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Race Recap: Sporting Life 10K (2015)

May 11, 2015 1 comment

SL10k2015Group

I suppose a Race Recap is in order (as apparently that’s a thing that I do).  Yesterday I ran the Sporting Life 10K in Toronto with my wife, my cousin, and a few other friends of ours.  This is the 3rd year in a row my cousin and I have run this race together.  It’s become a really nice tradition.  And, as this is now my 3rd race recap of this same race, there’s not a lot new to be said.

1:08:41.2

Meh.  I had fun!

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My personal best 10k time came on this same course last year at 1:00:07.  I was really hoping for my first sub 1 hour time, but it wasn’t meant to be.  The list of excuses includes:

  • It was fucking hot!  17°C at 8:30am
  • It was fucking humid!  All week I’d been complaining about the forecasted 80% chance of thunderstorms that never came.  I got the dry run that I wanted, but all that humidity just bogged me down
  • I was undertrained.  Last year I did a much better job of base run training in the winter.  This year I didn’t.  And I’ve done about a half dozen outdoor runs so far in 2015, all of them at Long Slow Distance pace
  • I had dinner out at a pub, with a beer (or more), each of the two evenings leading up to the race

It’s not that I want to belittle the results – but I’m behind on my training, and I can’t fix that overnight.  And I also can’t control the weather.  So I don’t want to dwell on what was for me a disappointing finish time.  But I did have fun, and got to spend time with great people.  Win.

6 weeks to TTF.  Keep to the training plan, keep putting in the work, and keep having fun.  And maybe lay off the pub food a bit…

Race Recap: Niagara Try-a-Tri

July 28, 2014 Leave a comment

10430431_10154431489365319_8659819653427283812_nI have no idea why I’m making a peace sign… or why I’m so hunched over…

Yesterday I raced in the Niagara Try-a-Tri race, my first Try-a-tri distance triathlon.  It was a lot of fun – a great day (albeit stinkin’ hot), great friends, great venue.  Yep, I would do that again in a heartbeat.

I had a chance to race with two good buddies of mine – we go all the way back to high school, but live in different cities now, so the reunion was a nice incentive too.  Plus, they’ve now joined the ranks of triathlon finishers – which is amazing!  Here’s hoping to get them out to many more races going forward!  We also had a nice cheering section of family and friends.  What a great day!

How did my race go?

The Swim – 375m – 7:09

The water was about as warm as could be while still being “wetsuit encouraged”.  Compared to other swims I’ve done recently, it was like swimming in a bath.  The sun was shining, the water was calm, and relative to Sprint and Olympic distance swims, 375m wasn’t that far at all.  I positioned myself in the front row middle of the starting pack and went all out.  This was about as smooth sailing as it could have been.

The Bike – 10km – 21:43

The bike felt great.  It was pretty flat, uneventful, and I was able to tuck into the aero bars and giv’er.  On the return half, there was a strong headwind I wasn’t expecting, but nothing unmanageable.  It felt really good, but I’m not sure the time reflects that.  I was hoping for closer to 20 minutes.  Was I being lazy?  Was I not in the best gear?  I’m a bit perplexed here – although a perfectly respectable time for my current fitness level, I thought I could do a bit better.  Oh well – that’s what the off season is for

The Run – 2.5km – 18:14

God I suck at running.  Seriously!  I was hoping to run closer to 15 minutes, perhaps optimistically.  I’m not at all happy with this result (but I’m also really not surprised).  My legs felt good off the bike, but my HR was way out of control.  Which is the exact same thing I felt in my last race 2 weeks ago.  My fitness has fallen off a bit as the summer has gone on (and I haven’t kept up with my training), and possibly wasn’t where I wanted it to be to start with.  Let this be motivation for me this off season – next summer I want to run better off the bike!

Overall 50:31.9.  I was predicting I would finish between 45 and 50 minutes – so a bit slow, but not terribly.  Considering this was a last minute entry for a race to join up with some old friends, my time wasn’t so slow such as to take away from a great day.

The Recovery

The 1:00pm race start time has really made a mess of my recovery.  I’ve become very used to the morning race, afternoon nap routine.  The afternoon race, evening nap routine doesn’t work nearly as well (which leads to a shitty night’s sleep, and a very tired Dave the next day).  I’m a lot more tired today than I was expecting after a try-a-tri distance race, on which I blame this crappy, short, race recap post.  It’s going to be nap time as soon as this working day is done!

How was your weekend?  Any good races or training runs?

Race Recap – Toronto Triathlon Festival

July 14, 2014 2 comments

TTF

I’m having a hard time writing this recap.  My thoughts are all over the place.  This race was many things – Intense, Exhilarating, and Wet.  Very wet.

I’m so luck to have a pair of very close cousins, who happen to have condos in the same building, right in downtown Toronto.  Amazing to be able to visit great people, and have crash space a 20 minute walk away from the start line.  Being so close meant I got to sleep in until 4:30 yesterday morning (I’m not kidding).  I was surprisingly awake at that hour.  My wife was not.  What a trooper she was getting up with me to come cheer me on (and take blog pics)!!

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Isn’t everyone out with their bike at 4:30am?

In transition before daybreak - the life of a triathlete

In transition before daybreak – the life of a triathlete

The forecast called for rain.  But it was dry when I woke up.  I was really happy – and celebrated way too soon.  The rain came.  Oh boy did it ever.  It rained rather heavily in the hour leading up to the race, while I was pacing around transition and waiting for the swim start.  The swim start was even delayed by about 10 minutes due to weather.

Rain!  The blue band across the top is my wife's umbrella.  She tried to stay dry.  It didn't work.  What a trooper!

Rain! The blue band across the top is my wife’s umbrella. She tried to stay dry. It didn’t work. What a trooper!

Once the race started, though, the weather was an afterthought.  This was my 8th triathlon, and the first time I wasn’t in the first swim wave.  It was kinda fun getting to watch the elite’s go off before me (and not have to start my swim with them).  8 minutes later it was my turn.

The Swim – 1,500m – 34:29

That's me, in the green cap and black wetsuit

That’s me, in the green cap and black wetsuit

The swim was a deep water start.  They had a floating pontoon perpendicular to the brake wall.  There was no warm up swim permitted (I’m not really sure why).  About 1 minute before our wave start, we all walked out and jumped into the water.  And swore.  A lot.  Holy shit that water was cold.  Really cold.  They announced the temperature as 17°C – they must have been lying.  I don’t believe ice baths are that cold.  It was really cold.  Pretty soon all the swearing subsided as we started to realize this wasn’t actually funny – it was really cold and uncomfortable.  And then the horn went off – no warm up, frozen muscles, and almost 100 men aged 25-35 tightly packed tightly against the starting pontoon.

They call the start of a triathlon swim ‘the washing machine’.  I’ve understood the term, but never truly experienced it.  Now I have.  It refers to the froth of water at the start of an open water swim, when a bunch of swimmers are tightly packed and competing for the same space.  Yep – that’s what happened.  I got kicked, and punched, and clawed (seriously triathletes: please clip your fingernails!!!).  Somewhere near the first buoy I remember having a thought – between the cold, and the collisions, if I was any less comfortable in the water than I am (and I consider myself a very confident swimmer), I might have been in trouble in that swim.  Sure enough, my wife would tell me later she was amazed at the number of swimmers who were pulled out of the water and DNF.  Even as late as the last buoy I took a heavy kick to my right shoulder and was worried I was actually hurt.  What a mess that swim was.

I’m not happy with a 34:29 swim – but it was a middle of the pack swim for my age group, and given the conditions, it could have been a lot worse.  The race goes on!

The Bike – 40km – 1:23:18

Heading out on the bike.  The road is a wet slippery mess!

Heading out on the bike. The road is a wet slippery mess!

For as bad as the swim was, the bike went great!  The bike course was amazing – riding along the expressways of downtown Toronto.  It was a generally uphill on the way out, and downhill on the way back, with a bit of a headwind on the return.  The biggest challenge was the wet roads, and the puddles of standing water that needed to be dodged.  But credit to the race organizers – they had volunteers out along the whole course, and had a volunteer or a marking pylon at every standing puddle.  They were all over it.  They did a great job!!

Not much to tell about the bike ride – I put my head down and rode hard.  I kept comparing it to my last Olympic distance race, only 3 weeks prior, where the bike ride went so poorly.  This time, my back and my glutes didn’t give out on me.  I was riding just as hard, if not harder through the final quarter of the ride as I did in the first quarter.  I wasn’t wearing a pace watch, but my gut told me this ride went well.  And I was right.  Nearly 12 minutes faster than the same distance 3 weeks ago, and 8 minutes faster than my Olympic distance bike split personal best.  Hot damn!!  My wife gave me my time as I was running back into transition – what a motivator that was!!!

The Run – 10km – 1:14:17

500m to go...

500m to go…

There’s not much to say here.  I’m a shitty runner.  I have been since I started, and I still am.  I find it amusing that my run time split of 1:14:17 is 16 seconds slower than my run split 3 weeks ago.  Apparently I’m a very consistently shitty runner 🙂

Unlike last time, there was no back pain to slow me down.  There was no pain at all.  My heart rate was out of control, right from the start though.  I took a lot of walk breaks trying to control my heart rate, but every time I started running again it skyrocketed.  I tried to settle into a run/walk routine to manage this.  I’m not sure how well it worked.  I stopped at each aid station – drank the Gatorade and dumped the water on my head.  By about half way through the run the sugar from the Gatorade was playing havoc with my GI system, so I switched to water only.  I’m not sure if it made a difference.  It wasn’t a glamorous run, but it was consistent, and wasn’t worse than my previous Olympic distance run splits.  I didn’t give back the time I earned on the bike, so I’m happy with that!

The Finish – 3:17:40.93

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My biggest fan!

God that felt good – a personal best by 6 minutes!  Yeah Buddy!!!  My wife and cousin were there to meet me at the finish line.  So awesome having a cheering squad!!  And around my neck: a finisher’s medal.  Believe it or not, this is my 8th triathlon, and that’s my first finisher’s medal.  I guess they’re not as common as in running races.  It means a lot to me to finally have a triathlon finisher’s medal.  Very excited about that!

By the end of the run my GI havoc was reaching near critical levels.  There were burgers and free beer in the finishing area, and I turned them both down (I know!  Weird, right?!)  I took 3 bites of a banana – that was all I could handle.  It was a couple hours before that settled down.

The race was designed with the finish line being about 800 meters away from the transition zone, so my cheering squad and I had to walk back to pick up my bike & gear after.  And wouldn’t you know – the skies opened up again.  It POURED!  Easily one of the top 10 heaviest rains I’ve ever been in.  Ever.  My wife and cousin had their umbrellas – not that it made any difference – but me, I just let the rain fall on me.  I could hardly see.  I felt bad for the racers still on course (the sprint distance race had just started).  It was pouring rain.  I collected my bag from the bag check area – it was sitting in an inch deep puddle.  I went back to get my bike and transition gear – which was also sitting in an inch deep puddle.  Oh well – lay it all out to dry in the basement when I get home.  I’m not planning on any training rides or runs for the next few days!

It’s now the day after.  I’m working from home today – it’s easier to get up out of my chair and pace, and stretch, when I’m not in the office.  My quads are still buzzing a bit, but I really feel the fatigue in my traps, my neck, and all down my back.  Even my arms have a subtle dull ache, and there’s a really good scratch on one arm from another swimmer.  Tylenol and I are good friends today.  And I’m eating EVERYTHING in the fridge!!

I ache, but I’m really happy.  I set my sights on this as my ‘A’ race, and I feel like it all came together.  Smashing 12 minutes off my bike split from last race felt amazing, and not giving anything up on the run as a result felt pretty good too.  I even survived the frigid washing machine!  God I love this sport!!!

With my ‘A’ race in the books, the rest of the summer is all about fun and relaxing.  In 2 weeks I’m racing in the Niagara Try-A-Tri race with a couple highschool buddies.  I’m really looking forward to that.  Otherwise the rest of the summer is about swimming, biking, and running when I want to.  I won’t start thinking about next race season for several months still – for now, I’m just going to enjoy this one!

– D

 

Race Recap: Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon

June 22, 2014 7 comments

SubaruI’m moving around pretty gingerly this morning – trying not to move very much at all, to be honest.  So while I’m sitting at my laptop anyway, might as well write up a post race recap, right?  right!

Yesterday I “raced” in the Subaru Guelph Lake I Olympic Triathlon.  This is a relatively large race around these parts, and highly talked about in the race community.  Plus, it’s in the town I grew up in, so it’s long been on my bucket list.  Yesterday I got to cross it off.

Race morning flowed pretty smoothly.  I was up at 5:00 for an 8:00 race gun, at a site 40 minutes drive from my home.  Not too bad.  It was raining outside when I woke up (sigh), but had stopped by the time I got into my car.  I was really impressed with the race area.  Registration flowed very quickly, and I had lots of time to set up in transition.  I ran into some friends of mine who were also racing, which was really nice.  Otherwise I would have had a lot of time to kill, nervously, by myself!

The swim was a lovely out-and-back across Guelph Lake.  The sky was blue, the water was warm and still, and it was wetsuit optional.  Perfect!!  My swim felt very sluggish, in large part because I was having difficulty sighting when breathing to the right.  So I quickly abandoned bilateral breathing, leading to an increasingly imbalanced arm pull.  While breathing to the left the whole swim, my right arm ended up doing most of the work, and started to slow down.  Plus, at the far point of the swim we got pretty close to the shore on the other side of the lake, and I may have gotten a bit distracted by the lovely trees and rocks and blue sky above.  Whoops.  That being said, I swam in 29:38 (1:59/100m), which is a personal best swim time over that distance, so I’m pretty happy with it.

As an aside, I struggle comparing my swim times between races, as there’s a big variable at the end – the swim run-up.  Inevitably, when getting out of the water, you need to run a certain distance from the water’s edge to wherever the transition area is set up.  This can be anywhere from 10m away to several hundred meters away.  Yesterday’s race was the later, and up a steep hill.  Fine.  Somewhere along this path they need to put the chip mats that you step on to record the end of your swim time.  Why do they always put these mats right up at transition, meaning this long run is included in your swim time??  Why can’t they put the mats right when you get out of the water, and include this “run time” as part of T1?  I’m sure that run up the hill took me at least 3 minutes, meaning my “swim” was much better than recorded.  Oh well – one of my little pet peeves I guess.  Carrying on…

T1 went pretty smoothly.  I didn’t suffer from the dizziness post-swim that I normally have to fight off, which was nice.  Although, when exiting T1, a race official pulled me aside and told me I couldn’t start the bike without tightening the strap on my helmet.  I’ve used this same helmet, with the strap in the same spot for every race.  I pulled aside, took off my helmet (dropped my sunglasses) and tried to adjust the strap.  The darn thing wouldn’t budge.  I managed to yank it maybe a cm – probably less – when she said that was fine and I could go on.  It probably only amounted to a minute delay, but was kind of annoying.  Oh well – she’s trying to do her job and keep us safe.  Can’t fault her for that, I guess.  The chip timing company this race used didn’t report on T1 or T2 times, so I can’t tell you how long I was in transition.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.

The bike was where things really unraveled for me.  There is a bike course elevation profile on the company’s website, which I looked at before.  I knew there would be an overall decent elevation climb in the out direction (and a nice overall elevation decent in the return direction), but I didn’t notice all the little – and quite steep climbs – both ways.  They really did me in.  I was trying to stay aero in my new aero bars – by about 15km I started to develop a significant pain in my left lower back.  It may have been in part due to the imbalance in my swim stroke?  Shortly after I had to abandon the aero bars completely.  By about 25km my glutes were toast!  I had to keep talking myself into staying in my saddle.  I haven’t ever had either of these problems – not in training, or any previous race.  I finished the last 10km of the bike ride absolutely grimacing and trying to talk myself into still doing the run portion, and not just DNF’ing.  I was in a lot of pain.  In the end, my bike was 1:34:49 (25.3km/hr).  Yuck.  That’s the slowest official bike pace I’ve ever posted in any race.  I obviously have some work to do here!

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T2 went smoothly.  Nothing to report.  And since I don’t know what my T2 time split was, we’ll just move on…

I have mixed opinions on the run.  It was tough, and slow – in large part because my lower back and glutes were both shot from the outset.  Every little climb on the run and my back started barking.  And there were hills.  Lots of them.  There was no elevation map for the run on the website – I was not prepared for the amount of steep rolling hills on the run.  I don’t think there was a flat stretch longer than 10 meters at any point on that run course – everything was an incline or decline.  And my back hurt the whole way.

The run was really interesting though – the first half of the out-and-back course was through the conservation area’s campground, which was reasonably booked up.  Which means there were people lining the course, watching, for most of this stretch.  But they weren’t cheering.  They were curious – some of them outright heckling at the spandex clad runners running past their campsites at 10:00am.  Many of them were irritated, trying to drive their cars in and out of their site, or walk to the washrooms or water pumps, and having so many runners in their way.  I love running past cheering spectators.  This was very different.

The run course then left the camping area and went into some back fields on the conservation area’s property.  We moved from primarily paved roads to primarily dirt trails through fields.  Still just as hilly, but not a tree in sight.  This was the first time I realized that I hadn’t put any sunscreen on.  It was hot.  By this point I was reduced to running 2:1 run/walk intervals, and walking up most of the steep hills.  Between the heat, my back, and by this point a significant fueling deficit, I was just trying to keep moving.  It wasn’t pretty.  But for me, the run is never pretty.  Still, I’d like to get to a point where I can reliably run the run, instead of suffering through it.  More work to do.  That being said, I finished the run in 1:14:01 (7:25/km) – not nearly the pace I can hold on a straight 10k run, but better than the run on my previous Olympic distance tri (1:18:19).  In other words, not nearly as bad as it felt!

Overall, I raced in 3:23:48.4 – 27/30 in my age group, and an Olympic tri Personal Best by about 1 minute.  I would have liked a better time, but to drop my time (even if only by 1 minute) on a course that was much hillier in both the bike and run, and much hotter as well isn’t a bad thing at all!  I’m making progress.

With this race now in the rear view mirror, I’m 3 weeks away from my ‘A’ race of the season, the Toronto Triathlon Festival Olympic Tri.  I’m not sure how much I can accomplish in three weeks to learn from yesterday’s race, and improve.  I need to keep putting the work in on the bike and the run – particularly my long distance workouts in both.  In the off season, I need to do a lot of work on strengthening my back side – traps, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.  But I know the TTF course better than this one – particularly the run – and it’s quite flat and familiar.  I won’t be surprised by hills this time, and the race starts an hour earlier, so I might not have to deal with the heat as much!  And who knows – I might even remember to put on sunscreen (you should see the sunburn today – it’s pretty epic).  I’m hoping for a great race at TTF, and a Personal Best!

Do you put sunscreen on for races?  Do you put it on before the swim, or quickly in T1?

PS – my apologies for the lack of pictures in this post.  I was flying solo at this one – my wife was on call and so had to stay home.  Thus, no pictures 😦

Race Recap: Sporting Life 10K (or The Seven Second Conundrum)

May 11, 2014 Leave a comment

SL10k2014D&C

Post race selfies!  So great.  And since the picture already spoiled it: I finished, and got a finisher’s medal.  It’s shaped like a canoe paddle.  How cool is that?!

Anyway, let’s start at the beginning…

This morning, my cousin and I did our 2nd annual running of the Sporting Life 10k in Toronto.  It was a great morning!  This race has become something of a tradition for us – it’s about racing our best, but it’s also a chance for us to visit and catch up.  This is a race weekend I really look forward to.

We knew the race started at 8:00am, and that our wave (based on expected finish time) would head out at 8:20.  I crashed at my cousin’s place in downtown TO last night, and we walked out to flag a cab to the start line at 7:30.  On any other day, walking out onto King St in Toronto, there’s a cab driving by every 30 seconds or so.  Getting a cab is taken for granted.  This morning, apparently not so.  We would discover that – with 28,000 runners all trying to take taxis across town to the starting line of this point-to-point race – there was a scarcity of cabs in the city.  10 minutes later, we were seriously starting to worry about even making it to the start of the race.  Phone calls to various taxi companies were going unanswered.  Then – miraculously – a taxi dropped off a fare right outside my cousin’s condo building.  Convenient!  We made it to the start line around 8:15.  Just barely in time for our wave to start (and well after the elite runners were off).

The starting line went much smoother than it did last year.  We set off with our wave this time (as opposed to last year, when runners were sort of ignoring their waves and heading out when they chose – and thus so did we).  Thousands of runners heading out together – it took us several minutes after the race gun to shuffle across the start line.  But once we got across, the race felt great.  I felt energetic – light – fast.  I felt good.  My cousin and I were zig-zagging through runners from our wave.  We were racing!  It was so much fun!  We were off at a blistering pace (a bit of foreshadowing, for you veteran running race-ers out there…)

My cousin and I stayed together until somewhere around the 4km mark.  I wasn’t sure at the time if I got ahead of her, or if she got ahead of me.  At that point, I was on my own.

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful.  I ran the whole race, which I was quite proud of (apart from a 5 second walk break at one of the water stations – let’s face it, running through a water station ends up as more of a face wash than a drink).  But the run felt long.  Boring almost.  And then I noticed how quiet it was.  Not that there weren’t thousands of other runners running all around me, or spectators lining the route cheering – which was awesome!!  But the bands were missing!  Last year there were live musicians on stages at every kilometer marker.  This year, nothing.  I was so disappointed!  Live music lining the course was one of my favorite parts of the run last year.  Note to new race director: bring that back next year!!  Getting rid of the live music was a mistake!

By the 9km sign I was fully engaged in a mental battle with myself – willing myself to keep pushing hard through the finish.  I was running out of gas, but I knew I had started out strong and had a shot at a Personal Best time.  I only had 1km to go.  So I kept arguing with myself to push through the end.

I crossed the finish line at 9:25:xx (clock time).  Dammit.  Clock time.  I know our wave started at 8:20, but by the time the thousands of runners had advanced through the starting chute, I didn’t notice what time I went across.  Did it take us 5 minutes?  3 minutes?  8 minutes?  I was done, but I had no idea what my chip time was.  Note to self: start wearing a running watch while racing!

It was several hours later before we were able to look our chip times up online.  I ran a personal best time after all: 1:00:07.3

1 hour and 7.3 seconds!!!

On one hand, I just ran a personal best time – 2:30 faster than I had ever run a 10k before.  That’s so awesome!

On the other hand, I missed out on a sub one hour run by 7.3 seconds!  7.3 SECONDS!!!

If I had just run 1 second per km faster over the race, I could have made it (or, more realistically, if I had paced myself a hair better and not run out of gas at the end I could have made it).  Note to self: start wearing a running watch while racing!

It’s now a few hours later.  I’ve left Toronto and come back home.  I’ve wrestled with this conundrum for a few hours.  And I’ve decided I’m really happy with my run.  The elusive 1 hour mark is still out there.  I haven’t conquered that mountain yet.  But I went into this trained and ready, and hoped for a personal best time.  And I got one.  And yet, in spite of a personal best time, I’m now more motivated than ever to get back to training and put the work in to get faster!

First race of the year is in the books.  Now it feels like the race season is underway!  What a great day!

~DO’G

Race Recap – Santa Pur-SUIT

December 9, 2013 1 comment

IMG_0403I’m a day or so late getting this post up… after weeks of studying for a course that my work was putting me through, and writing my exam last week, this weekend was all about quality time with my wife.  But now that I have a few minutes (that’s what lunch breaks are for, right?  right!)…

Saturday morning was the 2013 Santa Pur-SUIT 5k run race in support of the local YMCA.  What a great event – great cause to run for, and who can beat hundreds of santas running through the streets of Waterloo?!?

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This race was all about fun and community.  Did I run a PB time?  No.  Did I expect to?  No.  Considering a) I hadn’t trained, or done any form of exercise more vigorous than walking-around-the-office-at-work in over 2 weeks, and b) I was wearing an ill-fitting felt Santa suit, I’m reasonably happy with my 32:29 time.  It was great to see the local YMCA – where I do all my indoor training – be the benefactor of such a great event.  It was great to get my wife dressed up in a Santa Suit and to go for a run with her (even if she did peel away after 1km and finish a full 5 minutes ahead of me 😉

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So that’s it.  My 2013 season is finally finished.  11 races in the books this year:

  • 4 Triathlons (2x Sprint, 1x 750/30/7.5 hybrid, 1x Olympic), including 1 out-of-country race!
  • 1 OW 1.5km Swim Race
  • 1 Road 73km Bike Race
  • 5 Running Races (1x 5km, 2x 10km, 1x 21.1km, and 1x 30km)

For my first “full racing season” (a.k.a. more than 1 race in a calendar year), that was a TON of fun… and way too many races.  As much as I love race day – the start line, the crowd, the music, the atmosphere – my bank account can’t sustain that many races again in 2014, nor can my personal schedule, to be honest.  And really, I think it did me a bit of a disservice racing so often – it was a crazy mix of events and I wasn’t able to get into a training routine focused on long term improvement.  I’m looking forward to 2014, though it will probably include fewer and more strategically selected races.

I’m sure I’ll give some further thought in a future post about my 2014 season (not like there’s a lot else to post about in the winter)… for now, I’m going to enjoy a December filled with no racing, no studying, a loosely scheduled training plan, lots of time with my wife, and lots of food and drink with family and friends!  Let the Holiday Season begin.  Ho Ho Ho!!! (see what I did there?! 😉 )

Race Recap: Lakeside Olympic Triathlon

September 17, 2013 7 comments

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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!

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