The run starts down a narrow greenway, and I like to have a bit of space, so I went out faster than I'd planned but still felt pretty comfortable. We took the greenway out of the park and into a neighborhood before turning around to head back into the park. Hit the first mile split at 6:38... oops. It's not a terribly long race, but that was quite a bit faster than I'd planned so I made an effort to settle into a more reasonable pace. Another U-turn then back towards the start, and I only counted 3 women ahead of me. I do like out and back courses because you can see who is in front of you and who is right behind you. The second mile was done in 7:08, got back to transition at 17:15, averaging just under 7 for the first run, which was quite a bit better than what I'd planned.
I'm finally getting the hang of putting on my cycling shoes quickly, so I got out of T1 in decent time. I may have to invest in some tri-specific shoes though, because running in road shoes with SPDs in definitely not my strong suit. The bike course headed out of the park toward Jordan Lake, and was pretty uneventful. A bunch of guys passed me, mostly on sweet aero tri bikes. I wish I'd won that $640 million lottery, because that would have been my first purchase! My goal for today was to work on my cadence, so I found my comfortable gear/pace and then went down 2 gears and tried to maintain the same level of effort. I also worked on riding aero - I've only recently had the aerobars put on and I'm still not that comfortable on them, so it was definitely good practice. The first half of the course was mostly rolling hills, and there was just a little breeze, so it was perfect. I managed to stay around 20 mph, which is good for me because my comfort zone in riding is 17-18. The second half was a pretty steady incline, and we hit a headwind that set me back a bit off my pace. Around mile 13 I was passed by a woman with a 33 on her leg, so I knew I had to keep her in sight if I was going to catch her again on the run to win my age group. I could still see her in the transition area as I pulled in, so I knew I'd have a chance.
I took a little time in T2 to drink some gatorade and get my legs under me, and then headed out on the chase. I felt much better in this second run than I did in Charlotte, so it seems the brick workouts are helping. The faster cadence probably helped as well, and I caught up to the 33 before the first mile split. I went through mile 1 at 7:22, so significantly slower than the first loop, but it felt much harder this time around. I saw the 3 lead women on the out and back, and there were none within catching distance, so it was hard to push myself for the last bit of the run. Tired legs, high heart rate, no time goal, and nobody to chase makes it hard to justify that uncomfortable feeling that comes with hard efforts. I finished the second run in 18:52, and am a bit disappointed with that. Mentally I need to be able to push myself even when there is no number on the clock to beat and no one ahead to chase.
Final time: 1:34:59, 1st place in my age group. I had hoped to finish in under 1:40, so I did accomplish that, and overall was pretty happy with my effort on the bike. It's just going to take a lot more practice and a lot more miles to really get better, and I am looking forward to putting the time in over the summer.