Sunday 10/5 was the 2nd annual US Open Triathlon Championship. Its fun to do a race of this type for the opportunity to see firsthand the performance of nationally ranked professional atheletes. Even had a racer from the US Olympic Triathlon team.
The day started early with a 4:00am alarm to load up and head down to the American Airlines Center. This race is logistically challenging due to the fact that the bike portion is a point-to-point course, starting at Joe Pool lake in Cedar Hill and finishing at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas. Saturday was spent in mandatory race-briefings, packet pickup and bike checkin down in Cedar Hill.
I arrived at American Airlines Center a little before 5:00am and set up my running gear in the 2nd transition area (T2), then caught a shuttle bus down to Joe Pool lake at Cedar Hill state park. Once there, I had plenty of time to set up my first transition area (T1) with my gear for the swim and bike portion. Things are a little different with this race, in that you have to pack all of your gear before heading out to the bike course, since the race organizers pick up all the gear bags and transport them downtown to be picked up at the finish.
We watched the pro and elite racers start about 7:30am, with several of them turning in swim times of 18 to 20 minutes for 1500 meters! I hit the swim at about 8:15 (with wetsuit, since the race was wetsuit legal at 76 degrees water temp). The swim start for age-group atheletes was a time-trial start with 4 racers starting every 10 seconds...didn't end up with the 'washing machine' of arms and legs that usually results from 50+ people starting at the same time. Fortunately, the water was calm sunday morning (it was pretty choppy on saturday afternoon) which made for a smooth swim. The only trouble was sun in our eyes coming back in which made it almost impossible to see the course buoys....so I just followed the splashing in front of me and hoped for the best.
I exited the 1500 meter swim at 31:51 (I'm not a fast swimmer), and headed into transition to get on the bike. T1 took more time than I'm used to, making sure everything was packed up and ready to go. Several of us got held up exiting transition as a race volunteer motioned a delivery truck to back up across the bike course, blocking us for a minute or so.
The bike course started with a couple miles ride through the state park on some hilly, winding roads. A couple riders went down hard on one of the curves and were still lying on the pavement as I went by. (volunteers were on the scene and help was on the way, but it looked like a bad crash)....not a good sign to have a crash this early. We exited the state park on 1382 for a slow uphill against the wind. We then made our way toward downtown through a fairly hilly course. On the plus side, the entire course was coned off from traffic with great traffic control by police and volunteers. The negative of this course was poor road condition (potholes, ruts, cracks), especially as we got closer to downtown.
I tried to keep the effort on the bike in check, but pushed it as hard as the road conditions allowed (had to really keep alert on the downhill sections for potholes....they come up pretty quick at 30+ mph!). The course took us through some fairly rundown areas of town, with a nice sweeping turn at the Lew Sterrett Jail. The most memorable moment was coming across the Commerce street bridge with the downtown skyline ahead....not many opportunities to get that view on a bike!
The wind picked up toward the end of the bike course, pushing me around a little with my disc wheel...overall, not too bad, though.
Finished the 40K bike in 1:15:25 and headed out onto the Katy trail for the 10K run. Thankfully, this was a flat run course because I was fading pretty bad by about mile 4. I pushed it through and finished the run in 51:18 for a total race time of 2:44:26. 19th place out of 47 in the mens 40-44 agegroup.
In comparison, Greg Bennett (the pro winner of the race) finished in 1:46:52 for a $120,000 prize. Now all I have to do is 'shave' off an hour from my race time......
Finishing at the American Airlines center is a great venue...lots of energy, food, music...basically a big party at the completion of your race. The organizers do a great job with challenging logistics, would just be nice to find a better bike course into downtown.