Sunday, June 29, 2008

Race Report - Loveland Lake to Lake Olympic Tri

First a shout-out to all the COS TNT folks Shannon, Stacey, Sarah and Ben for great races yesterday! Some extra kudos for Ben for hanging in and finishing the race after his "day-before-the-race return from an Alaska trip and half-marathon the week before" fatigued body said "what are you doing to me?" about 10 miles into the 30 mile bike course (read: upset stomach).

Cheers to all the other TNTers who finished the race, and a big thanks to the race organizers for holding such a great race and supporting Team in Training.

And a HUGE thanks to everyone who donated to my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraising campaign. Because I was not obligated to fundraise as a coach, your money is above and beyond what the LLS was hoping for. THANK YOU!

Now for the race report:
Saturday, June 28th, Lake Loveland, Loveland, Colorado. Weather was cool and breezy before race start, overcast during the race with temps probably in the upper 60s during the run (high was supposed to be 81).

Woke up at 4:15am, took a quick shower to get blood flowing in the muscles, ate a peanut butter sandwich and a banana and then headed to the race site with Sarah. Set up my transition area, found the TNT tent to check in, took a warm up jog and found a bathroom. You really can't go to the bathroom too often before a race, if you know what I mean. Got my wetsuit on and headed to the lake for a short swim warm-up.

Race start 6:30am. My wave - 6:34am.

1.5km swim: 38:05. Despite the fact that is a really slow swim time for this distance, it was probably the best feeling open water swim I've had. Water temp was around 70, which is pretty comfortable for a wetsuit swim. My shoulders didn't fatigue and I felt comfortable breathing. Bumped into a few people here and there, but otherwise could swim in my own space. I was able to keep to the buoy line pretty well, except after the last turn heading back to the beach where it took a few tries to confirm that I was really headed in the right direction. The overcast skies were a blessing during the swim as the sun didn't get in your eyes trying to sight those buoys. After I finally made it to the beach, I trotted the 1/4 mile to the transition area feeling pretty good and ready to tackle the bike course.

T1: 01:39. Found my bike without issue, almost fell trying to get the wetsuit off (wet grass), and my wetsuit got caught on the timing chip so it took a few extra seconds to get it off my leg. Could have been a big 'o crap' moment! On with the sunglasses, helmet, bike shoes and off I went.

30 mile bike: 1:33:28 (19.2mph). This is a great ride. The starting elevation is about 5000 feet, with only about 100 feet of gain during the first six miles. Then you start to pick up more elevation and by mile ten you are at 5500feet. Then a little after mile 12 you hit a nice stretch where you gain about 300 feet in a bit under two miles. Within a mile after that peak you lose that 300feet that was just gained. Fun for those who like to descend. A few winding roads on the descent, but really not too bad. If you know the area, these roads go around Horsetooth Reservoir. Then the fun begins, which I like to call "the wall." You need to get as much speed as possible coming down the last hill and unfortunately there is a 'U' curve right before "the wall." Here you gain 200 feet in about half a mile. That's pretty steep - I was going about 6-7mph at the top of this hill! But from here, it's almost all downhill, except for a few rolling hills on the way back into Loveland.

I was hoping that I'd be able to ride this course a in a few minutes less time this year over last, but ended up only about 35s faster. I got a little frustrated in the beginning, as in the cluster of bikes making there way along the course, there was one woman who liked to ride just to the right of the yellow line. One rule of triathlon is to stay right unless you are passing. You are supposed to stay 3 bike lengths behind a bike in front of you and if you decide to pass, you have 15 seconds to overtake their front wheel. After that it is the passed person's responsibility to get out of your draft zone. This lady would pass someone and then stay on the left side of the lane (technically called blocking). If someone needed to pass her, and there were plenty of speedy TT bikes with disc wheels zooming past everyone, they would have to hit or even cross the yellow line, which is obviously not safe. I passed her a couple times (you leap frog a bit on the beginning of the course while people settle into a pace and have different hill climbing abilities). Finally about the third time I passed her, I yelled that she needed to stay right as she's getting in the way. I guess I pissed her off enough that she passed me with a pack and stayed ahead. She's one I hope the motorcycle referee's saw and gave a penalty. OK - enough of my rant.

Fueling and nutrition on the bike...drank water and some of my HEED (like gatorade but with maltodextrin and natural sweeteners instead of the high fructose corn syrup) as soon as I was in a comfortable pace. About 35 minutes into the ride had 1/4 of a clif bar washed down with water. Intermittent drinking of HEED throughout the bike course, and at about 1:10, I did a Hammer gel, washed down with water. Went through about 2/3-3/4 of each bottle of HEED and water, probably 32-40oz of fluid.

Overall feel for the bike course - Pretty solid ride, though my knees did feel some discomfort. On the second half of the ride it did feel like my right knee was being affected by IT band tightness. I could only hope this wouldn't bother me on the run.

The end of the bike course passes through a neighborhood sculpture garden (gorgeous!) and then back into the high school parking lot.

T2: 01:07. Trotted with my bike to find the rack and Stacey yells "you caught me!" She's a faster swimmer, but not as fast on the bike so we hit T2 at the same time. Now if I could only catch Shannon... Thank goodness for the lady who put the pink towel on the bike rack near mine. Found my stuff, threw my bike on the rack, sat down, off with the bike shoes, on with the socks and running shoes, grabbed my race belt with number and my hat and off I went once again.

10k run: 55:09 (9:02min/mile). The run is usually my best split in triathlon. Not this time. For some reason I just couldn't get my legs going under me. The first mile or two are always hard coming off a bike, especially one like this course with hills, so I was expecting at any minute for my body to acclimate to the run and I could settle in a pace. It just wasn't to be. Each aid station I walked through and grabbed some water to make sure I was hydrated. At the turn around, which about 0.25 mile before I saw Shannon heading in the other direction so I knew catching her wouldn't be easy, I took another Hammer Gel and, as always, washed it down with water. I didn't really feel thirsty, I didn't feel hungry, my legs just felt heavy with some aches and pains. My right knee was aching (I curse my IT band!), my adductor/hip flexor area was tight (felt fine on my last run Tuesday night), and a muscle in my glut area was tight. It probably didn't help that some of the run is on canted streets, though I tried to stay on the flattest part possible. I took a few sips of gatorade at the last aid station and just did what I could to keep my legs moving.
The last mile of the run goes back into the park at the lake and then around a pond back to the finish line. This feels like the longest end of a race, since you can see the finish line about 1/2 mile out but basically have to run around it. I went for a final push to open up my stride as much as it I could (by golly you better leave it all on the course!). The TNT folks were right there cheering everyone on the 50ish yards, and Phew! I was done.

Total Time: 3:09:30. 29/58 in the F30-34 age group. Shannon and Ben were right there at the finish to congratulate me. I gave them a smile, grabbed a cup of gatorade and walked to mentally and physically regroup. I was actually disappointed with this time, as it is no faster (well, 7 seconds faster) than my time in last year's race. I figured surely with all the training I had done - sticking as best I could to my training schedule, that I would be at least a few minutes faster. My real goal was to try to hit 3:00:00. I am not sure what went wrong. On the positive side, I did gain a tiny bit of time in every event except the run. 22 seconds in the swim, 13 seconds in T1, 35 seconds on the bike, 27s in T2, for a total of 97 seconds. But I lost almost all of that in the run, and I know I am a faster runner this year.

So what went wrong? Maybe I shouldn't have run so hard in the Sailin' Shoes last weekend. I got plenty of sleep throughout the week and felt well rested. I got a massage on Tuesday to loosen up any tight spots. I was hydrated the days before the race. I did a few workouts the week of the race, but nothing long or strenuous compared to what I had been doing. Did I eat/drink enough on the bike? I took in on the order of 250-300 calories on the bike and another 100 on the run. I felt like that was the right amount. Did I push too hard on the bike? Don't know, as I rode pretty much the same I did last year and I had a great run (53:40) last year.

I may have to bite the bullet and hire a coach, especially if I want my swim time to improve. That is where I have the most room for improvement, and although I've been really focusing on the swim, I just don't go any faster.

But all-in-all, I'm really glad I am able to finish an event like this. Triathlon is a fantastic sport and I am thankful to be healthy enough to just be out there. So I've got a week of recovery ahead of me, then the Cabbage Head duathlon on July 12th!


Jess said...

I am, officially, tired after reading that. :) Good job! And 7 seconds faster is still 7 seconds faster!!

Terry Odell said...

Faster is faster, and you're a year older, too. Still find it amazing that anyone actually enjoys doing something like that.