WildFlower Olympic Triathlon
Date: May 6, 2012
Temp: 75 -> 88 (in the shade – race was in the sun)
Rank: 369 / 1840
Class Rank: 75 / 226
Swim: 24:32 (1:38 pace)
Bike: 1:26:01 (17.2 pace)
Run: 0:57:05 (9:12 pace)
Perhaps putting in earplugs, taking two sleeping pills and crawling into my tent while surrounded by people hollering yeaaahhhaaa-hoot-whoop between shots of tequila wasn’t the best start to my first triathlon. But it was May 5th and there were fish tacos, beer and el cinco de mayo is not to be taken lightly. I managed to get some sleep, pop up early the next morning about 3 hours before my race and then sit down to eat my pb&j + oatmeal + banana. I’m super glad I had so much time as it took me three tries to go to the bathroom, and I really didn’t want the weight of the previous day sitting in my body while pushing myself. That is how accidents happen.
I rode down lynch hill to transition area with Brian, Michael & Johan. It was nice to know people and have some buddies. When I arrived in transition it was already covered in people and we split up. I found my spot in the rack which was by bib-number and was thrilled. It was on a row with a color change close to the entrance and exit. I couldn’t have picked better. Lots of people were joking around and chatting. Not so much with the game face. I set everything up and was really glad I went to the transition clinic and did the graduation day race. This felt pretty solid. I threw on my wetsuit, pounded some more water and went to the bathroom for the 4th time, then went for a quick swim before they kicked us out. It was starting to warm up and while I wasn’t hot yet, I could tell it would be a scorcher.
Time to swim. Our age group was broken into two waves, with new & slower people in the second wave. I hung towards the back / middle of the pack for the start and that was pretty much the wrong call. I ended up having to swim over a dozen people just to get swimming properly. Within 2 minutes I was out front with only one guy ahead of me and one guy drafting just off my right. The powder blue caps were quickly out of site and I started to see hints of green. I definitely need to work on my sighting. This was a fresh water race, so the fact that I ended up swallowing almost every 5th time I looked up wasn’t horrible, but come my ocean races that will be horrible. The funny part is that despite all that sighting, I still wiggled like a sine wave. I had three different helpers / ref, nudge me and put me back on course. I figure I can probably drop 1-2 minutes along just going straight. The biggest challenge, which I would never have expected was the slow people from previous waves. I must have been kicked in the head 4-5 times from people doing the #$%^& elementary backstroke. REALLY!?!?! I totally respect the do it or die thing, but that hurts. I never really got tired which was totally a shock. I do most of my swimming in the pool and 1640 yards is a long swim without a stop. I’m still shocked how quickly it went by. I think I could have pushed harder, but I’m not sure as I came out ready to ride. The exit got pretty congested and I had to crawl over people again. I lost track of the one powder blue cap that was ahead of me early on and don’t know if I was first or second in my heat, but that would have been cool to know. The wetsuit was amazing and really made a difference. Barely had to kick to keep proper form (although I did). Getting out of it was a since and I had no rash this time, thank you body glide.
The transition felt fast enough except for my socks. That just took a lot of time. I had some watch malfunctions and a hell of a time clipping in. Glad I didn’t fall on my face leaving transition, but it was a close call. Lynch hill was a real climb right out of the gate, but I passed a lot of people. My smaller gears didn’t really give me much of a choice, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. What I didn’t expect was the lack of power I had once I topped the hill. I could spin, but I simply had no gas. Thankfully, that passed after about 2 miles and I got my legs back. During that time I choked down my first goo. Literally. I almost vomited. No idea why it was so hard to stomach. It was pretty thick and I really need to find a way to warm them up as I get out of the water onto the bike. They are no good cold and gooey.
I got my speed up and kept passing people on every incline. And then I found my buddy. Thank you stranger of the same size and age. I started pushing hard on the first long flat and this guy passed me so I pulled back to let him in. But then he didn’t keep on trucking. So I passed him and then a few more people. A couple minutes later, he passed me again. Then I passed him again. We must have switched spots close to a dozen times over the first 12 miles. He would catch me on the flats, I would pass on the hills. We got to the point where we were offering jibes. I can saw with little doubt that I would not have beat my goal without him there to push my faster. Finally, I lost him on the 3 miles descent down to the turnaround. I honestly felt sad.
I had a really solid ride. I passed consistently, and the only riders passing me looked like the guys you see in the posters, aero helmet, bars, bike, race wheels and spittle flying from their mouth our of a cranky race-face. Some day I may get competitive enough to get the gear, but watch me keep on smiling. I had a brutal cramp in my right calf and was worried for a bit, but I started punching it as hard as I could and by some miracle it unclenched. Back to climbing.
That bike ride is simply gorgeous. Great big rolling hills, with some real climbs and decants. Loved it. Bikers were courteous and people cheered. On the final hill up to lynch, my mystery buddy reappeared. I was so happy. We climbed together in harmony and near the top of the hill, I smiled at him, wished him luck, stood up and cranked it over the top. I heard him shout “awe man…” in the back. And he was gone. The ride into transition was harrowing. Lynch is steep. I could smell the burning rubber from my brakes, and that was to keep me at 45mph. At the steepest part, mid turn some seriously crazy guys passed me at full tilt boogie, maybe 55 or 60mpg with one hand on the handlebars which unbuckling his shoes and taking his feet out. I was just waiting for him to crash and kill us both.
We made it to transition and I skipped my way to my running shoes. Water, goo, shoes, oh crap fell over. Sit down to put on shoes next time. Got it.
The run started solid. First mile was under a 9mm. Way better than I expected for the start. Second mile slowed down as we hit the first of the incline. And then the climb began. And it chewed me up and spit me out. I walked once. Then twice. Then trice. Then I had to pee and watered a bush. I would pick a person and shadow them for 5 mins, then walk a min or two. That hill just has no shade. It is HORRIBLE. The temp was 89 in the shade and on tarmac, I could not even guess. I felt like a salmon swimming upstream. All those people I passed swimming and biking just ran right on by. I think 400 people passed me on that hill. I got to the top and then settled back into a pace. I looked at my clock, did some mental math and concluded that if I could just stay under 10mm for the final 2.5 mi I would still make my goal of running the 10k in under an hour thanks to the solid start I had. It started to feel pretty good considering all the discomfort and I hit my stride.
Lynch was trip. Turns out, I can run down hill. Now that sounds easy. But you know what? Most of the people I passed really can’t run down hill. I was running 6:32 avg down that slope. Just riding gravity. I know a real runner could kick my ass, but I’ll take any edge I got. I passed close to 30 people on the final leg and that felt awesome.
More awesome though was seeing 3:22 on the race clock as I approached. I quickly subtracted my 0:30 delay from my heat and saw that not only did I beat my cautious goal of 3:30 but my holy shit I can’t believe it goal of 3:00. A wet towel on my head, an 1800lb medal on my neck and some oranges and pasta was a great way to finish. The only thing missing was my girls. I wish julie and sassy could have been there to share it with me.
Today, I found out that my time was sufficient to qualify me for the national championship in vermont. Not bad for a first race. Can’t wait for the next one. I’ve got my season picked out and registered (Trinona, Sandman, SC Tri, Sentinel) and need to get back to training.
* this was fun. deep personal challenging beautiful fun. It hurt but I felt whole. Heck, in every photo I have seen of my race I am smiling and I didn’t know where the cams were.
* sun burn on chest – forgot to apply sun screen under my tri top and when I unzipped on the run I got fried. Glad I put on sun screen long enough before the swim so it had time to set.
* sun glasses didn’t give me a headache this time – stoked.
* bought a new tri top the night before to race in. Totally risky. Got lucky and it worked out very well. Quite comfy. It was hotter on the back that I would have preferred on the run. Might be worth buying a slightly lighter one for super hot races if I do them often.
* the top and bottom tri top and shorts combo was solid. The small goo holders on the sides of my shorts was actually better than putting it behind me. Super easy to access both during bike and run.
* horrible cramping on my right calf at the turnaround of the bike (20k point) and towards the beginning of the run. I was able to stretch it a touch and then punch it a bunch of times which caused it to unlock.
* need to figure out my salt intake. I did 1 bottle of electrolytes + 1 bottle of water on bike + alternated water and gatorade at the aid stations. Wondering if I over salted?
* screwed up my watch – confused stop button with next sport button out of swim into transition and at bike start. Noticed it at the base of lynch hill and made the swap. Foiled again at second transition when I didn’t seem t register transition and hit it twice thinking I missed it only for it to congratulate me on finishing my race. Set the run as a separate event while running the first mile. Annoying distraction. Definitely need to practice.
* I was in the slower wave, which had a ton of pretty bad swimmer. The real competitors were all in the previous wave for my age group. I tried to start in the middle of the pack, but ended up having to basically push and climb over 5 or 6 people just to start swimming. I’ll definitely do the wide side of the head of the pack next time.
* the double cap over googles was great. defogger worked and earplugs felt fine.
* swallowed water more often than would have been good if this was an ocean race. Need to be careful.
* I zig zagged something fierce and could probably cut a minute or more off my time by spotting better. 3 different times I found myself being guided back by race officials.
* Need to be more careful of the slow people from the waves ahead. I got breast stroke kicked in the face 3 times and that hurt.
* I came out feeling good but not too tired. I think I really help the perfect pace for me. I could probably have gone a touch faster but was happy I kept some energy for the rest of the race.
* My wetsuit was awesome and felt great. Came off easy, body glide + high neck on my race top solved previous neck rash issues. No problem having my race top under it.
* Need to figure out the best was to handle having my watch under my wetsuit as I full it off. It didn’t get stuck but I’m afraid I’m going to tear my wetsuit.
* baby powder in socks was brilliant and works so well.
* I’m moving pretty quickly but the whole time was still pretty slow. I know the socks + buckles on my shoes cost a bunch of time. I’m not going to run barefoot as I get blisters, so I might as well enjoy the socks for the bike as well. Curious where else I can gain time.
* if it is hot / pushing hard, sit to change from bike to run shoes. almost fell over when I leaned down to undo.
* didn’t use elastic races on the run and was able to simply slip into my shoe so all was good.
* I loved my place in the racks. It was super easy to find as they had a color switch for my row from the previous 5. and then I was about 1/2 way down. never got lost.
* I love my bike. It is fast and comfy. I passed a LOT of people about my same build and size on the big down hills at the point where we were all going to fast to peddle. Just a good aero bike. The only people who really passed me at those points where the guys with race wheels / aero helmets and they flew past me (not a small difference). I passes more than I was passed.
* knowing the course was a huge mental and physical advantage. Riding it on the training weekend followed by the virtual course made a big difference.
* had a bit of a hard time clipping in out of transition but could have been worse. still need to practice it.
* curious to try clip on aero bars. It was tiring to stay aero on the long straight aways.
* Lynch hurt but not as badly as I imagined. Most people were really slow going up it and in the way.
* I was kind of slow for the 1st 4 miles compared to everyone else after lynch. Can’t tell if my strong swim time simply put me with stronger competitors, if lynch took more out of me that I realized or if I simply had a tough start.
* I had a buddy for a lot of the race which was awesome. Same age and build. We kept passing each other. I lost his on a big hill before the turn around but he finally caught me on the final big climb. That fueled the competitiveness in me and as we crested the climb rather than easing a bit I pushed extra hard to get my speed up and leave him in the dust. Never saw him again after that. Having someone to push me really helped keep my pace up and I don’t think I would have made my goal without that. Thanks you stranger.
* people were pretty aware overall except near the top of hills when they focused internally. Passing was fine in most cases.
* pulling my bottles to drink really unbalances me. I need to get better at that.
* goos really worked. 1st one on the bike was really really hard to choke down though, almost puked. It was too thick. Second one after the turn around was warm and was easy to digest.
* the big down hill at lynch was a bit scary. I used my brakes enough to smell burning rubber and that kept me at a max of 44mph. I saw a guy race past me (he must have been going 60) while reaching down with one hand to unclip then pull out of his shoes. Crazy.
* kicked my ass. I walked 3 times on the big hill between mile 2.5-4. I held just over a 9mm pace before the hill and was able to get back to 9.5-10mm once I passed the worst of the hill.
* lynch hill at the end was interesting as I was really able to bomb it and passed tons of people, while only one person passed me. I was doing just over 6.5mm for that final mile. I really focused on form and just leaning deep into the hill & riding gravity.
* definitely my slowest leg of the event. I was deeply gratified to make my goal (under an hour). While I was entirely passing people in swim, most passing people in bike, everyone was passing me on the run. I really only started to pas people about the last 2 miles. This race had a lot of rabbits who blew up on the hill (too) or I would have passed no one.
* loved the setting I picked for my watch. Displayed only the current mile (not total distance / time) and showed pace + avg page + split time + cadence. Goal was simply to keep pace and cadence within goal areas for each split. Everything else would take care of itself.
* kept a high and consistent cadence (about 80), which was my biggest focus. super happy with how well that held.
* I was clearly hydrated as I had to stop to pee. It was getting uncomfortable enough that it was distracting me.
* my third goo went down fine but it was hard to get enough water at the aid station to easily wash it down. super glad I ate it though at the end of mile one so that it kicked in about the middle of the gnarly hill at mile 3 ish. Not sure if I would have made my goal without it.
* the heat was bad. I am so grateful we did a training weekend where the heat was worse. It let me know what I had coming and gave me some internal metrics. wondering if a heart monitor would have been ideal?
* looking forward to spending more time running and building both base and speed.