Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail

Monday, June 21, 2010

Race Report: 5430 Sprint Triathlon

This was my first race of the season and the first in what's known as the age group of death:  M35-39.  This was evidenced by (according to the knowledge imparted upon us by the ever entertaining Barry Siff) the 160+ registrants for this age group, although only 147 started and finished.  The waves launched at 7:30 in 5-minute intervals.  My age group was so big it occupied multiple waves however I was in the first of the two waves (wave 3) scheduled to start at 7:45.

I went into this race with a sort of relaxed confidence knowing that while I hadn't done nearly all I wanted/needed to do to exert the high effort required for this race, I was still well prepared.  I was neither nervous nor did I have the usually half-assed night of sleep the night before going to bed early and sleeping relatively soundly until 3AM or so - much later than when I normally wake up on race nights.

Having packed the night before my morning was stress free and I left the house at my previously selected time of 5:45AM.  Getting to the Res was uneventful as was parking or finding a decent racking spot in transition.  I laid out my gear and went for a warm-up run around 6:25.  Getting back to transition, I double-checked all my gear but probably dallied a little too long and was ultimately, along with may others, ushered out of transition wetsuit, goggles, and swim cap in hand.  I took some care in putting on my wetsuit to make sure it was adjusted properly and there would be no tugging, air pockets, or bunches while swimming and took a quick dip for what was probably only a 100m warm-up - far too short for my liking - before I had to line up in my wave a full 15 minutes before my start time.  With the series now being owned by Ironman, everything is a process involving lines of some sort so the start was no different.  All athletes had to activate their timing chips by going over the timing mat prior to entering the staging area in the water.  This meant one could not just warm up until just before race time and simply duck under the ropes to get a good starting position.

I lined up on left which would give me a straight shot to the far turning buoy - had I actually done a halfway decent job of sighting on the way out.  I didn't and wound up zig-zagging a bit before finally getting on the right track.  Not sure how much time I lost doing this, but my swim split of 12:45 for the 750m indicated I swam a 1:42/100m pace which is somewhat slower than I can rip off in a pool and I was wearing a wetsuit.  Lesson learned for the next race:  don't forget to sight on the way out.  After the first turn, I remembered how to sight correctly and didn't have an issue coming in.

In the last 100m or so I started kicking to wake the legs up.  This also has the effect of spiking one's HR and of the three sports in triathlon, swimming has the lowest maximum heart rate meaning it's incredibly easy to red line it if you're not careful.  This probably is exacerbated as you stand up at the end of your swim, run through several feet of water and up a couple hundred feet of sand towards transition.  You may be able to train for this, but I'm not convinced it ever gets any easier.

Wetsuit came off quickly during the run up and in T1.  Everything was smooth save for knocking a water bottle over as I unracked my bike and instead of leaving it, wasted some valuable seconds picking it backup.  I say valuable because in a sprint, just like in a short TT or prologue in cycling, the times are (usually) close together and 7 seconds saved would have seen me move up 2 more spots in my age group standings.  T1 time was 1:13, not bad, but certainly room for some small improvements.

I had a little trouble at the mount line getting my right cleat in - some more valuable seconds lost - but was soon out on the bike and hammering.  One difficulty with the triathlons at the Res is that the bike course is all uphill for at least the first 5 miles.  It's not steep, but it's uphill and you can tell.  There was some obvious wind on the bike but not enough to make me feel like I was wasting a ton of energy.  There were, however, times when I caught myself just cruising rather than pushing the pace - more time lost.  I played leap frog with some guys in my age group but all in all, I was probably not passed by more than 6 riders total and not all were in my age group.  This was promising.

I came flying back into the Res, pulled my feet from my shoes and had a perfect running dismount losing no momentum and passing several more riders in the process.  Bike time:  45:01 for a 22.9mph average.  I forgot to unbuckle my helmet while running back to my rack so I wasted some more time having to do it there and struggled a little getting my socks on and square so I could just slip my shoes on and go.  I grabbed my race belt, a Gu, and my visor and was off.  T2 time:  1:17.

I pounded the Gu immediately and tried to wash it down with water but spilled more than I got in my mouth and had to run tasting chocolate for the first mile until I could get more water.  The Gu was a big mistake - not because of the Gu, but rather because of mixing it with my custom Infinit sport drink mix that I consumed on the bike.  Stomach cramps dogged me for almost two miles before subsiding into the realm of "ok, this is reasonably bearable."  I have no idea what my pace was at the time but I found something that was at the top end of comfortable that also felt.  As with the bike leg, not many people in my age group passed me but I never actually considered where this would lead me to place - I just focused on running, keeping my pace and doing my thing.  There was a slight headwind going out and while certain, I think it's also VERY slightly up hill.  Regardless, at the turn around, the change was noticeable and while I'm not sure if my pace changed, it definitely felt easier.  Soon, I was back on the paved road and cruising to the finish.  Approaching the corner, a quick glance back told me that no one was going to sneak by me in the last 100m.  Running down the finishing chute I was vaguely aware of the race announcer saying my name and something about last year's Ironman.  I cross the finish line and glanced at the clock.  Race time: 1:23:15 with no real idea on where I placed.

My wife met me at the finish and we milled about the finishing stretch waiting for my sister to finish.  I believe she was out on the run within 5 minutes of me finishing.

Finally, the results were posted and I saw what shocked the hell out of me:  in my first race in the age group of death, I landed a top-20.  I was over the moon.  And checking my stats from the last time I did this race in 2008, my time was actually 11 seconds.  But most importantly, the bike was faster by well over a minute and almost 1mph.

Final stats:  AG placing:  20/147, 130th overall.


Post a Comment