CapTex Triathlon Race Results Report
Updated: Jun 6, 2022
May 29, 2022
Race report by Kevin Wu
The 30th Annual CapTex Triathlon was my first triathlon this past Memorial Day. It was a sold-out event which took place in downtown Austin, alongside Lady Bird Lake. Being my first triathlon, my main goals were to enjoy the race, FINISH, and to see all the local training partners/groups I have been hanging around since starting my triathlon journey here a few months ago. My secret stretch goals were to get a podium finish for my age group and go sub 2:20 for the Olympic Distance.
The day before the race was packet pick-up and bike check-in. It was nice to have that the day before the race, so you wouldn’t be carrying so much stuff with you the next morning. I had the chance to scope out the transition area, which was straightforward with the ins and outs. I caught glimpses of the swim course but unfortunately the run and bike courses were closed off, so I wasn’t able to get good intel other than seeing it on a map. I was able to snag a pretty good spot in T1 for my bike which was right next to the bike out. The less time I had to spend running with the bike the better. Others were thinking the same as that area got pretty crowded.
Morning of the race was warm and humid. Luckily, it was overcast and the swim was just barely wetsuit legal. I got all my stuff set up in transition and hung out there until about 30 minutes before race start. There was no bag check-in, so we had to leave all our stuff there. They say don’t do anything new on race day, but I threw all that out the window. I had some new isotonic gels that I hadn’t tried before, but I went with them because they didn’t need water. I trimmed my wetsuit sleeves and legs the night before. I used some new anti-chafe that I bought the day prior. I had new gear that I was wearing for the first time. It was all new anyways, so I figured what the hell. I wasn’t feeling too anxious before the race but more so excited. There were so many unknowns going in that I figured I would just try to do my best and test my limits.
I was eager to jump in the water because I was sweating from waiting around in my full-sleeve wetsuit and cap in the 80-degree humidity. I started near the front of my age group pack and we had a time-trial start shortly after the pros started. As soon as I jumped in the water I was hit with some adversity. Water began leaking into my right goggle and I had pushed the wrong button on my watch to start the triathlon (twice). I was treading water and doing breaststroke for a good 30 seconds before I was able to adjust and get back on track. Mentally, I had to regain composure after that rough start. During that open water swim, every dark thought creeped into my head as I was trying my best to focus and stay present. The first 500 my chest felt compressed and it was hard to breathe, so I was just trying to make sure I could calm my heart rate down. I was swimming crooked and going all over the place even with prior open water swim practice and sighting. I realized that in a completely new environment, it was still quite a struggle for me to swim in a straight line. I swallowed water a few times, traded kicks and elbows with fellow swimmers, and was mostly just trying not to swim past the buoys and stay on course. It was disorientating, and I wasn’t even thinking about my form. I was focused on getting to where I needed to go and trying not to overexert myself. I couldn’t wait to get out of the water.
The swim took a lot out of me. I don’t think I had fully recovered from all the sessions I had been doing weeks prior as my upper body (specifically left lat area) was still sore. Running out of the swim into T1 felt nauseating, and I had to reorient myself to being on land. It felt like trying to jog after being spun around in a chair. I was also on the verge of throwing up as I was jogging over to my bike. I might have over fueled and hydrated the morning of and day before. My gut did not like swimming while fully carbed up. I’m glad I held it together though. As I got to my bike, I took extra time to let my stomach settle and I was still a bit dazed. The wetsuit slipped off just fine, but I had to double check to make sure I had everything I needed for the bike. I opted for my one shoe clipped in strategy which worked just fine, but I was so close to the bike mount start that I don’t think it would have mattered what strategy I went with.
The bike course was a loop through downtown Austin streets. For the Olympic distance it was 4 loops. It was important to keep track of the number of loops you are doing, as I had heard numerous accounts of people forgetting what loop they were on and having to waste time going from the finish back to the start line just to complete their final loop. It’s harder than it seems too. I almost lost track on loop 3, but luckily there was a guy with a megaphone that stood out to me, and I was able to remember how many times I passed him.
The course was not particularly forgiving. The roads were bumpy and full of potholes and cracks. It was like a yard sale with the number of dropped bottles and hydration mounts littered throughout the roads. There were also numerous people on the side of the course with flats and bike mechanical issues. Due to the bumpy nature of the course, pinch flats were apparently a common scenario. I’m glad I unwittingly pumped my tires up all the way beforehand (90 PSI). Even though it may have been less smooth of a ride, this would decrease the likelihood of a pinch flat (someone told me that after the race).
On the first loop I started feeling much better after the rough swim start. My stomach settled and I was more at ease on the bike. There were a few hairy turns, but for the most part the course was clearly marked and there were enough people around to follow. Aside from the bumpiness of the roads, the course had a few hairpin turns that got pretty tight, narrow lanes, one steep hill on each loop, and a section over Congress Bridge that got extremely windy. After the second loop, the course started getting REALLY crowded because the Sprint and Rookie athletes, as well as all the female and older age groupers with later start times began joining in. From that point on, it was constantly weaving in and out of traffic. It was fun to constantly pass people and it forced me to stay engaged; but made the ride more challenging and at times I had to slow down due to the traffic.
Overall, the bike portion of the race was by far the smoothest and I didn’t experience any real adversity. It was the most enjoyable too. My pace slowed a bit in the third and final loops, partly due to fatigue and partly due to the sheer number of people on the roads.
I didn’t do a flying dismount for T2. The path to the finish line was this stretch coming off the main loop. I didn’t know exactly how far it went and it was narrow and winding, so I opted to not unstrap out of my shoes. I think it was a good call. My transition spot was so close to the bike finish line, that I would only end up running about 20 feet in my cleats. During the ride, I drank 28oz of Gatorade Endurance but I hadn’t ingested any other carbs besides that. I knew I would need more energy for the run even if my stomach didn’t want it. I grabbed an isotonic gel, slipped on my running shoes, and took off.
During the run I was in my pain cave, but also my comfort zone. Immediately, my heart rate spiked up compared to what it was on the bike. The sun was just coming out and it was increasingly humid. I wasn’t feeling the fatigue in my legs until starting the run when I felt the meaning of the term “brick”. I came out pushing maybe a 6:30/mi pace which was around my target but knew that I wouldn’t be able to hold that pace about 1 mile into the run. Especially with the uphills and the unknown terrain, I decided to dial it back for at least the first lap and see where I was at. Still, I was pleasantly surprised how fast I could still move after injuring my ankle just 1 month prior and not having done any hard run intervals since then.
The run course was pretty awkward. We ran mostly on road and pavement. It was two undulating loops with a bunch of twists and turns – we ran through a section in an alleyway, a paved and windy walkway going through a park, and even a short stretch across a grassy field. I was pretty skeptical going through the grassy field, having flashbacks to my ankle sprain from my last race. I ran through that part like I was running through snow, laser focused with each step and careful not to step into any ditches or uneven surfaces.
After the first lap, I was settled into a pace that was manageable yet very uncomfortable – pushing just below my max. I knew I could handle it aerobically, but I was worried that my leg muscles would give out. I had felt this pace and RPE level before, but my legs were getting heavy. I was in uncharted territory, plus it was getting hotter (course had very little shade) and I was sweating like a pig. About 1 mile into the second loop, I began cramping in my left hamstring. I was hobbling for a bit until I was able to get some Nuun at the next aid station. Somehow that did the trick, and the cramp went away almost instantly. I wonder if it was more mental than anything – sometimes you just have to will the cramp away. I was able to hold a steady and even pace all the way up to the finish line without completely gassing out. Pouring cold water on myself at each aid station helped too. The last stretch before reaching the finish line is the best feeling.
My finish time was 2:20:42 which was good enough for 4th/64 in my age group and 20th/652 overall. It kinda sucked because I checked my results after the race and it said I placed 3rd in my AG. I was prepared for a podium spot while waiting during the award ceremony, but my name didn’t end up getting called. I guess there was someone who started much later with a faster chip time and had me bumped down. Nonetheless, I was still happy with the results and of course being able to finish my first triathlon. I didn’t get to hit any of my stretch goals, but it gives me something to strive for.
I felt prepared for the bike and run, although there are definitely continual improvements I can make in those areas. Transitions went smooth, although a ‘flying mount’ might still be on my to-learn list. The biggest thing I need to work on is my swim, specifically open water swimming. My open water swim times are consistently 10sec per 100yd slower than my pool times even with a wetsuit. There are psychological hurdles I need to overcome with swimming in open water, and of course sighting and swimming straight! I suppose those things come with more practice.
Runners: Altra and Hoka
GPS Watch: Garmin
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