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Posts Tagged ‘Lakeside Triathlon’

Fun with Spreadsheets

October 29, 2013 3 comments

spreadsheet

It just so happens that I like spreadsheets.  A lot.

So when I decided it was time to step back and look at 2013’s results with a bit of a bird’s eye view, it meant I got to have fun with spreadsheets 🙂

Actually, what kicked this exercise into full gear was a conversation with my wife – as I was telling her I was having trouble finding direction in this sport.  At a quick glance, it’s easy to look back at 2013 and see a lot of last place (or near last place) age group finishes.  But with a deeper look, there are some positives to take away, and some information to focus on going forward.

Are you excited?  I’m excited!!!  Let’s take a look.

2013ResultsRank

First, I wanted to get a summary of how my season went compared to the M30-34 age group I raced in.  We all know I didn’t win many races.  As the purple line depicts, I was a bottom 20% of the pack finisher across the board (though I only came in last once, at Lakeside).  But I’m happy (relatively speaking) with how my swim did this year.  I even managed to be front half of the pack out of the water in one race.  I’d like to get to the point where I’m front half of the pack out of the water in all my races, but for now at least my swim is respectable.

I think the picture this paints here more than anything is the direct parallel between my run results (two thumbs down to those) and my overall results.  And just how much I got my butt kicked on the run this year.  If I want to do better, I need to run better.  Period.  I know what my focus this winter needs to be!

It also shows that I have better results against the field in shorter duration races.  I have the burst speed to race competitively, but not the stamina to keep it up.   But, I suspect, the longer distance races also draw more experienced race fields overall, whereas shorter distances may draw more recreational, novice, and bucket list athletes.  Not really sure what to do with that, but it’s an interesting thought exercise.

The biggest surprise in this picture?  Must be my bike split from Cincinnati.  Had I had to guess (before seeing these results), my gut instinct was that Toronto Island was my best bike race.  And sure enough, Toronto Island was my better time over the 20km distance.  But compared to the field, I did better in Cincinnati.  Again, not really sure what to make of that… but… interesting at least.

2013ResultsTop5

Okay – so here’s a possibly pointless exercise.  If my goal was to finish in the top 5 of my age group (which, sure, I’d love that), how much faster would I have to be in each discipline?  Or, rather, how much faster than me was the 5th place finisher in each of my races?  Because the distances are all different, the results here are in seconds/100m for the swim, in seconds/km for the bike, and in mm:ss/km for the run.

Ultimately, I think it tells the same thing as the first graph.  That the improvement needed in my swim is less than is needed in the bike (and that my run is just crap!!)

And, much like the first graph, I see two (potentially) interesting trends:

  • The difference between my time and the 5th place time is more extreme in the longer durations on the bike.  At Binbrook (30km) and Lakeside (40km) I was not able to keep up, where as I was closer at Cincinnati (20km) and Toronto Island (20km).  I need to work on my bike endurance!!
  • In all 3 distances, I was closest to 5th place at Cincinnati.  What’s unique about Cincinnati?  Well, it’s the only race of the 4 above that isn’t run by Multisport Canada.  I’m starting to wonder if there is a difference in the skill level of the field

2013ResultsTop15

A potentially more useful version of the graph above: instead, lets look at what it would take for me to improve to place in the top 15 of my age group (or top 8 in the case of Lakeside, as there were only 9 of us in my age group at that race).  Top 15 may be a much more realistic goal for 2014 than top 5.

There isn’t much surprise here – similar patterns, just less distance between my own result and the 15th place finisher.  In fact, in 3 of the 4 races, I actually swam a faster split than the 15th place finisher (and even had one faster bike split).  Excluding for Cincinnati, I’m pretty consistently 20 seconds/km off a competitive pace (which, isn’t a negligible amount – that’s 10 minutes to shave off a 20km race… yikes).  But I’m a solid 2:00 – 2:30/km off the pace on my run.  That’s going to be the trickier one to make up.

Okay, so what did we learn from this?

Really, not much that we didn’t already know…

  • I’m a terrible runner
  • I’m not quite as bad at the other two disciplines
  • My swim is mid-pack competitive (Yay!!!)
  • I’m a lot closer to a top 15 finish then a top 5 finish
  • I like spreadsheets way too much

Next up is to figure out what I’m going to do with this information.  Which is good, because this post is long enough as it is.  I’ve got a few ideas, but feel free to send any suggestions my way.

 

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Race Recap: Lakeside Olympic Triathlon

September 17, 2013 7 comments

IMG_0731

Dave: 1  Course: 0

Okay – I don’t know if that’s really a fair assessment.  I should give the course a half point at least – it really did give me all the run for my money I could handle.  But I finished.  1.5km Swim, 40km Bike, 10km Run.  3 hours, 24 minutes, and 44.4 seconds.

I’m an Olympic Distance Triathlon Finisher!!!  And you know what? I really enjoyed it!

Let’s start at the beginning…

The alarm went off at 6:00am.  One of the beauties about races in September is that the sun rises a bit later, and so the race guns go off a bit later.  This one didn’t start until 9:00, and was an hour’s drive from my home.  I didn’t see a need to get up any earlier than that – which is very odd for race morning.

One of the not-so-beauties about races in September is that race morning can be bloody cold!  We woke up to 6° air temperature.  Brrrr.  I wasn’t in any hurry to swap my sweater for a sleeveless wetsuit.  My wife, however, was quick to steal the sweater for herself.  Spectator’s right, I guess.  At least I’d be racing – I’m sure she was pretty cold.

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The biggest challenge I had on race morning was my nutrition – this being my first race of this distance, I had no idea how much to eat.  Normally, before a sprint race, I eat a bagel with PB&J.  I decided 2 pieces of toast with PB&J for this race.  Next time I plan this a bit better… but more on that later…

The swim was in a small, shallow lake.  The course was two loops of a 750m swim, set up for the Sprint race the day before.  It looked like the 750m loop used up most of the lake.  But I think looking out at a 750m loop was less intimidating than seeing buoys 1,500m away.

The gun went off, and off we went.  The water was surprisingly warm given how cold the air was.  Possibly the warmest swim I’ve done all year (which isn’t saying much).  I find it hard to gauge – while swimming – how I’m doing relative to the field.  I’m sighting for the buoys, but otherwise unaware of how the race is going other than my feel of the water.  And I felt good.  I felt strong.  Even standing up in the shallows to round the start buoy and dolphin dive back out for loop 2 (which was odd) I was happy with my swim.

When I got out of the water at the end I discovered two things:

  1. I had easily PR’d my swim in 30:29, knocking over 6 minutes off my previous personal best 1,500m swim time, and a pace/100m PR that beats any shorter distance race I’ve ever swam.  Killed it!
  2. I had fallen well off the pack.  The bike racks were all empty already.  Even with my strong swim, I was on my own from here on out.

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The bike was a bit tougher.  It started right out of the gate, right at the mount line, where I seriously debated getting on the bike, or running into the bush to lose my breakfast.  The first 100m on the bike were slow and wobbly as I tried hard not to hurl in front of the cheering spectators (I was already the last one on the bike from my swim wave, after all, there’s a bit of pride to salvage here).  It took me a good full kilometer to get my stomach settled and my legs under me.  All I could think was “I wish I had just stuck to my bagel”.  But it passed quickly and it was Race On!

The course was a single loop circuit through farm country.  I realized how much I like out-and-back bike courses because I can see how far behind the leaders I am as they come back the other way.  No such luck this time – just me and my bike and the cows.  Here I really noticed the cold – riding, wet, in my sleeveless tri kit into a headwind.  By about kilometer 30 I was sure I’d caught a head cold (and sure enough, 2 days later, it’s still here).

The ride was a really fair ride – no massive hill climbs, but lots of significant rollers.  And the last 10k of the ride (where most of the rollers are) was straight into a headwind.  They told us in the pre race email: Don’t go out too hard, you’ll have nothing left in your legs for the run.  They told us again in the pre race meeting.  Did I listen?  Nope.

I biked a 1:31:26 (26.25km/hr avg) 40k.  Given the rollers, and the headwind, and my first time doing the distance after a swim I was happy with it.  My goal was to be between 1:30:00 and 1:40:00.

Little did I know, the race winner had already won before I was even off the bike.  Oh well.

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The run was a mixed bag.  It was two loops of a very hilly 5k out-and-back circuit.  My first quarter race felt amazing – I wasn’t wearing a GPS watch or anything, so I don’t know for sure how that split of my race went, but it felt fast.  My legs didn’t feel like bricks at all.  I felt like I could attack the hills.  I felt like I was out doing a tempo training run.  I felt great – apart from a bit of stiffness in my lower back from 90 minutes on the bike that is.

Then I hit the climb right before the turn around point.  And.  I.  Just.  Tanked.  7.5km to go still and I slowed right down.  Walking felt fine – nothing hurt.  But I just couldn’t run for more than about 100m.  Again, nothing hurt, but my body wouldn’t respond.  I felt crazy-hungry.  I kept thinking “I wish I ate more than those 2 pieces of toast”.   I started to get a headache.  I drank water and HEED at every aid stop.  The mental battle was on “C’mon legs – run to the next tree… run to the next fence post…”.  I was moving in 100m bursts.

I made it back to the 5km loop, back to the crowds and the noise of transition.  I saw my wife there cheering me on – I needed that support to turn around and head back out again.

Back out into the countryside I went.  I kept willing myself to keep going – 100m at a time.  At least the few racers still out there were in the same boat as me.  Lots of fist bumps and encouraging words as we passed each other.  Everyone just trying to finish.  100m at a time.

For as much as I walked, my run wasn’t as bad as it could have been: 1:18:19 (7:49min/km).  I mean, that’s a number I’m not happy with, I need a lot of work on my running, but while on the course I thought it would be much worse.

My total time was 3:24:44.4 – good enough for 9th out of 9 in my Age Group.  To have even finished 8th in my AG I would have had to shave a full 45 minutes off of my time.  Seriously not with my peers – M30-34 is a tough AG.  But 150/155 overall isn’t as embarrassing… I guess?  Whatever, I don’t care.  I finished.  I’m actually really happy and proud of that.  And now I have a baseline for future Olympic distance races!!

With that, my 2013 race season is in the books.  I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll have lots of Looking Back and Looking Forward thoughts, but for now I’m putting my feet up and enjoying a few weeks of not-so-active recovery.

Welcome to the Off Season!

In 4 days…

September 11, 2013 6 comments

triathlon-start

In 4 days I will be racing my first Olympic distance triathlon at Lakeside

In 4 days (and a few hours) my 2013 triathlon season will be finished…

In 4 days, I expect to be pretty damn tired!

I’m having really conflicting thoughts about the upcoming race.  I’m really excited to tackle my first Olympic distance – it’s going to be really amazing to say I completed 1.5km/40km/10km all in a single race.  I’ve made great progress this year.  I know I’ve dropped a bit of weight, and certainly added strength and speed.  I feel faster, and fitter, and healthier than I have since I was a teenager – it’s amazing.  And I’ve shown myself how much I love this sport – I really do.  I knew starting this year, signing up for so many races that I’d either love the sport, or leave it.  I can’t wait to tackle 2014!

At the same time, I’m really burnt out.  After doing a single race in 2011 and 2012, 10 was a bit much to take on in 2013.  And as much as I know I’ve improved, I haven’t improved as much as I had hoped I would.  I’m not sure how much was the length of the season (the physical grind, and the mental grind), or the recent move taking up a lot of time lately, or unreasonable expectations, or just old lazy bad habits sinking back in, but my training has really slowed down in the last month.  I can’t wait for this race to be over and to take a few weeks off from training (not just “not training” – I miss training sessions all the time – but honestly, planned, guilt-free time off).

This is not going to be the Big Finish, Personal Best, ‘A’ Race I thought it would be at the start of the season.  This is going to be an ugly fight of a race.  But I’m still going to race it, and enjoy it, and be crazy proud when it’s done!

I have no question I can do this, but I’m still a bit nervous tackling a new distance for the first time.

More than anything else, my goal is to finish and to enjoy the race and the experience.  As a secondary goal, I want to have a strong run.  I’m deliberately not quantifying this – I’m not particularly concerned about the pace.  I want to feel at the end of the race like I pushed through the physical and mental barriers (particularly the mental barriers) from the swim and bike, and ran a strong 10km.  I want to say I raced the best damn race I could for the fitness level I have – and remember the hard work I have put in this year to get me here.

In 4 days I will have raced an Olympic Distance Triathlon…

In 4 days I will have a PB time…

In 4 days I expect to pretty damn excited!

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Training Race Preview: Toronto Island Lake Swim

August 17, 2013 Leave a comment

TorontoIslandLakeSwim

Tomorrow morning I’m tackling the Toronto Island lake Swim, 1.5k swim race.  It’s the first of two training races I’m tackling this month in preparation for the Lakeside Olympic Triathlon in September.

I’m looking forward to this one.  I’m feeling very relaxed about it.  The plan is to use it as a training race, and that’s what I’m going to do.

What’s a training race to me?  Well… I’m still going to race hard.  I still want to do the best I can and get the fastest time I can.  There’s no intention of half-assing this one.  But I’m looking to learn from this race.  The whole idea of a training race is to go in with a purpose – something specific you want to test or assess and take away feedback in preparation for your ‘A’ race.

For me, this is my first time doing the 1,500m distance in open water with other swimmers around me.  And I expect – based on how they market this race – that this won’t be your typical triathlon swim start field (where half the racers are looking to survive the swim and get to the bike or run, where they excel).  There will likely be a lot of good swimmers here.

Good.  Bring ’em on!  My goal in this race is to swim with the pack for the full 1,500m.

I’ve done a lot more open water swim training this summer than in any previous summer, but it’s all solo swimming – out in the open water, away from lane markers or time clocks or coaches or other swimmers… anything at all to use as a pace coach.  I find it so easily to mentally drift.

I’ve swam 1,500m many times before, but never in a race.  Never with race nerves or adrenaline.  I’ve never pushed to keep up with other swimmers over this long a distance.

So that’s my goal for tomorrow: irrespective of finish time, to keep up with the pack and stay strong through the full 1,500m.

Have you ever done a “training race”?  How did you approach it?

The Dog Days of August

August 14, 2013 7 comments

bautistaencarnacinimage from Drunk Jays Fans

I’m a huge baseball fan – a huge Blue Jays fan (at this point in the season, I may be the only one left).  I often hear the term “The Dog Days of August” referred to in baseball context as a tough part of the season – the fatigue of having played ball every day (essentially) for 5 straight months, combined with the heat of August, and the horizon of post season (the finish line) just a month away.

I think I’ve found my own Dog Days of August.

In 2011 I raced a single sprint triathlon in September of that year.  I started training for it, in earnest, in July of the same summer.  That summer I could hardly run a mile, and sure as shit complained if I had to run two.  I was almost 40lbs heavier than I am today.  I “trained” (though in hindsight, I really just “occasionally exercised”) over a 2 week period, ran my race, and then shut it down.

In 2012 I raced the same triathlon.  This time I started training in June, and with a bit more regularity (albeit with the same general lack of purpose) for 3 months.  I took a few weeks off after before turning to a Run Only program and raced my first 10k running race in early November.

2 months of work in 2011.  5 months of work in 2012.

2013 has been a whole different story.  Beginning with a half marathon in February and followed by a 30k run in March, I’ve raced 6 races already this season, with another 3 planned in the next 5 weeks.  I started training in December 2012, 9 months ago and – other than missed sessions – I really haven’t given myself much of a break.  And further to the length, I’m training with purpose now.  I’m doing more than simply shuffling for a few miles – I’m planning a training routine, mixing up strength training with swimming, biking, and running.  Doing short speed work as well as long endurance work.

I’m exhausted.

worn out

And yet, really, in the world of triathlon training, I’m not doing all that much.  I’m still only training 5-8hrs/week.  But it’s a lot more, for a lot longer, and a lot more intense than it was before.

This is my dog fight.  My dog days of August.  When the summer is hot and the legs are tired, and the finish line is on the horizon.  No amount of sleep seems to be enough.  No amount of food seems to be enough.  I feel like I’m in a constant fog, and my friends and family have noticed.

4.5 weeks until my ‘A’ race, my first Olympic distance triathlon.  In between I have a pair of warm-up races: a 1,500m swim only race this weekend to experience 1,500m in open water with other racers, and a sprint distance triathlon the following weekend to focus on my brick run in a race setting.  It’s time to dig deep – deeper than I’ve had to dig before.  This is my dog days of August.  This is my chance to finish my season strong and proud, and show how far I’ve come, and what I can do.

If only I could do it on a little more sleep.  Wouldn’t that be nice…

Have you ever felt like you were in your ‘Dog Days of August’?  How did you push through?

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