Ben Greenfield passes along some important race lessons from the Tiger Triathlon
Posted Jul 25 2012 9:59am
As a pre-race tune-up before I go defend my gold medal at ITU Long Course World Championships in Spain, I dropped into the Tiger Triathlon.
This race is advertised as a "quarter Ironman".
Which basically seems to be a 1K swim, a 40K bike, and an 8K run. I'm not quite sure how the math on that works out with the run part, but whatever - I'm in!
So I showed up on race morning with 2 kids, 2 dogs and my wife (bless her heart, once I took off on the swim she was left with all 4 of them) and with the help(?) of my 4 year old boys set up transition area in a blistering 20 minutes, with barely enough time left over to put on my brand new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit (thanks B70 guys!) and rush down to the water.
The swim horn sounded and we were off. Here's where I remembered an important lesson:
In an early morning lake swim, the glare of the bright morning sun at some point is going to really impede your sighting as it glimmers off the lake, so A) if you can get tinted goggles, wear them, and B) if you have the option to draft do it.
Fortunately, I did both A) and B), and came out of the water in 2nd place, about 5 second behind the leader. I passed him in the run up to T1 and headed out on the bike in 1st.
The 40K point-to-point bike is a net elevation loss, which means a few things 1) You need to really focus on maintaining wattage, as it's easy to let yourself "cruise" with as many downhill stretches as a bike course like this has - no "zoning out"!
2) If you're lucky enough to come out of the water in 1st place like I was, you need to put the hammer down early because if anybody gets on your wheel it's much tougher to shake them off when you've both got a downhill advantage.
As I rolled into transition and dismounted to grab my shoes, I was unpleasantly reminded of one other thing about net elevation loss bikes...
3) You'll be going faster than usual, which makes non-aerodynamic position have a higher time penalty. This means you stay tucked, aero, and for heaven's sake, don't look back behind you because that stick your helmet tail into the wind.
Why did this turn into an unpleasant reminder for me?
Because I didn't realize that another competitor, super-speedy runner Jesse Carnes, had snuck up on me in the bike and rolled into transition just a few seconds behind me. Rather then getting to comfortably run to the finish line, this meant I was now going to have to suffer - especially considering that the entire two-loop run takes place on Jesse's old highschool cross country course!
I took off running scared, and here's where I implemented another tip If you know the guy behind you is a faster runner than you, try to outsplit him early so that he doesn't have the motivation to catch you later on.
So with Jesse hot on my heels, I ran the first 4K much harder than I knew I could maintain for the full 8K.
And it worked.
By the time we reached the finish on the high school track, I'd put about 25 seconds on him, which was enough for me to cruise in for the win in 1:43 and change.
And get a freaking huge Tiger Triathlon coffee mug, which means I may need to increase the volume of my morning coffee dose:
Delicious and decadent post-race celebratory details will come in just a moment, but first a few shout-outs.
Nutrition/Gear notes: -Day before: Slept in tiny hotel room with wife and kids. So none of the usual Millenium Sports Somnidren GH and EarthPulse for sleep enhancement. -2 hours pre-swim: 2 sweet potatoes. Totally plain. Burn clean. -30 minutes pre-swim: 2 delta-E (caffiene/B12/Taurine packs), 20 Sprays Magnesium Oil, 10 Master Amino Pattern capsules, 4 Extreme Endurance -Wetsuit: Blue Seventy Helix -Google: Blue Seventy Element
Bike notes: -Shoes: Louis Garneau Tri-Speed shoes -Helmet: Gray Aero helmet -Wheels: Shimano C-50 -Tires: Challenge Triathlon -Groupo: Shimano Dura-Ace -Seat: Adamo ISM Road Saddle -Sunglasses: Native Eyewear -Fuel: GU Roctane powder, 300 calories, mixed into 20oz water.
Run notes: -Shoes: My killer new Skora Forms <--you must wear this shoe - it is a minimalist racing shoe that looks like a freaking Italian designer shoe. -No food, no water.
Of course, a big thanks to all my sponsors. Check them all out here.
OK, on to that post race decadence I mentioned.
I don't know where you compete in triathlons, but out here in the Northwest, it's usually not terribly difficult to find bananas, peanut butter, and some kind of cream cheese in the post-race area. If you're lucky enough to find all three, then do as I do, and make yourself a peanut butter-cream cheese-banana split.