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Triath . . . er, I mean Duathlon race report

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Yesterday I had a race, here’s how it went…

The start/finish and transition were on a big island with a sports complex on it in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania state capital. This was supposed to be a triathlon, with the swim in the river, but unfortunately the swim was cancelled due to a very high e coli (bacteria) level in the water. So, the swim was replaced with a short run.

I covered my training in my last post so won’t recap that all here. In short, I’ve been working more on building my mileage and endurance, but not a lot on speed/intensity. This was a short sprint distance race, so I thought I might not be fast as I could have been for it. I did work some more short intervals and pickups in my training over the past two weeks, and did cut my volume a bit last week to get ready. My legs actually felt pretty dead at the start of last week, but with some foam rolling, stretching, and reducing the training volume last week, they felt quite good on Sunday.

It was actually sort of chilly in the morning and I was shivering a bit before I started my warm up. It stayed clear, mild, and comfortable all through the race though, which was a welcome change after a heat wave we had last week.

For a warm up, I ran 1.5 miles easy about 30 minutes before the race started, with ¼ mile at goal race pace in the middle, and another 30 second pickup closer to the end. The run felt good and I felt ready to go at the start.

Run #1
The race was started in waves, my wave starting first. It followed a path around the island which was mostly flat and advertised as 1.5 miles, but ended up being 1.7.

I wasn’t quite sure how to pace for this so started in roughly the middle of the group and just ran by feel, settling into what felt fast but comfortable enough to maintain. It ended up working out well because I was pretty steady, was only passed by a guy or two, and passed maybe five or six other guys. I don’t think I could have held it much longer, but also didn’t feel spent on the bike.

Distance: 1.7 miles
Time: 11:10.36
Pace: 6:35 / mile

T1
The first transition went very smoothly. I had spent time practicing transitions the week before, took time to visualize them in the morning before the race, and I really think that paid off. Maybe I could have saved a few seconds here or there, but didn’t make any mistakes and even did a running mount without nearly crashing like I often do.

Time: 40.2 seconds

Bike

setup in transition before the race – notice the empty rack behind?… I got there early!

The bike course was out and back, crossing a bridge to the shore, riding along the river to the turnaround point, then coming back the same route. It was quite flat, though with some very slight grades and false flats. There was also a slight headwind on the way out, which became a tailwind on the way back. It was advertised as 14.5 miles, but really measured 14.

I just tried to settle into a hard maintainable pace for the distance. Considering it was a flat course I was able to stay in the aero position for the entire time, tried to hold a consistent effort level, and only had to shift between a few gears depending on the grade and wind. I kept an eye on my heart rate and it stayed right around 160, which is about as high as I felt safe maintaining for the distance. I passed around 6 or 7 guys and was passed maybe 3 times.

I ended up averaging just a smidge under 22mph. I had hoped to be a bit faster, but really I can’t complain; I gave it all I had and would just need better conditioning to go faster.

Distance: 14 miles
Time: 38:16.25
Pace: 22 mph


bike file from Strava – includes 10-20 seconds in T2 because I forgot to pause my watch, and is estimated power, not actual

T2
Transition 2 went very smoothly as well. No complaints, I’m very pleased with it.

Time: 37.76 seconds

Run #2
The second run crossed another bridge to the shore then followed a walking/running path next to the river to the turnaround point and back. It was very flat aside from mini hills you had to run up/down at each end of the bridge. It was advertised as 3.1 miles (5k) but ended up being only 2.8.

I left transition at the same time as 2 other guys. One of them fell back fairly soon and the other guy and I ran a lot of the way together. My goal was to average sub 7 minute miles, and he was running about 6:50, so I tried to hang on. I felt good, like I could maintain it for a while, but eventually the day started to catch up with me. We talked a bit and exchanged places a couple times, but around mile 2 he pulled ahead and I had trouble holding on. When we hit the little hill to get back on the bridge I couldn’t hold the pace and he opened a large gap. Around then another super-fast guy came flying by me too but that was the only other time I was passed. I got my legs back a bit when it leveled off on the bridge, but was really feeling the pain at that point and just held on as best I could to the finish.

I did manage to average under 7:00/mile, which I’m very pleased with, and think I still could have held that had it been a full 5k – on this course. It being so flat definitely helped, of course.

Distance: 2.8 miles
Time: 19:25.02
Pace: 6:56 / mile

Overall

Overall: 1:10:09.59
Overall place: 11 out of 195-ish
Age Group Place: 4 out of 31 (10 year age groups)

I’m very pleased with how this race went. It would ALWAYS be nice to be faster, but looking at everything I don’t think I could have done any better. I paced myself well in all three events, both transitions went super smooth, and I don’t think I made any big mistakes that had an impact on my result.

It was disappointing that the swim was cancelled, I wanted to use it to judge my swim training and get some open water race practice, but I don’t mind duathlons and was really happy with how my race went.

So overall it was a very good day!
Now, back to training…

Like always, here’s how I celebrated…

this flavor is delicious!

And here are a couple phone pics from the island – it is quite scenic


some guys were fishing in the early morning


a look back at Harrisburg

Thanks a lot for reading and happy racing!

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Written by Jim

July 9, 2018 at 9:14 pm

Triathlon Training Report

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I’m doing a sprint triathlon this Sunday and wanted to post about how training is going.

But first, the big news is that I have signed up to do a half iron distance triathlon later this year! The “half iron distance” distinction is intentional in that it isn’t an IRONMAN brand race, but an independent race that’s about the same distance as a HIM (actually, it’s a tad longer). Anyway, I’m excited about it and a bit nervous. The race isn’t until late September and I began training for it in May, so I’m confident I’ll be prepared till it gets here, but the distance is still a bit intimidating. I sort of expect it will be the only Half I do, but we’ll see how it goes.

Since I am training for the Half, I am not expecting to be overly competitive in the sprint this weekend as I have mostly been working on building up my endurance and mileage, but not doing much speed or intensity work, which is important for short distance racing. Here’s how the training has been going for each discipline…

Swimming: I’ve been swimming 3 times a week pretty consistently, sometimes sneaking a fourth session in if I have the time. I’ve still been following the Swim Smooth program, typically doing one drill/technique session, one threshold (“Critical Swim Speed” in SwimSmooth speak), and either one speed or endurance session per week. Though I’m still very slow, I’m seeing little improvements here or there. My speed is improving bit by tiny little bit, but I’ve noticed a bigger improvement in my endurance/stamina, and ability to hold a pace for longer sets and sessions. Not that I don’t tire out and drop off, but it’s getting better. I will never be one of the first ones out of the water in a race, but I’m more concerned with building my endurance and will take any speed improvements that come along with it.

Biking: For cycling, I’ve been following a training plan I found online in a Half distance training program, though the name of the site where I found it escapes me right now. I’m cycling 3 times a week, typically doing two sessions during the week, both 45-60 minutes, at a moderate effort level with some short pickups or intervals worked in. Over the weekend I do a long ride at moderate effort, though I do try to work in some harder hills and/or some segments at higher intensity. Cycling is still my strongest area and needs the least work out of the three, but I still feel that, to ride over 50 miles strongly in a race, I should be putting in more work. I tack on some extra miles here or there as I can and know I’ll have built up a big base of mileage till race day.

Running: Running is the area where I’ve made the biggest training change, I’ve been following the “BarryP” running plan. If you’ve spent any time on the Slowtwitch forums you’ll likely have seen this referenced before (for example). Check out the linked name, but to describe simply, it’s a high volume low intensity run program that is highly regarded, at least on Slowtwitch. You run 6 times per week, doing 3 short runs, 2 medium distance runs, and 1 long run. All are at a very easy pace to start while you build mileage, then you do a block with some race-distance-specific speed work once per week, and then another block with a second speed work session, until you begin to taper.

Before this I ran 3 to 4 times a week, and usually at least 2 of those sessions had speed work or hill repeats built into them, so this is very different than what I’m used to. The whole idea is that the easier running allows you to add more and more miles without it taking a huge toll on your body. I have bought into that in that I don’t feel as beat up from my runs as I used to and a nagging injury I’ve had for months has improved since I started this program. At the same time, I’m worried that the lack of speed work will end up holding me back. While I’m happy to build my endurance, in the race if I’m only able to run at a really slow pace, I’m not sure if all the extra running will have been worth it. And, to be honest, I find running slowly all the time very boring, so there’s that. All that to say, I’m going to see the program through to the end and do trust that it’ll help get me ready for the Half.

That about sums it up. I’ll post a race report sometime after the sprint, and expect another post or two about training before late September. I’m not expecting anything grand and just signed up for this sprint because I wanted to try it  and couldn’t go the whole summer without working another race in since I enjoy it so much. I’ll be pleased to put together a solid race, and if I end up with a decent time, well that’ll just be a nice bonus.

Thanks for reading and happy training!

Written by Jim

July 5, 2018 at 10:00 pm

Sprint Triathlon Race Report

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My first triathlon of 2018 is in the books. It was a mixed bag of good and bad; here’s how it went…


all setup in transition before the start of the race

Leading Up
I already did a big long post about my training, so I won’t go over all that again. In short, I was excited to race and felt optimistic headed into this one. Last week I actually missed two workouts, but I don’t think it really impacted me any; I didn’t feel too tired or flat. I have this nagging injury and was a little worried how that would be, especially because it’s worse first thing in the morning, but I woke up feeling very good and loose, so that was great.

The biggest bummer heading into this was that it was cold and windy. Just yesterday the weather was much milder with only a bit of a breeze, but the temperatures dropped over night and the wind really picked up.


temp before the race, though it felt much colder with the wind

I was just planning on wearing a light jersey, arm warmer’s and gloves, but overheard a lot of people in transition talking about all the clothes they were wearing, so actually ran home quick and got a windproof long sleeve jersey and thick socks. This was way more than I usually put on for a tri and I hadn’t practiced using them in transition. More on that later…

The Swim
The swim was an indoor (thank goodness!) 300 meter pool swim. As I mentioned in my last post, I have been working on my swimming and was hoping for a good time. My official time was 6:22, but that included a run to the timing mat. I stopped my watch right when I finished swimming, and it recorded it as a 6:01. My goal was 6:00, so I’m very happy with that. That even includes getting stuck behind two slower swimmers and passing them, which isn’t easy in a pool with two way traffic. I’m still not fast, but am happy to be making progress.

[Official] Time: 6:22
Last year: 6:46

T1
Transition 1 went horrible. It took a while to get my long sleeve jersey and gloves on, and I sat down to put on my socks and shoes instead of doing the normal barefoot running mount I usually do. The socks are super thick and warm, which was perfect for the weather, but they’re also very tight. One got stuck and a hole ripped open over my heal, and the other just took forever. I lost a lot of time.

Time: 2:17 (the year before was about a minute less)

The Bike
The bike course was 16 miles of moderate rolling hills – nothing too difficult, but definitely not flat. I was glad I had the jersey, socks and gloves because I’m a wimp in the cold and it was indeed cold. The wind was the worse part and was blowing some of the cyclists around. I did well though, kept my effort up, and passed a ton of people. I ended up with the 10th fastest bike split overall, which isn’t bad, but still was about a minute and 20 seconds slower than last year. I suspect it was because of the wind; I randomly checked a number of the faster guys’ results from this year versus last, and nearly all were slower this year, so that makes sense. I didn’t wear my heart rate monitor this year so can’t use it as a reference for whether I was working as hard or not, but I think I gave it a good effort. So, disappointing to be slower, but probably not a sign of doing worse… just tougher conditions.

Time: 47:48
Last year: 46:30

T2
Transition 2 went smoothly…

Time: 0:36

The Run
The run was 3 miles on mostly flat roads (my watch measured it as 3.07 miles). There are some really mild changes in elevation, but no true hills. I felt comfortable on the run and just kept trying to push myself. The goal was to average a 7 minute per mile pace and I ended up with 7:07, so it’s close enough that I’m not disappointed. The wind/cold did make it tough, and my pace slipped a few times, but I think I managed it well. Maybe I could have squeaked out a few more seconds had I dug deeper, but I’m pleased with how I did on this day. I was 17th overall out of 113 people, so not bad, but still too many people ahead of me – I’d like to be in the top 10 in both running and cycling.

Time: 21:51
Last year: 22:28

Overall
I’ve done this race a number of times as a duathlon and a triathlon and think, save for my very first time, I have always placed in my age group. Not today! I finished 7 out of 22 in my age group and 16 out of 113 overall. T1 cost me a lot of valuable time and there were 2 guys in my age group that finished less than a minute ahead that I definitely would have beat had I not had the bad T1, and possibly another guy had things just went perfect. I still wouldn’t have placed though, there were just too many fast guys. Bummer, but oh well.

What’s Next
At the moment I’m not signed up for any more races this year. I definitely will sign up for more, I just haven’t done it yet. I’m planning to do one more sprint this summer, and am still considering doing a half, but can’t quite pull the trigger yet.

As for the immediate future, I’m going to take the next couple days off, and this week extremely easy to hopefully let my injuries heal. My wife and I are taking a long weekend away this coming weekend and after that I’ll dive back into training.

Thanks a lot for reading and following along.
Happy racing!

Written by Jim

April 29, 2018 at 10:00 pm

Pre-Race Report

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You wouldn’t know it from the weather, but spring is here and my first triathlon of the year is less than a week away. This is a write up of how my training has been going and my thoughts leading into the race…

The weather here – Southern Central Pennsylvania – has been crazy this year. It’s been unseasonably cold, we’ve had snow much later than normal, and winter has just lingered on. It’s made training outside quite challenging, especially for wimps like me that don’t like being outside when it’s less than 40 degrees. Thankfully it’s finally starting to warm up and looks like some nicer weather is here to stay.

I’ve still been training pretty consistently, mostly in doors, averaging about 8 to 9 hours a week. I usually swim, bike and run three times per week each. I’d like to be putting in more time, but it’s been hard with other things I have going on, and my motivation to train inside is pretty low at this point. Just in the last couple weeks I have finally been able to start running outside a bit more consistently, and I’ve gotten some outdoor bike rides in too, so things are looking up.

This upcoming race is the sprint tri hosted by my gym and I’ve done it each of the last two years (last year, 2 years ago), as well as when there was a duathlon option in years prior (1, 2). I really enjoy this race since it’s so close to home, I’m very familiar with the course, other people from my tri club do it or come out to support, and it’s just fun and well put together in general. My high-level goal is to be faster in each area than I was last year, and I think I should be able to do that…

For swimming, I’ve seen some small improvements over the winter following the Swim Smooth program, but am still a slow swimmer. The race has only a 300m pool swim, so my overall results shouldn’t be ruined by the swim. This evening I actually just swam the fastest 300m set of my life, so I’m hopeful I’m able to duplicate that.

For biking, I’ve been doing a lot of trainer time on account of the weather/cold. At first I felt like I was improving, but as winter rolled on I started to feel burnt out and like progress wasn’t happening. On my few outside rides it does seem like I’ve gotten a bit quicker, though my hill climbing ability isn’t where I’d like. I rode the tri bike course at a high effort on Sunday and nearly matched my race time from last year. That’s very promising since I had to slow down for intersections and wait for traffic on Sunday, whereas during the race I will be going full-on all the time. I’ll also be wearing my more aero tri kit and will have the bike setup for racing, so I should be able to improve on last year’s time. Provided, of course, the weather is good, it’s not too windy, and I feel fresh.

For running, I’m definitely slower than when I was at the end of last summer. Last year I was fast as I’ve ever been running and, though I’ve continued to train over the winter, I’ve lost some speed. My training time has been cut back a bit, and I don’t think I get the same quality of workouts on a treadmill, so I think those are the main reasons I’m slower. I’ve had some solid runs outside recently, and still think I can at least match what I did a year ago, I just don’t feel as in good shape as I would like to be.

Finally, I’ve been dealing with some small injuries. My piriformis muscle (a muscle in the butt/hip) on my right side has been aggravated and causing some soreness and stiffness. As a result, my lower back and right hamstring are also often tight and sore. My right calf also has some pain and stiffness, though I think that might be unrelated to the piriformis. All this stuff actually bothers me more when I’m inactive… the first few minutes of an activity are usually a bit rough, but after I warm up and the muscles loosen it doesn’t seem to slow me down. When sitting down or being sedentary for too long though, everything gets quite stiff and painful. I’ve been dealing with this for over a month now. My doctor prescribed me an anti-inflammatory medicine, and I’ve been doing a number of stretches and exercises. It’s improved, but I think I need some actual rest to let things heal. After the race I plan on doing very little for the next week and hopefully my body will recover. I have still been able to train well and don’t think I could blame these injuries if I have a bad race, but they’re still worth mentioning.

Okay, that’s more than enough to share about my training. I’m really looking forward to the race and hope it goes well. Wish me luck and happy training!

Written by Jim

April 24, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Triathlon Training Report

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything triathlon or fitness related… Last year it’s pretty much all I wrote about, so I’m going to try to maintain some variety in topics, but “exercise” is my biggest hobby, and it’ll still receive a fair amount of attention here.

I’ve been training consistently since my last triathlon with the goal of maintaining, or even growing, my fitness and speed for this year. I also did some running races in the fall: a 10k, two 5k’s, and a 5-mile race…

Last Fall’s Races
The 10k was a bit disappointing; I didn’t manage my pace well and the course was a lot hillier than I’m accustomed to. I finished with about a 7:45/mi pace, which was slower than I wanted, but really it went okay and I ran it with some family, which was fun. I had just hoped to be a bit faster. Like always.

The two 5k’s went pretty well. I started too fast in one and my pace consistently dropped throughout as a result, but I managed the other better. In both I averaged around a 6:50/mi pace, which is pretty fast for me; not quite PRs, but right on the verge. I also biked to one of them (about 17 miles), and a bit of that race course was in grass, so I am pleased with my time considering the extra effort and fatigue from biking. Riding home wasn’t fun. The 5-mile race also went well. I don’t remember my exact time/pace, but it was in the low 7:00/mile range, which I was pretty pleased with.

Training
For training, I’ve been swimming, biking, and running consistently. Nearly all running and bike work has been done inside, but I have managed to do a few workouts outside when the weather has allowed. On average I’m putting in about 9 hours per week between the three disciplines, which is only a little below what I’d normally average during the summer. I’ve even been getting a little weight lifting in, though that’s pretty inconsistent.

For swimming, I’m following the Swim Smooth program and usually get 3 or 4 sessions in per week. My swimming is still slow and I’ve been putting extra focus on improving it this off season. At times it seems like I’m not making progress, but then I’ll have little breakthroughs that help with my motivation and keep me going. I’ve accepted that I’ll never be a front of the pack swimmer, but if I can shave some time off my swims I’ll be happy.

For biking and running I’m not following a program. In the past years I did follow training schedules, but I’m trying not to be as strict about it. I try to get three bike sessions and three runs in a week, and vary them based on how I’m feeling, but do aim to get one “intensity day” in where I do harder speed or hill work, and one longer day where I put in extra time/miles, usually working a specific intensity or heart rate zone. The freedom to adjust what I’m doing and the variety of the sessions helps keep things fresh. I’m not sure that I’ve gained much speed to be honest (I really should do some tests from time to time!) but also don’t think I’ve regressed. My goal is to enter the race season with good base fitness and be primed to build on it.

2018 Plans
I’m planning on three races this year. The first will be in late April, it’s the sprint triathlon put on by my gym each year (Previous reports: 1 and 2). It’s close, convenient, I really enjoy doing it, and it serves as a good measure of where my fitness is at. The next is a sprint triathlon in July that I haven’t done before. Well, I did the duathlon there a number of years ago so am familiar with the course, but this will be my first time doing the tri. It’s also fairly close and usually has a strong field of participants, so I’m looking forward to trying it.

The last race is a bit more up in the air. I’m contemplating doing a half distance race and have one picked out that’s in September to try (i.e. Half Iron distance, but not the IRONMAN brand). If I don’t sign up for it, I’ll probably do an Olympic instead, and there are a few late season races around here to choose from. I have mixed feelings about the half race; I really enjoy doing the shorter races and going long hasn’t really appealed to me. However, the new challenge of doing the half distance does interest me, and I think I’d like to try it at least once in my life. If I do it I’d want to be at least somewhat competitive in my age group, not just complete it slowly, so whether I think I’ll be able to get enough training in while still balancing life will be the determining factor.

For training, for the next couple months I’m going to keep doing what I have been doing, but will gradually add more intensity and speed work as I build up to my first race. In late spring to early summer I’ll reassess based on how I’ve been feeling and what late season race I decide to do, likely changing to a structured program for that longer race.

I don’t envision posting about training again before my first race unless something really exciting happens. Thanks for reading and best wishes on your training and racing in 2018!

Written by Jim

February 1, 2018 at 9:21 pm

Triathlon Race Report

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Last weekend I competed in another local sprint triathlon, my fourth and likely final for the year. I did this race last year as well. It’s only about a 15 minute drive from my house so it’s very convenient, which, along with the reasonable cost, is mostly why I did it. Here’s how it went…

Leading Up
I had a 5 week block between my last race and this one. I took the first week pretty easy and the following week I was off work and worked out a lot, though it wasn’t very structured. The remaining weeks were a mixed bag. I had some good workouts, but also missed some and got my schedule a bit messed up. I’m not exactly sure why that happened, but it’s possible I’ve gotten a bit burnt out on training… I’ve been going at it since January. I did get my key workouts in and don’t think my preparation suffered that much. A week out from the race I did a hard brick that went excellently, so I was really feeling ready to race.

The Swim
This was a 300 meter pool swim, swimming in a serpentine pattern from one side of the pool to the other. Swimmers started 15 seconds a part. Swimming remains my weakest leg but I’ve been working on it and was hoping for an improved time. I swam in my tri top; I had tested it in the pool and it didn’t seem to slow me down that much, so I figured it would be better to wear it than mess with putting it on in T1. Unfortunately I was still really slow and I do think the top had something to do with it. Not that I would have been super fast without it, I could just tell it was causing extra drag. I made it through fine but was super slow. Unfortunately I bumped my watch on a lane line and paused it in the second lap, so I don’t have data to go back to look at.

Time: 6:50
Last year: 7:06
Both include about 15 seconds of getting out of the pool and running to the timing mat. It was a slight improvement over last year, but still not good.

T1
Transition 1 went really well. It was my fastest T1 of any race I’ve done. I did try to do a running mount on the bike though and as soon as my foot hit the pedal the chain seemed to jump a tooth or something and I almost wrecked. I caught it and got going right away, just wasn’t smooth. More practice needed.

Time: 0:39

The Bike

I didn’t get my watch restarted until about a half mile in – total actual distance was 15.8 miles. I was hoping to average 21 mph for the bike segment and came up short at 20.7. My hamstrings and butt felt tight almost immediately when I got on the bike and they never really loosened up… I just didn’t feel as comfortable as I normally do. Not sure if I didn’t prep right, didn’t stretch/warm up correctly, or it just wasn’t my day. In any case, I got through without incident and, being a slow swimmer, passed a lot of people who were already out on the course in the process.

Time: 45:50
Last year: 46:24

T2
This transition went really smoothly as well and was the fastest T2 I’ve ever had. Nothing to complain about.

Time: 0:37

The Run

I started off the run too fast, like I always do, but also calmed down quicker than normal. However, as soon as I started running, I did not feel smooth or like my legs had any “pop” to them. I don’t think I over biked since my legs never felt right from the onset, though it is possible. The whole run just felt a bit more labored than it should have been. My plan was to start a bit conservatively but increase my pace as I went, hoping to finish with close to a 7:00 per mile average. I ended up not having the energy or strength to consistently go faster though and finished with a 7:20/mile average. You can see above how my pace was all over the place. The course was “officially” 3.1 miles, but actually measured longer at 3.17.

Overall
My overall time was 1:17:14 and I finished 12th overall out of about 140 and 4th out of 25 in my age group (10-year age groups, not the typical 5 years).

I’m not going to lie, I’m disappointed in how things went. It was good that I improved in each area and I am truly happy with my transitions, but I’m still really bummed about the swim and know I can do better on the bike and run.

That said, it was still fun. Even when things don’t pan out how I want them, I love racing! I knew a few people there too and had fun hanging out with them, so I had a good day, just am not pleased with my results.

What’s Next
I actually have a 10k on Saturday – 2 days away. I’m doing it with a couple family members who are runners so it should be fun. I have no expectations on how I’ll do for it and haven’t been training for it. I know I can finish, just don’t know how to pace the distance. Should be an interesting experience.

After that, I am 99% sure that I won’t do any more triathlons for the year. There is a duathlon I’m a little interested in but with the timing and where it’s located I doubt I’ll do it. I will likely do a 5k or two, and I know of a time trial a bike club is hosting that I might try. Otherwise I’m going to keep working out, though not quite as structured for a bit, and I’M GOING TO WORK ON MY SWIMMING!

Thanks a lot for following along – happy training and racing!

Written by Jim

August 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm

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!

Written by Jim

July 2, 2017 at 9:03 pm