Posted by Brandon on Jun 9, 2010 |
Continued from: …
Beach starts in triathlon tend to be a full contact affair. This is especially true just behind the front of the pack. If you’ve placed yourself in that spot, there’s a decent chance that you’ll get kicked in the face by the guy in front of you and/or punched in various parts of your body by the guys on either side of you and/or dunked and swum over by the guy behind you who may be faster than you. All accidents, of course.
Since I expect to be one of the faster swimmer in any race I enter, I always place myself at the front of the pack in both water and beach starts. In triathlons I’ve done that have pool swims it is incredibly frustrating to be relegated to swimming behind people who’ve WAY overestimated their speed, and having to pass them. So, for this race I was at the front of the pack when the horn sounded.
The run into the water was fairly smooth with the bottom dropping off to swimming depth in probably about ten feet. The pack broke up quickly and myself and a few others pulled away off the front. The swim course itself was a rectangle (see picture) and was protected from and waves kicked up by wind by the shoreline to the East. As we reached the first turn, quite a few waves appeared, I have to assume because we had come around from the lee side of a point of land, and the wind was now kicking up a bit.
At about the halfway point, I noticed that another swimmer from my wave (I could tell from his powder blue cap like mine) and I seemed to be staying right with each other. Shortly after I noticed this, my opponent disappeared and I assumed that I had dropped him. By this time, I had been swimming through swimmers from waves that had gone off ahead of me from about the 1/4 mark on. Every now and then, either I would accidentally run into one of these swimmers or they would run into me. This is when I noticed that someone kept hitting my heels. I snuck a peek back and saw that the swimmer with whom I had been dueling had taken a comfortable spot in my wake and was now drafting along and taking it easy. While drafting is illegal in the bike leg of a triathlon, there is nothing wrong with drafting in the swim. I guess I didn’t mind so much and I wouldn’t have even known the difference if it weren’t for the fact that my heels were getting tapped every thirty seconds or so. Annoying.
The concern I had coming into this race with regards to my neck never really came to fruition. To be honest, I was being a bit conservative (which is evident by my less than stellar time) and definitely felt fatigued in my shoulders more than I usually would, but true pain never affected me.
Swim time: 27:17
Swim pace: 1:25 per 100 meters (boo)
Age Group Place: 5th
Overall Place: 28th
Most of us are aware of the potential dizziness that comes with standing up too fast. I have even fallen over several times because of this. In a triathlon, the same thing takes place. You’ve been swimming for however long, thus you’ve been essentially laying down. All of a sudden, you ask your body to stand up! This problem can be compounded by the fact that your upper body is doing most of the work on the swim and so most of your blood is hanging out there to supply your muscles. Further, if you’re wearing a wetsuit, there is a bit of compression being applied to your lower extremities which keeps your blood even more focused in your upper body. So, when you then stand up to run out of the water, all that blood suddenly drops, and sometimes you do along with it!
As I stood, I was ready for the dizziness and I was not disappointed. Upon exiting the water, there was about a 20 yard (if I remember correctly) run to the wetsuit strippers. This is not some weird, wetsuit fetish exotic dancing area but rather, a group of race volunteers whose job it is to get you out of your wetsuit as fast as possible. All you have to do as a racer is flop on your back on the ground and they will grab your wetsuit and peel it off of you in a flash. The problem with this is the dizziness thing. You’ve just come out of the water, gotten dizzy and then after a few seconds, you throw your body back to being flat again for a few seconds (legs in the air, mind you) and then pop up AGAIN. This makes for a rather world-spinning few minutes.
I made my way into the transition area and found my belongings in fairly short order. By this time, it had been raining for about thirty minutes and everything was wet. I removed my socks from their dry sanctuary inside my cycling shoe, inside that grocery bag I spoke about. Now let me paint you a picture of what I was doing. I was trying not balance on one foot at a time, while my head was spinning, putting dry socks onto wet feet (try putting on sock directly out of the shower some time), while desperately trying not to step into the mud and puddles that now surrounded me. All this time, my head refused to stop spinning. Good times. I eventually got my crap together, even having to literally DUMP water out of my helmet, and was on my way out of transition. Slow.
Transition 1 time: 4:14 (Dear LORD, that’s awful)
To be completely honest, a lot of the bike portion of the race is a blur. It rained the entire time, often very hard. For the beginning six or so miles on the bike, I let my legs warm up well, pushing, but not pushing to the point of exhaustion. At about mile seven or so, the climbing began.
Leading up to this race, I had checked elevation charts and was not prepared for what I encountered. The first, largest and longest of the hills that we encountered was awful. First, we were climbing this hill in the rain, which gave you the appearance in spots of riding upstream in a river with an asphalt bottom. Second, this hill went to gradients of 16% for large sections at a time. To give you an idea of what a 16% grade is, the famous Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France has an average gradient of “only” 8.9%. Many people were forced to walk this hill and I must admit that I glanced at them with envy, but I stayed on my steed.
Several of the descents on the course were long and sweeping and gave you time to rest your legs. Other descents were so dangerous even without the rain that the officials had told us the day before that they would be strictly enforcing a 35 mph speed limit.
Apart from the 16% S.O.B. hill, there were a couple other climbs in excess of 10% as well as some deceptively “flat” sections that seemed to sap energy from the legs. The road conditions were only OK. You were forced to stay constantly aware of the pavement in front of you due to the fact that for 99% of the course there was a large crack (hastily patched but still pitted) meandering across both sides of the road.
Somewhere around halfway through the bike, my Garmin 305 went haywire. I went to take a peek at my heart rate and the screen was flashing from display to display, and not making any sense. I tried to turn it off and couldn’t. So I took it off and put it in my jersey. Now, for the rest of the race, I would have no idea where my pace of my heart rate were. I would be running purely on feel and perceived effort.
The toughest part of this bike course was grinding through it the first time and knowing you had to come back and hit it again. 16%’er and all. My nutrition, which if you know me, you know I have struggled in the past with this, was perfect. I had three hours worth of my “blend” from Infinit Nutrition in my Speedfil and rotated water bottles from aid stations in my one bottle cage. I finished my Infinit blend with about six miles to go on the bike, so, just to be safe, I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade Endurance Formula and dropped a bottle of water into my Speedfil. I also grabbed a banana at some point during the bike (can’t remember when) just because I knew it wouldn’t affect me adversely and it just looked good.
I didn’t do exactly what I wanted to do on the bike, in terms of speed, but I was consistent and I think that is just as important. I also learned a lot of what I need to do moving forward.
Bike time: 2:57:16
Bike pace: 19 mph
Age Group Place: 44th
Overall Place: 217th
By the time I hit T2, my feet had been soaked for over three and a half hours, but were holding up fine (I actually have a lot to say about my Sole insoles on the bike that I’ll write about later). However, I though it would behoove me to put on dry socks. This was frickin’ stupid. It was still raining and I was still surrounded by mud and puddles. I have no idea why I thought that changing my socks would make a single bit of difference, bu I did anyway, and again, I had a terribly slow transition.
I grabbed all my gear, which wasn’t that much after I got my shoes and dry (dumb, dumb, dumb) socks on. This included my new Fuel Belt H2O , which was holding two bottles of my Infinit blend, each with an hours worth of nutrition. As I ran out of transition, my shoes were wet and muddy within thirty seconds.
Transition 2 time: 3:26 (Oy to the vey)
I was really looking forward to this run. I have been running really well off the bike and I planned to make no exceptions on this run. The course itself was quite beautiful, albeit seen under cloudy skies that were still ridding themselves of any moisture they held, much to our detriment. It was fairly flat to rolling. The biggest obstacle(s) came in the form of a nasty little hill that was about 1/3 of a mile long at about mile 2 or so and again at about mile 8.5.
Because my nutrition and hydration had been so good on the bike, I had to pee almost as soon as I began to run. I waited until the first aid station at mile one and stopped to answer nature’s call. I actually ended up having to pee twice, and it bears mentioning that it went well (it bears mentioning due to my previous experiences during races when I’ve stopped to pee).
The course was two loops of an out and back that had as it’s outside turn around point, about a half mile of dirt (read: mud) road that ended in a cul-de-sac. On this stretch of “road” there were some incredibly nice and supportive volunteers and even a barbershop quartet in one of the driveways serenading the runners as we went by.
I felt great on this run. I did struggle a bit with not being able to tell my pace of heart rate. Because of this, I laid off a little on the third quarter of the run, before picking it back up a bit on the home stretch. I didn’t want to wind up completely gassed for the run in. I passed a lot of people wh had passed me on the bike and that was quite good for my morale. The rain never really let up, but I felt solid nonetheless. I truly think I would have been able to do more on the run had I known where I was in terms of pace.
Run time: 1:35:08 (1/2 marathon PR by 12 seconds)
Run pace: 7:15 per mile
Age Group Place: 22nd
Overall Place: 104th
(more detailed splits to come once they are available)
Overall Time: 5:07:21
Age Group Place: 34th
Overall Place: 132nd