Race Report: The Grizzly Triathlon
Carl Rogers, the famous American Psychologist said, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”
If your thinking this is not a very triumphant way to begin a race report, you are correct. Today was not the day I hoped it would be. However, it was a day of essential education, and rather than beating myself up over some decisions I made, I will change this into yet another opportunity to improve.
This is going to be an extensive race report. I’ve always wanted this blog to help the novice triathlete or to convince someone on the fence about triathlon to take the leap. So some of this stuff might be boring as heck for you seasoned folks. With that, let us begin the extensive race report.
Today started like any other race day for a triathlete: fumbling around in the dark looking for things while trying not to wake the family. After almost successfully succeeding in that task, I walked outside of the hotel at 6:05 into a brisk…28 degrees!
I made my way down to the race site, and was there at 6:30, the time when packet pickup was supposed to start. After walking around freezing for a while, I found the check in, and I was the first person to pick up the packet. This is really weird for me and with the lack of people, I was wondering if I had the wrong weekend. In VA, everyone puts their gear into the transition zone at a certain time, and then you can’t get back in until your racing. At today’s race, they had a “fluid” transition, in which you would rack your stuff 30 minutes before your heat started.Of course, my heat didn’t start until 12:00 ish, and basically I was stuck having to wait around for 6 hours to race. No big deal, as I enjoyed watching the others.
At 8:00, the first waves started. These were people who planned to swim a pretty extended time, like 30 minutes. Got to start somewhere. And they still look good doing it!
Okay, flash forward five hours and its finally warm up time. Something I’ve learned about my body this year is that a good warm up is something I really need. The Powertap Meter always just creeps up at the same exertion level for the first 15-20 minutes on the trainer. Same too for the run. In the past, I have mainly just jumped in the pool and went at it, but today I thought I would try to get some good time in. First up, I did a tiny 12 minute run with some 30s revs around the parking lot:
I followed that by a similar 12 minute spin on the bike around the same 2 blocks. I think next time I may actually bring the stationery trainer in.
The Swim: 1000 yards @ ~17:50 (official pending)
Okay, if you read my earlier posts, you know this is a disaster. Last week, I had put in a 1000y swim at 16:00 flat. This Thursday, I put in 16:59. In the wrong direction, but I chalked it up to my sinus infection.
Today, I was in near the elite heats, which was probably a bad idea on my part. 4 swimmers to a lane, circle swim, 25y pool. I was in the number 4 position. As I knew everyone else in my lane was a faster swimmer, my plan was to go hard from the beginning and catch the person in front of me and just draft. That worked well for the first 2 lengths. However, after that I kept losing a few feet every turn. It wasn’t long before I was in the middle of the lane by myself. I felt moderately well paced and my stroke was somewhat calm, but not as calm as a wanted. I think what really got my slowed down was not flip turning. At the ends I would stop and make sure no one was coming up behind me, adding more and more time. All in all, I can at least say I wasn’t the last guy out of the heat. In my defense, I had originally signed up for the 18:00 heat back in January. I just need to figure out what is making the 2 minute difference then and now.
Pissed I was so far behind, I was booking it through T1. Shoes and glasses on without a problem. Tried to put arm warmers on, failed on first go, so I said screw it and just went without. Aero helmet on with a problem except I had to resit it once as I forgot about the ear flaps. To the mount line and off I went.
The Bike: 12 miles @ ~37:00
First thing, thank God my heat started later. It was cold, but not too cold. It would have been unbearable in the 8:00 heat. The bike had the most “fascinating” start section of any race Ive been in. After going around the stadium, the route had us darting over a pedestrian bridge, making a near 180 turn with a radius of about ten feet, and through the back alley behind a strip mall before out onto the open road. Interesting, but a bit hair raising.
The course was pretty flat except one bump and some false flats. The helmet worked great, and it was neat to hear the soft noise of streamlined air around my ears. The wind was dicey at times, and I still have problems with stability in a crosswind. This was especially true today as this was the first time I had cycled outdoors this season. Yeah, did I forget to mention that? Anyhow, the ride wasn’t as smooth as I wanted it to be, but there were some good periods. Made it to the turn around pretty easily, and then there was a tailwind on the way back, so I was hauling it. Something kept rattling the entire ride which was concerning. I found out after that my cogwheel is a little loose..not sure what to make of that. Anyhow, things were looking good on the return when I got to the one hill, down shifted, and dropped my damn chain again. I dismounted, rechained, and pushed off uphill to get going. Then I had a brief cramp in my right calve which made me stop again. Pushed off again and finally was going again. Caught up with the peeps that passed me on the hill, back through the Slalom, and into transition. I caught everyone that left me in my swim lane except for one guy, so I was happy for at least that. I certainly feel a difference having trained with power this winter. Here are the splits and power:
T2: One word: numb. Hard to get shoes and socks off and back on with hands and feet numb. Took a little longer as the wind had knocked some of my stuff around, but I got my number belt, hat, socks, and Newtons on and off I went.
The Run: 3.1 T ~27:00:
As soon as I started striding, I began to get a near cramp in both of my calves with each land. After about 7 minutes, I had to stop and give it a brief 10 second rub down, and I was back off. Run started on pavement, but quickly went to a gravel trail in a valley. Things were starting to look better as the run progressed and I felt ready to try to kick it into the low 7:00 pace or high 6:00 even. Of course, that’s when “The Hill” showed up.
When I heard there was a hill on the course, I was like “whatever.” Even with my novice ability, I always do better on hills since I’m lighter than most men in my age group. Today’s hill was something I totally didn’t expect. You know those days when you strap on a back pack and go hiking up a mountain? This was like that. Just a little dirt path with slippery rock at first that went up. Fall to the left, and down you slide for a while. Sure, some of the stronger runners could take this, but for me the most logical thing was to powerwalk up(thanks Coach Rich). Here is the elevation change and the subsequent pace change:
Coming back down and being slapped in the face with branches was even more fun. After that, headed back, and tried to speed things up as much as I could, but I was beat by this point. Rolled in slightly over 27:00. Here’s the splits:
Overall, I’m looking about 1:25, which should put my right in the middle, or slightly back of middle in my age group, and top 50-25% overall. Official results are pending. No where near the goals I had outlined earlier, but still not a wasted day. Here are the things I learned from today:
I swim 1000y in 18:00!!
Work more on my swim technique.
I need to ride more outdoors.
Work on keeping my stroke and power smooth on the bike.
Stay in aero position.
Stretch more to stop those calve cramps.
Learn how to use the multisport feature on my watch better.
Forgo socks in sprints.
Get the bike looked at by the mechanics.
I still got to end the day with a beautiful drive and fresh beer from the brewery.Tonight, I relax, tomorrow, Im back at training. One and a half months to go to Onionman. A lot to get done.