips and knees. I was confident about the swim, having trained consistently all year, but I knew my cycling or running wouldn’t be better. I had to be realistic about my expectations. Placing first again might not happen, but I figured I had to at least try.
The morning of the event was cold – upper 30s before sunrise. By the start of the women’s swim at 9:30, it had warmed up into the upper 50s. I felt the swim went well; the bike segment seemed fine, although I didn’t feel strong on the hills; and the run was what I expected, frustratingly slow. Participants are body marked with their age on their right calf, so I kept checking out the other women to see if any others in my age group were passing me. I didn’t see anyone, but given how slow my run was, I didn’t imagine that I was in the lead. But again, to my surprise, I placed first! Overall, my time was 5 minutes slower than last year (slightly faster in my swim, transitions about the same, 3 minutes slower on the bike, and 2 minutes slower on the run), but I still had a 9 minute lead over the woman in 2nd place. My time was also faster than all in the age group below me (55-59); and, except for the 1st place winner who beat me by 1 minute, my time was also faster than the age group below that (50-54). That totally shocked me!
So am I now motivated to continue doing more triathlons next year, with longer distances and tougher courses? Not sure yet. I’d have to significantly improve my running to make the experience more enjoyable, and that’s going to require physical therapy and strength training to deal with my chronic back, hip and knee pain. But, no matter what I end up doing next year, I know I need to keep moving!