Long Day:Short Race – The Summit Solstice Triathlon Race Report
Ah summer is here! Of course, in its honor, it’s a full on day of rain here in Montana. Luckily though, the weather waited until right after the Solstice Sprint Triathlon yesterday, so I cant be too angry at mother nature.
The Solstice Triathlon has been a coveted event on my race calendar. In the years I have been mauling myself in triathlon, I have never had the chance to do a hometown race. The one time I signed up for one, it got rained out. So the fact that this race was a mere ten minutes from my house AND that it was put on by my colleagues at work made this sprint extra special. Of course, it was also a perfect complement to my solstice pagan rituals of offering slaughtered prairie dogs and dancing by a fire all night long (this is a joke….I only slaughter grammar.)
Went again with the no coffee routine. Grabbed a strawberry smoothie and a cup of oatmeal from SBUX. Washed it down with about a cup of Infinit about 45 minutes prior to race start. Made it to the race venue, and somehow managed to find parking right next to transition. In an interesting difference from the east coast, this is the second time Ive seen a numberless transition zone; just rack it where you want it. I chose a rack next to a big tree so it would be easy to remember where I needed to go post swim. Got body marked with the largest numbers ever (seriously, from deltoid to elbow!).
1/2 mile Swim: 13:43 – 8/21 AG
The venue for this event was the beautiful Foy’s Lake just south west of Kalispell. Water temp was a comfy 63 degrees…well at least comfy for me. As I made my way in for warm up, I noticed that there were a ton of rocks along the beach; not the most comfortable sensation. Luckily, thanks to a checklist that would make an OCD patient gasp, I managed to remember my wetsuit. Thanks to losing a few pounds since purchase, a lot of the stiffness I felt prior disappeared and I easily found my form.
In another first, the women led off, starting at 9:30. They gave us a five minute gap, and I settled into dead center of the pack. 9:35, and off we go. Usually, I will give myself a tiny bit of room to breathe in when we start, but I decided to changes things up and get room by trying to surge ahead. Within the first six or seven strokes, I was quickly on top of some feet and legs. I pushed past these, and oddly enough, found myself with plenty of room to cruise along. As I mentioned earlier, I tried out my new streamlined stroke, and the speed came even more easily with the added buoyancy of the wetsuit. It was a circular course, and after making the first turn, I was essentially alone with two other guys. About 1/3 of the way in, my right goggle started to flood. Luckily, the guys I was with were on my left, so I just kept sighting them and they led me all the way to the next buoy. We rounded the last turn, and our party dropped to just myself and one other fella (oddly enough, it coincided with something hard hitting my shin at the turn). When I was about 25 yard from shore, I started quick kicking to push the blood into my legs. This was to no avail though as I tried to stand and quickly lost my balance on the rocky shore. Rather than stub my toes, I made for the shore, and ran the last few yards to the transition gate.
T1: 2:11 – 16/21 AG
This was by far the worst part of the day for me. Wetsuit quickly came off without a cinch. Shoes, glasses, and helmet on quickly. Then it was time for the watch. Anyone who reads my blog knows I’m in love with my Garmin 310xt. The only thing is that it is so big, I don’t wear it during the swim as I’m afraid it will get stuck when I try to get the suit off. So I just put it on during transition. Or at least I try. With my heart racing and frustration growing, I couldn’t get the damn strap to close. I must have literally wasted about 15-20 seconds trying to put my watch on.
12 mile Bike:40:43 – 14/21 AG
Straight forward downhill then uphill course. My plan was to efficiently downhill as fast as possible, and then take a controlled climb back. Wind was minimal, thank goodness, and weather was just warm enough. Got immediately into aero from mounting. I noticed that I felt a little queasy in the first moments of the bike, and that my gut was slushing a bit. I figured I must have taken in too much water in the swim. To “rinse” I decided to take a big gulp of Infinit. The downhill section went very fast. There are two small uphills on the way out, but nothing to get excited about. I haven’t looked at the data yet, but I expect speeds to be in the upper 20’s to lower 30’s for most of the time. It was a beautiful section: nose down to the forearms, and nothing but the sound of smooth wind flowing over my aero helmet. I got passed twice early on, but nothing after the real downhill started. As I approached the turn around, I noted maybe about 10-13 men coming back the other way, so I was feeling pretty good. Did a quick flip, and then started the trek back uphill. As I was heading back, I noticed a large PACK of people coming towards the flip. Not two bike lengths apart, but like wheel on wheel double pace line. Now, if there is one thing I can’t stand in triathlon, its drafting. For a while, I was able to hold them off, but sure enough, a group of about 10 people went by me, happily carving out the wind. There were two main hills on the way back, and consistent with history, all 149 pounds of me was able to reel some peeps in on the climbs. Not that it would matter, since as soon as I would pass people, they would stay on my wheel, and go right back around. GRRRR.
Made it back in mediocre time. I wanted less than 41:00, so I can’t complain. I just wonder how fast it would have been if I followed the “crowd.”
T2: 1:18 – 11/21 AG
Much smoother this time. No socks, so just shoe change, helmet off, grab hat and belt on the way out. Almost got wiped out by a wayward volunteer, but other than that, no complaints.
3.2 mile Run: 23:33 – 10/21 AG
In short, Yuk…in more ways than one. My legs came quickly back to life. What came with it though was a much larger magnified sloshing sensation in my stomach. This was quickly replaced with the dull aching pain of cramps roaring through my gut as I settled into the first mile. My goal pace was 7:00, but I could only manage a 7:45-8:00. I took in two people quickly, but was passed by about 4 more guys at about 1.5 miles. This coincided with a large steep bump in the road. After about 2 miles, my stomach started settling down, but this is when the race went off road. Thanks to the rain for the THREE days prior to the race, the equestrian park we ran through was muddier than a wrestling fan’s wet dream. After trodding through a good section of ankle deep mud, I made it onto dryer ground for the last half mile or so.
Synopsis:1:21;29 – 31 OA, 11/21 AG
All in all, not a great day, but not a “bad.” I met most of my goals except for T1 and the run. To boot, I also learned the consequences of taking in too much water. In any case, it was great to get out in the sun and burn some calories. The shirt I got was also way cool, the best yet this year.
One other thing I have come to realize is that sprints are not as fun as they used to be. After this year, I’m going to keep things at Olympic distance or greater. For me, there is just a different mentality and sense of accomplishment with the long distance races that the sprints don’t give me. For a sprint, its either I did well or didn’t. For a half IM, I can always be happy to cross the finish line. That being said, those special sprints will always have a place, and I will be back for this one next year.
Things I Learned:
Need to drink less water when I swim.
Keep working on the bike.
Less sprints, more distance. I train for Ironmans.