Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon Report

After my less than stellar performance at Wildflower, I needed a boost.  So I thought: What better way than to immediately jump back into racing!  There was a local sprint triathlon that some friends were doing, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to have some fun.

Race morning started just like any other: 4:30am "wakeup" after getting ZERO sleep.  AARRRGHHHH - My body needs to learn how to sleep before a race!  Damn you body!  Despite feeling like garbage, I get on the road by 5:10 to make it to the race by 6.  Transition setup was pretty standard, but one major difference with this race was I actually did a warmup jog.  After Cal Poly a few months ago, I figured out the best way to ward off a chilly morning is to sweat a little.  And with 15min will party-time, I was nice and warm and good to go.

Swim: 18:23 - 2nd AG
Not sure how I managed 2nd in the 25-29 dudes.  I honestly felt like I had a pretty slow swim.  Why slow?  Good question...  It was, in my opinion, a really easy swim.  The buoys were easy to spot, and I wasn't ever duking it out with anyone.  I actually had clear water as far as I could see - it was great!  I LOVE swims with nothing but glass ahead of me.  I was convinced I was swimming straight, but according to my watch, I ended up going .84 miles instead of .75.  Bummer!

Bike: 45:26 - 5th AG
Out on the bike, things got a little lonely.  As far as I could see in front of me and behind me, I saw no one.  Curses starting in the first wave and swimming moderately fast!  Out of transition, I started doing work.  I have absolutely no basis for this, but I felt like I should be able to manage 270-280w.  So that was my game plan: Keep avg power in that range and get it done.  Around mile 4.5, I had a little incident where some busted up roads caused me to eject my only water bottle.  "Uh oh, I had better pick that up," I thought, so I did.  It cost me about 15 seconds, and at the time, it didn't seem like a huge deal.  The only guy that ended up passing me on the bike was the eventual winner - some dude with a MONSTER 39min bike split.

Run: 31:39 - 2nd AG
T2 was blazing fast.  36 seconds to be exact.  My Zoot shoes are totally ballin'!  Out of transition, I NEVER know how to run.  Three years of triathlons, and my sense of pace is all kind of messed up.  I thought I was doing 6:30's, but my first mile clicks off at 6:16!  Too fast?  Maybe, but I'm riding this out for all it's worth!  Five flat miles is cookies compared to what I usually do.  Sadly, same story on the run: No one in site. :(  I'd have to wait a bit until the turn-around to see where I stood.

At the halfway point on the run, I counted five dudes.  I knew three were pro/elite which meant that I was most likely in 3rd.  Crap - if I get passed I miss the podium!  Instead of an easy cruise home, I had to pick it up...or at least maintain.  About a minute back was a guy that looked like he was kicking ass.  No idea what age group he was in, but I was running scared!  I ended up crossing the line without the need for a sprint finish.

Finishing second in my age group was pretty awesome.  This was the first time I "podiumed" in a triathlon.  Granted, I don't feel like it was super competitive, but it still feels good.  And the Petite Sirah that I won...that's going to feel even better. :)

A few shout-outs before I sign off here:
- My friend Dirk was visiting from Malaysia, and instead of being heavily jet lagged, he decided to race a triathlon - badass!
- Work dudes: Always fun to have active people to train with at work.
- Dave B: Congrats on your first triathlon!  You killed the run!  Great to see you out there buddy.
- Olivia: Congrats on the overall women's win!


Picture cred:  Sorry for borrowing your proofs!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Wildflower Race Report - Sufferfest

It's been a while since I had an update, and this one is going to be a tough one to write.  Wildflower 2013 (#3 for me) was a sufferfest.  My goal in writing this is to try to analyze what went wrong and to hopefully learn from it.  No one wants to have a bad race, and the key to avoiding them is analyzing and racing smart.  So let's begin:

Pre-race training:
Leading up to the race I was feeling good.  Training was consistent and mostly focused.  My swim was lacking a bit, but losing a minute or two on the swim was the least of my worries.  I was coming off of an amazing open half marathon PR, and my expectations were high.

Then race week happened.  Work was rough.  I was under prepared for a midterm.  We had to volunteer for the Treeathlon.  I had to pack for Wildflower.  And at the last minute I found out that I had to race on my newly built, unproven road bike.  Suffice to say, stress levels were through the roof.

Friday - HOLY CRAP it was hot.  My goal was to not do much and stay as hydrated as possible.  I was drinking water and Gatorade like crazy, and I was still thirsty.  From past experience, I DO NOT race well in the heat.  I was worried.

I really enjoyed this swim.  It is by far one of the easiest open water swims at any triathlon.  The water was smooth and WARM!  Oh man, I can't tell you how awesome the water temps were.  Perfect for a sleeveless wetsuit!  At 31min, my swim was a little slow, but as mentioned before, I expected that and was ok with it.

This is where the problems began.  10 miles into the bike, I had to stop.  My bottle cage holding down my Di2 battery was loose and rattling like crazy, and my bike seat was pushed all the way back.  I made the decision to stop and tighten things up.  The less I have to worry about, the better.

Then around the 20mi mark, my ass and lower back were killing me.  You're not supposed to try anything new for a race.  Well, not only did I have a new seat, but I also had a new BIKE.  Obviously not a good decision to race on it, but the alternative was just as undesirable.  Queue back stretches every few miles and standing breaks to relieve the ass pressure.

By mile 40, I was almost broken.  Bike noises, sore ass, and screaming back were wearing me down.  Nasty Grade never looked so steep.  I CRAWLED to the top.  It seems another thing was getting me down too: Dehydration.  While worrying about everything else, I was neglecting the fact that I had to take care of my body, and I was paying the price.  Lack of energy and ability to produce power added to the mental collapse.

This race ties with Ironman Florida for never wanting to get off my bike more in my life.  I wanted to be excited about running, but I wasn't.  Mentally, I was ruined.  Physically, I was ruined.  50 steps out of transition, I had to walk.  Quads were cramping.  This was the story for the entire run - all 13 miles of it.

Full results:

Post-race thoughts:
It's blantantly obvious that this race was poorly executed:
- High stress levels before the race - Better preparation could have helped.
- Dehydration on the bike - Better hydration plan with LOTS of practice.  If there's anything I need to learn, it's how to race in HOT weather.
- Bike issue - TEST the bike ahead of time.
- Use the right tools for the job - Road bikes are not for triathlon racing.

I think that's about it.  I wish I could been limited by fitness, and it's really soul-crushing for that not to be the case.  I know I'm fit, but long distance triathlon is as much about brains as it is about fitness.  THAT'S the reason I got into this game.  I'm not stupid, but on Saturday I was.  Time to learn and get better.