If you’re a competitive triathlete keep this in mind: how you place may have everything to do with who shows up on race day!
As a competitive M55-59 age-grouper I’m used to finishing on the podium (most races this is 1st – 3rd, but some races have podium spots up to 5th). That said, I know plenty of guys that can beat me at every triathlon distance.
At the San Diego International Triathlon my main competition (as far as I know) would be Kim McDonald. Kim is a legendary sprint-course guy having won the world sprint championships in Australia a couple years ago. He raced the Olympic worlds the next day and took 4th! Clearly he’s in a totally different league.
The last time I did SD Intl. was in 2006. Guess who won? Yep, Kim McDonald!
No matter, these short races are great speed sessions for me as my next “A” race would actually be Ironman Louisville.
SD is a great race for those that aren’t that confident in ocean swimming because the entire swim takes place in the harbor – no waves. It’s also a great spectator event so bring the whole family.
The swim start is a deep water start and we go off in waves. Our wave probably had 200 people in it. My goal was to go hard all day and see how I felt.
I seeded myself at the front of our wave just a couple guys down from Kim. The gun went off and away we went.
Because the swim is in the harbor the water was perfectly flat. It made it easy to navigate, and to see your competition.
I got my swim into a fast groove but couldn’t find anyone to draft off of (do this anytime you can). I could see Kim out ahead of me, slowly pulling away.
My swim was fast and I felt great!
I ran into transition and there was Kim still getting out of his wetsuit. I got out of mine very quickly and left several seconds after him.
The bike course is quite hilly as it takes you to the top of Point Loma and you make a second loop. I went hard on the bike thinking I could catch Kim . . . guess again! He kept pulling away from me. Oh, I forgot to tell you, besides being one of the best sprint triathletes on the planet, he’s also about 5’ 6” and weighs about 130 pounds. His power to weight ratio is like “off the charts!”
While I didn’t pass anyone in my age group (according to their ages written on their calves), no one passed me either.
A good T-2 and I was off to the 10K run. Due to the lengths of the different events, this was going to be a “runner’s race.” I’m a good runner, but not a great one, so I knew I’d have to go hard in order to hold my place; whatever that was (I figured 2nd).
With my new Nike Free’s I was off. Amazingly, I felt really good on the run. I was clicking off 7:00 miles quite easily. I did see Kim on the run course but wasn’t able to close the gap. I got a few “atta boys” from other runners I was passing. I do have to admit I do enjoy passing guys that are 10, 20, 30 years younger than me!
I finished strong and ended up taking 2nd place. A really great training day for me, and I don’t feel the least bit bad finishing 2nd to Kim.
Athlete Swim T-1 Bike T-2 Run Total
KIM MCDONALD 0:12:21 0:01:38 0:46:44 0:01:08 0:42:46 1:44:37
RON SAETERMOE 0:12:56 0:01:20 0:51:23 0:01:16 0:43:52 1:50:47
JON POWELL 0:15:04 0:02:16 0:48:17 0:02:22 0:45:48 1:53:47