Cyman Triathlon (Olympic)
1500 m Swim, 39.5 km Bike, 10 km Run
September 21, 2014
Well I was able to wrap the 2014 season with a strong overall performance at the Olympic distance after an out of balance Bluff Creek and the shortened Hy-Vee. The weather for the inaugural Cyman Olympic was gorgeous, save for the northwest wind that started at 15 mph and ended up increasing to over 20 mph over the course of the race.
The wind pushed us out on the two lap swim course which was laid out in a triangle that took up the majority of tiny Lake Petoka. We had a standing in-water start due to the slightly treacherous rocks on the shore. Starting with the entire Olympic men’s wave, I put myself in a good spot without giving much thought to seeding. Just looking for a straight path down the bouy line I came off the start about as fast as I ever have. In fact I was about of a third of the way into the first leg before I was conscious that I was swimming really fast.
Unfortunately my brain succeeded in telling my body to slow down, and at that point I locked into a steady, albeit much slower, tempo. After the first left turn, I lost contact with most of the group. They held the women's and sprint distance starts for five minutes after our start, so there weren’t any other swimmers from wave a behind passing through. Coming back into the shore (and wind) was a bit tough, and the second pass was much stiffer. Still I feel like I maintained strong form and actually had some gas at the end for a little pickup.
Out of the water, I was a good two minutes ahead of my Bluff Creek time and came away with a 2:00/100 yard overall pace. Swim time was 35:30.
T1 was nice and speedy even with the wetsuit: 42.8 seconds.
The two loop bike course started out right into the teeth of that gusty wind. After the first five minutes I made up my mind to race this leg smart, trying to even out my effort between the work into the wind and the inevitable tailwind to come. This was where the Zipp-equipped Shiv really started to shine. Even in the trickiest crosswind section of the course, the ride was very manageable. I came through the bike leg with a very respectable 1:09:24, a 21 mph average.
I caught up with sprint distance phenom and fellow Zoomer, Summer Rehkemper, coming into T2. She’s so speedy and well rehearsed in transition (She qualified for and raced at Worlds this season), I was happy to come out at nearly the same time: 42.1 seconds.
I can’t say I was excited about the run course: It is mostly on the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Trail, and included a fairly new, if desolate, stretch along the highway and through a cornfield. There was new grass seed that had been sprayed down recently which gave the air a chemical fertilizer smell.
The race organizers had the aid stations set up well and I was able to take a splash of water at each mile. After the sprint course turnaround the path gets under the trees and has a gradual downhill until the Olympic turnaround. This section is better, but the runners were more spread out and there were absolutely no spectators. I will say that the aid stations were well-placed and the volunteers were great.
After the turnaround you go back up the grade and around the cornfield and into the park. At this point a runner caught up to me. He went past and I took in the "38" on his calf. Isn’t triathlon cool in that not only is your age out there for all to know, but your competition is clearly labeled? I pulled up next to him, both happy and worried that I had a pacer for the last half mile.
A couple of times I felt like I could have pulled away from him, but decided the better plan was to keep him close and then beat him in a sprint. It hurt, but I found a mantra I’d used with some of my students and my son the previous week: “Be a Jedi.”
At about 200 meters to the line I felt that urge to go again and went. That turned out to be the right strategy. I came across the line 8th overall, 4th in my age group (and did not get “chicked”). Official time was 2:29:45.9, about 1:30 off my Olympic course PR, but considering the wind it was a very good performance.
The Cyman is a well-run event that would serve the needs of both a beginner to the sport who’d like the whole season to work up to a race and a seasoned veteran who’d like the chance to compete for the Heart of America tri-series (it is the culminating event).
Thanks to Kyle’s Bikes and Discount Tri Supply, my fellow teammates, my training partners and coaches at Zoom Performance, and my family for the support, push, and opportunity to have a very memorable triathlon season.
Christian uses his triathlon training to encourage charitable contributions. "My designated charity for Cyman is the group doing some of the toughest work in the world right now: Doctors without Borders. Please join me in supporting an organization that truly is saving the world."
Full results from the Cyman Triathlon are online at True Time Racing.
Photo credits: "Christian getting ready," "Christian with bike," "Christian finish" by Devin Miller. "Swim start" by Katherine Roccasecca.