Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bridgeland Race Report - Silver Linings

Bridgeland Triathlon was my third triathlon, second sprint. It's part of the Tri-Texas Triathlon Series of three races. I did the first, and am planning to participate in the third, Houston Triathlon. Had I known this, I could have gotten some nicer swag (it's nice to start anyway), and would have gotten a discount. It's tough to plan a season though, so I'm happy to just pick em a month out.

Leading up to this, I'd trained a fair amount more in the pool than earlier in the season. So much so, I got swimmer's ear and had to cut back on swimming a couple of weeks out. I'm not sure if this influenced the results. I was a little skittish on my last training swims, not really completing the plan. I wasn't too concerned since it was only 500m swimming.

Race day I left by myself at 430am, hoping to get there by 5:15 and have time to set up and maybe get a practice swim in. The family can't come to races just yet since a 2 year old and 8 month old are tough to keep tabs on for extended periods of time without any help. If I can get some family to come visit, it may be different.

I forgot my water bottles, but remembered in time to turn around to get them. I left my flip flops at the car, but the course was recently paved concrete in and around transition so there was no need.

I finished setting up transition and had plenty of time to go for a practice swim. I went for a dip from the swim exit. I was wondering if the water would be too warm. It was fine. I swam out about 75m and back. I just wanted to get some strokes in so I knew a little better what to expect when I started racing. Equipment was fine. My AquaSphere goggles I'd bought after my last race, were great.

I walked toward the swim start after transition closed. I had time for another swim so I waded in. This time, my right goggle was leaking...a little, but enough to distract me. Darn it, I hoped it would seal when race started.

Long story short (regarding the swim), it didn't seal. I kind of wish, I'd just put my goggles on the outside of my swim cap to facilitate moving them around, but all the guides tell you to put them on under to secure them better in case you get buffeted at the beginning. I spent my whole time in the water waiting for the horn trying to adjust my goggles.

When the race started, I didn't get more than 50 meters before the leaky goggles irritated me enough to make me stop to try to resolve. I ended up breast stroking a lot more than I really needed in order to keep my head above water and out of my goggles. I keep making mistakes to address my last swim only to find new issues in each of my races. I guess, chalk it up for another notch in the experience post. I'm going to use my Speedo goggles next race since visibility doesn't really matter in the race.

Official Swim Result: 12:55.5 Pace: 2:35/100m

Anyway, coming out of the water, I headed into transition. My official time grouped my T1 with bike time so comparisons are tough. The times I use are my watch time.

T1: 1:57.

Felt pretty slow, turned out pretty slow. I'm not good at transitions since I'm pretty winded coming from one activity to the next.


Well, this was my silver lining to the race, but I had a couple of mistakes which cost me in terms of carrying out my race plan. Having said that, I didn't have much of a race plan. From my last sprint, I'd learned to pace myself a little and I felt my Olympic race I paced myself too much. Well, my stated goal in this race was to pretty much go all out the whole race and take a gel that I hadn't taken last time in the hope that it would give me an extra boost to finish without flaming out.

The ride was pretty straight-forward. I was using my new bike pod which on my test ride the day before was registering significantly off. I'd tried to calibrate it, but I'm not sure it was right. In testing it, I'd forgotten to reset my regular bike computer so I didn't have a means to gauge how far I was going, nor my average MPH. I knew the course though, so I was expecting the turnaround at 4.5 miles and the computers were a little off. They were telling me I was in the 19mph range, and I was okay with that. I knew my heart rate was telling me I was doing a pretty high effort, so I was just concentrating on knocking it out. As I approached the last turn around, I got passed by a guy on an awesome TT bike. He was hauling the proverbial donkey. I looked at his calf to see his age group. Yikes, 55. Looks like the turn screwed up his momentum though because though he passed, me, I passed him back coming out of the last turn.

I saw the 12 mile marker coming out of the turn and then before I knew it, I was heading into the dismount area and transition. I hadn't had my planned gel, but I knew there was an aid station coming out of transition, so I figured I'd have my gel at the start of the run.

All this time, both my watch and bike computer were registering about 19/20 mph, so I didn't really know how well I did.

I didn't realize my time until I got home and was convinced the course was really 14 miles. My computers were interfering with each other and neither said I'd done more 12.5 miles so I was a little disappointed my initial analysis of the ride. Thankfully, I was able to confirm it was a full 14 miles.

14 Mile Bike Result (interpolated from official time)

39:19 Avg 21.4mph

Out: 21.0 mph, Back: 21.8

T2: 1:41 (Rank 54/91)


Transition was tough again, with just the jog through the staging are, my HR jumped into the 150's. Heck, the average for the minute+ in transition was 156 which for me is very high. I started out on the run, willing to walk a little to process my GU. The aid station was actually a little further than I thought, but I wasn't in a rush to get there.

Once I processed the gel with some water, I started off again. Looking at my times, it looks like after the aid station, I put in a solid half mile in under 9 minute pace, but it really took it out of me. The second mile I almost passed through 10 minute pace and my HR was higher than I've really ever seen it. (155). Eventually I settled into 9:29 pace and settled in. As the path lead into some trees, I think I recovered somewhat because the last 3/4 mile, I did in under 8:30 pace with a sprint at the end to catch a guy in my AG.

TIme: 32:55 Avg 9:24 pace.

Out: 9:32 pace, Back 9:01 pace.

Overall: 1:28:47 45/91 in age group. Not sure in the overall, but I imagine MOP.

I was disappointed for a couple of reasons.

I didn't swim near as well as I trained. Despite losing momentum toward the end from having to skip some swim sessions, I really should have done better. I WILL practice more open water in advance of my lat race.

Until I feel comfortable I've found a new level of endurance, I need to pace myself, even on Sprint distances. If I'd left a little more in the tank, I think I could have shaved a fair amount of time off the run, maybe as much as 2 minutes. ALthough net I would have only shaved about 1 minute off my overall time, psychologically, the finish would have been much more encouraging.

For my next race, I will also practice the shoes on the bike trick.

With a few days behind me, I don't feel as bad about the race now, but really, I've learned that even when making strides in training, race day requires excellent execution in order to achieve your goals.

Bring on the next race!

Quick note on the race organization. I haven't done many of these, and this is the second time I've done a race organized by OnUrMark. I really can't find anything to complain about. Course is well marked, transition is relatively orderly, swag is awesome, and volunteers are plentiful and helpful. My only complaint (ok, found something) really is the scenery was pretty dull. Of course, I'm not focusing much on scenery, but the pictures pretty much look like any other race, my swim exit I look flustered, my bike shots I look focused and my run I look winded. With no bridges, bat monuments, Capital buildings or roller coasters in the background, I wasn't too motivated to buy the pixx. Can't blame the organizers for this though. This is a great race for beginners though since it's a straight forward layout that removes some of the more complicating factors for us Newbies.

Friday, August 6, 2010

What to wear Race Day!

Just had an interesting exchange with my coach about what to wear on race day. I have a conundrum because I have a new tri-suit I was planning on wearing, but after two swims it wasn't feeling right. The first swim, I felt it constraining around the shoulders, and the second time, I felt it tight in the chest. It's been fine on the run and bike, but I was concerned about the swim especially considering the water is going to be really warm on Sunday, and it's likely the chest tightness will feel even more constricting in warm water.

Well coach was puzzled not really seeing the appeal of a tri-suit since it's unlikely you'd ever get the length right (and I see his point.)

So far, I've done two races, one in tri shorts and a bike shirt, the second in a tri-suit.

In response to my coach I pretty much laid out my philosophy for wearing what I'm wearing race day.

I'm average height so haven't had too many issues with the two tri-suits I've got. My goal has been to not have to put on or take off anything additional in transitions. I'm hesitant to wear a Tri top under a wetsuit for fear it will ride up and you can't do anything about it. Also, with the shorts, I feel better having the snug suspenders-like feel keeping the shorts high on the hips to make sure the padding is where it needs to be. Sorry to be base, but it's kind of like wearing an athletic supporter that doesn't need constant adjustment. Running, I'd rather run in a runner's top and slit shorts, but as I don't want to do any clothes changes, that's not going to happen.

I've got two suits, neither of which I paid more than $100. I felt good in the one race I used it. This new one is theoretically an upgrade and it does feel comfortable, just tight around the chest. I'm encouraged though since the first time I wore it, I felt my shoulders constrained but I've worn it in somewhat.

I'd really love for my suit to have rear pockets like a bike shirt (or my running shorts) for gels. But to get a tri-suit with a pocket is more expensive and as far as I can tell not discounted. My Spibelt solves the problem for the run, and on my race in the tri-suit, for the bike I stuffed the gels in the elastic around my thigh.

I'm not going to go shirtless since my experience, with a good tech material, sweat is wicked away and cools you better with a shirt of some sort than shirtless. Also, when I'm shirtless (on the run at least) the sweat soaks the shorts beyond their capacity to wick and I'm running around with fabric stuck to my legs and butt and not "breathing".

So, call me crazy, but I like the tri-suit.

Anybody have rationale for why they wear what they wear? Am I selling the tri-top short (pun intended). Does it bunch up under a wetsuit? Does anyone else feel wearing tech fabric is better than shirtless (for the guys I guess).

With regard to the race, since I've been remiss in keeping y'all up to date on training (I know there's someone else other than my mom who reads this), you won't know, but I'm pretty confident with what I've done. My only hiccup was swimmer's ear that kept me out of the pool for about 3 days. Since my training was pretty swimming intensive, it means I dropped off just prior to the taper. Swims have been a challenge since then but seeing as this is only 500m swim, I'm confident.

At this point, all I'm worrying about is my gear and what I'm wearing. It's not shallow, (at least I don't think so), but rather the conditioning is either there or not. I strongly believe it is, so now I'm focusing on the secondary factors that may not make a race, but can ruin it, i.e. my gear.

See y'all on the flip side.