Monday, August 13, 2007

5430 Long Course Triathlon

Yesterday (Aug. 12) was my "A" race for the season which was the 5430 Long Course(Half-Iron Distance) triathlon. I'd like to report that is was a qualified success. I raced my heart out leaving pretty much everything on the course. My only regret was that I didn't have as fast of a run as I would have liked. This was only my third triathlon, and the swim was my best yet. I felt comfortable fighting through the crowds and settling into a good pace and ended up only a couple of minutes away from my top goal time. We started directly into the sun which made sighting nearly impossible, so I ended up just trying to follow the mass of the pack. Following a single swimmer can be dangerous since they may be going the wrong direction, but I assumed that the crowd of people making up the pack would be pretty safe and I didn't have much other choice. I did end up going pretty wide later in the race when I could spot the bouys. I think that I was getting a little tired and although I tried to breath on both sides I think that I was breathing mostly on the left making my right arm tired so I started veering to the right. At least I was in open water and by that point I was passing people from 1 and 2 waves ahead. The bike started fast, or at least my HR was high. Way too high, but my legs felt good so I didn't slow down much, but after about 15 or 20 miles I had settled down a bit and my HR had come down into the range I expected it to be. I wasn't sure how well I was going to fuel on the bike, but I think that I did pretty well. I still need to do a little work with that, but I finished right where I wanted to for that event with pretty even splits for each of the two laps. I'm still not 100% confident with triathlon bike racing. There is a no drafting policy that is pretty elaborate and when there are people from multiple waves all coming together it can begin to look like a pack at times. I'm really worried about not getting caught drafting so I end up having to decide if I should speed up to get by everybody or slow down to wait for the group to dissipate. I usually end up trying to pass, but once I get by and try to settle into my proper pace I end up with others in the group coming up behind me and passing me back forcing me to fall back out of their drafting zone. I didn't get called for anything so I must have done something right, but it would be nice to figure out a lower stress way of dealing with that. Taking bottles at aid stations was completely new to me, but I handled it well even taking two bottles at a single aid station on my first attempt. I probably should have back off just a bit on the bike so that I could take in a few extra calories and save my legs a little for the run. Starting the run I knew it was going to be tough. My legs were a little sore coming off the bike, but I settled into a pace and vowed not to look at my watch until later in the race. I knew the pace wasn't going to be fast especially with some hills in the early miles and I didn't want that to get me down. I wasn't getting passed by a large number of people so I knew that I couldn't be that slow. In fact I was actually passing a few people, but they were mostly in earlier waves so not my direct competition. My biggest obstacle on the run was fueling. I have lots of experience with fueling during running races, but after coming off the bike and starting so much later in the day than running races, I was going to need to take in much more than in just a running race. I had decided to carry two 16oz water bottles with hand straps. One had Gatorade Endurance(which was also on the course) and the other had water. I pretty much just took turns between the bottles, keeping the weight roughly equal. Drinking whenever I felt I could stomach anything as opposed to waiting for any signs of thirst. I was also occasionally taking Clif Shot Bloks for added calories and later in the race as I started to feel the onset of cramping I dug into my bag of Endurolytes for electrolyte goodness. The course was mostly on dirt roads with barely and inch of shade on the entire course. Like the bike course this was two laps. I think that I achieved my goal of not looking at my watch until I was nearing the end of the first lap. I was hoping for 45 minutes, but it was closer to 50 minutes. Not entirely unexpected given the way I felt at the time. I was actually a little pleased that it wasn't worse. I now knew that my goal of sub-5 hours for the day was within reach if I could just hold it together for one more lap. The reason I chose the larger handheld bottles as opposed to my usual Fuel Belt bottles is that I figured these would be easier to fill with the larger mouth and I knew that I would be needing to fill them. The thing that I didn't take into consideration is that the aid on the course is meant for single sips so I needed to grab multiple glasses each time to fill them. I made it work though and didn't have to slow down too much. I did have a couple of low points where I thought the wheels were going to come off, but I forced more fluid and calories down and was able to come back each time. The second lap was tougher and took my probably 55 minutes or so, but that was enough for a finishing time of 4:51.
Lessons learned:
  • I need more long rides on flat terrain and in the areo bars. I started cramping in my hips late in the ride and I assume it is because many of my long rides were in the mountains.
  • I need to practice fueling better in the bike. Getting a water bottle for my aero bars will help as will getting a food box for my top tube, but learning how to take in more calories than I need for just biking is going to come with experience.
  • I need to stop ignoring my run training. I have been training fairly heavy on the swim and the bike since those are both new sports for me. As a result my running fitness has fallen a bit. I still feel strong on the run, but think that if I can balance my training a little more I can really increase my speed on the run.
  • I need to learn to hold back a little on the bike. The other reason for a slow run split is not leaving enough in the legs to use the speed that I do have. I have to learn to relax just enough that I don't lose too much time on the bike, but still have fresh legs for a long run.
Here are all my splits from the official results:
Swim: 32:48
T1: 2:17
Bike: 2:31:01
T2: 1:31
Run: 1:43:47
Final: 4:51:26

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm back

After a long hiatus from blogging I'm going to try to take another stab at it. I just found a new Firefox  extension called ScribeFire that should make it easier for me to post. If this is the case you can expect to see more posts in the weeks to come. If not, then I'll probably disappear from the blogosphere again.

So, to catch everybody up...

I ended my 2005 season with a sprained ankle in the middle of the Aspen Golden Leaf 1/2 marathon. I wound up with another 2nd place overall finish in the TRM TS, 1st in my age-group again. The ankle sprain didn't affect these standings at all, but forced me to back off my training. I think that I was without running for about 2 weeks and nothing serious for at least a month. I'd twisted my ankle a number of times before this and it would hardly slow me down, I'm convinced that this one was so bad because my body was weakened by too much racing. Because of that I didn't compete in the TS in 2006. I don't remember doing much in 2006. I had a decent race at Pikes Peak Marathon. Didn't get my goal ascent time, but I didn't completely bonk like my first attempt so I was able to race down which was a blast. I love downhill running!

Last fall I bought a road bike at VeloSwap and this year I'm going to concentrate on triathlons. I'd like to do an iron distance event, but may not be able to schedule one. This winter had a lot of snow cover which kept me off the trails. Now that the snow is melting I'm finally getting back on the trails and remembering why I love running. I'm going to have to balance my need to train on the roads for a tri with my love for the trails. Maybe someday I'll learn to mountain bike and try and off-road tri like the Xterra series.

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