Race Report: Sprint Triathlon

My first triathlon of the season is now under my belt, and it’s the best T-shirt from all my races so far. This one I will wear. The key is that I like the color, dark grey, and more importantly it is not covered with sponsor logos. I hate paying for a shirt that is then a walking billboard for all the guys that gave you a cup of something to drink. I would rather pay for the cup of something so my shirt can remain wearable.

sprint tri distribution

I was waiting for the results so I could post the race distribution. I got the 39th percentile (that red bar is where I am counted) with a 1 hour 16 minute finish time. I was only able to estimate my pace for each leg, but they are pretty close. (1:39 per 100 yards, 18 mph, 9:40 min/mile)

The race went much better than I thought. I had fears of being passed a lot again. The swim was in a pool so they divided out the heats by speed. I apparently put down a fast enough time to get into the first open heat. The actual first heat was reserved for those that took the class at the college. So I was 13th or 14th out of the water of 16. I was not lapped by more than a third of the field so I was less than a minute behind most in my heat (out of the water, it only got worse from there). I really got screwed up in the water though. The pool is in an L shape, with the long side being 8 lanes and the L part being the deep end with diving boards and such. So the last 2 lanes once you get to the half way mark drop off. It is not even though. On one side it has only dropped to say 8 feet deep but on the other side of the lane it is more like 12. So the nice plain boring stripe on the bottom of the pool is tilted severely. Its from side-to-side, not swim into the deep and then back out like it is for most pools. Then the sucker (of course that was me) in the very last side of the last lane has the corner to deal with. There is no rope to the deep end, so if you stray off course, smack into the concrete corner you go. I didn’t but I spent extra time making sure I was not veering off that direction. I got a weird vertigo type feeling in my head from the tilted bottom coupled with the fact that again I started out too fast and felt like I couldn’t breath, it took me about 4-5 laps to shake the feeling. Problem is I am only swimming 10 laps. By the time I got it figured out the person in my lane had made 3/4 of the lap on me, but I held her off the rest of the way and basically stayed even. So I think I was in the right heat had had things gone well.

The transition was a long walk/run from the pool to the indoor track/fieldhouse (no running on the pool deck or the locker room even if you are racing). I had a good spot for my bike near the bike exit and right underneath a basketball hoop so it was very easy to find. I didn’t spend too much time thinking about the layout of my area, and I didn’t waste any time getting ready to go. So all is well on that front for the rest of my races. The key I think is to have a towel laid out and another to dry with and then have the clothes to wear as though helping a three year old get dressed. One more thing about the swim. I finally wore my speedo in public. Embarraressed? a tad, but faster for it, even if only in my own mind. I didn’t like the effect it gave my love handles and belly, but it was very comfortable. It had an internal piece that made it like a pair of shorts and attached underwear which is also comfortable for the run. I pulled on my padded bike shorts over it and then took them off for the run. This worked out so well I will be skipping the zoot suit or equivalent I thought I was going to buy this year for the longer triathlons. I just saved $80 and the elastic on the bike shorts comes off right over my shoes too, and that is a good thing cause that is exactly what I forgot to do during T2. I also did my normal swim routine this morning and the people I usually swim with that are faster than me were slower than me today. They had a long workout over the weekend, with their ironman tri coming up in 3 weeks, but none-the-less, I am never able to keep up with them for the workout and after a few laps they stuck me in the lead I was going so strong. That streamline swimsuit makes a world of diference on the speed thing. I think I am swimming 4-5 seconds faster per lap which is nearly a minute faster on a 500 yard swim, that is about 10% faster, just by changing my swim suit!

The nice part about the bike was that there were 3 people behind me from my heat (I beat one person out of transition) and then the 10 minute swim leg separated me from the next guys. So I only got passed twice in the start and then again twice near the end of the 10 mile bike. I rode in the aero position for everything but turns and hills at the start and end. I felt like I was cruizing, but my bike computer was not something I could get figured out. So I had to deduce my time by estimating it for everything else. I had finally gone for my first outdoor ride the day before my first triathlon. Yeah, I got procrastinator written all over me. I found that I was able to take what I have learned from my spinning class and triathlon coach and it transfered to the outdoor bike perfectly. The only thing that didn’t transfer, cause it was never a concern, is getting out of the damn clips at a moments notice, without having to think about it, as easily as lifting your foot off of a normal pedal. The foot is stuck there and you got about say 50 miliseconds to get it figured out or the ground is going to welcome you. Yes it happened the day before during my first ride, and no it didn’t happen during the race. Although my dismount at the bike dismount line was a close call. Let’s just say that a lot of eyebrows were raised as I fought with all my will to not be caught dead lying on the ground still clipped to my bike. To buy myself a little more than the 50 miliseconds I hit the front brake as I was twisting my left foot. I had already swung my right foot over and so as the twist finally worked I was standing on solid ground still moving, my front brake still engaged the back tire had no reason to stay put and jumped up above my head. The bike is so light I just grabbed the whole thing and set it back down. And to avoid any further gawking I calmly, yet quickly, walked back to my transition spot. It is safe to say that the bike, as of yet, is not an extension of my body. I shall be much closer if I can get a couple of rides in per week.

The transision to run went well only because the bike shorts can be removed over my shoes. If not, I would have had to take them off again. So it’s a good thing. This is part of the reason I think I have found my gear for the year. I started the run quite unlike all of my other runs this year. I always read other people race reports and they often comment that it takes a while to get the legs into gear. This was not the case at all for me. I was fine to run right from the start. The problem is I was tired, all the races so far just included running so I was always fresh. There was no starting fast and then slowing as I went. I actually started slow. I am pretty sure I beat 10 minute miles, but only barely. I had started my watch a couple hundred yards into the run and stopped it after I had stopped and wandered over to to the water and fruit table and ate a banana. So I think I was dallying around for about 2 minutes which makes the run about 30 minutes. Ten minute miles would be 31 minutes, so I am certain I beat that. I was starting to feel that my foot was going to be sore again but I don’t think that made me do anything differently until today. My shoes I normally wear to work actually make the problem worse. I figured out that between yesterday in running shoes and today in work shoes. So that is why my foot had the long delay in healing, the work shoes are not helping. I will wear my running shoes for a few days and see if that gets me well faster. I ran pretty consistant the whole way. Right up until the end when I sped up. A person that was run/walking but managed to stay ahead of me from the halfway point and back. I would gain and she would start running again and pull back out, then walk and I’d get close. She finally took off running with half a mile left about the same time I sped up to catch her. The end result is we just finished faster but with her ahead. I also heard someone pounding the trail behind me with about 500 yards left. I was not about to be caught after all that and took off basically sprinting a little downhill section and then running the few hundred feet at a 7 minute mile pace. I came blazing around the corner and down the final stretch looking good and impressive. I was probably running the speed of the people that were a heat or two behind me but strong in the run. So that was nice to finish strong. The person behind me fell back after I kicked it in gear.

I don’t think more than 4 or 5 people passed me during the run. Again this is because of the structure of the start. How ever you slice it though, it is nice not to get passed by a constant train of people.  With how much time I have spent getting good at swimming I am destined to get passed a lot at mass start triathlons. This will just allow me to mumble under my breath as they do go by, “slow swimmer”, and they can wonder how the “chunky” guy got passed them all they want.

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