Monthly Archives: August 2011

You Got To Feed A Cold: The 2011 Whitefish Lake Triathlon Race Report

Relax everyone. I know you must all be worried as it has been longer than 12 hours since my last race and a report has not yet been filed. Yes, normally I start writing these reports in my mind about a mile before I finish a race, but alas, I have been way too busy dealing with a four letter word. WORK. Fortunately, I have found some recluse next to my fireplace, and its time to share the spoils of another adventure in self mutilation.


This is my second time in the Whitefish triathlon. You may remember that my prior experience at this race was an experiment in duct tape. Fortunately, I arrived at the race this year with all of my epidermis intact and almost rash free. Don’t ask. Unfortunately, I came down with a cold on Friday and I spent most of Friday night and Saturday moping around the house in blankets and feeling like crap. Actually, thats a pretty typical weekend for me except I was sober for this one. When I awoke on race morning, I was greeted by a cough and a banging migraine. The logical thing would have been to crawl back in bed and ask my wife to make some Tom Kai soup. But of course, this is the blog of an ironman triathlete, and you know that logic and caution have left town. So I popped in two Advil, a Tylenol Cold,  a heart burn medicine and up I went.

Woh...I have to race....

Over the past year, I have come to realize that it takes me a good ten minutes to warm up for anything. Running, swimming, cycling, bowel movements, you name it; I got to get in the groove. As a sprint is only a little over an hour in general, I figured that if I didn’t get a good warm up, I wouldn’t be firing all cylinders until I was almost done with the bike. So for this race, I hooked up my trainer and put in a good 30 minute warm up on the bike. I threw in some 1 minute zone 5 to open my legs up and get the blood flowing. After, I felt much more awake and ready to rock and roll. It also got rid of some of the pre-race jitters. I’m not ballsy or Cadel enough to sit on a trainer AT the race and warm up like some euro-pro wannabe, but I will definitely keep this routine going at home. Pre-race nutrition was my tried and true black coffee with 2 shots of espresso and half a muffin.

Check – In:

All my tri-geek friends can tune out because this will likely bore you. From the site stats, it looks like I get a lot of hits from people wanting to know more about the race logistics so I will throw this info for you. I arrived into the race area around 8:30, 30 minutes before start. There was no parking in the lot by Whitefish Lake. Same too for the nearest side streets. I had to go roughly two blocks away before I could find a street side parking space. By the time I had unpacked the family and gear, I made it into transition about 8:45. There is no assigned racking, but I still was able to find a spot…but just barely. There was a good 5.86 seconds that I thought I might have to rack against a tree. Set up in about two minutes. Got body marked at the check in desk. One weird thing I haven’t seen before is that they gave me a special tag to put on my swim cap. I was instructed to hand this tag to a volunteer when I got out of the water; I suppose it was a way to make sure everyone made it out okay. Brief warm up in the water, race meeting, and into the water we went for a mass start. No waves or staggers.

Ready to get my Tron on...

1/2 mile Swim (so they say): 15:24.1,  9/18 Age Group

Dont drink the water....

So the gun goes off and I start swimming. I didn’t draft much at Coeur d’Alene, probably because I was basically butt humping people for two miles, so I figured I would try to draft as much as I could today. I quickly found some feet and settled in. As soon as I got moving, I could tell that my body was not quite ready to start. My lungs felt constricted in my wetsuit, and I struggled to maintain form. It wasnt long before my normally smooth stroke was looking like a blindfolded dog trying to swat a mosquito.

I always find it odd the dichotomy that exists in my body when Im swimming. On one hand, my physical self is churning away, burning my lungs slowly, moving in quick cadence. The mental part of me is always calmly thinking things like, “Gee, if I keep this up I am going to drown…ooh look at that pipe….am I going the right way…..what the hell is that…” During this race, my mind was calmly repeating “this doesn’t feel right.” Luckily, this year I was able to stay on track thank to being stuck in the middle of the pack. As I came out of the water, I look around and saw way too few people behind me. Ive always considered myself an average swimmer, which I’m happy with, and my time of 15:24, 9/18 in my age group, pretty much solidifies that notion.

What you looking at....

T1: 1:58

Just take me out back and shoot me. T1 sucked. Suit got stuck against my watch again. Missed my foot clip in twice. Tell me it didnt happen.

12 mile bike, 36:19, 4/18

Since the Coeur d’Alene fiasco, I’ve been concentrating on getting my butt outside on the bike and it has made me at least feel stronger than a few months ago. After the aforementioned problem getting clipped in, off I went. People have often asked me how to pace a sprint triathlon. Its pretty easy: just go as fast as you can. So, I just started pounding it right from the start. I’ve noticed Ive done a little better on hills with a high cadence; must be all that Tour watching this year. So I focused on making timely gear changes and cruising up and OVER hills. Everyone wants to know if this is a hilly sprint. The answer is yes.

Strategy worked up the hills, and I took in about twenty people on the ride out. Made the flip and started hammering it on the way back. After the flip, there is a series of s-turns on a narrow road. As I rounded a corner I almost became a hood ornament for a Land Rover (it’s Whitefish, for all I know Jessica Biel could have been driving it). Another thing to note: there are a lot of pot holes. The winters aren’t very nice to the Montana Roads and some of the things on the course look like they could suck in light. It was so bad, after I had hit a few, my aerobars werent pointing about 20 degrees down from horizontal. BE CAREFUL. As I came back towards the finish, I got stuck behind a gawking truck, but nothing too serious. Made it into transition without busting my ass on anything, which is still my greatest fear. Bike cleats and running; as graceful as a rat ice skating.Here are the power numbers:

Duration:      36:28
Work:          400 kJ
TSS:           55.1 (intensity factor 0.958)
Norm Power:    199
VI:            1.09
Pw:HR:          n/a
Pa:HR:          n/a
Distance:      12.444 mi
Elevation Gain:        365 ft
Elevation Loss:       353 ft
Grade:         0.0 %  (7 ft)
Min    Max    Avg
Power:           0    492    183     watts
Cadence:         30    159    98     rpm
Speed:           0    35.5    20.2     mph
Pace             1:41    0:00    2:59     min/mi
Altitude:        3017    3286    3143     ft
Crank Torque:    0    763    160     lb-in

T2: 45 seconds

Nothing superb, but at least it wasn’t like T1. And, it be a miracle, I for once finally pushed all my lap buttons right on my Garmin and I remembered to take it with me on the run. There is a God.

5k Run, 22:59, 7/18

Again, since CDA I have been trying to change things up. For running, Ive been concentrating on lengthening my stride just a little and increasing my cadence greatly. I also wanted to go a little slower for the first mile and then hit it. So off I went, thinking about nothing but keeping my legs turning over fast. The course isnt hilly, but it has plenty of those tiny bumps that are just long enough to make you think “CRAP” and give your legs some pain.

As soon as you go out of transition, your running up a steep hill and then down the other side. Then its a long gradual false flat. I was feeling pretty good during this portion, and my concentration on leg cadence and leaning slightly forward seemed to be working. Came through the first mile at 8:12, a little slower than what I wanted. After that, I sped things up more. Made it to the flip feeling great and headed back. Last year, I was getting passed left and right like an Asian grandma in the left lane by this point, but I hadn’t taken anything from behind yet as I headed home.

Second mile came in at 7:39. After that second beep, I just let it loose. Fate finally caught up with me, and two runners went by me. Fortunately, they looked like my age group x2. After the last hill, its a steep downhill to the finish. Last mile came in at 7:12 for a total of 22:59.

Final: 1:17:26, 6/18 age group, ~2 minute PR over last year

In a time when more and more triathletes are becoming fixated on the podium and getting to Kona outside the lottery, it seems less people are having fun. Since CDA, I have realized that my main goal in triathlon is to stay healthy and have FUN. And this race was FUN. It was great to get out with the locals and then wander over to the beach right next to the finish and play with my kids in the sand. On top of that, it does seem like I’m still making progress. All in all, it was a great day and I look forward to coming back faster next year.

Oh, another first for me at the race. The local chip timing company decided to to a test run on the men’s solo division for this race. After the race, I walked up to a computer next to the finish line, punched in my bib number, and it printed out my times. I know my friends have had this at other races, but this was my first experience. If anyone from Kalispell Athletic Club is reading this, I would gladly pay more to have this service next year. This being Montana, Im used to my results getting to me via Pony Express.

I'ze understand you're lookin for ya race times.....


Thanks Chicago!

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