A Jim of All Trades

Triathlon Race Report

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Last weekend I did my third tri of the year, a short but challenging sprint triathlon.  Here’s the report…

Leading Up
I took the week after my last race pretty easy then did a 4 week training block to prepare for this race. I did do a few things differently in this block:

Swimming: I started reading the book Swim Smooth and have been doing a lot more drill work, as recommended in the book. (book – website) I swim 4 times a week, but 2 days are almost completely devoted to drill and technique work, and the other two days I use drills as warm ups before I do my main workout. I’m noticing small improvements, but this is going to be a long process.

Biking: The main difference here was trying to use the trainer for interval workouts that are harder to do on the road where I have to worry about traffic, varying terrain, intersections, etc. I’m going to try to do this even more because the trainer does provide a better quality workout.

Running: Instead of sitting comfortably in the middle of a zone for any given run, I’d try to stay at the faster end of it, and when going up hills I’d try to maintain my pace, or even increase it. The idea was to gain some speed, and improve my hill strength, since I haven’t had much recent running progress, and I definitely need to improve my hill running abilities.

I was feeling pretty good and confident heading into the race but do think I trained a bit more than I should have the week before. Still, I was feeling pretty good. I got there early, got a good spot in transition, and was ready to race.

The Swim
The swim for this race was a 500 yard triangle in a small lake. Even though it was such a short swim I, along with most other competitors, wore a wet suit. The water temperature was comfortable and it was a nice sunny calm morning. I setup near the back so I wouldn’t be overrun by faster swimmers and worked my way up past some slower guys at the start. About half way through it had thinned out and I went the rest of the way close to another guy or two who were about the same speed. My open water swimming, and swimming in general, still needs a lot of work… I didn’t swim that straight and could feel that I was tiring out a bit towards the end, but I’m pleased with the outcome. My pace was faster than the first race I did this year, which was only 300m and in a pool. The wet suit definitely helped, but I’m getting faster too.

Time: 10:05

T1
I made my first of two mistakes in the race in T1… running out of the water I was wrestling with my wet suit, not paying attention to where I was going, and ran to the wrong rack. This is really ridiculous because my rack was closest to the transition exit – very easy to find! It maybe cost me 10 seconds total, if that, and I had a little trouble getting the wet suit off, so my T1 time wasn’t as quick as I would have liked.

Time: 1:39

The Bike

This was a HILLY 15.25 mile bike course. Official elevation gain was about 1400 feet, which really adds up over a short 15 mile course. And it was  one hill after another, there wasn’t much time to recover in between.

My legs were very tired at first and it didn’t help that you started ascending pretty much right away. I just plugged away it at and tried to find a balance between pushing hard and not over doing it so I’d have something left for the run.

At about 1 mile from transition I had a set back – my bike chain came off! I was descending down the last big hill and shifted too fast at the bottom to get in the right gear for the next hill when the chain dropped off the front cog. I had to come to a stop, on an uphill, and get it back on. It’s hard to say how much time this cost me; though getting the chain on itself was probably only a minute at most, I lost all my momentum and had to start again on the uphill. It’s a pure guess, but I’m going to say it cost me 2 minutes. I was so mad. I had recently passed 2 or 3 guys and was catching up to another when it happened. The guys I passed went flying by while I was on the side of the road… I passed one of them again, maybe two – I don’t remember – but it definitely hurt my positioning.

Time: 54:00

T2
Transition 2 went pretty smoothly. I know I can get the time lower yet, but I didn’t make any mistakes.

Time: 0:38

The Run

The run course was an out-and-back 5k, uphill to the turnaround. Whoever thought having an uphill 1.5 mile run right after a brutally hilly bike course was a good idea should be flogged. Right out of transition my legs felt good, but it wasn’t long until they felt weak and worn out as I worked up hill.

My strategy was to hold back for the first half and just make it up the hill, then give it all I had on the way back down. You can see above how bad my pace crashed till I got to the turn around; my legs really felt awful. I did what I could to keep the pace up on the way back but I couldn’t hold any speed whenever I had to climb again and the pace dropped off till the end. I was passed by two or three people on the course.

Time: 23:07

Overall
My total time ended up being 1:29:26. I had hoped to do it in 1:27, so take out the dropped chain and running to the wrong rack in T1 and I might have had it. My swimming and running definitely need more work, as does my biking to a lesser extent, but based on my fitness level I think I did as good as I could have hoped for. Just need to eliminate stupid mistakes.

My finish was still “good enough” for 16th overall out of 132, and 3rd in my age group out of 7. I got this awesome mug for placing in my age group!

What’s Next
I’m not signed up for any other races at the moment but will likely do one other sprint tri in the beginning of August. It has a pool swim, which I’m not overly excited about, but is only 15 minutes from where I live and reasonably cheap, so I think it’ll be a good one to do to close out my season. I am also definitely doing a 10k the second weekend of August. It’s just a week after the aforementioned sprint, so that will be interesting doing two races so close together.

In any case, I took this last week pretty easy and will train “seriously” for the next month. I’m going to follow a new workout program I got online to see if I like it any more than (and notice improved results) the makeshift program I’ve used so far this year.

Well, thanks a lot for reading, and happy training!

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Written by Jim

July 2, 2017 at 9:03 pm

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