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Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Summer Open Triathlon Race Report

For starters, this was my first race in three years with the last being the 2011 Summer Open Triathlon (turned Duathlon due to water contamination) soon after which I found out I had torn the medial meniscus in both knees.  Two surgeries, some PT rehab, and several false starts later I started training in earnest beginning December 2013.

My swim and bike training leading up to the race was pretty stellar.  My speed in the pool improved and new coaching from Billy Edwards gave my bike training structure and guidance.  He added the use of power to ensure I was getting the most out of my cycling.  To say it made a difference is a gross understatement.

My run was a big question mark given the surgeries and the slow but steady volume increases I was making.  I had been getting decent volume up to around 3-4 weeks before the race but then dropped off as life got in the way.  As has been typical with all my triathlon training over the years, when time crunches and life hit, it's always been my run that suffers first.  I'm nervous about putting too much volume on my knees so I've been incorporating elliptical or elliptical-like workouts - but have no idea how to equate them to a run, if that's even possible (whereas with cycling, a ride on the trainer is like 1.5x an equivalent ride on the road).

I got to the venue early and got a great racking spot right next to the bike out/bike in - so the distance I would have to run with my bike was minimal.  I set up my stuff and went back to the car to relax before warm-up time.

For my warm-up, I did a 10-minute run.  In retrospect, this was probably unnecessary given that the water temperature was 57-degrees so any warmth gained by running would be quickly negated.  Additionally, the sweat created from running in sweatpants and a sweatshirt only made it that much harder to get on my wetsuit.  I should have just done a longer swim warm-up.

As mentioned, the water was 57-degrees, which if you've never had the pleasure, let me assure you:  IT'S.FUCKING.COLD.  Like, take-your-breath-away cold - especially when it hits your face.  I'd doubled my swim cap and am damn glad I did.  A few hundred meters and I'd numbed up enough to where the cold didn't bother me.  Boy, let me tell you, those first few minutes were really hard.  It took some extra special motivation to not say "screw this" and bail out.  But realizing that EVERYONE had to deal with the same conditions (save for the few crazies wearing sleeveless suits) and if they could do it, so could I.

Mine was the first wave off and in true triathlon start fashion, the washing machine was in full force.  Normally I go really hard to get out in front but I don't know if it was the cold, or if it was because it was my first race, or what, I held back slightly to avoid getting kicked or punched in the face and let some swimmers go in front of me and followed them immediately.  I didn't bother trying to find some fast feet, rather my goal was to just get the damn swim over with as quickly as possible.  I thought I was a lot slower than it turns out I was.  I must have been flying in my new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit because my swim time was 21st fastest overall and I heard someone say as I ran by into T1 that I was only a minute down.

I don't know if it was the Helix or the cold water, but it took far longer to get my arms out than it should have.  Normally, I want to get to my bike with cap and goggles off and arms out with the wetsuit top pulled down to my waist.  I'd only barely managed the latter by the time I got to my rack.  The rest of T1 went pretty smoothly.  I had gloves out for the ride because I knew I'd be cold coming out of the water and the air temp was still pretty chilly, but my hands were too wet and I couldn't get a glove on, so I gave up on that after only a few seconds.

The bike course was straight out and back with only a turn into and out of the reservoir and a U-turn about six miles out.  Unfortunately, it was all uphill and into a tail wind except for the last few hundred meters before the turn around.  Thankfully, I'd been doing many of my intervals in just such conditions so while I probably overcooked the ride out, I knew I'd be recovering on the way back.  My only regret is not putting an 11 on in the back for my small chainring instead of a 12 and as a result, I was spinning out with the tailwind and downhill on the return leg.

My dismount was mostly textbook, though I probably slowed too much too soon and took my feet out of my shoes a bit early.  My feet were still a little wet so getting my socks on took a little longer than I was expecting.  In years past, I'd been used to running without socks, but hadn't done any such training and so didn't want to risk it just for the sake of speed.

Heading out on to the run, I could feel the lack of quality run training and to make matters worse, I couldn't feel my feet.  I was running on stumps for the first 1.5 miles.  The run was on the dirt road next to the reservoir and headed East.  It was in really bad shape with 2-4" deep holes everywhere.  Finding a smooth, straight track was challenging.  A little over a 1/2 mile before the finish, I noticed I was having trouble seeing the road clearly due to my glasses being dirty but instead of taking them off, I just kept running and wound up rolling my ankle within that half-mile and it easily took 20-seconds to get back into a rhythm, but it was not nearly at the same pace as before.  As a result, I lost two places in my age group with the second one being literally in the finishing chute.  I was so pissed.

Overall, it was a damn good race and I should be proud to come back so strong after a three-year hiatus.  But, as we athletes are wont to do, we focus on the one or two negatives and that, for me, would be the damn ankle roll that cost me two places.  Thankfully, other races are yet to come, the road is in much better shape, and I'll be that much more motivated.

Thanks to Foxtrot Wheel & Edgemy teammates, my sponsor GU Energy, and my wife for the support.

Race Results:

42nd overall, 37th male
7th out of 38 in age group, 10 and 2 seconds behind 5th and 6th place respectively.
Swim (1/2 mi):  8:18, 21st fastest time
T1: 1:33
Bike (12.25 mi): 35:30, 40th fastest time
T2: 1:04
Run (3.1 mi):  23:15, 111th fastest time

Total:  1:09:42