A Tale of Three Races

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. Unfortunately it’s been kind of a tough season, although a lot of the blame rests on my shoulders, or rather, my legs. The season didn’t go nearly as planned, but I learned a lot, so at least there’s that. Since I’ve got three races to report on, and my season is over now, I thought I’d write my race report on all three in one post.

1. Omaha. My “A” race. Oh, well. In one way I can say I earned a perfect score by missing every single one of my goals! At least I knew at the outset that the day wasn’t going to be a good one. I was all ready to go with the race as I packed up (see my last post), and then the drive happened. I’ve always had back issues, but it’s never been this sudden or violent. Somehow the drive down pranged a muscle in my lower back, causing severe spasms anytime I made large arm movements on the left side. At the hotel the night before I was terrified because I didn’t know if I’d even be able to race.

The morning arrived, we drove to the race site, and I got good news, bad news, and bad news. I found that my back would let me run and bike (good), but that I had no power on the left side of my body on the swim (bad), and that the water was 86° F and thus wetsuit illegal (under the circumstances, bad). The extra buoyancy the suit would have given me would have partly offset the fact that I could only swim with half of my body. Off went the horn and off I went, essentially sidestroking. Projected time: 30:00. Actual time: 38:45.3, 23/30 in my age group.

The bike on this one was actually a lot of fun. It was packed full of rollers and since climbing was my thing I was ready. I played tag with one guy where I would toast him on the uphills and he’d toast me on the downhills (his bike and position was a lot more aero than mine). It got to be really funny, and we started commenting to each other on each pass. It stoked my ego quite a bit when he called out on one particular long climb after I’d passed him like he was standing still, “how do you DO that???” Still missed my projected time, though. Projected: 1:15:00. Actual 1:15:44.8, 10/30 in my age group.

When we hit the run it was already in the 90’s, so I knew it would be a long day on the feet. Also, I wasn’t sure whether I’d messed up on the bike. In triathlon there are two conflicting pieces of advice: “Train your weakness, race your strength” and “Don’t leave your run on the bike.” I may have concentrated a little much on the former and not quite enough on the latter. The run was slow. Really slow. I wasn’t having fun with it, either, but of the triathlon disciplines the run is most definitely my weakness, and I hadn’t trained it nearly enough. My heat acclimation runs had made it so that I survived well, but my general lack of training hit me hard. Projected: 56:00. Actual: 1:00:26.1, 20/30.

Overall, I missed my projected time goal as well as my qualifier. My transitions were pretty good but at 5:31 were over my projected time of 4:00. I would have needed 2:52:44 to qualify but came in at 3:00:28.7, or 17/30. The eight minutes I added to my swim would’ve gotten me there, or if I’d pulled back 4 minutes on the swim and 4 on the run. All things considered it was a good race. I felt like I persevered through adversity, turned in a respectable race and a more than respectable ride.

2. Hy-Vee

The trouble with late-season races for me is that usually I’m suffering from a distinct lack of training in the mid- to late-summer. I’m even considering next year concentrating more on early season races. Late summer’s the time we see family, the time that we drop the kids off with the grandparents, and generally relax (I got in lots of great bike rides with The Bride… I consider that relationship training). I usually feel it would be selfish and ungenerous of me to spend all that time alone flogging through my training, so my training consistency definitely suffers. Because of that I wasn’t expecting a blazing day in terms of speed at Hy-Vee. Blazing temps, yes… but not blazing speed.

Gray’s lake was also in the high 80’s by race time, and thus wetsuit-illegal. My swim felt a lot better this time, since I could use both arms. I went into this race with only one goal, to provide moral support to a friend of mine new at triathlon, a splendid runner but pretty new on the bike and the swim. I’ll post his times along with mine, since they’re actually pretty funny. (Spoiler: he beat me) Swim time: me: 34:00, 39/95. him: 38:11, 65/95.

For some reason, I really wasn’t feeling the bike this race. I couldn’t get into a good rhythm and I felt tired. Could be that I really hadn’t spent much time on the bike since Omaha. Hmmmm. Me: 1:19:16, 58/95 (ouch). Him: 1:21:46, 65/95.

The run was very hot and my lack of training had me spent. I really disliked the end of the race because we passed the finish and had to run another mile to loop back to the finish. It kind of stole some of my spirit, and I hope they don’t route it that way again. I was painfully slow on this one, and I hope I never run one like that again! My friend, on the other hand, seemed to find a way to cope and turn in a magnificent run. Me: 1:09:15, 83(!)/95. Him: 55:24, 42/95.

Transitions for both of us were slow, but I’m still trying to sort out my treatments for asthma during transitions and this was his first transition ever. Me: 8:47. Him: 8:30. Overall time for me was pretty disappointing, as I was sub-3-hour last year, and I turned in 3:11:15, 70/95. My friend did quite a bit better, at 3:03:48, 61/95.

3. Lobsterman

Of all the races this season, I think this was my favorite. I felt I paced a lot better, although I was on a strange bike (didn’t ship mine) and it didn’t pay back as well for me on the climbs, so it threw me a little out of my rhythm, but overall it was a fun race. I think it helped that I did this race with my partner in endurance sport crime, a fantastic runner, a very strong cyclist, and a good swimmer (Spoiler alert: she beat me, too!). I think the main parts that got me in this race were the transitions. It was wetsuit-legal (wetsuit mandatory, in fact… the ocean in New England is COLD!!!) and I hadn’t practiced as much on transitioning out of a wetsuit and I still have to pause long enough to catch my breath to use an inhaler. This was also an interesting race because New Englanders seem to be a lot more into endurance sport, and my placements definitely show it. They are FAST!

This was my first long open-water swim in the ocean in almost 20 years. I think in some ways I wasn’t really ready for it, since getting a good mouthful of it gags you a lot more than seawater, and I did lose stomach contents a couple of times. It was also quite cold, around 50°F, and thus wetsuit-mandatory. I also got frustrated because we had some college team triathletes who would suddenly change from freestyle to breast stroke, just as I was swimming beside them. This makes their kick twice as wide and generally results in a kick to the face. The last part of the swim was really rough because the current got so strong that we basically had to swim at a 45° angle to hit the swim exit, and the exit just never seemed to get closer. At least it was slow for everyone! Me: 41:39, 33/54. Her: 47:28, 21/27.

The bike went fairly well, although it took me a long time to warm up after the swim and the bike just didn’t seem to want to climb for me. Since I’m a climber, this kinda hurt. Overall, though, it was a lovely course and a fun ride. Me: 1:20:36, 36/54. Her: 1:23:38, 12/27.

Again, I suffered on the run due to lack of conditioning (my fault). It’s really frustrating because I know I can do better, and it’s all in my lap. Consistency is the key to run training and I haven’t been consistent. That said, I think easing up my pace on the bike gave me a little more comfort on the run. I was also buoyed by a “nice legs” comment from a woman I passed on the run. If this endurance thing doesn’t work out I can always go into pageants! Me: 58:45, 45/54. Her: 50:55(!), 6(!)/27.

My transitions were slow, and my overall suffered a lot (if I compare to other races) because of the crazy swim, but comparing myself across others in this race, it looks pretty consistent. Transitions- me: 7:27, her: 5:07. Overall- me: 3:08:26.2, 41/54.Her: 3:07:06.9, 12(!)/27.

I was surprised at the last two races because my swim stacked up so competitively at both Hy-Vee and Lobsterman, scoring better than my bike (which NEVER happens). It leads me to believe that 1) I could really see some gains in my swim, 2) more consistency on the bike would pay off, and 3) my run really is my weakest link. I’m going to fix that next season. I will say I did very will at the 4th discipline of Lobsterman:

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P.S. One other great thing about this season is that now I can add this to my post!

USAC Level 3 Coach

USAT Level 1 Coach

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One Response to A Tale of Three Races

  1. vardotrichic says:

    Despite not starting out the season the way you had hoped, you finished strong. Congrats!!

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